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Royal Ballet's Giselle, 11/2021.


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Sir Peter Wrights's RB production charmed me on certain aspects but not on others, both choreogtaphically and structurally. The most alluring first thing my eye caught were the sumptuous sets and costumes for Act I. Both huts, Giselle's and Loys' are beautifully crafted, and the backdrops and lighting revolt around lovely terracotta tones. The medieval attires of Berthe-( Kristen McNally)-and the Court lead by the Duke of Courland-(Christopher Saunders)-are also painstinkly done to the minimum detail. 

The entrance of the Duke Albrecht of Silesia is done to the soft leitmotif we hear after the first bombastic accords of the overture.  In this production the action actually starts right away with the interaction of Berthe and Hilarion. All that, plus Albrecht-(Vadim Muntagirov)- and his squire Wilfred-( Tomas Mock)- entrances are all within the overture music. The triumphant,  heroic melody we usually associate in US and Russia with Albrecht entrance is here used for him to reveal his deceitful Loys after coming out of his hut dressed as a peasant. This detail took me to my beloved Cuban production, which also follows this musical scheme on Loys/Albrecht-( although there the whole of the overture is done with closed curtains up until the beginning  of the peasants leitmotif).

Muntagirov as our Loys/Albrecht last night was oh boy...such a charm!. A veteran now of the famous British company,  he's a real joy to watch. His jump is still high, and his entrechats very lovely,  with wide open legs while in the air, reminding me of those of the great Soloviev.  Oh...and he doesn't cheat on his Act II diagonal of triple turns on l'air! (You know...like many dancers who start the first turn with their bodies already half turned). He's  also a gentleman,  showing his ballerina first and foremost. Don't we all love that....?

Miss Nu√Īez, our Giselle, is another veteran by now and definitely one of the current top ten world wide ballerinas.¬† She shows leisure in her dancing, making obvious that by now she can focus on her characterization rather than her steps. She's an incredible turner, and her pique menage circle of her Act I her Pas Seul was grand.¬† The one thing I frowned upon a tiny bit was at the pace she did her diagonal of sautees on pointe. A bit too fast, although¬† always controlled.

The mad scene was interesting.  Here Sir Wrights's  choice is to put the whole court as witnesses of the whole affair up until Giselle's  death, after which they depart the stage. Other companies make their exit earlier, usually having only the peasants witness her demise. So here Bathilde-( Christina Arestis)- watches curiously all the evolutions of her fiancee. She's  not terribly worried. Upset, yes....but not worried to death for sure. When the Court lives, it is more of a "ok...this is over...show is done" instead of "Oh Jesus...what a horrifying  thing we just saw...!"

More to come on Act II.

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Cubanmiamiboy, I am not sure that I would describe what you saw this afternoon as "scandalous". We have several new Myrthes this season one of whom is Roscoe. I have a feeling that Roscoe danced Myrthe earlier in the run but that  was at a closed performance of some sort, perhaps  for schools, rather than one open to the paying public. Today's matinee while not strictly a house debut for Roscoe was the first time that the public, friends and family have had the chance to see her in the role. The number of bouquets she received seemed completely in keeping with a debut in a major role. It would be interesting to know what you thought of the second act of Nunez's Giselle.

Giselle is a far more difficult role to pull off than a lot of people think. I am not talking about the technical aspects of the role but of the difficulty some dancers find in being equally convincing in both acts as the title role calls for a dance actress and not just a superb dancer. There are Giselles who are better in the first act than in the second and others who come into their own in the second act. I think that Nunez is just such a dancer but then her second act is so compelling that you forget that she is not entirely convincing as a member of the peasant community of the first act.

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13 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

Cubanmiamiboy, I am not sure that I would describe what you saw this afternoon as "scandalous". We have several new Myrthes this season one of whom is Roscoe. I have a feeling that Roscoe danced Myrthe earlier in the run but that  was at a closed performance of some sort, perhaps  for schools, rather than one open to the paying public. Today's matinee while not strictly a house debut for Roscoe was the first time that the public, friends and family have had the chance to see her in the role. The number of bouquets she received seemed completely in keeping with a debut in a major role. It would be interesting to know what you thought of the second act of Nunez's Giselle.

