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  1. Clearly the lights were not raised sufficiently (but it really was black on the opening night)! And at least you had an unrestricted view, once seated.
  2. I have had a response from the Barbican: "We did raise the level of the house lights after the first performance as we were also aware that the low level was causing difficulties for our audience but I am sorry this was a concern on the evening you attended. The lack of a rake for the front three rows is not usually a problem in The Pit but appreciate it does have an impact with dance pieces so I thank you for bringing this to our attention. The difficulty with the music for Dance Concertantes and Laiderette is that there have been no recent recordings so the quality was not ideal but the best available. Viviana Durante chose the programme with great care and in close consultation with Deborah MacMillan. She wanted to interject a contrasting piece to the drama of House of Birds and Laiderette and the pas de deux from Dance Concertantes provided a delightful albeit brief interlude." I'm very pleased the house lights were raised for subsequent performances. I'm sure the addition of the extra row AA was the real problem as regards obstructed views and Sim and others have asked about this. It was the Stravinsky that was so distorted (even more so when watching the Live Stream where we have a recording of a poor recording). I did ask whether a piano reduction might have been considered - it was about 3.5 minutes. I hadn't appreciated that Danse Concertantes pdd was in effect an amuse bouche. Being greedy I'd loved to have seen all three ballets performed in full - perhaps in the Linbury? I have very much enjoyed seeing the Live Stream despite the jumpy video and poor sound. Very good to see what I missed and I will certainly watch again before it disappears into the ether. But it seems such a pity that the effort and artistry going into the programme was rather let down by environmental factors which ought to be pretty basic for a theatre.
  3. I'm sorry Sim and zxDaveM also had such restricted views. As there hadn't been much comment about the poor view/dim lighting, I wondered if it were just me and I'd exaggerated the problems. After Wednesday's opening night and my post, I'd felt obliged to pass on my comments to the Box Office. I received a prompt acknowledgement and a promise that I would get a full response within 5 working days so I shall see if I hear anything tomorrow. I am just very pleased that the performance was filmed so there's still time to look again and also how good it has been to read the critics' comments, although I can't believe they were sitting in row B.
  4. I very much enjoyed your post Duck but am not sure what you're suggesting here - I thought the Bernstein Chichester Psalms was given a complete performance for Yugen?
  5. Arsene Wenger

    Many thanks MAB. I don't think Jeremy Corbyn has ever made any secret of his passionate support for Arsenal, unlike one alleged supporter whose lifetime of discretion and service would certainly rule out any public display! I recall Arsenal many years ago. They had an ex Rugby Union footballer as centre half and he would sometimes take a free kick, seemingly aiming for touch near the opponent's corner flag. What a transformation there's been in the whole approach to football and levels of skill. Arsene Wenger has made a colossal contribution, with Arsenal respecting financial fair play rules.
  6. Arsene Wenger

