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Royal Ballet - Don Quixote - Spring 2019

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Well I think that was the biggest round of spontaneous applause I’ve ever seen at ROH. Vadim Muntagirov rightly recognised for an outstanding solo during the grand pas de deux. Marianela Nunez looked like she was genuinely enjoying her performance - her enthusiasm (and smile!) was infectious. Electric atmosphere this evening, with a very welcoming audience - I think almost every patron in the stalls gave a standing ovation at the end. 

 

I know it’s not to everyone’s taste but I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and my mum loved it. Quick note re the general rehearsal today - Matthew Ball looked incredible as Espada, lovely Spanish shaping. Such a shame not to see his act iii!

 

@Thalia I was looking out for you this afternoon, sorry not to have seen you!

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Well that was just STUNNING from Marianela and Vadim. I wonder how they can reach even greater heights, but they did tonight. The choreography lends itself of course, but I feel privileged to have seen them dance this evening. 

 

It was a top class cast with many other excellent performances. Laura Morera as Mercedes and Anna-Rose O'Sullivan as Amour, stood out particularly for me and we also had the joy of Gary Avis as Lorenzo and Bennet Gartside camping it up as Gamache. 

 

A very well deserved prolonged standing ovation at the end too.  I love this ballet, so joyful and feel good factor. Marianela's smile is so captivating and she was mischievous too. A total delight.   

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@Riva Likewise! Next time...

 

I agree with your comment regarding Ball as Espada – my mum was most impressed by him and she’s not easy to please! I’m so glad I have a ticket for that cast later on in the run, as I think it will be a real treat.  

 

It’s good to hear that the first night was so well received. 

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Nunez and Muntagirov blew us away tonight with amazing virtuoso performances-  but also warmed our hearts with their onstage chemistry, sense of fun and showmanship.

On top of that, Hirano was very much back  on form and Morera still in the sizzling form of 2 Pigeons,- Mendizibal and Zuchetti also dazzling- so what a combination. It brought the house down.

Minor quibbles about the design and so forth melted away in the brilliant light of a set of utterly top-notch performances.

 

Fancy missing that!

 

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I'd also like to mention Luca Acri who I think is right back to top form now.  I noticed this in the 2 Pigeons last week where I thought he shone and again tonight as one of the beggars/ artisans?  Never quite sure what they are meant to be but there a 4 of them. Anyway, his dancing on both occasions was excellent.  

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Agree with all the above comments. Everyone on that stage tonight ensured that it was a very special occasion.  

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Last night Anna Rose O'Sullivan as Amour positively twinkled.  There's no doubt about it:  The girl's a BIG star. 

 

How lucky are we? 

 

VERY.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Agree about Anna Rose, Bruce.

Also much admiration  in the House for Morera and Hirano.

 

But what  sublime exemplars of joyful, virtuoso  dancing from Nunez and Muntagirov! 

The most applause during, and following, a performance I have yet to see at the ROH. 

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It was the most applause I can remember experiencing, apart from farewells etc,  Richard.

I do wish they were being live screened as really they were so sensational and would, I know, have been the admiration of the world.  I am not sure I can affford to go and see them again- but it will linger in the mind very long.

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I have no doubt Nunez/Muntagirov were absolutely sensational! (I no longer buy tickets to see Nunez' performances as I use my spare cash to follow the younger Principals and a few First Soloists).

Clearly, Mr O'Hare feels the time has come to showcase his younger female (and male) Principals to the world: Takada in Don Q. and Naghdi in Romeo&Juliet.

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I did not have fond memories of this Don Q  but this cast totally blew me away. Interestingly, the first night audience was 'with' Nunez and Muntagirov as soon as they hit the stage - clapping, laughing and cheering in the all the right places. It was amazing dancing from the two leads (and, actually, everyone) and, in all my many years of going to ballet at the ROH, I have never before been part of such a prolonged spontaneous ovation (other than at 'farewells', of course). The way most of the Stalls rose to their feet as Kitri and Basilio rang on centre stage to take their first bow was a privilege to be a part of.

 

I still have my quibbles with the production: an over long prologue ( Don Q's fantasies can be dispatched much quicker - let's get on with the ballet) and a somewhat repetitive gypsy scene being the main ones.

