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Triple Bill at the ROH with The Royal Ballet 6th July 2012Evening Performance Two adorations .. One big question mark


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#1 Nanarina

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 03:19 PM

I was recently asked by a friend and neighbour if I had anything planned, as she would like to go and see her first Ballet. We had gone to see Les Miz at the Theatre Royal in Norwich which we had both really enjoyed.

Putting my thinking cap on I looked into the forth coming productions at Covent Garden. to try and find something that would give her an insight into the world of Ballet, which she could understand and enjoy

When I saw the Triple Bill, with Birthday Offering, A Month in the Country and Les Noces, I thought that would suffice. Especially as some of the major stars were performing. I somehow got it wrong with Les Noces and it was only shortly before the actual .date that I realised what I had landed us with. When I worked with the Royal Ballet I hated The Rite of Spring, and here I was taking someone to see a similar work for a first experience. A real error of judgement. So I issued the warning before we went!!


As soon as the orchestra was in situ, and srtarted to warm up my friend was on the edge of her seat.
She clapped like mad when then Conductor appeared, and as soon as the beautiful Glazunnov music started she was eagerly waiting for the performance to start. There is no doubt the Royal Opera House Orchestra is one of the finest ones in exisstence today, with it's mellow tone, and wonderful musicians.

The curtains opened to reveal the attractive set of borrowed scenery from Sophie Fedorovitch and La Veneziana, with its sky blue background, sumpsious white drapes, and tall candelabra re-cycled from Hommage to the Queen. Costumes designed by Andre Levasseur transport us back to the time of Petipa, and the long skirted bell shaped Tutu. The men wearing dual colour matching tights with black see though hose on top.

Seven couples, all leading Dancers in the Company portray the roles of the original seven ballerina's and their consorts.The cast included Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares as the main couple, then Yuhui Choe, Helen Crawford, Sarah Lamb, Roberta Marquez, Itziar Mendizabal, Laura Morera. Alexander Campbell, Ricardo Cervera, Valeri Hristov, Brian Malony, Johannes Stepanek, Thomas Whitehead.

The entree is very spectacular the couples dancing in a circle around the stage, which seemed bigger extending further back than I remembered it from before. This leads onto a total of seven variations, one for each ballerina.

Danced to the charming music of Glazunov's Seasons music they were all very enchanting, each dancer showing their technical ability, but not forgetting the expression needed to complete the variation.

The marzurka performed by the men uses very rousing music, and the choreography is full of virtuoso jumps, danced in two lines, which is very impressive. I must say it is one of my favourite numbers which always has the same response when I have seen it.

This is followed by the Pas de deux specially created for Margot Fonteyn, a lyrical lovelyness with ponche arabeque, and stylish port de brae where the consort mirrors the ballerina's movements and supports her
in the fantastic choreography of Sir "Fred"..

The finale returns to the first music of the entree and the movements at the beginning of the ballet.

We both enjoyed this performance and my friend was amazed at the beauty and the technical capabilities of the dancers.

However there was something rather strange about the stage. At the front but behind the foot lights there was a long black feature that was very distracting, it went right accros the width front stage, so much so it cut off the feet of the dancers, which considering we were in the third row seated in the Orchestra Stalls the top price area, It was rather a let down. I mentioned it to my friend and a lady in the next row turned round to speak to us, saying it was not there a short time ago, and their view had not been restricted.I rtemember the DVD of Sleeping Beauty, which had the same problem. so I wonder what the idea is behind this obstruction? Hopefully it will not be a permanent feature..


Next came A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY again by Sir "Fred" a charming Russian based story, featuring Natalia Petrovnqa,(Alina Cojocaru) her rather dull husband Yslaev (Jonathon Howells) Kolia their son (Paul Kay) Vera Natalia's ward (Iohna Loots) Beliaev the Tutor (Federico Bonelli)

This was truly siperb, a simple story, of lost love. Vera the young woman falls madly for the young tutor, as well as her guardian, an argument ensues where Natalia slaps her ward, Kolia is distressed at the goings on, especially when Beliaev, is discovered and thrown out of the house by the husband.. The set is lovely in gold and white with authentic period furniture, the costumes by Julia Treveltyan Oman are very true to the era the ballet is set in. And the music by Chopin, arranged by John Lanchberry for piano and orcherstra is stunning..Kate Shipway the pianist played with great quality and emotion, so deserved the applause she received at the end.

