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Goat is also used as an acronym for Greatest Of All Time. Not sure about the No though, maybe he/she can enlighten us?

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..or is it a yoga purist who doesn't do yoga with a goat? (those who didn't see this bizarre news piece,  goat yoga is apparently a trend...)(Has the world gone stark, staring mad?)

 

Anyway, Mayerling....

I don't think anyone has mentioned Gary Avis yet have they? always such a pleasure in that small but very telling role of Bay Middleton.

 

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When I joined the forum I thought I'd choose something fairly innocuous but still relevant as my handle; yes, it's a bit cryptic, but I wasn't expecting it to generate any interest whatsoever.

 

SPD444, I hope you don't mind if I don't 'reveal all' (even the gender of the goat! 🙂 ) as I think it will become self-evident with time.

 

However, since I don't want to be thought of as a wet blanket, I'm happy to field any guesses with a simple yes/no (no 'getting warm') - can that be done 'peer to peer' within the forum, so it doesn't clutter up the important stuff? If someone gets it right, I'm happy to stump up something to put behind the Amphi Bar (sorry, should that be the Level 5 Pub?) for forum members one evening when I'm there to give the bar staff the cash and the 'winner' is there to stand a chance of getting a drink; I've just looked in my purse/wallet and I have £32.39p in cash, so don't get too excited...

 

I'm not even sure if the above contravenes forum 'rules'; I apologise to the moderators if it does and await censure.

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7 hours ago, Sim said:

Exactly....and I got the feeling that he WAS dancing for Rudolf, not for the audience!  Funny how we perceive the same performance so differently!  

 

This is interesting because, last night, I was sitting in an unusual place for me and I virtually caught his eye twice (or he caught mine). I think that those moments significantly influenced my perception. If I had been in my 'normal' seat, the experience might have been completely different.

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Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the photocall for the Thiago Soares and Lauren Cuthbertson cast...

 


44480129534_ea7f4038e5_c.jpg
Thiago Soares and Lauren Cuthbertson in Mayerling
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 

 

45202155251_9c6290a7aa_c.jpg
Thiago Soares and Itziar Mendizabal in Mayerling
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...
Foteini Christofilopoulou: Royal Ballet in Mayerling
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

Edited by Bruce
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22 hours ago, Nogoat said:

A lot to mull over from last night's performance, aided and abetted by a good night's sleep and some interesting comments on the forum...

 

The orchestra: I had assumed the playing was a bit slow (even ponderous) as it was opening night and everyone was taking things a bit cautiously - after all, rehearsals can only take you so far in preparing for 'live' performances, and Hirano had (apparently, though they must have had an inkling) been parachuted in with only days to spare. However, during one of the intervals I did hear someone complain how it was undermining their enjoyment, and I could see (hear?) where they were coming from.

 

Larisch: I agree - Sarah Lamb IS Larisch; I have not seem anyone else play the role as well as she. Rudolf may well top the cast-list, and Larisch may well only appear sixth, but to me she is the axis around which the, literally, mad world of the ballet revolves, and the motive force that nudges it along its orbit, guiding it (intentionally or otherwise) to its fateful conclusion. To me Larisch has the character of a story-teller/narrator/even author, slightly removed from the ballet (but nevertheless grounded in, and a victim of, its ultimate tragedy). Why? Because she is the only one of the cast deliberately to break the fourth wall; during the procession across the stage at the beginning of the wedding ball scene she pointedly looks out at the audience - she knows we are there, and does she indulge us for the rest of the ballet by making things happen? I regard that look as very significant; I've even gone so far as to wonder if she is an on-stage proxy for MacMillan - the master story-teller himself (I've had that thought about a secondary character responsible for driving the narrative flow before - The Fool in Prince of the Pagodas).

 

Bratfisch: I'm not a huge fan of Campbell - he too often comes across as Campbell, trying, usually too hard, to impress in whatever role he is playing. But last night I thought he kept his character firmly calibrated to the story rather than to the audience, and the quality of his dancing was the better for it.