 

But with dancing such as we saw last night, it's a joyous romp.

 

I, too, must mention : Fumi Kaneko as a glorious Queen of the Dryads (a role which was 'under cast' during previous runs), Anna Rose O'Sullivan as a delicious Amour, Laura Morera as a seductive Mercedes and Ryoichi Hirano reprising his nicely arrogant Espada. Christopher Saunders doesn't quite capture the 'far away look' which I feel that a Don Q needs to have but the last-minute substitute Sancho Panza (David Yudes) - the smallest RB male dancer totally enveloped in a fat suit - used his nimbleness to very good effect.

 

Bravo RB. Marianela and Vadim - you are sensational!

 

 

Edited by capybara
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18 hours ago, LinMM said:

Does anyone know about or even seen dancing Daniel Camargo who is replacing Bracewell on the 27th? 

 

18 hours ago, Don Q Fan said:

Absolutely! I have seen him many times in Amsterdam where he is a Principal. He's nice and tall too. I've always enjoyed his performances e.g. DonQ and La Dame aux Camellias most recently my only slight reservation is perhaps I don't get much expression/emotion off him. Dance wise he's very good. I think he'll be fine in DonQ here. 

 

Mr Camargo danced as a guest (with Elisa Badenes) at the Australian Ballet's 50th anniversary gala in 2012 and blew us away. They performed a contemporary pas de deux by Demis Volpi set to Elvis Presley songs called Little Monsters and were the hit of the evening (the most frequent comment was "sex on legs"), then in the second half came out and gave us the Don Quixote pas de deux which was delightful and explosive. He was certainly the most popular guest at the knees-up following the gala! Poor young man, everyone wanted to meet him, and both men and women were flirting - it was amusing to watch, but my "date" for the evening did tell me that half the flirters were plumb out of luck.

 

He was still at Stuttgart at that time, having joined them in 2009 and two years later with Miss Badenes won the Audience Choice at the Erik Bruhn Prize. He was promoted Principal in 2013 and it was only a couple of years later that he joined Het Nationale Ballet as a principal.

 

Although Brazilian and trained at the John Cranko Schule, not Russian and trained at the Royal Ballet School, I find him similar to Mr Muntagirov in his technical facility, charm, and ever-improving artistry. I've been lucky enough to see him dance a couple of times since that first performance, and although I'm sorry for Mr Bracewell (and the originally-cast Mr Corrales), I can assure you Miss Kaneko will be in safe but exciting (for the audience) hands.

 

I will be interested to hear what regular Royal Ballet watchers think of him.

- - - - -

(copy of my own post in the Winter Casting thread)

@Don Q Fan you're so lucky to have seen him "many times" in Amsterdam.

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After reading all these raves for Nunez & Muntagirov I was delighted to check the ROH website just now & find a single side sc ticket available for next Saturday. So I'll be seeing my first Don Q a month earlier than planned. Now I'll just spend the next week praying Muntagirov doesn't join the injury ranks!

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Well, as though I couldn’t be impressed enough by last night’s performance, I now hear that Marianela was actually ill with a fever! She posted it on Instagram so it’s in the public domain. Remarkable that she could pull off such a sparkling performance under those circumstances. She is a perfect Kitri in every way.

 

She and Muntagirov were spectacular - every time I think Vadim can’t possibly get any better, he does. There were audible gasps from the audience at some of his leaps - those incredible split leaps, and the scissor action variation on the usual cabrioles - wow! Yet still technically perfect, effortless and elegant.

 

The chemistry between them was beautiful to see, plus the combined effect of their megawatt smiles was pretty dazzling. And they hit the comedy moments perfectly.

 

The production itself - well, Don Q to begin with has probably one of the thinnest, silliest plots in ballet. I agree with Capybara that the prologue with the Don could be considerably pruned. On the whole, though, who cares when it’s the excuse for dancing of the calibre we saw last night? The whole cast were lively and vibrant and if I have a wish, it would be that the orchestra matched the zip and verve of the dancers - I felt they were a bit subdued and even plodding at times.

 

Hard to pick out individuals as they were all excellent - but Laura Morera was blazingly good as Mercedes. Anna Rose O’Sullivan was the most sprightly and musical Amour, and Fumi Kaneko made the difficult Queen of the Dryads solo look easy. And let’s have a hand for those gorgeous Act 2 tutus - surely some of the most beautiful anywhere?