This is pure Ashtonian, and so well performed by his "company". The choreography is beautiful with very imprssive solo's for Beliaev, and a in depth acting role for the characters. The final pas de deux is very touching, and can be seen on YouTube if you are interested. A poignant episode is when Beliaev returns momentarly, to find Natalia weeping, and without her knowing gently kisses the ribbons from her costume, before finally leaving.
Alina Cojocaru was her usual wonderful self, not over stated or over acted, technically brilliant. Federicco Bonelli who seems to be dancing with her more often nowadays is an excellent partner, and equally talented dancer. But there does not seem to be quite the same chemistry on stage, as when she is dancing with her Fiance Johan Kobborg. Sadly time is creeping up(or is already at) his retirement and he will be sorely missed.

Finaly, the disaster of the night, Les Noces. by Bronislava Nijinska, Music Stravinsky, orchestra and chorus. Costumes by Natalia Goncharova. Piano's for this prograame hired from and maintained by Steinway, London.

Well I suppose it was just about bearable, an improvement I would think on the original Rite of Spring. But that is all. To start off there was a technical problems and it was late starting. A very near problem as we had to get back to Kings Cross to catch the last train back to Downham Market in Norfolk, where we had left the car. By the time it had finished we both kind of felt we wished it had not started!!!!

My friend was bemused, as she did not understand it at all, seriers of erratic steps dancing in groups with very repetative movements, dressed in dark brown unimagnative costumes, somewhat representive of a Russian Peasant. The music disjointed, which went on and on loud to quiet and visa versa. Yes, it had a continues beat, but in the end I found it boring and un-interesting. The chorus and vocals did not really appeal to me either. So I wont be going to see that again. Personally I think it should have stayed in the archive where it belongs. But that is just me.

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#2 Mashinka

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 06:18 AM

Finaly, the disaster of the night, Les Noces. by Bronislava Nijinska


Disaster of the night?!!! How was it a 'disaster', it was very well danced in my view with Ricardo Cevera as good as anyone I've seen leading the male corps in the ballet.

I think I may have been the same night as you, certainly I saw the same casts you describe and if anything was a disaster surely it was Birthday Offering with the embarrassing performance from Thiago Soares inexplicably cast in a role with repeated double tours and requiring a few entrechat six, which were completely beyond him. Sadly my memories don't go back as far as Fonteyn in the leading role, but I remember Merle Park and David Wall as the leading couple giving the pas de deux a delicate dreamy atmosphere that seemed to be totally absent at the performance I saw.

Never sit in the front stalls at ROH - appalling view, you can't see feet at all.

#3 leonid

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 06:45 AM

What a curious response to "Les Noces" a recognised dance masterwork of the 20th century.

I can vividly remember the first performance by the Royal Ballet in December 1966 when everyone I knew among the Opera house regulars, were stunned by the extraordinary cohesive power of the dance, design and music. It was a wonderful performance led by Svetlana Beriosova only topped by Bronislava Nijinska herself taking curtain calls.

#4 Nanarina

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 08:00 AM

What a curious response to "Les Noces" a recognised dance masterwork of the 20th century.

I can vividly remember the first performance by the Royal Ballet in December 1966 when everyone I knew among the Opera house regulars, were stunned by the extraordinary cohesive power of the dance, design and music. It was a wonderful performance led by Svetlana Beriosova only topped by Bronislava Nijinska herself taking curtain calls.



a reconised dance masterpiece or not, I just cannot stand it bores me silly, not my taste at all. I am not against progression in the ballet world, or something different. That is just my opinion, and it was most definaately not the right thing to take someone new to ballet to see for the first time. They were simply puzzled and did not understand what was going on or what it was about. Svetlana Berioova was a wonderful dancer who I loved to watch, and actually worked with.


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