We were privileged to see absolutely dazzling dancing in this revival of Balanchine’s Jewels by the Royal Ballet.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Balanchine’s work and a decade since it became part of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire.
The three works, all without a clear narrative structure, are a homage by Balanchine to French Romanticism (Emeralds) America and Broadway (Rubies) and the Imperial Russian ballet of Petipa ( Diamonds). The works feature scores by three composers – Faure , Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
f we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber’d here. While these visions did appear – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scene 7
Stunningly danced the latest screening of the Palace Opera and Ballet season is the Paris Opera Ballet’s presentation of Balanchine’s A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM in two acts and six scenes .It is the first time the Paris Opera Ballet has performed this particular Balanchine work , one of Balanchine’s few narrative ballets .
If you want to see pure, dazzling, practically perfect classical ballet technique danced superbly then this screening is for you.
The Paris Opera Ballet’s revival of Nureyev’s SWAN LAKE is superb. The production choreographed by Nureyev was first presented at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1984 and previously last seen in 2011. This screening was of the performance that took place at the Opera Bastille in Paris on the 8th December 2016.
Nureyev’s rather Freudian version is presented as if it is the main characters Siegfried’s dying dream, controlled by Wolfgang, his tutor, who in Siegfried’s mind becomes the mysterious, malevolent Rothbart. The orchestra, under maestro Vello Pahn, plays superbly .
A must see for balletomanes, this is completely Natalia Ospiova’s show as Anastasia and she is more than sensational.
The Royal Ballet has just completed the live performances of this production which took place at between the 26th October and the 12th November. We are privileged to see this amazing production via the filming of the performance which took place on the 2nd November which is being presented as part of the current Palace Opera and Ballet season.
The ballet’s subject is the mysterious woman, known as Anna Anderson, who was incarcerated in a mental hospital in Berlin from 1920 and claimed to be Anastasia, daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, who somehow escaped from the cellar where the imperial family had been murdered by the Bolsheviks. Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan explores the whole notion – Was she or wasn’t she?! Continue reading THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS ANASTASIA @ THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, LONDON→
Instead of a traditional Nutcracker this year we are treated to a revival by the Royal Ballet of Christopher Wheeldon’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND first seen in 2011. Whilst perhaps a trifle overlong and unwieldy, this work is visually stunning with some fabulous theatrical effects, dazzling dancing, and magnificent choreography.
There are perhaps hints and allusions to the Nutcracker in certain parts of Wheeldon’s choreography. Joby Talbot’s glittering,wonderful score is full of glissando mood swings and snazzy character expression.
The ballet begins by introducing all the cast at a garden party where Alice’s mother sacks the under-gardener, Jack (Federico Bonnelli) for stealing a jam tart. This is a cause for tears and tantrums from young Alice (Sarah Lamb) who was rather hoping to see him later for a tryst. Very handsome Bonnelli dances wonderfully as the Knave of Hearts/Jack . Alice’s home is also visited by the ‘real’ Carroll (that is, Charles Dodgson) and by characters who will later reappear in Wonderland.The work feels, at times, a bit dominated by set and visual design values. Continue reading The Royal Ballet’s Alice In Wonderland→
Three years in the making, this new, specially commissioned work by Christopher Wheeldon is a major landmark production. It is only the second new full length narrative ballet commissioned by the Royal Ballet in the past twenty years. Technically it dazzles and at times it is emotionally shattering.
One of Shakespeare’s difficult ‘problem plays’ with a very complicated plot, it has never been adapted for the ballet stage before. Wheeldon returns to the Royal Ballet’s history of full length narrative works , following in the footsteps of Macmillan and Ashton for example , in this splendid work ( not forgetting his own ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. )There are six main roles and lots for the corps de ballet ensemble to do – especially in Act2 in Bohemia as bucolic shepherd/esses in an enchanting pastoral setting.
In this huge production by the Royal Ballet the dancing is superb, especially by the two leads. It has an extremely ‘traditional’ feel about it and is a 2006 attempt to reconstruct the famous 1946 Oliver Messell production that reopened the Royal Opera House after World War 11, starring Fonteyn and Helpmann.
This current production was always all about remembering the company’s immensely rich heritage. Monica Mason, then artistic director, set out to restore most aspects of the now legendary 1946-67 production by Ninette de Valois (director), Oliver Messel (designer), Ashton (coach and supplementary choreographer) and Fonteyn (prima ballerina).
