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Royal Ballet's Romeo and Juliet


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#1 sylvia

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Posted 01 May 2002 - 03:04 AM

The RB looks in such great shape in this production but I have to confess I wasn't paying much attention to the goings-on on the sidelines (next time, I promise!) Johan Kobborg - well I keep repeating myself with this guy! He's not only the finest dancer I've ever seen (such beautiful, expressive and exhuberent solos), he is a truely brilliant actor as well. Any other dancer I could happily watch from the back of the amphi, but with Johan I WANT to sit up close so I see all those subtle changes of expression. He looked so surprisingly young, so boyish and impetuous. I think what was most memorable for me were the moments after their first encounter in the ballroom with Alina on one side of the stage snatching little glances at Romeo while Johan was gazing into the auditorium, looking so starry-eyed and stunned at what he had just seen - I loved that! I actually do think it was the performance of his life. Yes, I'm probably one of the few who was even more dazzled by Johan than Alina! I'll leave up to someone else (there will be many) to gush over her. But it's good to see Alina dance this role at such the perfect time in her life. They're two such extraordinary dancers on their own and I'm sure it's their partnership that will be one of the "greats". And it was awfully cute to overhear some in the audience speculating if they really were a couple because they looked so in love!

Martin Harvey also impressed as Mercutio, though I thought a little too nice, not mischievious enough. Ivan Putrov, so light on his feet was terrific as the lead Mandolin dancer. The sword-fighting was REALLY enthusiastic judging from the cuts to the face poor Martin sustained. Great audience, lots of extra curtain calls

I guess I'm not so attached to the old set because I think the new one looks so beautiful, with a much grander feeling and it works so well. Not deserving of some of the criticisms it has taken out of sentimentality. I love the image of Juliet on the balcony wandering between the columns where the ballerina's whole body is so much more exposed than the on old set.

Very special evening, so much that the tiny little mishaps (an over-enthusiastic push by Mercutio sent Romeo careening into the wings, and poor Alina dying as Juliet had the darndest time trying to reach Johan's arm, finally managing to grab a handful of sleeve) didn't detract. Such a pity Alina and Johan got only one! They confirmed they danced the schools matinee - can I say again, those lucky kids! This is one of those casts you want to see again for the little things you might have missed or to see if they would do it any differently. I can't believe it's going to be another couple years, maybe more, before we get another chance.

#2 jude

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Posted 02 May 2002 - 12:15 AM

im going next thursday for the Bussell/cope performance. I probaly would have booked tickets to see Cojocaru/kobborg but it wasnt up to me!!

I havent seen Darcey dance since she did those swan lakes beore she ernt on maternity leave so i cant wait to see her dance again!

Not being much of a macmillin fan i dont think i would have chosen to book for this, but since the tickets were a gift and im going now anyway hopefuly i will be converted! (other wise i will be very bored next season!!)

#3 sylvia

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Posted 02 May 2002 - 01:44 AM

I'll be there for Darcey and Roberto Bolle as well as tonight's Sylvie and Jonathan. Is it really your first R&J Jude? I can't imagine not loving this production and MacMillan's choreography.

#4 sylvia

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Posted 03 May 2002 - 06:47 AM

Did anyone else go last night? I wasn't wholly convinced by Guillem or Cope at first. Sylvie seemed too sophisticated for the role of Juliet - her dancing doesn't inhabit the traits of a young girl at all. And Jonathan I think went the other way and was overly gregarious. It took some adjustment - like his Albrecht, he dances Romeo his own way. They just weren't Romeo and Juliet for me and I found the balcony pdd empty, beautiful but unmoving.

Then I don't know if it was my brain doing flip-flops or it was them but they seemed to come to life in Act II. Jonathan was so naturally exhuberant in the market scenes I had to believe. And Sylvie looked so young and vulnerable and sweet in the wedding, and I was very touched. The bedroom pdd I thought was extremely passionate, the best of their partnership on show, and it is so apparent how much chemistry is there is and how right for each other they are (as partners and in the ballet). It's the first time I've actually seen Sylvie's Juliet and I was surprised at the liberties she took, like all but omitting the run to Friar Laurence. The death scenes were fine, just your normal run-of-the mill death scenes for me.

I think the definite highlight was Ricardo Cervera's Mercutio and his jaw-dropping lightening fast footwork in the ballroom solo. Wow...I have NEVER seen anyone move with that speed! His death scene was jarring, a shock that a man with so much life could be gone. Cervera has so much wit and charisma throughout, I think he alone is worth the price of the ticket. The fact that he is dancing most of the Mercutios in this run is well deserved. He said in a very interesting Ballet Association talk (see here) that he didn't have any aspirations to do the principal roles because the secondary ones were much more interesting! I guess I really am clueless as I thought because of the lack of many really good male roles, most male dancer aspired to be the Albrechts and Romeos. I'm still hoping to someday see Cervera's Romeo!

