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  1. As I've posted before on a few other threads, Dowell's Swan Lake was the first RB production I ever saw - in 2012 at the cinema. Agreed, it really did pack a huge emotional punch for me too. So much so, that you could say I've never really recovered - it definitely triggered my love for watching ballet! 😍 And it abundantly demonstrated to me the emotional power that ballet can have. I'm missing that from the new Swan Lake. It will be interesting to see how it comes across on the big screen when it's relayed to cinemas in June - I'm planning on catching an encore screening. Re. the tambourines - sounds like a misunderstanding between brand new addition & reinstated new to this production! Thanks for clarifying, Lizbie1. I'm glad it's back 😃
  2. I may well have misunderstood, but it's not shown on my 2009 RB Swan Lake DVD.
  3. I've been enjoying the national dances in this production too. They feel more an organic part of the story, rather than an add-on, which I gather from the Insight event was Liam Scarlett's aim. Tierney Heap impressed me in the opening night's Spanish Dance. In fact, ever since I first properly registered this dancer (back in 2015 when I thought she was fabulous dancing the title role in Carlos Acosta's 'Carmen' ) I've enjoyed Tierney Heap's performances in various roles. And I must put in a word for the "tambourine flunkeys" during the Neapolitan Dance. I gather from ballet-goers more knowledgeable than me, it's a new thing Liam Scarlett's added to his production where the tambourine flunkeys remain on stage after catching the tambourines & start playing them. I think it's a really fun touch.
  4. I wasn't at the event, but funnily enough, the other night Mr Indigo was asking me whether his favourite RB performer, Peregrine the Pony, might be in Swan Lake or any of the other ballets in the 2018/19 season!!! 😁
  5. Some rather belated thoughts on Saturday's performance & my second viewing of the new Swan Lake. I was impressed by William Bracewell's debut as Siegfried. He appeared so assured, with strong partnering & I thought it was a really good foundation to build on. His acting came across especially well, with his portrayal of a naive Prince Siegfried. In fact, he looked at his Odette so totally adoringly, I'm not surprised that by the close of Act II she was melting into his embrace. And it made the tragedy of Siegfried's inadvertant betrayal with Odile so much harder to bear. There was a lot I liked about Akane Takada's O/O; her dancing was lovely. If Akane Takada is not an innately theatrical dancer, in the way say Zenaida Yanowsky is, I get the impression (including from The Times' April 2017 interview) that her acting is an area she will continue to develop. Her Odile came across as merciless & coolly enticingly glamourous; her Odette vulnerable yet with a quiet dignity which I felt were interpretations which played to her strengths. Marcelino Sambe's Benno was good fun & as another poster has said, this worked really well with William Bracewell's take on Siegfried. At second viewing, it really struck me how much more dancing & prominence Benno has in Act I than Siegfried. I can see why Mark Monahan made the comments he did on this in his review. Though I guess Benno's role does provide a good opportunity to see other talented male dancers in the company. I'd like to see some other interpretations of Von Rothbart, as I've not yet quite made up my mind on what I think about this role. Though I imagine it's a tough challenge for the character artists to project the kind of manipulative villainy required, especially over such a prolonged time when V-R is less active but still very visible on stage, such as when sat by the queen in Act III & in parts of Act I. I'd also prefer Act III to have a slightly less frenetic pace at its climax, when everything appears to be happening at once & I feel I can't take it all in properly. I'd especially like to have more time to appreciate the black swans & frustratingly I keep missing their entrance due to being caught up in the action elsewhere on stage at the time! Although it's a great moment theatrically, I've also started wondering if V-R seizes power / control of the Kingdom at the end of Act III, why Siegfried's number one priority is to immediately dash to the lakeside to apologise to Odette? Wouldn't he be trying to defend his kingdom, his mother & his subjects? Maybe I'm just being too prosaic & unromantic. And where does the lake begin in Acts II & IV? Is the lake even really visible? After sitting pretty centrally in the front half of the amphi, I have no idea. I've asked a few other people & even though they were sitting in other parts of the auditorium, they couldn't answer that question either. It looks as though there might be shallow water ripples on the dark stage floor, but I can't be sure. If they are representing shallow water, then various cast members were dancing or entering / exiting through them which seems odd! I previously posted my impressions of the Act IV ending from the opening night & I'm afraid these haven't changed. It just doesn't move me & feels all wrong. Others will feel differently, but I keep wondering why on earth this ending was chosen. Unfortunately, I also find the vision of Odette up on the hydraulic lift rather naff. It probably didn't help that on Saturday, from the central-ish front amphi, after Odette has jumped to her death I could see her moving off the stage from behind the rock & then saw her again behind the scrim (?) getting ready for the hydraulic lift moment. Overall, I'm just not engaging emotionally with this production so far. I can admire the dancing, costumes, sets etc. And there is a lot to admire about this Swan Lake. But after two performances, sadly it's just not touching my heart. Though if anything can change that, it will be Yasmine Naghdi's debut O/O - experience has taught me to pack extra tissues for her performances in narrative ballets. Roll on the 28th, double Swan Lake day!
  6. On the ROH news webpage, "Your Reaction: What did you think of Swan Lake 2018?" a poster suggests that Gary Avis may not be performing as VR, though they hope the RB will confirm to the contrary. I'd love to see what Gary could do with this role too.
  7. Lovely to hear that about Solomon Golding. On World Ballet Day 2017, I'm pretty sure I spotted him in a SFB rehearsal segment & hoped he would do well there.
  8. Why, what can happen? Do they become a whooppe cushion or something?!?!? 😲 I occasionally use the ROH blow-up cushions when I'm sat in places with no-one behind me, to get an extra clear view of the stage. Crikey, I'd never thought to check the bung before now!!! Though thinking about it they can make a bit of a squeaking sound if you don't sit pretty still...