Giselle is a far more difficult role to pull off than a lot of people think. I am not talking about the technical aspects of the role but of the difficulty some dancers find in being equally convincing in both acts as the title role calls for a dance actress and not just a superb dancer. There are Giselles who are better in the first act than in the second and others who come into their own in the second act. I think that Nunez is just such a dancer but then her second act is so compelling that you forget that she is not entirely convincing as a member of the peasant community of the first act.

Oh....I believe Nu√Īez was SMASHING!!!. I'm a sucker for strong technicians who deliver. I don't¬† have a soft spot in my heart for the weak willowy posers of the ballet world, and Marianela is one of those rare cases of technical reliability¬† at all times. She's one year from being forty, and she can put to shame dancers half her age. Yes...she was a bit too regal in act I, but who cares. Her pointes were even more regal and that's¬† what really matters!. Much after Markova's steps.

Roscoe was a wonderful Myrtha as well. Is just that....I don't think I had ever seen THAT situation  EVER on a Giselle curtain call! Stories came to mind on dancers of the past...some of them very ego-centered and proud to the point that they would not perform Myrtha or Giselle to certain Myrthas and Giselles out of fear to be outdone. In her memoirs,  for instance, Dame Markova says that such thing happened to Mme. Danilova, who would ONLY do her Myrtha to Markova's Giselle, out of the strong friendship they shared.

I have seen three casts so far, and they have ALL delivered big time. I'm very happy!!

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I am pleased to hear that you are happy with what you have seen so far. I think that the production does its job remarkably well.All the performance I have attended during the run have been pretty impressive as far as the named characters are concerned and we have been treated to very individual and satisfying interpretations of the roles of Giselle, Albrecht and Myrthe. My only quibble has been with the casting of the pas de six but then we have been rather spoiled at recent revivals with casts composed of dancers  who were clearly on their way up. This time round it is not so much the dancers as individual performers which seems to be the problem but the combinations which have been selected who don't seem to gel as a group in the way they have done in previous seasons.

I know that the bouquet presentation at the matinee must have looked a bit unusual to those not in the know but then I knew that I had booked to see Roscoe's debut. The fact that the ROH is now publishing the cast lists on line makes it possible for those who do not attend specific performances to know who actually danced at that show as opposed to the dancers who were initially  announced as appearing.

There is a Giselle Insight connected with the current revival floating about on the internet which might interest you, it includes Monica Mason coaching Roscoe in the role of Myrthe and Naghdi and Ball being coached by Olga Evreinoff, in addition the World Ballet Day footage from Covent Garden includes Mason coaching Nunez as Myrthe.

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On 11/19/2021 at 1:32 AM, cubanmiamiboy said:

Sir Peter Wrights's RB production charmed me on certain aspects but not on others, both choreogtaphically and structurally. The most alluring first thing my eye caught were the sumptuous sets and costumes for Act I. Both huts, Giselle's and Loys' are beautifully crafted, and the backdrops and lighting revolt around lovely terracotta tones. The medieval attires of Berthe-( Kristen McNally)-and the Court lead by the Duke of Courland-(Christopher Saunders)-are also painstinkly done to the minimum detail. 

The entrance of the Duke Albrecht of Silesia is done to the soft leitmotif we hear after the first bombastic accords of the overture.  In this production the action actually starts right away with the interaction of Berthe and Hilarion. All that, plus Albrecht-(Vadim Muntagirov)- and his squire Wilfred-( Tomas Mock)- entrances are all within the overture music. The triumphant,  heroic melody we usually associate in US and Russia with Albrecht entrance is here used for him to reveal his deceitful Loys after coming out of his hut dressed as a peasant. This detail took me to my beloved Cuban production, which also follows this musical scheme on Loys/Albrecht-( although there the whole of the overture is done with closed curtains up until the beginning  of the peasants leitmotif).

