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Ian Macmillan

The Royal Ballet: New Swan Lake Production, Summer 2018

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28 minutes ago, Lindsay said:

Also, did anyone else think that Von Rothbart's prowling around the widowed Queen at the court and making her son angry was supposed  to evoke Hamlet?

 

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."

 

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Sim, I hope you don't mind, but I've put spoiler tags around your description of the end of Act III, just in case people want to be surprised :)

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BTW, how was the running time?  If I've done my maths correctly, the running time should be 3 minutes shy of 3 hours, which doesn't leave much leeway if anything goes wrong.  Do they really need 55 minutes of intervals?

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Intervals were pretty short - 25 and 20 minutes.  I'm afraid I didn't notice the finishing time though - sorry

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it was a late finish last night -  mainly because of the long ovations at the end. Under 'normal' conditions, should be ended by 10.30, allowing for the curtain calls 

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Thank you all for such interesting comments. So looking forward to next Tuesday when I get to see it!

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Just back home and looking forward to a proper read of posts and reviews.  A wonderfully impressive Swan Lake as so many posts pay tribute.  Curtain up on Act 3 really is tremendous (and deserves a round of applause as we get with the principals’ entrances - just a few claps last night), as is the fabulous curtain mid stage which reveals Odile.  At one point it struck me that the staging and costumes were so opulent, it could have been one of the Met’s productions.  There’s always a danger of opulence teetering on the edge of vulgarity and sometimes succumbing but not with the care lavished on the whole performance.  Just at the very close I wondered if it would have been more telling to have ended with Siegfried bringing the lifeless now human body of Odette to centre stage and at the Rehearsal thought the illumination of Odette’s Swan spirit a fraction kitsch.  But having see the opening night, and hence no longer surprised, thought it worked.

 

I agree with all the plaudits for the principal dancers and will look forward immensely to this cast in the cinema relay.  For my part I thought the PD3s in Acts 1 and 3 for Siegfried’s sisters and Benno beautiful and all three dancers to my eyes absolutely complemented each other.  And I found the Act 4 PDD very moving.  I will look forward to later performances of the Neapolitan dance which I thought was in danger of falling behind the music (we’d been very spoiled in the Rehearsal).

 

I do have some questions about the narrative which I hope will become clearer as I read what others have to say, catch up on the Insight screening and the cinema programme, and see further performances, with mouthwatering prospects in store on Bank Holiday Monday and 13 June (matinees and evening performances both times).  I like the prologue but wondered if there was going to be a differentiation - swans wear tutus, humans wear clothes.  But this wasn't carried through to the production.  I had also wondered if the princesses were to be integrated in the national dances (I do appreciate this would be anathema to many people and am not expressing a view as to merit or my wish).

 

I’m not sure that Von Rothbart’s role is explained - I’m certainly struggling but haven't done my homework.  His desire for Odette’s and the Queen’s crowns is vividly portrayed but is this thieving magpie like on a massive scale, or has he been usurped?  And how has he become the power behind the throne - is the cast list descriptor ‘Sorcerer/Queen’s Advisor’ sufficient?

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2 hours ago, Richard LH said:

 

Something I don't understand about Swan Lake in general....if Siegfried swears his loyal and undying love to Odette here, how come the spell isn't broken? She stills turns back into a swan at dawn at the end of Act II.

 

I think that's because although he professes his love, he doesn't do the 'official' swearing of undying loyalty etc (the arm in the air gesture that seals Odette's fate). A bit like the difference between 'I love you' and 'will you marry me?'.

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I could have attended every one of Northern Ballet's evening performances of Jane Eyre at The Lowry or two performances of Don Quixote by Dutch National Ballet from the best seats  in the Stopera for the price of my ticket in the stalls for Tuesday's performance.   

I am also taking the whole afternoon off work to traipse down to the Smoke and my train home pulls into Donnie in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Will it be worth it?

I think so.   I am a big fan of Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli,

But I will let you know on Wednesday.

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27 minutes ago, JohnS said:

 And how has he become the power behind the throne - is the cast list descriptor ‘Sorcerer/Queen’s Advisor’ sufficient?

 

I didn't really feel the need for more background than this. History is littered with examples of advisers/courtiers/second-in-commands etc who have plotted to oust their 'boss', especially if they can catch them at a vulnerable moment. And I thought VR was really horrible and frightening, more so than in the previous production.

 

I was looking through my opera glasses at the end so I didn't know there was a projection of Odette!! Must look for it next time.

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46 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

Getting ready for tomorrow's links!

 

Reviews - Royal Ballet, Swan Lake, London:

Louise Levene, FT

Zoe Anderson, Independent

Judith Mackrell, Guardian

Mark Monahan, Telegraph

Neil Norman, Stage

Gallery - Dave Morgan, DanceTabs

and we  are invited to post our own reactions here.... http://www.roh.org.uk/news/your-reaction-what-did-you-think-of-swan-lake

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Can someone tell me if that the beautiful soaring music at the end of the previous production as Siegfried and Odette go off to another world is still kept in this production( even if it doesn't have quite the same resonance) or has the end music been changed completely?Looks like in for a treat then on 11th with Naghdi's debut into the bargain!!