 

The first time I have ever witnessed a standing ovation in the ROH but it was richly deserved and a privilege to be part of.

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Just a word on the staging, and the titular character.

I found this ballet so much more colourful, bright and cleverly designed seen "live" than seen on the  disc. Beautiful costumes, and (mobile) scenery...the tired old horse appears slightly rough round the edges, but that rather adds to its poignancy.

 

Indeed the poignancy of Don Q's romantic, chivalrous, yet deluded quest, adds rather  a subtle layer to the ballet above and beyond the otherwise "thin/silly" plot. And for me Christopher Saunders perfectly captures the spirit of the character....every gesture and expression conveying meaning, including plenty of suitably yearning, moving "far away looks", capybara!

 

Credit to Saunders also for pushing David Yudes to the fore at the curtain call, at his own expense.

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47 minutes ago, Balletfanp said:

Marianela was actually ill with a fever!

She doesn't exactly say she was ill during the performance itself...but fever or not, she was certainly on fire!

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No, but she thanks various people for checking on her and bringing her things “to get the show done,” so I deduced from that that she was starting to feel unwell at the very least.

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21 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

the tired old horse appears slightly rough round the edges, but that rather adds to its poignancy.

The horse  Rocinante, is meant to be a very old and past-it horse , so this seems appropriate- I love the model, very imaginative. Agree the sets and stunning tutus look so much better live.

In the interval I enjoyed a perfect close-up view of Osipova's Kitri dress hanging up in  the costume workshop right next to the terace.

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Further cast info. for tonight....

Don Q.  Saunders

Sancho Panza....Yudes

Lorenzo....Avis

Gamache....Whitehead

Kitri's friends...Choe, Stix-Brunell

2 Matadors...Edmonds, Ella

Gypsy couple...Mendizabal, Mock

Queen of Dryads....Kaneko

Amour....O'Sullivan

Dulcinea...Turk

Fandango Couple.....Storm-Jensen, Edmonds

 

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Goodness, Kaneko is having quite a busy 24 hours, Nice cast for the cinema.

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I agree a fabulous opening night with great performances from the entire cast.  Yes Vadim and Marianela were sensational but so were Laura/Ryoichi and all roles were sumptuously cast.  Scintillating, effervescent dancing from Anna-Rose as Armour and I very much agree with Bruce Wall and others above.  Anna-Rose was truly MC for the Act 2 Dryads, seemingly conjuring Fumi and Marianela to dance.

 

I know a lot if people are not sold on the production but I find it very appealing (although I’d prefer to dispense with the shouting).  I rather like how Don Q and Sancho Panza are very sympathetically portrayed and how the world is a better place for Don Q’s dreams and Sancho Panza’s concerns with more bread and butter (or meat and wine) matters.  Remarkable that David Yudes dances Sancho Panza one day and the Gypsy Boy the next.  And I love the horse, the bed post lance and the makeshift armour.

 

An evening that simply fizzes when danced so exuberantly by the entire Royal Ballet.

 

The applause at the end was tremendous: it reminded me of the opening night of the new Swan Lake - all that was missing was a flower throw. 

 

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Is it usual for a dancer to play Sancho Panza as Yudes is doing? I have always presumed it was a role taken by character artists. 

 

Also, good to see a comprehensive review of opening night in the Telegraph. Muntagirov's contribution reduced to a parenthetical acknowledgement of his presence... Also, an image of Bonelli and Lamb is captioned as Acosta and Nuñez. Really makes you feel like you were there. 

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20 minutes ago, Saodan said:

Is it usual for a dancer to play Sancho Panza as Yudes is doing? I have always presumed it was a role taken by character artists. 

 

Also, good to see a comprehensive review of opening night in the Telegraph. Muntagirov's contribution reduced to a parenthetical acknowledgement of his presence... Also, an image of Bonelli and Lamb is captioned as Acosta and Nuñez. Really makes you feel like you were there. 

 

As I said earlier, I rather liked the unusual sprightliness of Yudes's Sancho Panza.

That Telegraph review is a disgrace.

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4 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

As I said earlier, I rather liked the unusual sprightliness of Yudes's Sancho Panza.