Muntagirov as our Loys/Albrecht last night was oh boy...such a charm!. A veteran now of the famous British company,  he's a real joy to watch. His jump is still high, and his entrechats very lovely,  with wide open legs while in the air, reminding me of those of the great Soloviev.  Oh...and he doesn't cheat on his Act II diagonal of triple turns on l'air! (You know...like many dancers who start the first turn with their bodies already half turned). He's  also a gentleman,  showing his ballerina first and foremost. Don't we all love that....?

Miss Nu√Īez, our Giselle, is another veteran by now and definitely one of the current top ten world wide ballerinas.¬† She shows leisure in her dancing, making obvious that by now she can focus on her characterization rather than her steps. She's an incredible turner, and her pique menage circle of her Act I her Pas Seul was grand.¬† The one thing I frowned upon a tiny bit was at the pace she did her diagonal of sautees on pointe. A bit too fast, although¬† always controlled.

The mad scene was interesting.  Here Sir Wrights's  choice is to put the whole court as witnesses of the whole affair up until Giselle's  death, after which they depart the stage. Other companies make their exit earlier, usually having only the peasants witness her demise. So here Bathilde-( Christina Arestis)- watches curiously all the evolutions of her fiancee. She's  not terribly worried. Upset, yes....but not worried to death for sure. When the Court lives, it is more of a "ok...this is over...show is done" instead of "Oh Jesus...what a horrifying  thing we just saw...!"

More to come on Act II.

Act II of wright's production has also its personal touches, some of them more appealing than others. So there are two moments related to the religious nature of the work.  The first one, when Hilarion crosses himself when he feels the presence of the forest evil spirits. That's a nice touch.  The second one is not as good, which is the climactic moment when the audience needs to realize about the protection that the crucifix of Giselle's grave is supposed to give him against the willis’ diabolical power. In this version Albrech not only doesn't goes behind the cross, but he actually completely walks out of it, standing tall while watching Giselle starting to dance before joining her in the adagio.  So that detail becomes lost, something Ratmansky carefully designed and exposed with great success in his recent reconstruction.  Another detail I didn’t quite like is that here, unlike other productions, the willis don’t seem to grab Hilarion too violently during his famous deadly dancing sequence.  They merely touch him.  They also never totally complete the famous dancing circle around him, but they do chase him in very interesting undulating patterns.  Another missing moment is that of the two willis trying to pull Giselle and Albrecht out of their embrace. Hilarion is given some interesting pirouettes a la seconde while dancing on Myrtha's command. And keeping  on the Hilarion subject,  one big change I saw is that here he's  not pushed to death by the willis, but instead he's made to climb a rocky prop and commit suicide.

Another detail I was not very happy with is the choice of lighting for act II.  The whole scene never looks greenish or bluish as most of the companies.  Instead, a shade of brown permeates the whole act, which goes in detriment of the willis ghostly white well known by now scheme.

I saw four casts. Marianela  Nunez/Vadim Muntagirov, Yasmine Naghdi/Matthew Ball, Lauren Cuthbertson/Federico Bonelli and Francesca Hayward/Alexander Campbell.  To be honest, I didn’t really see any technical faults on any of the leads, nor on any Myrthas. If anything, I noticed that Bonelli was the only Albrecht who did a whole round of 32 entrechats during his near-death sequence.  The rest did a nice combination of entrechats plus other steps.  Also, Nunez was the one Giselle who actually noticeably advanced during her act I sautes on pointe diagonal.  The others quite stayed within a very short space…one of them not going past a meter.  Marianela was really superb on the technical side.  Not too convincing as a peasant young girl, but definitely a grand tragic willi and a marvelous glacial Myrtha. I will go further to say I truly enjoyed her Myrtha more than her Giselle.

Sir Peter Wright’s ending has the now all popular slow made-for-Pavlova re orchestration.  I believe the only companies that still keep the original fast ending are Alonso’s and now Ratmansky’s recon for the Bolshoi.

The house was full, and people were very enthusiastic.  I had a wonderful time.

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