The company as a whole were very lively. I watched all the market scenes with a big silly grin on my face, I was enjoying myself so much. Ivan Putrov truely impressed again as Benvolio - you can't help but notice. Plus points for Zenaida Yanowsky as Romeo's harlot - she's a standout, whatever role, hidden behind caked makeup, garish dress and all! I adore this production. It's Sylvie with Nicholas LeRiche for me next!

#5 Jane Simpson

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Posted 03 May 2002 - 01:36 PM

Sylvia, I do agree that Kobborg is a fine Romeo. One of the things I like about him is that he doesn't make a big production of his dancing - he just gets on with it! He is turning into a very good actor indeed, too. I thought Cojocaru's third act was very, very good, but in the first act she's too young for me - very sweet, but with no sign at all of the strength of character that would drive the tragedy on. I don't agree, though, about the mandolin dance, which I thought one of the least effective I've ever seen. And I really wish we could have the proper balcony back!

#6 sylvia

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Posted 03 May 2002 - 11:38 PM

Jane, I thought that about Cojocaru too. But I thought it was just me in my bad seats! She was so convincing and danced beautifully but her Juliet was too innocent. I didn't feel I saw any true depth to her character, not just in Act I but throughout the ballet. Which surprised me because both her Tatiana and Giselle were such beautifully realised performances. Oh well, she's just 20 and if this is just a starting point then it's an extremely good one. It's going to be fun watching Cojocaru grow into the role.

I like what you said about Kobborg not making a big production of his dancing because that was the exact opposite of what I felt in Cope's performance. The way he was enthusiastically using his arms, this big jump he did trying to reach Juliet on the balcony as the scene came to a close, it was like lots of little signposts saying "I really am a 18 year old kid foolishly in love". I wished he had played it straighter, and he did tone it down some in Act II where I thought he was just wonderful.

#7 jude

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 09:14 AM

o dear. it turns out i had the wrong night!! im going to see Guillem and le riche. What a shame i was really looking forward to seeing bussell and cope. O well at least putrov and cevera are in that cast...and im not about to satrt nocking guillem!

#8 sylvia

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Posted 07 May 2002 - 10:27 AM

Jude, don't be sorry! Ok, I haven't seen Guillem and Le Riche (I will tomorrow) but a friend of mine did on Saturday and she was pretty stunned and rated it as one of her top 3 performances ever! And Cervera and Putrov really are fantastic so I can't wait!

#9 sylvia

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Posted 08 May 2002 - 08:37 PM

A pretty good performance. Nicholas Le Riche is an excellent Romeo, one of the most ardent and romantic yet and so well-matched to Guillem. And unlike Jonathan Cope he fit right in with Cervera's Mercutio and Putrov's Benvolio. I'm still unsure about Sylvie. I find her unconvincing as a young girl in Act I. She seems too brash, too abrasive (in the midst of being courted by Romeo, she sends her Nurse off with a little kick). It does give her Juliet more colour and personality but I think at the expense of any innocence. She already seems like a woman who secretly already knows how the world works and is unafraid of love. I can't dispute the quality of her dancing though. But I can certainly see why some people loathe her over-extensions which look so out of place here. I mean, practically her first step on stage is a six o'clock penche arabesque. But like her performance with Cope last week she warmed up in Act II, the bedroom pdd was so beautifully danced and filled with so much sorrow and pain. The family scenes didn't work for me. David Drew's Capulet seemed curiously absent of any rage. The tomb scene and Juliet's discovery of Romeo was the most moving I've seen so far. Cervera oozes so much charisma through his extraordinary nimble dancing it's quite a blow when he finally dies.

I didn't have the greatest seat - a stalls circle standing one which colours my observations. I really do think R&J should watched either up close so you can see the quality of the acting, or from above where the dancing looks so lively. When I sat in the amphi last time I was practically bouncing around on my seat I was so involved and enjoying the market scenes. But from the stalls circle the same scenes feel kinda empty and flat and not so enjoyable. Oh well, live a little, learn a little.

#10 sylvia

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Posted 09 May 2002 - 06:23 PM

A wonderful evening! I'm really surprised as I expected Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle to be the least strongest Romeo and Juliet. They earned some really good reviews, but a lot of them came with a 'but' to do with limited acting abilities.

