American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House
Lincoln Center
New York, New York

July 3, 2024 afternoon
Swan Lake (stage promotion of Chloe Misseldine)

Jerry Hochman

The 4th of July fireworks arrived one day early at the Metropolitan Opera House this afternoon.  Before a roaring crowd, American Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Susan Jaffe walked on stage during the curtain calls following the July 3rd matinee performance of Swan Lake, and, from the stage, promoted Chloe Misseldine to Principal.

Chloe Misseldine and Aran Bell
in curtain calls following
July 3, 2024 performance of “Swan Lake”
Photo by Jerry Hochman

To state that the promotion was well deserved is to state the obvious.

This is a news bulletin, not a review – that will come later (and, unfortunately, there are several reviews ahead of it in my pipeline). For now it’s sufficient to say that Misseldine delivered one of the finest performances of Odette that I’ve seen in over 50 years of attending ballet – at times I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  All this in her New York role debut before a bursting full house (filled as far as my eyes could see).

Together with her very credible, and somewhat different, Odile, as well as her Siegfried, Aran Bell, who gave one of the finest performances of his career, in every way this was a landmark performance.

The stage promotion is quite significant. In my over 50 years of attending ballet performances, I don’t remember ABT doing a “from the stage” promotion a la Paris Opera Ballet. It adds a sense of excitement above and beyond the excitement naturally provided by exceptional performances, and should have been an available option a long time ago. No one who’s attended ABT performances in recent years expected Misseldine not to be a Principal, and sooner rather than later – her talent (which in many ways is unique to her) was apparent the first time she appeared on stage – but having it proclaimed this way added an extra level of excitement.

Chloe Misseldine and Aran Bell
in curtain calls following
July 3, 2024 performance of “Swan Lake”
Photo by Jerry Hochman

Finally (for now), this was an exceptionally electric house. At times the Met sounded like Giants Stadium – back in the old days. Everyone in the house seemed to know instinctively that this was an exceptional, maybe once-in-a-lifetime performance that was a privilege to witness. And they not only stood at the performance’s conclusion, which these days seems to be a condition of admission for any full-length ballet, they began standing before the curtain came down (or, in this case, across), and continued standing throughout the curtain calls; not a single person in my viewing area left his or her seat until the house curtain came down for the final time. That’s exceptional too – and appropriate for this exceptional performance.

More to follow…eventually.