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English National Ballet, Swan Lake 2018-19

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11 hours ago, alison said:

 

That, unfortunately, has been going on for many years.  Surely it is not beyond the capabilities of whatever department produces the cast sheets to put all the dancers' names into the spellchecker and then make sure it is run on each cast sheet?

 

Thank you, Irmgard, for that very detailed review.  I'm sorry I couldn't get down to Bristol for that matinee, because I shan't be able to make Cao's (as you say) one performance in London.  However, I am determined not to miss her Manon!

It beggars belief that such a star dancer should only be given one Manon and one "Swan Lake" at the Coliseum.  With thirteen London performances of "Swan Lake", I think they could have been shared out more evenly amongst the principals as Shiori Kase also only gets one performance.  Glad I managed to see both dancers in Bristol! 

 

Just reading other comments about the wonderful Neapolitan dance, it was choreographed by Ashton for two of his favourite dancers, Alexander Grant and Julia Farron around 1952.  When I spoke to Julia Farron a few years ago, she told me that, for her retirement, the company put on a special performance of "Swan Lake" just so that she could make her farewell dancing the Neapolitan!  It does make you realise how fabulous the footwork of the dancers of that era must have been.

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I, too, must record how marvellously Begona Cao dances Odette/Odile. Of all the dancers currently performing the roles with ENB, she is the one who most brings out the contrast between the two characters and, even when soft and wondrously fluttering as Odette, fully projects the story into the auditorium. And she did this in Bristol while dancing with a partner she was only paired with a couple of hours beforehand. Remarkable.

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Thanks for your lovely review, Irmgard.  You have certainly whetted my appetite, but sadly my bank account won't feed it!  :(   I think I have to limit myself to one cast, so which one would you recommend?  The Cao one, by  the sounds of it?  

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22 minutes ago, Sim said:

Thanks for your lovely review, Irmgard.  You have certainly whetted my appetite, but sadly my bank account won't feed it!  :(   I think I have to limit myself to one cast, so which one would you recommend?  The Cao one, by  the sounds of it?  

It's hard for me to choose just one Odette/Odile but with Cao/Arrieta you get the best chemistry.  There is also the cast of Takahashi/Frola who apparently gave fabulous performances although I was unable to get to Bristol in time for theirs.  However, if I had to see just one it would most likely be Cao/Arrieta.

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Thank you Irmgard for taking the time to write such a detailed and fascinating review :) please keep them coming, I really enjoy reading them and then seeing the casts ! 

 

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1 hour ago, annamk said:

Thank you Irmgard for taking the time to write such a detailed and fascinating review :) please keep them coming, I really enjoy reading them and then seeing the casts ! 

 

Thank you very much!  I do enjoy writing them (when I have the time!) and I try to point out dancers who usually get overlooked by the press.

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Very excited to be visiting London in January.  I will be seeing Alina Cojocaru for the first time dancing with Jeffrey Cirio!  I would like to see another show, and was leaning toward Joseph Caley (I love him on stage.)  However, I will see Joe and Alina in Manon the following week, so perhaps I should buy tickets for another Swan Lake couple.  

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Posted (edited)

Deleted as just found out that we aren't supposed to post about rehearsals although it was such a lovely evening that it's a shame not to! Thanks BridieM for filling me in!

 

Anyone going on Sat evening? 

Edited by Blossom
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Last night's performance by the corps de ballet in the white acts was sublime and breathtaking. So synchronized, with quiet feet and lovely soft arms, just gorgeous.

I wish I could say the same of the Prince ( Hernandez) but I was sadly disappointed with his acting skills, although his performance in Act 3 was terrific.

I did enjoy Odette/Odile , danced by Jurgita Dronina , and she carried off the Act 3 fouettes with aplomb. I loved Rothbart ( James Streeter), what a terrifying and manic character!

Streeter really appeared to relish this part. All in all a lovely performance but in need of a more noble Prince.....

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I am going tonight and am very much looking forward to Cojocaru/Cirio.   I never liked Alina as O/O back in the RB days, so I am curious to see if my mind is changed later.  She was spectacular in Sleeping Beauty a few months ago, and I've heard her Manon in Milton Keynes was too, so I have high hopes!!  

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Sim said:

I never liked Alina as O/O back in the RB days, so I am curious to see if my mind is changed later.

 

Bearing in mind I have only really been attending ballet since 2011, I have seen her O/O twice - once in the RB's 2012 revival, not long before she left the company, which I found seriously unimpressive especially in Act 3, and then later in ENB's last Coliseum revival, when I gave her a second chance and was extremely glad I did.  Perhaps it is over-simplistic to suggest it might have been down to a change in her level of job satisfaction (I've always assumed she must have done some decent ones earlier in her RB career).

 

(Edited to add - actually, probably more than twice, as I think I saw her RB one more than once in the same revival, as she took a couple of shows over from Lauren Cuthbertson.)