 

Rudolf: Even though I know there is great scope for interpretation within MacMillan, the simple fact that Hirano was replacing Watson (and the pairing of Watson/Osipova was the reason I bought the ticket) still left part of me hoping for a 'like for like' replacement. On that basis I was bound to be a bit disappointed, and in hindsight that is really my fault. My simple memories from the previous run were; Watson, starts deranged/cruel, and it just keeps going downhill from there; Bonelli, starts 'normal' and spirals into a black hole; McRae, starts as a bit of a snarling pantomime villain, but becomes a pitiful human shell by the end. Each is different, and each appeals to a different audience depending on their experiences and expectations. Why should Hirano conform to any of these and not develop his own interpretation? I was also too eager to judge him on the basis of his starting point, rather than his journey. In Act 1 he came across as blank and aloof, but I think I was wrong to ascribe that to either his lack of experience or inability to 'act'; on reflection I think there was an element of 'courtly restraint' on display, with, as bridiem has pointed out in her fantastic summary, the irresistible pressure building within. By Act 3 I was won over; his descent could no longer be contained, managed or corralled and the emotional hit of that last pas de deux with Osipova was a fitting climax. So, in the end we have been given another interpretation - in fact, a first public airing of an interpretation. We can compare it to others, we can rank it against our own experiences of other performances which, in turn, were influenced by our experiences before that - but I think it's too early to do that. I'm happy to see how this one develops, and then decide when the next run comes around how to spend my money (assuming I can still afford the tickets by then!).

 

Osipova: My immediate thought is 'why did I flag this Osipova and not her character, Mary?' On stage she is so obviously, patently, whatever character she is inhabiting, but she is also so obviously Osipova. I think it's her ability to be both the dancer and the character simultaneously (and complementarily) that gives her such an on-stage presence. I will not forget in a hurry that crazed look as she perches on Rudolf's shoulder and he charges across stage towards the table with the gun, and the warped feeling of near-joy as they succumb to the madness of their deadly pact. And that in contrast to the (albeit probably historically inaccurate) 'love-struck' ingenue of the first half of the ballet (the prior knowledge of whose fate always makes me well-up, especially in the fortune-telling/letter-writing scene). I have nothing but admiration for her ability to cover such gamuts (think Anastasia, think Sylvia).

 

A couple of other comments, then I will stop! 

 

I saw nothing 'chilly' about the curtain calls. I agree that with something carrying such an emotional investment, it must be hard just to 'switch' back to happy-smiley for the curtain calls. Sometimes this switch can be thrown by something as simple as receiving flowers, or just by sheer relief (I'm thinking of Osipova's Hallberg/Ball Giselle), but the emotional drain last night must have been huge for a number of reasons (first night of the season; replacement lead; debut; it was Mayerling!).

Why can the Opera House spend millions on a revamp but not afford to make Mary a new negligee for Act 2? The one she was wearing last night had the same ugly darned patch over her 'left thigh' as it had last time round; hopefully I'm not being a pedant - I heard others mention it as well during the interval. It's not like there's a lot of fabric involved...

Was Hirano pushing the screen over THEN collapsing forward (rather than pushing the screen over BY collapsing forward) intentional?

Don't they trust Osipova with a 'real' fake gun because she gets so into her roles...?

 

 

 

What a fascinating review NoGoat! Couldn’t agree more about your thoughts on Larisch - especially the idea that she is the all-knowing all-seeing narrator... much food for thought.

 

Very impressive review for someone who has just joined the Forum!! Thank you :)

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12 hours ago, Bruce said:

Foteini Christofilopoulou was at the photocall for the Thiago Soares and Lauren Cuthbertson cast...

 


44480129534_ea7f4038e5_c.jpg
Thiago Soares and Lauren Cuthbertson in Mayerling
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 

 

45202155251_9c6290a7aa_c.jpg
Thiago Soares and Itziar Mendizabal in Mayerling
© Foteini Christofilopoulou/ROH. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

See more...
Foteini Christofilopoulou: Royal Ballet in Mayerling
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

 

Thank you, Bruce.  I was fortunate enough to see the Soares/Cuthbertson cast last run and found Soares’ Rudolf incredibly moving; much more to be pitied than Watson’s.  I’d have gone for this cast again this time were I not so keen to see Bonelli and Morera!  Thanks everyone for all the reviews thus far as it seems an age until I go.  You are all whetting my appetite! 