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Yes, that same music is there, LinMM, but IMHO not used to the same effect as in the Dowell version, as I said on one my posts above.  The ending here is too gloomy for that uplifting and beautiful music!

 

Yasmine's official debut is actually May 28th!  But either way, it doesn't matter because she will be wonderful in both performances!!  :)

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4 minutes ago, Sim said:

Yes, that same music is there, LinMM, but IMHO not used to the same effect as in the Dowell version, as I said on one my posts above.  The ending here is too gloomy for that uplifting and beautiful music!

 

I've posted something to this effect on the ROH website.

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2 hours ago, Sim said:

 

Act 4:   I love how the swans very slowly walk off the stage as the pdd is being danced, wistfully looking back at the couple as if they already know that they are doomed.  Very clever and very effective. 

 

I'd forgotten that bit! It's tremendous - so moving and powerful.

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Oh that's good as I couldn't bear to see a production of Swan Lake without it!!  There is a sort of all conquering joy in that music and has been at least one of the best endings to a ballet for me ( Also Song of the Earth ....(also a beautifully  spiritually uplifting ending but in an entirely different mood) 

I hadn't realised that Naghdi had an earlier debut but no matter I haven't seen her do it before and have a feeling she will be rather good!! 

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1 hour ago, JohnS said:

Curtain up on Act 3 really is tremendous (and deserves a round of applause as we get with the principals’ entrances - just a few claps last night),

 

The applause for the Act 3 set sounded pretty substantial from where I was (front amphi). Unless my memory deceives me there were more than a few bravos mixed in too.

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Absolutely panting to see the live link at the cinema. The Royal Ballet is on fire at the moment.

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A lovely photo taken just after the performance.  With thanks to Andre Uspenski. 

IMG_4264.JPG

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4 hours ago, Jane S said:

Please tell me that amongst all this splendour they also took the Act 2 pas de deux a bit faster? (Better stil, a lot faster?)

 

4 hours ago, Sim said:

Errr.....no!  I was actually commenting to someone last night that it is very slow.  She said if it were any slower they would have to extend the finishing time!!

 

Oh. The one thing above all others I hoped they would change...

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Lovely reading so many positive reviews on the Royal Ballet's new production of 'Swan Lake' and I am so happy it went well for the company, all that hardwork paying off!

 

I am looking forward to seeing Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in a encore screening of the cinema relay of 'Swan Lake' on 17th June, as I'm sure it will be in rotation for years so I hope to catch it live next time.

 

Gorgeous photos by David Morgan, really shows off how beautiful and opulent the tutus are (and can I say I am thrilled the swan maidens are back in tutus, just so much more aesthetically pleasing to me).

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

A lovely photo taken just after the performance.  With thanks to Andre Uspenski. 

IMG_4264.JPG

Shame that more of the gentlemen could not be squeezed in...!

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I really enjoyed the production last night, and the wonderful atmosphere, too - it was such an exciting evening and I'm feeling very fortunate to have been there.

 

I have to echo everyone's comments about Muntagirov - just stunning.  Also agree that Nunez was best in acts 3 and 4 - especially as Odile where she was utterly bewitching.  I loved the sets and costumes, too - that ballroom more than lives up to the hype!

 

I think what I liked best was the narrative detail - the atmosphere and characters of the court were very clearly depicted and I think this helped add some context to Siegfried's melancholy at the beginning.

 

Act 3 was incredible from start to finish - I can't wait to see it again.  Tierney Heap was mesmerizing in the Spanish dance.

 

I loved the expanded role for Rothbart (and thought Gartside was brilliant) but was also left with questions.  In particular, how he came to that position in the court and what his relationship was with the queen - the two of them seemed very close.  I love the Hamlet comparison that Lindsay raised - early on I was wondering if we were supposed to infer more from their relationship than what was presented explicitly.  I'm still not entirely sure what they were going for and would be curious to see how he's portrayed in other casts.

 

For the moment where he clutched at his sides and ran off, I assumed that he was some sort of were-bird type creature who was about to transform back into his real self, and fled before it occurred.  I think that was the only time in the ballet that happened though so I'm not sure if that's correct.

 

I kind of loved that even though he was disguised as a human, he seemed to make no attempt to blend in or make himself appear less sinister.   

 

The ending surprised me, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet - I think I'll have to see it again to decide.

 

I'm looking forward to returning and seeing how the production beds in.  I see a lot more theatre than ballet so I'm used to seeing tweaks in previews, but without that structure I suppose this is pretty much the finished article.  As is, I thought it was fantastic.

Edited by miriskusnik
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5 hours ago, bridiem said:

I was looking through my opera glasses at the end so I didn't know there was a projection of Odette!! Must look for it next time.

 

I'm sorry Odette's appearance at the very close, high up on the rock may not have been visible to parts of the House (or because of Opera glasses).  I do wonder if it were more visible whether it might have made a difference to those commenting about the absence of redemption/transfiguration which I see bridiem includes in her ROH post.  Whilst I didn't particularly welcome the appearance at the Rehearsal, it worked much better for me on opening night.  I look forward to reading what people think on further viewings and hope they have opportunity for a reasonable view.

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