Edited by RuthE
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I always heard (very) good things about Cojocaru's O/O at the RB, but they were never borne out in the very few performances I actually saw her do of it (most of the times I booked for her, she was injured or something).  I certainly wouldn't let that stop me giving her another chance, though (ticket availability of course being another matter!).

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Very nice premiere of Swan Lake yesterday evening !

 

Jurgita Dronina was very experienced and strong and I liked Isaac Hernandez's prince very much. What a clever dancer !  

 

Beautiful work as well from the corps de ballet and a special mention to Daniel Mc Cormick in the pas de 3 !

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, alison said:

What's a "clever" dancer?

My definition of a clever dancer is someone such as Laura Morera or Alexander Campbell who bring their intelligence, stagecraft and comsumate artistry to make sometimes dull choreography shine, or to make me see something new in a role, or who know how to show themselves to their very best. 

 

Edited by Darlex
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Is anyone able to advise me whether this is running true to the 2 hours 50 minutes advertised at the Coliseum?

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It ought to: it usually does, in my experience.

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2 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

Is anyone able to advise me whether this is running true to the 2 hours 50 minutes advertised at the Coliseum?

It did on tour.

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Posted (edited)

I saw the Cojocaru/Cirio/Streeter cast tonight at the Coliseum. This is a spectacularly beautiful production - pure and clear and classy, enhanced by Peter Farmer's magnificent designs; and it was spectacularly danced. For me, this is the real Swan Lake. I'm afraid it brought home to me all the more the problem/s with Liam Scarlett's production for the RB, much as I enjoyed it at the time. This production brings the ballet to its proper climax; Ashton's Act IV is stunning, and builds to its great, urgent, cathartic, triumphant apotheosis. Swan Lake is not the story of a prince who is tricked into declaring his love for the wrong person and so loses his real love for ever; that would be a tragedy (or at least a sorry tale), and it's clear from the music that Swan Lake is not a tragedy. At the risk of repeating myself, it's about the triumph of good over evil, love over hatred, sacrifice over the lust for power, the (apparently) weak over the (temporarily) strong. And every note of the music expresses that. ENB's production matches it, and rises with it. I could hardly breathe during the last act, and had to fight back the tears to ensure that I didn't miss anything. And I've seen Swan Lake dozens of times; this was like seeing it anew. Such power and profundity, that for me can only be expressed by the perfect union of music and dance since there are no words to tie them down, to make them particular to one culture, to make them specific. Swan Lake at its best expresses the eternal truths, and this production is Swan Lake at its best.

 

It's quite a few years since I've seen Cojocaru as Odette/Odile, and she was a revelation (all over again). Her Odette was, as could be expected, soft and gentle and loving; but she was also strong and pliant and passionate. The tempi were quite strange, I thought - sometimes very slow and sometimes very fast; presumably this is what Cojocaru wanted. She used the slow elements to bend ever more deeply, to wait, to dance as if in a dream; and the fast elements to spin and jump and turn like a shooting star. Her Odile was sensational; so erotic and absolutely lusting after power over Siegfried, and positively leering in triumph when she finally achieved it. Appalling, and brilliant. (I did wonder why on earth Siegfried's mother wanted this far from demure maiden as her daughter-in-law...). In the last act, her Odette was like a dying swan; but in her grief she still knew what she had to do, and found the strength to do it.

 

I have never seen Jeffrey Cirio before, and I thought he was wonderful. High, incredibly light jumps, lovely clean technique, and a really believable character. I don't think I've ever seen a more despairing Siegfried when he is meeting his potential brides; or a Siegfried who knows as surely as Odette what he must do at the end of the ballet. They both know, and they both act, and they triumph together.

 

James Streeter was an energetic, dramatic von Rothbart who really seized the moment (but I didn't like his make up at all - more like a panto villain or war paint, which was a bit bizarre). I very much enjoyed Jane Haworth's imperious Queen and Michael Coleman's hearty Tutor/Master of Ceremonies. I thought that there were a few slightly ragged moments in Act 1, but also some beautiful dancing by Emma Hawes, Precious Adams and Aitor Arrieta in the pas de trois. I loved the national dances, and Anjuli Hudson and Noam Durand danced an excellent Neapolitan. And the swans/corps were absolutely terrific throughout - precise and synchronised but also so full of life and breath, and at the end stretching their backs and arms in an ecstasy of gratitude, submission and joy. No matter how brilliant the principals are, the ballet is made or lost by its swans; and these swans triumphed.

Edited by bridiem
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I was going to write some words about last night but after Bridie’s wonderful review above I don’t need to.   I agree with everything she says.  

 

I too hadn’t seen Alina in the role for many years, and last night it was a different dancer up there. She got both roles absolutely right, and the different styles and acting required to get them right made for a very effective contrast.  Her fouettés were delivered the “old fashioned” way (singles), and at a cracking pace.   