Well maybe that's how it was for the first night (I didn't go) but tonight was just exceptional. Both Darcey and Roberto are both beautiful, beautiful dancers. Every step, every light jump in Act I was immaculate and done with so much joy and freedom. Darcey, I thought, had what I hadn't seen in others - her Juliet is as youthful as Alina Cojocaru's, but carries the additional weight of burgeoning sensuality as well as an innocence that barely realises it. Roberto was sweetly boyish and matched her joie de vivre step for step. They are so well matched, and have such chemistry! Of course it doesn't hurt that they are so gorgeous, the best looking pairing of them all! What's so immediately apparent is the romance of it all. Their eagerness to be together, the giddiness of first love completely swept me away in their first ballroom pdd. Darcey's use of arms and her lines in this were so incredibly lovely. I actually found it even more touching than the balcony one where the timing seemed a little strange at the start - I've yet to see a balcony scene this season that completely sweeps me away.

Act III's bedroom pdd was breathtaking, such terrible anguish and here their acting really came alive. Perhaps they weren't subtle about it, hearts most definitely were on sleeves, but it was still so very effective and realistic. And as passionate as they were, they never stopped being the young boy and girl and I really felt for the first time the effect of robbed youth and love. In the tomb scene Roberto dragged Darcey's limp body around the stage like he would truely break into tears. And the cold fear on Darcey's face when she turns to discover Romeo's dead body is unforgettable. I couldn't help but notice that after a good cry, when she laid Roberto down again she made sure his arm was conveniently placed next to the mausoleum - that's experience for ya! No desperate scrabbling a la Alina and Sylvie! :)

Martin Harvey was such a charming Mercutio, though he wasn't exceptionally memorable. Ivan Putrov and his fellow mandolin dancers earned huge applause. It's so hard to compare the cast with the others when I've been watching R&J from all over the House, but tonight was definitely the most enjoyable R&J for me, and probably one of my favourite performances ever. I can't say enough how very, very romantic they were. Last one for me is Tamara Rojo and Massiomo Murru next week, and a good thing too because I really need the rest from all the travelling!

#11 sylvia

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Posted 17 May 2002 - 04:57 PM

I'm nearly out of words to say, I've written so much on R&J! Just wanted to mention what a tremendously gifted dancer-actress we have in Tamara Rojo. Her Juliet was by the far the best IMO. In her first scenes she was so bright, with so much personality she made every dancer before her seem bland and conventional in comparison. There were so many individual touches - little gestures especially in Act I. Her indicating how "tired" she was to Paris was so charmingly done! Tamara creates such beautiful shapes her body, it's like you could take a snapshot at any moment and it would be a work of art. The way she raised her arms and silently screamed in her grief in finding Romeo dead was the most heartbreaking I've seen. It's so interesting to see how differently each dancer does this - and they all do it VERY differently!

A bit disappointing that Massimo Murru wasn't quite her match. He's a lovely dancer, but not the best I've seen. I've seen him guest in a few things with the RB like Guillem's Giselle, Marguerite & Armand, Month in the Country, and he has never really wowed me as an actor either. Murru is a bit of a blank page I think - his acting didn't really register from my seat the way Tamara's did. Or maybe she was so expressive (I've mentioned before she emotes right to the back of the amphi) she completely outshone him. In their pdd I watched only her (and it's usually easy for me to watch both). Disappointing also because he was brought in at the last minute to replace injured Inaki Urlezaga, and no one within the company was given a chance to dance Romeo. Is there any point to understudies if the RB keep dragging in guest artists?

Bennet Gartside was the evening's Mercutio. Again he's not really a favourite of mine and I think he lacks the personality for the role. No hint of cockiness, cheek, mischieviousness, etc, etc and the swordfighting and death were kinda lacklustre (Ricardo Cervera and to a lesser extent Martin Harvey's Mercutios made an indelible impression). But I thought he with Murru and Edward Watson as Benvolio made a fine and even-matched trio whereas in every other performances, in spite of more interesting dancers, it felt like a grown-up and two kids dancing, the difference would be so huge.

So a great evening, soley due to Tamara's performance. Have to say, in terms of enjoyment I still rate Darcey and Roberto's last week as the best!

Incidentally there were cameras abound in the auditorium, rehearsing I suppose for the live relay of Guillem & Cope's R&J next week (into the Piazza and Victoria Park). Spotted Guillem watching R&J next to one of the cameras. Undoubtedly she wanted a little input into camera angles for next week's recording! :D

And speaking of snap shot moments, (I hope it's ok to put this here) - do see this ballet.co link for more beautiful photos of Tamara. The review is an old one - the same one I posted when I started this thread. That's my R&J coverage over and done with (unless I give into temptation and catch that live relay!) A mouth-watering "Trilogy" triple bill starts tomorrow and includes The Leaves are Fading, a new Wheeldon ballet Tryst and A Month in the Country. Can't wait!

