Celebrating the 40th anniversary of its premiere, Royal Opera House (ROH) Live opens the current season of opera and ballet with a stunning performance by the Royal Ballet of Sir Kenneth Macmillan’s MAYERLING. Superb performances by the huge cast are led by Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb .The fiendishly difficult, almost impossibly acrobatic death defying choreography is dazzlingly danced.
It is a dark and disturbing work, based on the true story of Crown Prince Rudolf (Steven McRae) and his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera (Sarah Lamb) set against the backdrop of the stuffy yet rigid Austrian-Hungarian royal court in 1889 and the world of fin de siecle Vienna. There is also political turmoil bubbling underneath.
There are not many major ballet works that feature drug use, skulls and guns, especially to such a degree. And opera is also included in the party scene in Act 2. The staging is labyrinthine, the set designs looming and opulently lavish, the costumes incredibly detailed. Under the baton of Koen Kessels the ROH Orchestra is in glowing, passionate form. Lizst’s music swirls, ebbs and crashes towards the tumultuous tragic end. Continue reading ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LIVE : THE ROYAL BALLET PRESENTS MAYERLING→
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.
This glorious, glittering production marks the 50th anniversary of this landmark work, choreographed by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, now regarded as a classic by the Royal Ballet. It gets the 2015/2016 Palace Opera and Ballet season off to a tremendous start.
With its sumptuous sets,including a portcullis for the outside of the Capulet mansion, looming scary angels for the crypt scene and Byzantine like paintings for the church scenes, very detailed and ornate costumes, wonderful lighting and the lush, lyrical, achingly passionate Prokofiev music, the Royal Opera House orchestra under the enthusiastic energetic baton of Koen Kessells were sensational, this is a splendid version. This ballet feels as fresh as if it was created yesterday, and MacMillan’s extraordinary, very detailed and at times extremely difficult choreography dazzles. Continue reading PALACE OPERA AND BALLET PRESENTS THE ROYAL BALLET IN ROMEO AND JULIET→
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).