Jane Simpson

Osipova/Vasiliev in Ashton's R&J - London July 2011

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Peter Schaufuss brings his own company to the London Coliseum for 9 performances of Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet, with Osipova and Vasiliev in the leading roles and the RDB's Alban Lendorf also appearing - presumably as Mercutio? (or will there be a second cast?)

Er... something of a surprise...

Edited to add: this is described as 'a 21st century restaging' and is now booking. Top price £120.

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Peter Schaufuss brings his own company to the London Coliseum for 9 performances of Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet, with Osipova and Vasiliev in the leading roles and the RDB's Alban Lendorf also appearing - presumably as Mercutio? (or will there be a second cast?)

Er... something of a surprise...

Edited to add: this is described as 'a 21st century restaging' and is now booking. Top price £120.

I love Ashton's R&J, it's hugely underrated and in my opinion outclasses the Macmillan, Nureyev & Lavrosky BUT those prices are tear-inducing. Which I suppose why he's roped in Vasiliev & Osipova, the hope that those stars will pull in the punters, but again that'll be for ballet lovers the star quality of ballet stars is very localised within the dance community and doesn't extend to the general public anymore, certainly not in the UK. Sadly that's the price of unsubsidised productions in major cities if they're to see a return, but with a run that long it's highly doubtful that the Coliseum will be filled to capacity.

During the last visits by NYCB, ABT, Stuttgart at the Coliseum tickets were being sold at vastly reduced rates on the days of performance 20% of original price on all tickets, so it's highly probable waiting until the day before buying your ticket may be a pretty safe bet.

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Will it be this 21st century restaging, I wonder, or another one?

I too love this version but it is so fragile - I remember leaving after the first act of one of ENB's revivals in horror at how badly they'd let it go to pieces after only a couple of seasons.

There are cheap seats too, by the way - £10 if you don't mind sitting in the top ring. And the £120 (and even £150) ones turn out to be just a couple of rows - probably they include a sandwich and a free programme.

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I can think of few dancers less suited to the role of Romeo than Ivan Vasiliev. Mercutio perhaps but not Romeo.

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During the last visits by NYCB, ABT, Stuttgart at the Coliseum tickets were being sold at vastly reduced rates on the days of performance 20% of original price on all tickets

Do you really mean 20% of the original price (80% discount) or do you mean 20% OFF the original price? If the former, then it would be worth it to wait out the day of and camp out at the box office!

-goro-

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There's now a publicity video on YT which has some fleeting film of (I think) the original Danish cast, and Ashton taking a curtain call, as well as some brief glimpses of Osipova and Vasiliev.

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There's now a publicity video on YT which has some fleeting film of (I think) the original Danish cast, and Ashton taking a curtain call, as well as some brief glimpses of Osipova and Vasiliev.

Extraordinary casting for a Gala Performance on Tuesday 12 July at 7.30 pm in aid of the Dancer for Cancer Trust.

Ivan Vasiliev Romeo

Natalia Osipova Juliet

Alban Ledorf Mercutio

plus very special guests

Lynn Seymour Lady Montague

Wayne Sleep Peter, the page

Marguerite Porter Lady Capulet

Wayne Eagling The Prince of Verona

Stephen Jefferies Lord Capulet

David Wall Lord Montague

http://www.eno.org/see-whats-on/productions/production-page.php?&itemid=1533

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That list of special guests: wow, wow, wow.

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Peter Schaufuss brought his touring production of Sir Frederick Ashton’s “Rome and Juliet” to the London Coliseum this week with a preview performance on Monday and a Gala performance last night.

Ashton’s production has for always been a problematic work in his oeuvre, as he chooses to focus almost entirely on the star crossed lovers, leaving the political dramas to be found in MacMillan’s production as almost sideline events.

Ashton had seen Ulanova as Juliet and takes his cue from her mesmerising performance in the role, to almost concentrate the story entirely on Juliet alone. The result is that she is dancing almost constantly throughout the production.

The setting is somewhat minimalist, with its use of changing backdrops of photographic projections of ancient Italy but sitting in the second row of the stalls I thought it worked in the context of the production as the dancers become the entire focus.

In the revival of this work in the 1980’s undertaken by London Festival Ballet, one was aware of the typical Ashton meticulous detailing of Juliet’s portrayal, in which her emotions entirely carry the story.

The evening being a Gala event on behalf of Dancer for Cancer Trust and was introduced from the stage by Dame Beryl Grey in one of her stupendous gowns and I say respectfully, that some might think, looking more glamorous than any woman of 83 should be entitled to.

Throughout the evening there were vignette performances of former leading dancers of the Royal Ballet. Wayne Sleep was among them and almost stealing the show as Peter, the page.

As the star crossed lovers, Natalia Osipova and Vladimir Vasiliev had the audience bravoing like mad at the end.

Vasiliev acted very well for most of the time, but Ashton’s Romeo is a difficult role in which to remain in character with the nuances demanded. His dancing was strong, even forceful at times and echoes of Spartacus rather than Ashton's Verona were present. All the same he remains a remarkably vigorous performer and at times a touching actor. I suspect by the end of the week he will have completely nailed the role.

Likewise Osipova had many moments of touching beauty in both dancing and in her deeply sought out expression. Here is an actress clearly revealing Juliet’s inner conflicts.

So much so that at times she was searingly emotional, capturing that demanding, expressive and quirky physicality that Ashton seeks to convey inner turmoil, a trade mark that he so brilliantly employed in a number of his ballets.

The excellent Alban Lendorf was Mercutio and Benvolio was played played by Robin Bernadet with Johan Christensen as Tybalt.

Ashton was also celebrated by a huge portrait suspended on stage at the beginning of the evening and at the end.

For an old timer it was a pleasure to see on stage, Marguerite Porter(Lady Capulet), Donald MacLeary(distinguished with silver hair) as Lord Montague, Stephen Jeffries as Lord Capulet, Peter Schaufuus(Friar Laurence) and Wayne Eagling as Escalus.

The English National Ballet Orchestra played well under the baton of the widely experienced Graham Bond.

Ashton's Romeo and Juliet is a very difficult work to pull off. The meticulous nature of his very hands on coaching is impossible to replicate and here lies the problem with his version being restaged.

Peter Schaufuss has made a good stab at doing so, it but for some, it is probably not good enough.

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Do you mean 'the excellent Alban Lendorf' as Mercutio, Leonid?

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Do you mean 'the excellent Alban Lendorf' as Mercutio, Leonid?

Thank you Jane.

I have amended it and my apologies to Alban Lendorf.

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I just got back from tonight's performance - it's a very odd mixture - worth it for Lendorf in the first part and Osipova in the second - and Ashton when they give him his due.

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Thanks for reporting on these performances for us.

For those who had difficulty getting to leonid's kind link to Clement Crisp's review: the Financial Times seems to have a default to their first page. You have to scroll down to just below the FT logo -- a bar that lists sections. Then click "Life and Arts." The review -- with dramatic photo -- is linked on that. It's worth seeking out.

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it's a very odd mixture - worth it for Lendorf in the first part and Osipova in the second - and Ashton when they give him his due.

Bang on the nail Jane, couldn't agree more.

Tickets prices: the production isn't selling that well so anyone who qualifies for a standby will get one, sometimes they ask for i.d. sometimes not but I got a standby for the stalls on gala night and noted a host of ENB dancers sitting around me, I guess the promoters had 'papered the house'.

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I just got back from tonight's performance - it's a very odd mixture - worth it for Lendorf in the first part and Osipova in the second - and Ashton when they give him his due.

Did we really expect much more?

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Did we really expect much more?

Actually I expected rather less!

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