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On 09/10/2018 at 13:54, Sim said:

I am not a fan of Osipova's Mary.....the youthful exuberance is overdone for my taste.  This Mary steamrollered Rudolf instead of seducing him, and I prefer the latter approach.  

 

Fair enough, though given she turns up at his bedroom for their 'first date' in her negligee suggests that neither will have much trouble building up a head of steam! 🙂

 

If anything, is any 'seduction' (as in the need to overcome reticence) working the other way around? Once Rudolf has 'inspected the goods' (a superb piece of theatre that is both daring in what it represents and modest in the way it is represented), he moves full-steam ahead without a backward glance.

But Osipova's Mary, more so than others I have seen, doesn't always show such absolute commitment.

After she puts the skull back on the dresser she remains facing away from him, seemingly more interested in the gun than him, and it seems it's the 'electric thrill' of him stroking her hair that causes her to arch back and return to centre stage.

Towards the end of the PDD she pushes him away; she may be testing him/playing hard to get, but she may also be thinking about the consequences of her yearnings, now they are being realised. I lean towards the latter, for just before moving into the final clinch that ends the Act, she pauses behind him; two things cross my mind when I see her do this - is she having fleeting second thoughts, rather than just running headlong into what she must know will be a tempestuous affair, or is she starting to comprehend the extent of the power she now holds over the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian empire? Either might give anyone pause for thought.

 

I don't know, but isn't it great that we have such a marvellous set of MacMillan narrative ballets that permit us to imagine such things, and a marvellous company such as the Royal Ballet to trigger those imaginings?

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All open to interpretation and perception, Nogoat, and yours are very interesting.  It's never occurred to me, from any performance I have seen, that Mary has any doubts, but now that you have suggested this, I may look at the final part of that pdd in a different light.   

 

As far as building a head of steam, absolutely.....but that is pure animal lust!  Watch how Melissa Hamilton deals with Rudolf;  that will convey the different approach much better than I can with words.   I just prefer her erotic interpretation of Mary, a slower build but to me, more exciting.  She may have changed how she plays her since the last run;  we will find out on Saturday!  I also loved Laura Morera's astonishing performance of the role;  multi-layered, scary, emotional, tragic.....one of the best I have ever seen.

 

I am really enjoying reading your posts about this ballet, Nogoat.  

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33 minutes ago, Sim said:

It's never occurred to me, from any performance I have seen, that Mary has any doubts, but now that you have suggested this, I may look at the final part of that pdd in a different light.  

 

Also, in the scene at her home, the way Osipova/Mary deals with the letter to Rudolf is fascinating. Before handing it to Larisch, she shows moments of hesitation and doubt whilst she ponders what she's about to do; and when she finally hands it over she does so with an air of almost defiant acceptance. She knows she's doing something reckless, dangerous, even fatal; but she's decided to cast her die.

 

In the final pdd between Rudolf and Mary: all hesitation gone. The image that has stayed with me is Osipova/Mary simply lying flat on her front, arms stretched out ahead of her towards Rudolf at the table, whilst (I think) he injects himself. Her complete submission now to what is happening, indicated by her complete physical abandonment. Still and prostrated before him, waiting for what is to come. For me, it brings to mind a religious context: a priest prostrated before the altar in an act of complete submission to God (e.g. on Good Friday). Here, a desperate and distorted version of that but nevertheless with the same total, physical act of submission and self-abnegation. Completely unballetic, and absolutely riveting.

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10 hours ago, Sim said:

As far as building a head of steam, absolutely.....but that is pure animal lust!  Watch how Melissa Hamilton deals with Rudolf;  that will convey the different approach much better than I can with words.   I just prefer her erotic interpretation of Mary, a slower build but to me, more exciting.  She may have changed how she plays her since the last run;  we will find out on Saturday!  I also loved Laura Morera's astonishing performance of the role;  multi-layered, scary, emotional, tragic.....one of the best I have ever seen.

 

Judging from the slightly flustered, hot-and-bothered look of most of the males in the vicinity when the lights went up, 'pure animal lust' describes it perfectly! 🙂

Saturday promises to be an absolute treat! We are so lucky...