#12 Juliet

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Posted 17 May 2002 - 06:05 PM

I have really, really enjoyed these, Sylvia....thank you so much!

Juliet

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 17 May 2002 - 07:40 PM

I'll second Juliet's message :D For those of us who love the Royal but, by accident of geography, don't get to see it often, it's wonderful to be able to keep up with the company. Thank you, Sylvia. :)

#14 Lolly

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Posted 04 June 2002 - 04:49 AM

I'm sorry I haven't reported anything lately, my new job is very tiring, then there is class etc! Doesn't mean I haven't been to ROH of course...

Stupidly I only booked for one performance of R&J, I must have has a moment of insanity as it is my favourite ballet! What was I thinking?! When I realised what I had done I was on the phone to the box office every day to ask about returns but no luck:( But this has a happy ending - I ended up going to opening night as planned, then took a day off work to queue for day seats, and also went to watch the live screening in the Piazza - hurrah!

First up was Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle, who were lovely - I think they were my favourite cast. I hadn't seen much of Roberto before but I'd certainly like to see him again, he did the youthful impulsiveness thing very convincingly. Ivan Putrov was Benvolio, Ricardo Cervera, Mercutio and they worked so well together, they really danced like a team. One of my favourite sections is the pas de trois with Mercutio, Benvolio and Romeo outside the Capulet house. So in the pas de trois they were perfect - the three of them looked like a little gang, like they were having so much fun! I think they were the neatest and most polished cast.

Then I saw Sylvie Guillem and Nicholas LeRiche with Ivan and Ricardo again. I liked this cast less but I was so thrilled to be seeing it again I didn't care who I saw! I find I am disliking Sylvie less, the more I see of her, if that makes sense! I'm not a fan but I can appreciate her now, which is good. Nicholas was very good at the abandoned passion thing, but he is a bit too wild and unpredictable for my tastes - it seemed as if he would fall over sometimes (but of course he never will!) They didn't look so good in the pas de trois as Ivan and Ricardo are so noticeably cleaner technicians than Nicholas it looked unbalanced. His final scenes with Sylvie in the tomb were stunning though - very moving.

In the Piazza screening Sylvie was dancing with Jonathan Cope, with Ricardo as Mercutio and Edward Watson as Benvolio. It was a nice atmosphere outside ROH, but by act II it was very cold and windy! (I did hear a lot of people during the first act saying they would leave at "half-time" - which amused me! Not least because it is a 3 act ballet...) I liked Sylvie more with Jonathan, he brings out the best in her I think. He did the joyful love and longing thing the best. The pas de trois didn't work at all this time, I didn't feel. Their timings were so different they didn't seem to dance like a unit at all, it looked messy. Jonathan is much taller than the others to start with and Edward and Ricardo hear the music differently so they were all over the place. (I think Ricardo anticipates the beat, yet he isn't ever early - complicated!) None of them danced badly at all, I think they were just badly matched. The cast came out to take a bow for us outside, which was lovely! They looked a bit stunned, but very happy. It was nice to see them out of context almost, but they did look like they were in fancy dress or something, without the stage around them. I saw Johannes and thought "Oh, there is Johannes in a Paris costume!" It was surreal! (And bizarre to see Sylvie in a jacket and leg warmers over her Juliet costume!)

This ballet really is amazing though. In the Piazza screening I heard a lot of gasps when the curtain came up for the Dance of the Knights, so much of it is spectacular (sword-fighting was BRILLIANT!), and there is so much movement, that the contrast with the quiet parts couldn't be more marked. Special mention for Johannes Stepanek as Paris, who was lovely. Paris seems a bit of a wet blanket sometimes, he doesn't get to do much, yet Johannes injected so much feeling into the role - I felt so sorry for him when Sylvie finally rejected him.

Ricardo was a fantastic Mercutio - he has made it his own, certainly. I can't imagine anyone else having more speed or cheek than him! (That is another part where he and Ivan bounced off each other well - the ballroom scene where they dance to distract attention from Romeo - they were so cheeky and boyish! Ivan's barging through the couples and apologising was hilarious!)

Well, apologies for the belated review! I do recommend the Piazza screenings though, if anyone is considering going to another. It did get cold (it was fine till the sun went down about 9pm) so wrap up well. The screen was huge and the camerawork good enough so you didn't feel like you were missing anything. Hurrah for RB!!:D


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