Under the baton of Tara Simoncic, the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra sounds strongest in appealingly brassy, rhythmic passages of Danish composer Herman Lovenskiold serviceable score, though occasional delicate, lyrical moments shine, as well.
Casts will change throughout the run of the production, but on opening night, Moisés Martin created a romantic, handsome, believably torn James. The dancer struggled on some of Act II’s spinning leaps, but there and elsewhere, he still nonetheless managed to bring an admirable sense of athleticism to the role, a strong, confident quality that emerged especially compellingly in duets with Nadia Maria as a faithful, spirited and earthy Effie. Emily Carrico had a convincingly coy and devious sensuality as the Sylph, but she didn’t evoke the necessary ethereality in her first Act I solo. She more than made up for it with a delicate and genuinely moving death scene. Ensembles, especially the female dancing Sylphs in Act II, were lovely and compelling, though, as often happens in ballet, various country dances in Act I (here in goofy kilts) tended to slow down any sense of narrative urgency.
In Kobburg’s version, the 19th century doesn’t often feel palpably present as it can in other ballets, but this version’s strength often actually lies in its contemporary sense of freshness and clarity. Even those without much familiarity with the ballet can follow the centuries-old story. The fine production’s ultimate air of supernatural mystery and its allegorical tale of a choice between commitment and freedom manage to pack a powerful punch.
8 p.m. Feb. 22-23. $20-$130. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-982-2787, atlantaballet.com.