Yes, I was mightily impressed by Morera in the one performance of hers I saw - especially the (to me, deliberate) clattering of the chair in the final PDD! I haven't seen that very often (I guess it's too risky?) but it brilliantly illustrated the narrative arc accelerating and careening out of control to its fatal conclusion.

 

9 hours ago, bridiem said:

The image that has stayed with me is Osipova/Mary simply lying flat on her front, arms stretched out ahead of her towards Rudolf at the table, whilst (I think) he injects himself. Her complete submission now to what is happening, indicated by her complete physical abandonment. Still and prostrated before him, waiting for what is to come. For me, it brings to mind a religious context: a priest prostrated before the altar in an act of complete submission to God (e.g. on Good Friday).

 

Oh my goodness, this line of thought is so intriguing! Yes, her pose was definitely cruciform (it could only have been more so if she had crossed her feet!); and she moved across the stage to assume that pose on her knees! Also, the South Bank documentary mentions that Franz Joseph had a chapel built on the site, with the altar directly under the bedroom where the deaths occurred. Layers upon layers upon layers...

 

I can hardly wait to experience the ballet again, illuminated by the observations and discussions on this forum!

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8 minutes ago, Nogoat said:

Oh my goodness, this line of thought is so intriguing! Yes, her pose was definitely cruciform (it could only have been more so if she had crossed her feet!); and she moved across the stage to assume that pose on her knees! Also, the South Bank documentary mentions that Franz Joseph had a chapel built on the site, with the altar directly under the bedroom where the deaths occurred. Layers upon layers upon layers... 

 

 

That's fascinating, Nogoat, and I'd forgotten she crossed the stage on her knees!

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3 hours ago, Nogoat said:

Yes, I was mightily impressed by Morera in the one performance of hers I saw - especially the (to me, deliberate) clattering of the chair in the final PDD! I haven't seen that very often (I guess it's too risky?) but it brilliantly illustrated the narrative arc accelerating and careening out of control to its fatal conclusion.

 

You haven't seen the Watson DVD, then? :) 

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1 hour ago, alison said:

 

You haven't seen the Watson DVD, then? :) 

 

🙂 Yes, that's also a very impressive hit - probably the equivalent of a 'home run' in baseball! 

 

But I can't count it in my tally as sadly I wasn't there... 😞

 

I wonder what percentage of performances result in physical contact with the chair? To keep with the baseball analogy, what is Mary's Batting Average? 🙂

Though, strictly speaking, it should be Rudolf's Batting Average as he's the one swinging Mary around (which unfortunately would make her the baseball bat)...

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6 hours ago, bridiem said:

 

That's fascinating, Nogoat, and I'd forgotten she crossed the stage on her knees!

And for me that was exactly when her performance teetered somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous. I love so many of the choices Osipova has made with this role: her overwhelming commitment, abandonment and sense of daring will stay etched on my memory forever. Maybe this moment would have felt more congruous had she been dancing with Watson. Not sure. It did made Mary seem totally mad, which, to be fair, might well have been the case to go through with such a terrible act. I do wish I had been sitting closer to the stage as I don't feel it's a ballet best viewed from the Amphi* - possibly because the balance is weighted in favour of drama over dance. I have enjoyed Mayerling far more from SCS (that's Stalls Circle Standing**). I would be interested to know where each person viewing the performance has sat or stood.

 

*Level 4/5?!

**Ground Floor Level/Level 1?!

Edited by Darlex

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Btw. Does anyone know why Sylvie Guillem never took on a role in this ballet? Was she considered too tall for Mary? Was she not interested in Larisch or possibly even Empress Elisabeth. I suppose the latter would have been too small a role for her.

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21 minutes ago, Darlex said:

And for me that was exactly when her performance teetered somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous. I love so many of the choices Osipova has made with this role: her overwhelming commitment, abandonment and sense of daring will stay etched on my memory forever. Maybe this moment would have felt more congruous had she been dancing with Watson. Not sure. It did made Mary seem totally mad, which, to be fair, might well have been the case to go through with such a terrible act. I do wish I had been sitting closer to the stage as I don't feel it's a ballet best viewed from the Amphi* - possibly because the balance is weighted in favour of drama over dance. I have enjoyed Mayerling far more from SCS (that's Stalls Circle Standing**). I would be interested to know where each person viewing the performance has sat or stood.