As big as ‘Ben Hur’ or ‘Les Miserables’ , huge , sprawling ,long and epic, volcanically powerful, dramatic and passionate this is a magnificent version of this rarely seen Verdi opera , part of the Royal Opera House’s celebrations of the Verdi bicentenary and the first time the Royal Opera House has staged it .It was the first of the two operas that Verdi was to write, with a French text, for the Paris Opéra. Composed between ‘La Traviata’ and the first version of ‘Simon Boccanegra’ it was first performed in 1855, and therefore was after his earlier successes with “Rigoletto”, “La Traviata” and “Il Trovatore” ,and yet it points the way to later major works such as “Aida”, “Otello” and “Falstaff”. It demands a huge corps de ballet and two choruses on top of the usual soloists and a big pit orchestra – a marvellous example of the French ‘Grand opera ‘style indeed.
The orchestra is superb and the singing ravishing . Director Stefan Herheim has updated the action from the French occupation of Sicily in the 13th century, and a Sicilian revolt that massacred 3,000 French in 1282, to an opera house in 19th-century Paris.The prologue back- story is condensed into the overture and we see de Montfort terrorise and rape one of the dancers . The introduction of setting of an opera house within an opera house allowed Herheim and the Royal Opera’s music director Antonio Pappano to cram the largest possible chorus on to the Covent Garden stage. One chorus, at main stage level, portrays the Sicilian peasants,in folk costume , while another chorus of French soldiers in wonderful uniforms and socialites in glorious posh evening gowns occupy the loge and balconies of the stage-set opera house.Fürhofer’s sets provide spectacular reflecting cross-sections of auditorium and stage, with intriguing use of mirrors and reflection their geometry ( an opera within an opera) always changing .
The story of the uprising of the Sicilians against their French oppressors is therefore developed to become something more complex and more intricately layered, both a study of the tension between the people and the military and an exploration of how artists are exploited by the society that creates them. André De Jong’s choreography blends easily with it , the dancers seeming to come from the Degas period at times ( very Giselle /La Sylphide of the romantic era ) but there are also dark hints of the evil underside of the occupation etc with the use of dancers in black tutus – a dark ‘Swan Lake’ . The choreography is a great mix of contemporary and the style of the period. Visually there are many arresting images with hints of EA Poe’s ‘The Red Death’ with the use of masks and emphasis on skulls etc and also possibly Beardsley? And the lighting by Andres Poll is starkly dramatic at times with a Caravaggio like effect.
Another major theme of the opera is father/son relationships. The duet in Act3 between our tenor hero Henri,( deftly, excellently sung by Volle) who thinks himself to be a Sicilian of low birth but fiery, patriotic and full of anti-French fervour, and the man that a letter from his dead mother testifies is in fact his missing father – none other than Guy de Montfort, the villain of the piece , the hated commander of the French occupying forces stops the show . This gives the emotional impact that makes Verdi operas so human, especially as sung here by Hymel and Michael Volle as the French occupation chief who insists the young rebel now call him “father” in order to save the woman he loves. Volle’s brooding ‘Mon Fil ’ is superb , at times wistful and delicate , joyous and hopeful , at other times cold and proudly demanding – a highlight of the evening . Hymel , torn yet defiant as Henri is also magnificent .
Helene was terrifically sung by Helene LIanna Haroutounuian.Her black mourning dress in Act1 is superb but what a grisly, bizarre entrance with the head of her murdered brother! Her opening aria (Viens à nous, Dieu tutélaire / “Pray, O mighty God, calm with thy smile both sky and sea”), was splendid and ends with a rallying-cry (Courage!…du courage!) to the Sicilians to rebel against the occupiers .She was also inspirational in Les Jeunes Amies” (The Young Friends), which is the most famous tune from the work and here part of the joyous wedding celebrations .The duet between Helene and Henri revealing their love in Act 4 when facing death is also another highlight.
Erwin Schrott, as the rebel leader and passionate patriot Jean Procida, here shown as a limping ballet master , was magnificent .For starters his Et toi, Palerme / “O thou Palermo, adored land …”. in Act1 is breathtaking and stops the show. Bravo!
A long but thrilling and chilling night at the Royal Opera House. This was filmed at the Royal Opera House London November 4 2013.Running time four and a half hours (approx) including two intervals
Verdi’s Les Vepres Siciliennes runs at selected cinemas for a few dates only