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RB's Opening Night, 2005-2006

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I know that many of us were there!

I loved it. Kobborg has done an excellent jobs and the productions look fabulous... With a firt-rate cast as well.

More from me later - but hoping to encourage some comment! :)

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Sorry, it's taken me a while to get back here.

So far, I've only seen one cast of this bill, but am looking forward to hopefully a few more, especially of La Sylphide.

The Mixed Bill which opened the season features La Sylphide as its latter 2/3rds, following either The Lesson or Rendevous. Opening night started with The Lesson, which although interesting and entertaining, might not hold up to several repeated viewings in a short period of time. Zenaida Yanowsky was the pianist, with Kobborg as the teacher and a perky Roberta Marquez as the student.

But I'm going to skip that - because La Sylphide was so simply perfect. Alina Cojacaru's sylph was innocent to the pointe of being naive, other-worldly, and combined nicely with Ivan Putrov's James - broody and introverted, seemingly looking for more meaning in life. One only wishes that something might be done for poor Alina's feet! Putrov's acting capabilities are still not always even, but he has grown so much as an artist in the past two seasons, and it shows. He also has the advantage of extremely light ballon - he jumps that much higher, his beats are extremely clear, and his landings noiseless. Sorella England is guesting as well as coaching this production, and her Madge probably received the most applause that evening. It was also delightful to see Iohna Loots as Effie - as opposed to a goat or dog or something that she seems to have been pidgeon-holed into.... Cheery, light on her feet, and showing that she can dance as a human! (!!!). And, Jose Martin as a loveable Gurn. The company as a whole looked comfortable with the choreography, and *ready*.

I don't know if they *are* the Danes, so-to-speak, having only seen snippets of the Danes live over the summer in London. Perhaps those more sensitive to those details will react differently to the performances than I.

Overall, however, bouquets and love and bravos three million times over to Kobborg. The production, of both ballets, was perfect to my eyes, avoiding the OTT-ness of some other new RB productions. Sylphide was colourful without being garish, and very warm and welcoming. Unfortunately, the audience opening night seemed rather subdued, perhaps missing some big and flashy tricks? Who knows why - in my mind, this is one of the best things the RB has done in years. :yahoo:

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La Sylphide was so simply perfect.   . . . I don't know if they *are* the Danes, so-to-speak, having only seen snippets of the Danes live over the summer in London.  Perhaps those more sensitive to those details will react differently to the performances than I.

Thank you so much, ami! There are those who insist that even the Danes aren't the Danes these days.

LaSylphide is such a treasure, and I'm pleased to read that Kobborg and the RB are treating it as such. I wish it would return to ABT's active rep. :beg:

Unfortunately, the audience opening night seemed rather subdued, perhaps missing some big and flashy tricks?  Who knows why - in my mind, this is one of the best things the RB has done in years.   :wink:

New York audiences respond exactly the same way to this ballet. I don't understand it either, unless they are just too overwhelmed by James' tragedy, but somehow I don't think that's it.

I willl look for your reviews -- and those of others -- of future performances of this program. :yahoo:

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I've now seen two performances of La Sylphide and I'm sorry to report that there were empty seats on the first night and the second performance was given to a house about half full. I really hope audiences pick up as I'd hate this to be the ballet's only showing.

As far as the production goes, Kobborg has added one piece of mime in the first act when after the Sylph has vanished up the chimney. James asks the two sleepers if they have seen anything unusual. To me this makes sense as it means that her presence is established and it also makes sense of Gurn's mime passages later in the Act when he describes James talking with and then following the Sylph.

Less happily, Kobborg has also added a rather vague pas de six for Effie's friends and a passage for James and Effie.

The second Act is conventional, with the addition of a pas de deux for James and the Sylph which seemed entirely superfluous on first viewing. Tamara Rojo in the second cast made more sense of it, but I really didn 't think it added anything.

Sets and costumes are from the old Copenhagen production. I loved the sets but was less happy with the costumes, especially those of the women in the first Act. They looked as if they were about to enter a Scottish Country Dancing competiion and were, for the most part, highly unflattering.

The casts were Alina Cojacaru and Ivan Putrov on the first night with Sorella Englund as Madge. Cojacaru has all the gifts that should make her a wonderful Sylph, and some of her dancing was truly beautiful - so much so that you forgot her ugly feet. But I didn't get the sense of a complete character. Putrov was a very withdrawn James and a very Russian one. Much of his dancing was exemplary, but it didn't to me look remotely like Bournonville style and it was noticeable that he lingered on phrases in a way which I don't associate with Bournonville.

Rojo as the second Sylph was quite another matter - a beautiful, complete, characterisation exquisitly danced with a genuinely pathetic death. It was dancing that was not only beautiful to watch but also told the story clearly.

She was partnered by Rupert Pennyfather - tall, loose limbed and with all the makings of a distinguished James. He looked nervous at first, but gained in confidence as the performance went on.

Madge with this cast was Elizabeth McGorian - not very successful I thought. She seemed to be modelling herself too closely on Englund which is understandable, but doomed to failure in someone with such a different style and physique. Englund was amazing - all the more so when you think what a wonderful Sylph she used to be - and was certainly the most charismatic member of the first night cast.

I very much admired Jose Martin as Gurn even though he is cursed with a hideous jacket which seems to have been borrowed from the Jolly Green Giant. I also like Caroline Duprot's moving Effie (real name Euphemia I discovered when researching something completely different). However, I don't like the way Kobborg has set the role so that Effie immediately and cheerfully switches her affections to Gurn. Surely she's a nice girl and should have some regrets.

The company dances nicely, but without much real Bournonville style as I remember it - and I don't think my memory can be that bad. Just before going into the matinee I picked up a copy of Eric Bruhn's book 'Bournonville and Ballet Technique' in the Opera House shop. Looking at the photographs it struck me that it was a good many years since I've seen Bournonville style like that and perhaps a few copies left at the stage door might open some eyes.

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Thanks for these reports about the Royal Ballet's "La Sylphide." I am also pleased to read about Pennefeather. (I just wrote a somewhat high minded post on another thread about ballet as an art form, so I hope no-one laughs at me too much if I say I saw Pennefeather during a trip to London this summer, and I thought he had serious hearththrob potential. And...um..oh yes...he seems to have a potentially very elegant classical line as well.)

I have seen Cojocaru a few times now, and I don't remember thinking she had "ugly" feet--they did seem a little stubby looking perhaps--I assume they are very small. But perhaps it's more of a drawback in Bournonville.

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Thanks for your kind words carbo - I'm writing up at the moment so otherwise feel unable to cobble a full sentence together! Will try harder next time. And *very* glad to see other's views!

Pennefather has been a real up-and-up since last season, where he filled quite a bit when Inaki Urlezaga left the company. As far as I know, his first partnering on stage with Tamara Rojo was at the Tsunami charity gala at Easter. She wiped the stage with him, to be honest. She has such presence, that if one is going to partner her, they must literally hold their chin up - if nothing else than out of respect! I haven't seen him yet this season, but by all accounts people have been happily surprised by how he has grown. I will withhold judgement until I see it myself!

Drew, Cojocaru's feet aren't short, but she has noticeable bunions, that quite frankly, look really really really painful, and sometimes distort the line. But then, as Alymer noted, sometimes you don't even notice!

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