 

*Level 4/5?!

**Ground Floor Level/Level 1?!

 

I was in the Amphi, glued to my opera glasses...

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I would also be interested in hearing any thoughts on Mayara Magri’s debut as Mitzi Caspar last night.

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Darlex, your mention of Mary being mad may not be so far of the mark. Mary’s last letter to Countess Larisch enjoined her to commit suicide and join her and Rudolf as life would become difficult for her. Her air of exultation in the whole letter is bizarre and sad.  The whole letter ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. She barely knew Rudolf in reality - they had met only a few times - and the really sad thing to me is that Rudolf actually asked the real Mitzi Caspar to commit suicide with him before he asked Mary. Mitzi was horrified and tried to warn court officials but was turned away. Poor Mary was second best.

Edited by Fiz
Grammar edit
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1 hour ago, Darlex said:

And for me that was exactly when her performance teetered somewhere between the sublime and the ridiculous. I love so many of the choices Osipova has made with this role: her overwhelming commitment, abandonment and sense of daring will stay etched on my memory forever. Maybe this moment would have felt more congruous had she been dancing with Watson. Not sure. It did made Mary seem totally mad, which, to be fair, might well have been the case to go through with such a terrible act. I do wish I had been sitting closer to the stage as I don't feel it's a ballet best viewed from the Amphi* - possibly because the balance is weighted in favour of drama over dance. I have enjoyed Mayerling far more from SCS (that's Stalls Circle Standing**). I would be interested to know where each person viewing the performance has sat or stood.

 

*Level 4/5?!

**Ground Floor Level/Level 1?!

 

Yes, perhaps more than any other ballet, Mayerling requires several things...

 

- for the majority of seats, and for anyone without 20/10 vision, a good pair of binoculars (where good is a bright image, low magnification, and wide FOV). The acting, down to mere glances, is key.

- some preparatory research/reading, otherwise it's difficult to understand the plot development (let alone the nuances). I found the South Bank doc invaluable in that regard.

- repeated viewing. Like a good novel, repeated exposure pays dividends. I'm happy to watch it over and over again... 

 

The very first time I saw Mayerling I got totally confused about just about everything (the number of characters, the complexity of their relationships, the costume/hair changes, the 'ageing' of the male lead, etc). However, I (like to think I) realised there was a lot to gain from persevering - so I did.

 

In fact, perhaps an interesting thread to start might be one considering just how much one should be able/expect to 'get' from a first exposure to a ballet? I don't want to 'get' everything from a first viewing, but there again I don't want a work to be so obscure that repeated viewings (and expenditure on tickets!) yields little enlightenment. I expect I can think of ballets that fit either end of this continuum. To me, Mayerling is one of those that hits the 'sweet spot' - I think I could happily watch it once a month for the next ten years...:D

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28 minutes ago, Fiz said:

Darlex, your mention of Mary being mad may not be so far of the mark. Mary’s last letter to Countess Larisch enjoined her to commit suicide and join her and Rudolf as life would become difficult for her. Her air of exultation in the whole letter is bizarre and sad.  The whole letter ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. She barely knew Rudolf in reality - they had met only a few times - and the really sad thing to me is that Rudolf actually asked the real Mitzi Caspar to commit suicide with him before he asked Mary. Mitzi was horrified and tried to warn court officials but was turned away. Poor Mary was second best.

Thanks for that info about the letter, Fiz. That explains more. Okay, maybe I was a bit harsh on Osipova. Knee shuffling understood and accepted! I do think she's been a bit harsh on her knees though!

Edited by Darlex
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1 hour ago, Nogoat said:

 

Yes, perhaps more than any other ballet, Mayerling requires several things...

 

- for the majority of seats, and for anyone without 20/10 vision, a good pair of binoculars (where good is a bright image, low magnification, and wide FOV). The acting, down to mere glances, is key.

