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I was unable to be at the London Coliseum tonight for the first night of ENB's Sleeping Beauty (Kenneth MacMillan production), but I know a lot of forum members were, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

 

Our coverage of the previous run can be found here:

 

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Posted (edited)

As usual don't any longer have time to write a considered review - but wanted to start the train of this chain off with but a few personal jottings.

 

 What a delight this evening was = wrapped in glory by the ENB Philharmonic under the unwavering magic that is Gavin Sutherland's baton.  Cojocaru's Aurora - aptly named -  was delicacy personified and joy rejuvenated.  She did more than simply shine.  Her luminous patina was always richly radiant with a sleek sheen; not glitz.  So refreshing it was (how could Mason have NOT wanted her to dance Aurora at the end of her time with the RB.  Her RA (Rose Adagio) tonight was a thing of total and ostensibly private beauty shared with us all).  Cojocaru was more than ably abetted throughout by the extraordinary Caley.  What thrill he brought to this Act III variation.  Indeed, he reminded me in parts of Julio Bocca - who I saw dance this production any number of times - most vividly I recall on those occasions with Annanashvilli.  Caley's salvos in the name of Prince Desire -  rich always in his musical placement - didn't rush; they erupted with dignity.   Cojocaru and Caley looked glorious together.  I so hope they will do more.  The entire company looked in brilliantine fashion - and were obviously having a whale of a time - as were the people about me in the Dress Circle.  Above all, however, stood the reigning spectacle of the Bluebird (a effervescent Daniel McCormick - what a find this young lad is) and the EVER ravishing Rina Kanehara as his Princess Florine.  She has a vivacious puissance which is entirely her own; filled always with rightful vim and verve ... and those eyes; oh, those eyes - they speak volumes.  Would that we could bottle her formula - perhaps the NHS would not seem so reportedly failing ... and oh, that she too could have an Aurora.  That is a thrill I know will come in time ... and I can already feel the inestimable wattage of its exultation in my heart.   Bless Tamara Rojo for ALL.  The glory of this work speaks for itself.  Heartily.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Alison I was composing a brief note on this while you posted.  Perhaps you could add your notation to mine - or the reverse .... to waylay the duplication.  Thank you. 

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I agree Bruce.  A wonderful evening!  

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6 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

wrapped in glory by the ENB Philharmonic under the unwavering magic that is Gavin Sutherland's baton

 

They are indeed a glorious orchestra, thrillingly conducted. I'd even go so far as to say that on last night's blazing form they're the best pit orchestra I can recall hearing.

 

I was so pleased to hear them getting the biggest cheer of the night - shouts of bravo aplenty.

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7 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

  Cojocaru was more than ably abetted throughout by the extraordinary Caley.  What thrill he brought to this Act III variation.  Indeed, he reminded me in parts of Julio Bocca - who I saw dance this production any number of times - most vividly I recall on those occasions with Annanashvilli.  Caley's salvos in the name of Prince Desire -  rich always in his musical placement - didn't rush; they erupted with dignity.   Cojocaru and Caley looked glorious together. 

 

This is interesting, Bruce, as I think Jan M posted information a few days ago about Julio Bocca coaching on this production..looks like that has been a fruitful engagement!

Am going to see this on Friday (Cojucaru) and next week (Alexandrova) and you have whetted my appetite for SB indeed!

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Cojocaru is extraordinary - such a musical ballerina and her phrasing on Aurora’s solos was incredibly nuanced.   Just in a class of her own as Aurora.

 

And agree with Bruce that Bluebird was beautifully done by both performers (although the man’s costume is awful - horrid shiny tights) and Kanehara’s prologue fairy variation was the best of a slightly uneven bunch too.

 

I think this was first time for me seeing the Macmillan production which was interesting.  Not sure about the Garland waltz but I liked the Lilac Fairy’s role throughout - beautifully done by Shiori Kase.

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1 minute ago, Lindsay said:

Not sure about the Garland waltz

 

I couldn't work out whether there was something amiss with the choreography or execution or both :(

 

I thought Daniel McCormick's Bluebird in particular was marvellous - from my position high up, his elevation looked remarkable: perhaps others lower down can confirm or otherwise.