    Greatly saddened to hear the news of Arsene Wenger leaving Arsenal. I do hope Arsenal manage to win the Europa Cup which would be a fitting way to mark the end of an extraordinary 22 years. He revolutionised football, not just at Arsenal, with his approach to training, preparation, diet, exercise, tactics and skill. He leaves an extraordinary legacy. I was going to say definitely 'not ballet' but at its best there are remarkable similarities with the training, dedication, celebration of striving for perfection and occasionally getting glimpses of it.
  7. As a footnote I did see yesterday’s matinee. Some good news with Valentino Zucchetti back on stage after injury as Lescaut and much was enjoyable, particularly Meaghan Grace Hinkis’s Mistress, Bennet Gartside as GM, and Gary Avis as the Gaoler. Is was good to see the detail from so many characters in the rich tapestry presented through much of Manon. I enjoyed Melissa Hamilton’s Manon. Nehemiah Kish was De Grieux and I’m afraid I spent some time asking myself why, without managing a convincing answer, and worrying about Swan Lake. I’ve enjoyed his Song of the Earth, Monotones and the Creature, and found his Albrecht this time much more sympathetic than previously. But on getting home I saw the favourable comments of others and am very pleased that clearly a number of members of the audience were enthusiastic. There certainly was good applause for all the principals and the entire cast at curtain call.
  8. Just back from London with chance on the train to reflect on what I’d seen. What a fabulous performance of Manon on Thursday evening with Francesca Hayward and the full cast delivering a performance I’ve been longing for. Francesca is utterly captivating, intoxicating in her zest for life and torn between her lover and riches - the desperation of wanting your cake and eating it laid bare. Her dancing is crystalline as we know so well. She seems to have so much time and the arcs she shapes have the perfection of Giotto’s free hand circle whether she’s partnered by De Grieux, Lescaut, GM, or any of her myriad partners in Manon. I love the detail in her characterisation, the first encounter with De Grieux and the realisation that here may be something so much more than she’s experienced to date, the playfulness with the beggar musicians as she sits back stage, the touch of the bed when she chooses GM’s riches in preference to her love for De Grieux at the end of Act 1, the horror at finding De Grieux muscling in on the Act 2 ‘pass the Manon parcel’ PD too many to count, and then how she melts when De Grieux shoves the last gentleman out of the grand chain, how she can twist GM not so much around her little finger but a flick of her foot or a suggested caress of her foot. I love her disgust of the gaoler and how she flings her bracelet so brutally forced upon her a few moments earlier by the gaoler at his body. Here we see Manon has ultimately chosen love not riches and perhaps that is why we love her and are so moved by the final, devastating pas de deux. With Francesca as Manon she demands are attention whenever she is on stage. I’ve highlighted the scene with the beggar musician and the first meeting with De Grieux, all very much back stage. The control she has over GM at the card table is riveting. Inevitably some of the ‘entertainment’ performed centre stage is relegated to a side show when so attracted to Manon and her performance but how satisfying to know that the rich backcloth is being presented by the Royal Ballet on top form and the audience can choose what to follow. It will be interesting to see what the cinema director chooses for us. Christopher Saunders and Gary Avis made for a suitably appalling pair as GM and the Gaoler, encapsulating the arrogance of wealth and absolute power. I very much enjoyed Claire Calvert’s Mistress although because I was drawn so much of the time to Manon I know I missed seeing the detail of some of her performance. But I was spell bound by Alexander Campbell and Federico Bonelli as Lescaut and De Grieux who provided such well crafted characters to make this Manon so special. Alex is such a brilliant dancer with formidable technique. You know his jumps and spins will be immaculate. And he fleshes out Lescaut so vividly - that beckoning signal to his Mistress’s foot during the drunk PDD when it was out of reach was one of countless details, perfect timing and delivery showing his absolute control. I thought Federico made for a fabulous De Grieux, the reserved student, at first doubting whether Manon would fall for him, but then utterly intoxicated by her. Beautifully presented solos and a passionate performance with fabulous, breathtaking PDDs. I’m so pleased to have seen this performance and had chance to have a word with Francesca and Alex at the stage door. Fortunately I’ve tickets for the originally scheduled performances by these three principals in May but before then I’ve been able to pick up a good return ticket for 28 April for Akane Takada and Alex’s De Grieux debut, with James Hay as Lescaut.
  9. I did provide some feedback to the Barbican on the lack of lighting when entering/leaving the auditorium and impact of row AA. They do have a useful email facility - info@barbican.org.uk. I do hope zxDaveM and bangorballetboy have a better view. The brief free programme was helpful and also yesterday's dance tab links is good - the interview with Viviana Durante. The three dances were just under an hour in total and the discussion 15 minutes so the whole programme finished c9pm.
  10. The brief programme gives full casting details for all performances. I should have said how good the costumes are for all three ballets! Thanks also for setting this up under Performances.
  11. Just back from seeing this. An interesting evening but first a few gripes. I hadn't been to The Pit before and was disappointed with a number of aspects. The lighting was virtually non existent when entering the auditorium and very difficult to find seats, with tiny seat numbers. Many people struggled. I mentioned how dark it was to an usher but it seemed it was intentionally dark to help create an appropriate atmosphere. Adding the extra row AA seriously compromised the view for me in row B. Rows AA and A are at the same level and the step up for row B is minimal. With just row A I imagine the view would have been ok and I'll look forward to seeing what I missed when the performance is available on line. It didn't help that a guy in row AA kept his hat on throughout the performance. The Stravinsky and Martin music were recordings and I found the Stravinsky particularly distorted. The House of Birds was much better with a live pianist. My final gripe is that the extract from Danses Concertantes was pretty minimal - little more than a couple of minutes. I think the audience was pretty surprised/disappointed that it was over so quickly. That said I'm very pleased to have gone. The extract from House of Birds was good and I enjoyed seeing Lauren Cuthbertson, Thiago Soares and Sayaka Ichikawa in the lead parts. The setting also worked well and I guess would have been great from row AA. Given how short the extract from Danses Concertantes was, it's difficult to say very much. Again good to see Akane Takada with Jose Alves if only briefly - I see Benjamin Ella is dancing the performances on 20 and 21. The highlight for me was Laiderette performed in full - very disturbing but fabulous to see Francesca Hayward make so much of the role in such an intimate setting. Thiago Soares was again very strong. At the the end of the evening there was a 15 minute panel discussion and it was fascinating to hear how Laiderette was notated from a black and white film although at the end the questions did rather fall into the deferential 1950s BBC style 'Is there anything you would like to say Minister'. The panel discussion features at every performance. I very much hope the ROH will put on such an evening when the Linbury reopens but with full ballets or certainly more generous extracts. With all the work gone into recreating Laiderette it would be good to see it performed in a more comfortable setting with significantly better views.
  12. Many thanks Bluebird - I'm sure your Friday Rush/Student comment explains a lot.
  13. I see a few Upper Slips seats which seem grey but are the bulk of the grey seats those in the Stalls Circle nearest the stage which have been pretty much removed from sale for some years now for 'acoustic reasons' as noted on the multicoloured, easier to read price map by production? The maps do show all the Upper Slips seats having a price.
  14. BBC Young Musician

    An astonishing performance in the percussion final by Matthew Brett: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0643458 The percussion highlights programme is also well worth seeing, with interesting background on the competitors and music, including the composer Jan Bradley for Matthew Brett's last piece, given its world premiere in the final. The link is for Matthew's whole performance.
  15. Royal Ballet 2018/19 Season

    Just a couple of comments about the pricing structure for 2018/19. The 'dynamic pricing' I think is more about having pretty much separate pricing for each production, with seats not being allocated to a particular price band. For example seats H3 and H4 in the orchestral stalls (favourites of mine) can be in the purple, green or orange price bracket depending on the production. There are many other instances where seats move between price bands - indeed H1 and H2 are in 4 price bands, purple, green, orange and pink. The second point is that the matinee price discount varies considerably, ranging from 0% (i.e. no discount at all for Hansel and Gretel -unless that's an error which I doubt as there are only 5 performances in total, 2 of which are matinees) to 20% (for Nutcracker). For Mayerling the discount is 16%, Bayadere 8% (but 0% for standing unless that's a misprint), and 12.5% for Carmen. I'm not making a point of criticism but simply drawing attention to the information now available. In recent years there has been some flexibility in price categories for seats: what we see in the Autumn is much greater flexibility which I think is really the point of 'dynamic pricing'. I imagine it's well worth having a good look at what is happening to your preferred seats.