- some preparatory research/reading, otherwise it's difficult to understand the plot development (let alone the nuances). I found the South Bank doc invaluable in that regard.

- repeated viewing. Like a good novel, repeated exposure pays dividends. I'm happy to watch it over and over again... 

 

The very first time I saw Mayerling I got totally confused about just about everything (the number of characters, the complexity of their relationships, the costume/hair changes, the 'ageing' of the male lead, etc). However, I (like to think I) realised there was a lot to gain from persevering - so I did.

 

In fact, perhaps an interesting thread to start might be one considering just how much one should be able/expect to 'get' from a first exposure to a ballet? I don't want to 'get' everything from a first viewing, but there again I don't want a work to be so obscure that repeated viewings (and expenditure on tickets!) yields little enlightenment. I expect I can think of ballets that fit either end of this continuum. To me, Mayerling is one of those that hits the 'sweet spot' - I think I could happily watch it once a month for the next ten years...:D

That's interesting, Nogoat.

 

There was a period from about 1986 - 1992 when Mayerling wasn't performed. I saw the South Bank Show documentary before I saw a live performance, so when it came to it, I understood the plot and who the characters were and with repeated viewings, filled in the gaps and made the connections. Like many others on this forum, I was completely swept away. Yes, I was Mayerling obsessed! The ballet inspired me to visit Vienna and Vetsera's grave. I would have named it as my favourite ballet.


But that was a long time ago. Since then, I have gone off this ballet and that's nothing to do with the quality of the performances. Although I believe many of the original cast have never been bettered, some have, or at least have been equalled. In the documentary we get to see all the best parts and don't have to sit through all the padding and what is, in my view, some of MacMillan's least inspired choreography for the corps: Stephanie's maids; the glamorous porn - movie choreography for the whores; the fireworks business; and all the stuff that happens in front of the curtain while the sets are being changed - not just one officer jumping out of the curtain, but ... four - embarrassing,  even more so when you see a hand or leg sticking out of the curtain as I have on the last three occasions. And I find some of the 'drunken' acting in the tavern scene really tiresome. There are also moments in the music which I find OTT (the discovery of the bodies at the end reminds me of old horror film music, for example).

You may ask 'why be so miserable about it, but still go to see it?'. I suppose my answer would be that I am hoping to be swept away again. Just for one moment, as the parade of characters passed by at the beginning of the ballet, I thought I just might. 

 

Are there any ballets that other forum members have fallen out of love with over time? I used to rate Grigorovich's Spartacus - no more! (It will be my secret guilty pleasure next summer! I haven't seen it in donkeys years.)

 

 

 

 

Edited by Darlex
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Sorry to take this thread from the very intriguing discussion on Mayerling ...an interesting ballet for me to be sure but inspite of this not one I need to see every year....however Geoff I don't get your comment about Nogoat ( as a name) and Esmeralda!! 

 

An additional comment is Nogoat the name of an American baseball team? 

 

When I saw Osipova in the role last I thought she played it bordering on psychopathic ....a psychopathic adolescent ( or a bordering on morbid obsessive one) who got involved with a disturbed but weak man as I see Rudolf. 

The only problem with this ballet for me is there are so few sympathetic characters in it. It is powerful ....but a bit like Macmillans Judas Tree ...which I also find powerful ...but it's hard to like anyone....not that characters have to be sympathetic of course ...one goes to these performances to see a nastier but unfortunately non the less real side of Life. 

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I'm not a fan of Steven McRae in this role. His dancing is excellent of course, but I just didn't like his interpretation which I found manic and negative - almost snarling.  My preferred Rudolphs manage to bring some sympathy to the role.  I haven't booked for McRae deliberately this season, but am really looking forward to seeing two new Rudolphs this Saturday - and I could never miss Thiago in this role.     

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8 minutes ago, JennyTaylor said:

His dancing is excellent of course, but I just didn't like his interpretation which I found manic and negative - almost snarling. 

 

So, that photo they've been using to advertise it is actually an accurate representation, then - even if it totally puts me off seeing it?

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Reviews from the public on ROH website are very positive and single out the pas de deux with Princess Stephanie.

 

 

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