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I was in the stalls and McCormick's Bluebird was marvellous.  Very high elevation to his jumps, beautiful battements, and perfectly placed turns.  I was very impressed with him, and can see why he is an Emerging Dancer finalist.   

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IIRC, the splits in this production are after the Prologue and after Act I, running Acts II and III together - am I right?  If so, could someone please let me know roughly what time Act I started?  Thanks.

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, alison said:

IIRC, the splits in this production are after the Prologue and after Act I, running Acts II and III together - am I right?  If so, could someone please let me know roughly what time Act I started?  Thanks.

 

Act 1 was due to start around 8.20-25pm  but there seemed to be a bit of a delay, presumably because of the difficulty of getting First Night VIPs back to their seats.

 

Edited to add that your memories of the production are correct.

Edited by Bluebird

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Bruce Wall has said it much better than I could, a marvellous evening indeed, so glad I splashed out on a better seat for a change, more than worth it,  Alina Cojocaru gave a superb musical and technical Rose Adagio with absolutely perfect balances,  wonderful dancing and partnering from Joseph Caley, and then what joyous dancing from Rina Kanehara and Daniel McCormick in the Bluebird pdd, so well matched,  both adorable!

Liked James Streeter's Carabosse too, like a crazy Queen Elizabeth the First.

Really looking forward to Maria Alexandrova next week!

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I am seeing her tonight which is why I am holding off writing more....I am sure it will be very different from Alina's interpretation last night.  How beautiful it was, so I am very much looking forward to Maria A. tonight!

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Okay, in response to Ruth's question from earlier, I have just done a trip to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square, and there are far more performances showing on their screen than there are on the website, including stalls tickets for tonight's performance, so yes, the answer is that you can't rely on the website for an accurate picture.  Not that I'm prepared to waste £10 and a couple of hours just travelling up on the off-chance ...

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I agree with everything said above - we were there yesterday, too. 

 

Bruce Wall has beautifully translated into words what I and my companions thought, and it was a brilliant evening. Alina Cojocaru's Aurora was mesmerising, and we are still having an ongoing discussion as to who was better as Aurora - Alina Cojocaru last night or Natalia Osipova in the Royal Ballet version from a year or so ago; I am interested to see what other forum members think, as well. The other dancers were also on form, and I personally liked Shiory Kase as the Lilac Fairy; Carabosse got a good booing (me included) at the curtain call, which was funny (Beryl H - I also though he looked like Queen Elizabeth I !).

 

The orchestra really brought Tchikovsky's score to life and they were great. We were in the Upper Circle, and it was by no means full, and I think that is a shame as it is a wonderful production, with sumptuous costumes to boot. If anyone still hasn't bought tickets, then just do it - you will not be disappointed, especially as the discount codes in the "Special Ticket Offers" section of this forum are still working.

 

I am very fortunate to have tickets for Swan Lake on Saturday (Osipova/Ball) which we are looking forward to naturally (and we have a jazz concert for Friday), so it's a busy week for me.

 

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It's a very good production - do go if you can fit it in.  In fact, I feel a new thread coming on ..

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Posted (edited)

We were there for today's matinee...great views of the whole stage from near the front of the stalls, unlike at ROH where low seating positions, and people in front, can limit the view. Also a lot cheaper...and as it was  a lovely production, it was indeed a shame not to have a full house.

(That said, for all its foibles, I prefer the special, somehow warmer and cosier, atmosphere of the ROH).

Erina Takahashi was a fantastic Aurora, and well supported by Aitor Arrieta debuting as Prince Desire. I thought that Francesca Velicu looked very graceful and accomplished and I can understand why she is regarded as one to watch, whilst Julia Conway was a great Florine.

Edited by Richard LH
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I also went to the matinee yesterday. I haven't seen this production before and I thought the costumes and sets were ravishing; particularly the hunting scene which looked like some old masters painting. I chose this performance because I was struck by the young spanish soloist Aitor Arrieta as James in Sylphide. I thought he made an impressive debut yesterday.  He is tall and graceful with a nice line, and an engaging stage presence. His partnering was considerate, he takes great care to present his ballerina, and his solos were nicely executed. Like Richard I thought that Erina Takahashi was a delightful Aurora and Francesca Velicu also caught my eye. In fact I thought the corps dancing in the vision scene was excellent, as were Aurora's friends (?) in Act 3. 

