As part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season, celebrating 70 years at the Royal Opera House, the Royal Ballet brings it season to a close with a tribute to its founder choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton.
The tribute comprised a marvellous triple bill featuring The Dream (1964), based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the non-narrative work Symphonic Variations (1946) to music by Franck (Ashton’s first work after World War 2), and then finally the 1963 passionate, tempestuous Marguerite and Armand (1963), based on La Dame Aux Camellias, created for the legendary partnership of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev to a Lizst sonata.
This particular performance also marks the retirement from the stage of principal Zenaida Yanowsky and at the end we see the extended curtain calls and appearances by several of her leading men who have partnered her over the years in various roles.
Opening the program was a delightful revival of The Dream. The forest clearing set was enchanting and beautifully lit, the Mendelssohn music gloriously played by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the energetic baton of Emmanuel Plasson with the London Oratory Junior Choir giving a fine performance. The fairies were absolutely enchanting. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET : ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS AN ASHTON TRIPLE BILL→
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.