  9. I was recently sat fairly central front row Amphi & the person sat next to me was short. They leaned forward slightly & from our discussion in the interval appeared to have a very clear view. (Because they were so short, I don't think the view of the people behind in Row B was affected by them leaning forward.) Alternatively, as Janet says, they can easily ask for a blow up cushion - on the Amphi level they're in the corridor behind the ice cream stand / interval bar pre-order where the pop-up shop was.
  10. I'm certainly not defending this part of Mark Monahan's review, which came across oddly in this section to me too. But I have to confess that there were a few occasions when Von Rothbart in Acts I & III reminded me of someone in both appearance & in the style of their villainous intent. After reading the review I realised it was the cartoon character, Gru 😮 Though I did suspect that this was more attributable to the skulking Von Rothbart had been assigned to do at court & the choices of the costume / wig design department, rather than the individual dancer. Bennet Gartside is such a talented actor, that I feel confident his interpretation of the newly enhanced role of Von Rothbart will deepen & develop further as the run progresses. I'm booked for quite a few more performances, so as well as looking forward to the interpretations of others cast as Von Rothbart, I'm hoping to catch Bennet's Von Rothbart again because there was a lot about his interpretation that I appreciated & enjoyed. It would be great if the ROH could add this casting information to their Swan Lake webpage, as they did before (if IIRC). Edit: Just to add that at first viewing, I liked the expanded role of Von Rothbart & what this adds to the overall narrative sense.
  11. I hope it's ok to quote a sentence from The Telegraph's review here (mods - please remove if not), as Von Rothbart gets a very different cultural reference to that of Hamlet!!! 😕 "Bennet Gartside (also Scarlett’s manager) is one of the finest dancer-actors around but on Thursday, in the character’s disguised, courtly, perpetually scowling incarnation, he bore a distracting and comic resemblance to Gru from Despicable Me, and struggled to bring genuine menace to the part."
  12. On initial viewing, this was my feeling about the ending too. I wasn’t swept away emotionally as I have been by the previous production’s Act IV. I also struggled to suspend my disbelief at the culmination of Act IV. I didn’t read the plot synopsis on the cast list beforehand, so when Seigfried goes off behind the rock to retrieve Odette's body, I had a moment of confusion & started wondering whether he was wading out into the lake to drown himself. When he reappeared, it prompted questions such as: hadn’t Odette jumped off that rock to kill herself? So is the water deep enough to drown in below it, or was it the fall that was fatal? How did he retrieve her body so easily? I realise this is fairytale / magic ☺️, but I was working very hard to focus on the tragedy & not the practicalities, which is something I don’t usually have to do in Swan Lake. As Seigfried reappears from behind the rock with Odette’s body, I also experienced a jolt of exasperation: not AGAIN. The ending felt too similar to Manon, Giselle, Marguerite & Armand… Curtain falls on lead man cradling / carrying / weeping over dead female lead. I preferred Seigfried dying too & being reunited with Odette in some other magical realm. The above is my only real gripe with the new production on first viewing. Magnificent dancing, performances, sets, costumes... I appreciated the improved, coherent narrative & clever set transitions between the palace & the lakeside. So having got that out of my system, I hope to get fully swept away by the other performances I’m booked to see.
  13. Oh heck! Glad you mentioned this as I'm normally dressed pretty casually. I was too busy being majorly excited about opening night & haven't given any thought whatsoever to my outfit. Not sure I'll go as far as getting out the ironing board though, as I'm only in the amphi 😃 I'll be accompanied tomorrow night by a relative who's pretty new to ballet, so I'm hoping the extra buzz of excitement will help her to enjoy her first classical tutu ballet. Can't wait! I'll be at the bottom of the escalator too. Perhaps from BBB's comment, there'll be an opportunity for a bit of celebrity spotting there?
  14. Yesterday, I downloaded a free edition of the Abbé Prévost novel (in English) on my kindle & am about a third of the way through – around the point where Des Grieux is in prison & has just found out Manon is in the Magdalen. You’re right that the story in the novel is essentially being narrated by Des Grieux & I can see your point there regarding a male narrator. (Though interestingly, in MacMillan’s ballet, Des Grieux isn’t really fleshed out as a character, in my view.) Lizbie1 a few posts up-thread gets to the heart of what I mean, which is why I ‘liked’ the post. (I haven’t seen Cathy Marston’s Jane Eyre or enough MacMillan ballets to comment on the specific example.) I’ll wait until I’ve had a chance to finish the novel & ponder on it, before commenting too much. But so far there is a fascinating psychological angle to the romantic relationship between Des Grieux & Manon. It certainly doesn’t read to me as Romeo & Juliet style love in the novel, or as a healthy romantic relationship. I’m getting very unhealthy co-dependency vibes & Manon comes across as high in narcissistic traits. I shall read on…
  15. I don’t know what changes have been made to Manon since MacMillan died, but it’s certainly possible there have been some, though (as others say) I’ve also had the impression that his works & legacy are very well protected by his wife. My understanding is that MacMillan based his ballet Manon on the 1731 novel, but made quite a few changes. It’s what he chose to alter / concentrate on / depict that gives me the impression I’m seeing the story told from the perspective of a male choreographer. Though I do appreciate that MacMillan allowed his Manon to be a very flawed & unpleasant character at times, rather than a “tart with a heart”. Also that the dancers can bring their own interpretations to the role. And I’m certainly not saying that male choreographers should not be choreographing ballets about women, or that female choreographers should not be choreographing ballets about men. But I am aware of feeling that after four years of visiting the ROH & watching majority male choreographed ballet on the main stage, I would just like to see more stories which feature a central female protagonist, actually being told by a woman.