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I was also at yesterday’s matinee and enjoyed it immensely. Erina Takahashi was an excellent Aurora, extremely confident in the role and a beautiful, graceful dancer. I loved her characterisation and emotional portrayal of Aurora with Aurora growing in confidence as the story unfolded. Aitor Arrieta was also very good. His pas de deux solo variation was excellent, with big clean leaps and landings, I just wish Prince Désiré had a bit more ‘big’ dancing to do. The Bluebird pair were wonderful and as noted above Julia Conway was a great Princess Florine. Her story telling was lovely and her face so expressive. Begona Cao was a superb Lilac Fairy. In fact everyone was good.

I very much like this production with, in my view, a stronger story telling than the RB version. I’m going to have to do some googling to find out who/what Gold, Diamond and Silver are though.

As an ROH regular it was nice to be able to afford stalls seats and to sit in the front row and still see the dancers’ feet!

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Did anyone see Maria Alexandrova last night. I met someone on the train this morning who had been. He seemed reluctant to commit himself. I am sure others will be more forthcoming. I am due to see her soon.

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I saw her.  I thought she was ok, but this isn't really her natural role.  I also think she was a bit nervous at first, and she did get better as it went along.  She was ok with Aaron Robison, but it often looked like a real effort for him to lift her, and he almost dropped her in the second fish dive in Act 3. I didn't feel any chemistry between the two leads, nor did I get any sense of character development from Aurora like I did on Wednesday night.    Alina Cojocaru would have been a hard act for anyone to follow, so maybe I should have waited until Maria's second performance to go along.  

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I too saw Alexandrova last night, and I found her performance disappointing. I also agree with Sim that there was no chemistry with her partner. More generally, I found the performance underwhelming. Quite a few of the soloists seemed to find the choreography challenging, and a lot of the acting was poor. I would except from that Stina Quagebeur's excellent debut as Carabosse.

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The opening night of English National Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty (Kenneth MacMillan’s production) was a ballet lover’s heaven.  Here’s why:

A maverick choreographer/producer, who pushed classical and neo-classical ballet to its limits, but whose respect for the classical idiom and heritage was deep (he understood more than many how important it is for any ballet company to keep the 19th century classics in its repertoire.  Without them, how would classically-trained dancers be able to maintain their tough training?  Or understand their artistic heritage?), ensured that he made a version of this most difficult of ballets in which every member of the company would want to dance, and with which every member of the audience would want to engage. 

Engage I did, and how could I not?  The sets (by Peter Farmer), whilst perhaps not as lush as those of the RB and BRB versions, are very pretty and effective and make you feel like you want to be there, not sitting in the audience. The sets are enhanced by the atmospheric lighting of Neil Austin (thank you, thank you, for lighting the stage so that the dancers can be clearly seen from all over the theatre).   The costumes (by longtime MacMillan collaborator Nicholas Georgiadis) are sumptuous and complement the dancers’ movements beautifully.  The girls’ tutus in the garland dance and the vision scene swirl and bend like flowers floating in a gentle breeze and are sometimes hypnotic.  The only glitch is Bluebird’s costume, especially the metallic silvery tights.  Luckily, Daniel McCormick gave such a technically confident and joyous account of the choreography that I could overcome my dislike with no problem.  Rina Kanehara made a fine Florine and together they soared and sang as bluebirds should.  Beautiful.

Shiori Kase was a lovely, benevolent Lilac Fairy, almost managing to perform her Prologue solo without a hitch, and I have almost stopped expecting any dancer to be able to do this.  But she did it well, and made her presence felt throughout the ballet.  James Streeter was a sarcastic and delightfully evil Carabosse, whose loud boos at the end showed how convincing he was.  Not sure why the wicked fairy is made to look like Elizabeth I on a bad-hair-and-powder day, but hey, I just went with it.  In the other Prologue solos, the fairies gave solid accounts of their variations, and their cavaliers were impressively synchronised. 

