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BRB - Cyrano - World Premiere - February 2007

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In a complete contrast to the Stravinsky 2007 programme, BRB have been performing a brand new production of Cyrano choreographed by artistic director David Bintley.

The scenario closely follows that of Rostand's play. I know I was wary of how a play that is basically about the written word be translated into ballet but David Bintley has made a wonderful ballet that is an emotional rollercoaster of laughter and tears.

Robert Parker created the eponymous role and has been totally magnificent throughtout. A very clever choreographic vocabulary, in part based on Sign Language, has been devised for Cyrano and Robert has the most beautifully elegant and eloquent arms and hands that make the meaning very clear. Iain Mackay has perfected the role of the provincial and naive Christian. His look of despair as he realises Roxanne loves the writer of the letters is heart-rending. Elisha Willis is delightful as Roxanne and interacts beautifully with both the leading characters. Chi Cao, as Le Bret, has a couple of virtuoso solos that are a delight and there are some super scenes of the cadets drilling and preparing for battle. In Act 2 there is a hilarious bread-roll adagio in the bakery led by Ragueneau (Chris Larsen is an absolute comic gem in this).

Carl Davies score is ravishing and is a perfect match for the on-stage action.

The final scenes are absolutely heartbreaking to watch and I would recommend anyone going to take an enormous box of tissues. I have now found that after viewing several performances I am starting to cry earlier every time in anticipation of the sad bits. Last night at the Lowry my friends and I were all still crying on the way to the carpark.

For anyone who has not yet seen this wonderful production but has a ticket booked, please be in your seats at least 5 minutes early because the ballet starts before it starts.

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Birmingham Royal Ballet have been touring their 2007 production of Cyrano this Autumn. I was just re-reading my reactions from the Spring of 2007 and thought I'd add some more thoughts,

I adored this production of Cyrano first time round and my feelings towards it have not lessened. Iain Mackay came back as a guest reprising his creation of Christian and (obviously not in the same performance!) his interpretation of the eponymous hero. We also had two new Cyranos to look forward to.

Looking back at my diary for the last two months, I've just realised that I managed to see 11 performances and I still want more!

The original cast of Robert Parker, Elisha Willis and Iain Mackay have all deepened their interpretations and given us some truly breath-taking and heart-breaking memories from this season.

The first performance I saw at the beginning of October was Alexander Campbell as Cyrano, Ambra Vallo as Roxanne and Joseph Caley as the hapless Christian. In four short years with the company, Alexander Campbell has established himself as one of the best actors and he gave a beautifully nuanced performance of our large-nosed hero. Oh how we laughed at his duel with Valvert and cried at his disappointment in realising that Roxanne loves Christian. Ambra Vallo is glorious in the role of Roxanne, she is totally immersed within the role. I was reduced to uncontrollable sobs (as was everyone around me) at their final duet as Cyrano is dying. Joseph Caley was able to convey his inarticulate love of Roxanne beautifully and again, there was a moment of magic on the battlefield as he realised that Roxanne loved the writer of the letters. His whole face and body language told tmore than a whole book could have of his feelings.

I fell in love with the bakery scene, with its nods to some famous ballets, all over again. Chris Larsen created a comic masterpiece in Rageneau and within this scene he brings David Bintley's affectionate nods at Orpheus, Apollo, La Sylphide and the Rose Adagio to life. I would love to know how the baker boys manage to look so totally gormless.

Of all the superb performances that I saw, the one that stands out was on Friday 7th November in Sunderland with Robert Parker, Elisha Willis and Joseph Caley. There really was magic dust in the air that night and I am starting to choke up again just thinking about it!

I know BRB are bringing Sir Peter Wright's magnificent production of Swan Lake to Virginia next May but how I wish American audiences could see and enjoy this Bintley masterpiece.

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