 

I hadn’t been overwhelmed by Cirio in Nutcracker a couple of weeks ago, but last night he was marvellous.  Alina was a much better matched partner for him, and this made a huge difference.   He really made something of Siegfried’s character, adding a depth that is often difficult to achieve.  Even if you don’t know the story, he made it very clear what he was thinking and feeling so it was very easy to follow. His abject sadness and contrition when he begs Odette for forgiveness was heartbreaking, and during the subsequent pdd he never took his eyes off her, almost as if he would lose her if he did.  With tenderness, he gently coaxed her back to trusting him again.  Beautiful and very moving.  

 

The rest of the cast cast was excellent, the corps being the stand- out.  

 

A couple of niggles:  I wish they would put some light onto the couple as they ascend;  up in the balcony you could have missed it if you didn’t know it was coming.  Many people would have still been admiring the beautiful swans with nothing to divert their attention.  I agree about Von R’s makeup.  Looks as if a child had done it!  Finally, why doesn’t the Coli turn the lights all the way down in the balcony?  I watched the ballet as if I were in my living room, not in a theatre!   However, nothing could spoil such wonderful artistry.  Not even the girl sitting next to me who spent the whole time drinking wine and munching on crisps and pretzels 🥨.  I really dislike the Coli for many reasons, but last night’s performance made me forget all of them for just a beautiful little while.  

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Given the comments above about Isaac Hernandez being a 'clever' dancer, it is worth mentioning that his performance has divided the critics to an extraordinary extent. Have a read!

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11 hours ago, bridiem said:

This is a spectacularly beautiful production - pure and clear and classy, enhanced by Peter Farmer's magnificent designs; and it was spectacularly danced. For me, this is the real Swan Lake. I'm afraid it brought home to me all the more the problem/s with Liam Scarlett's production for the RB, much as I enjoyed it at the time. This production brings the ballet to its proper climax; Ashton's Act IV is stunning, and builds to its great, urgent, cathartic, triumphant apotheosis. Swan Lake is not the story of a prince who is tricked into declaring his love for the wrong person and so loses his real love for ever; that would be a tragedy (or at least a sorry tale), and it's clear from the music that Swan Lake is not a tragedy. At the risk of repeating myself, it's about the triumph of good over evil, love over hatred, sacrifice over the lust for power, the (apparently) weak over the (temporarily) strong. And every note of the music expresses that. ENB's production matches it, and rises with it. I could hardly breathe during the last act, and had to fight back the tears to ensure that I didn't miss anything. And I've seen Swan Lake dozens of times; this was like seeing it anew. Such power and profundity, that for me can only be expressed by the perfect union of music and dance since there are no words to tie them down, to make them particular to one culture, to make them specific. Swan Lake at its best expresses the eternal truths, and this production is Swan Lake at its best.

 

 

 

I only saw the rehearsal so far but I completely agree with you about the comparison with the RB Swan Lake - which I also enjoyed at the time. The RB production may have gained glossy sets but it has lost the heart and soul of the ballet - if only Scarlett had left the choreography and the ending alone :( 

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12 hours ago, bridiem said:

it's clear from the music that Swan Lake is not a tragedy. At the risk of repeating myself, it's about the triumph of good over evil, love over hatred, sacrifice over the lust for power, the (apparently) weak over the (temporarily) strong. And every note of the music expresses that

 

Leaving aside the relative merits of the two productions... I'm not so sure. The "mood" of Tchaikovsky's music is frequently open to interpretation: for example, I've often seen and heard the Sugar Plum Fairy pdd music described as strangely tragic, but I don't think that was ever the intention for the choreography it was commissioned to accompany.

 

You could also argue that Rothbart's death in the Scarlett libretto is triumph enough. But we've done this to death elsewhere :)

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50 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

Leaving aside the relative merits of the two productions... I'm not so sure. The "mood" of Tchaikovsky's music is frequently open to interpretation: for example, I've often seen and heard the Sugar Plum Fairy pdd music described as strangely tragic, but I don't think that was ever the intention for the choreography it was commissioned to accompany.

 

You could also argue that Rothbart's death in the Scarlett libretto is triumph enough. But we've done this to death elsewhere :)

 

I do think his music is multi-dimensional, but I don't think that's quite the same as being 'open to interpretation'. (Though of course in practice it IS open to interpretation, and will continue to be so!).

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Worth turning up on spec at the theatre if you happen to be in the area: there were several people trying to get rid of tickets for this afternoon's matinee (not sure why the box office wasn't taking returns).  None of any use to me, though.

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Can anyone list for me which parts of the production are Ashton’s? As far as I can tell from this thread, there’s the Act I waltz, the Neapolitan dance and Act IV. Is that correct?

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Just out of the matinee - more thoughts later, but did anyone else find the snare drum overpoweringly loud in the pas de trois and the end of Act IV?

 

 I normally have nothing but admiration for Gavin Sutherland and the ENB Phil, hence my question - perhaps it was a freak of the spot I was sitting in?

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2 hours ago, Lizbie1 said:

Can anyone list for me which parts of the production are Ashton’s? As far as I can tell from this thread, there’s the Act I waltz, the Neapolitan dance and Act IV. Is that correct?

I think I have only seen this production once, but didn't realise that Act IV was Ashton's (if it is). Could someone in the know please clarify? 

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