As far as the two leads were concerned, I was absolutely charmed by Alina Cojocaru’s Aurora.  I had seen her in ENB’s Giselle (Skeaping) a couple of years ago, and as one of my all-time favourite Giselles I was expecting more of the same.  I was a bit disappointed in that performance, so was wondering whether she was starting to wind down, especially with the prospect of motherhood ahead of her.  Oh be ashamed, me of little faith.  From the minute she made her appearance onstage we knew she meant business, and that she was back, and back to her best artistic self.  My goodness, she blew me away with her amazing technique, her artistry and her real understanding of a role she had made her own during her years at the Royal Ballet.  We saw her engage with her parents, with the four princes, with her friends, with the prince, with Lilac Fairy and Carabosse, and with each in a different way.  We see her progression from excited 16 year-old to dignified woman, all through her dancing and her interpretation.  She is a fairy tale, but she makes it real.  The story jumped forward 100 years, but as far as Cojocaru was concerned the years melted away backwards.  This was like watching the 25 year-old Alina once again.  Long may she remain 25 if this performance was anything to go by.

Joseph Caley, who joined the company from BRB at the end of last season, was a very good match for Cojocaru, and they could build on what I saw on Wednesday night and dance many things together.  He was a totally believable Prince, so young and vibrant and full of the joys of spring once he had found his love.  Misery and melancholy?  Pah….he left all that behind in the clearing in the woods.   He could hardly contain his happiness in the Act 3 pdd, and he bounded towards his princess as if he couldn’t wait to be with her, and didn’t want to risk anything untoward happening to her again.  He was like a sweet little puppy, but at the same time a gentle, protective and noble prince.  His variation was very well executed, and I can’t remember the last time I saw such beautifully pointed feet on a male dancer. 

Finally a huge shout out for the lush, exquisite playing of Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score by the ENB Philharmonic, once again under the magic wand of maestro Gavin Sutherland.  Is there anything that man can’t do with whatever orchestra he conducts, in whatever piece of ballet music, to make them sound world class and wonderful?  He is a national treasure, and the lovely thing is he doesn’t know it.  Everything is from the heart, not the ego;  huge kudos to him.  As a matter of fact, huge kudos to the whole company on and behind the stage.  This production is proof that they all respect their heritage as well as looking to their future, and long may it continue. 

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Many thanks Sim for your lovely review - whilst I won't be able to see this cast and the incomparable Alina I have treated myself to tomorrow's matinee (and an extra Swan Lake).  You've well and truly whetted my appetite.

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@Sim such a great report - I can't wait to see it! I love Alina, so this is the cast I want to see,

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3 hours ago, Sim said:

I saw her.  I thought she was ok, but this isn't really her natural role.  I also think she was a bit nervous at first, and she did get better as it went along.  She was ok with Aaron Robison, but it often looked like a real effort for him to lift her, and he almost dropped her in the second fish dive in Act 3. I didn't feel any chemistry between the two leads, nor did I get any sense of character development from Aurora like I did on Wednesday night.    Alina Cojocaru would have been a hard act for anyone to follow, so maybe I should have waited until Maria's second performance to go along.  

Wow and Robinson is so big and strong too 😲

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Was there last night sitting way up in the gods! Have been waiting ages to see this production...I loved it to pieces! Actually prefer to the RB which alsways seems mimsy and fussy. I really feel MacMillan got SB in a way that totally respected the tradition yet it had his spirit somehow woven in. Loved the designs too. Yes I will draw a slight veil over that second fish dive (...OMG it could have been a disaster), and both big lifts had a dangerous mix of the Two Ronnies and the Trocs, but overall I thought their solos were breathtaking. I also didn’t feel the other soloists were in bad form either. And from the Queen of the Wilis in Akram’s Giselle to Carabosse must have been a fun trip. Would have loved to have seen the production again but now back in Berlin...

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56 minutes ago, JohnS said:

Many thanks Sim for your lovely review - whilst I won't be able to see this cast and the incomparable Alina

 

 

That's a shame, John.  You can't make next Thursday's matinee?

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