That Telegraph review is a disgrace.

 

She certainly doesn't seem to be a dance critic - mainly a TV reviewer

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The quality of dance criticism has really plummeted recently, in the Telegraph and elsewhere.  Over and over again they can’t even be bothered to get the photo right.  Then the text will often contain errors, or is written by someone who knows little about the art form.  Maybe with the advent of social media they just aren’t bothering any more.  

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14 hours ago, Xandra Newman said:

Clearly, Mr O'Hare feels the time has come to showcase his younger female (and male) Principals to the world: Takada in Don Q. and Naghdi in Romeo&Juliet.

And on the basis of tonight's amazing performance from the former, that looks like a good call!

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2 hours ago, capybara said:

As I said earlier, I rather liked the unusual sprightliness of Yudes's Sancho Panza.

 

Good to hear. I will be interested to see him when I go next week. I just have visions of performances by other companies where older character roles are taken by conspicuously young looking dancers. Also, I saw Yudes do Loschek a number of times and always thought it was a waste of such a talented dancer. 

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3 hours ago, Saodan said:

 

Good to hear. I will be interested to see him when I go next week. I just have visions of performances by other companies where older character roles are taken by conspicuously young looking dancers. Also, I saw Yudes do Loschek a number of times and always thought it was a waste of such a talented dancer. 

 

Oh groan groan groan you're reminding me of Australian Ballet's frequent use of 20-somethings to play, for example, major domos, senior members of courts, nurses of now-adult characters, elderly lotharios, etc etc etc. Really it's that hard to find a few ex-dancers in their forties and fifties?

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oaodan  and  Sophoife, The fact that the RB has a group of Principal Character dancers suggested to me that reasons other than mere expediency had led to David Yudes being selected to replace Philip Mosely as Sancho Panza and the performance that he gave more than confirmed that opinion.Yudes is an exceptionally talented dancer and it would seem a very versatile one. He clearly is not going to be side-lined playing older character roles in perpetuity with little opportunity to dance as his debut as Sancho Panza on Friday evening was followed at the Saturday matinee by his second appearance as the Gypsy Boy in Two Pigeons. I imagine that he will turn up in the virtuoso role of Kolia in A Month in the Country at the end of the season. I did not find myself being distracted by a mismatch between his youth and the role he was playing, From where I was sitting his makeup was very effective in disguising his youth and his portrayal of the character was spot on. This Sancho was a bit of a rogue,full of peasant guile and unlike Moseley far from boring. Yudes did far more than simply going through the motions. He was not merely reproducing the stage business while failing to create a character which is a fault  which has crept into too many of Moseley's character performances.It made a pleasant change to see all of the role's choreography performed so crisply and so completely in character and revealed what a hole there is in the action of  the ballet if the role is not performed to the hilt.

 

The decision to cast Yudes as Sancho Panza  is unlikely to be the result of a lack available mature dancers. Kevin O'Hare has said on several occasions that he recognises that he can't give everyone the promotions they deserve but that he intends to make their careers as interesting and artistically rewarding as possible. Giving younger dancers opportunities to perform roles which are generally given to more experienced  performers is a policy which benefits both the company and the individual dancer as it develops the dancers' artistry and expands their range. At the last revival of Winters' Tale the role of Polixenes , which had up until that point been performed by mature Principal dancers, was given to three young men Reece Clarke, William Bracewell and Lukas, Bjorneboe Braensrod  all of whom acquitted themselves well. The decision to cast Yudes as Sancho even if prompted by Moseley not being available should, I think , be seen in the context of that policy and it paid off. I hope that management think very seriously about casting him in the many roles created for Alexander Grant and those he inherited,

 

As far as Don Q is concerned it is far from being my favourite ballet. I find so much of what passes for its comedy laboured and barely amusing so I was pleasantly surprised by the first night of the run in which the details of the staging which had seemed awkward when the production was new looked far better organised. I wonder how much of a role Christopher Saunders has had in tightening it up as he is credited with the staging. Great performances all round almost converted me to the ballet. Kaneko was a fine Queen of the Dryads making the challenges of her choreography look simple and straight forward by dancing it so elegantly.; O'Sullivan a charming Amour; young Sissens and Dixon outstanding among the Matadors with Morera, Nunez and Muntagirov full of character and making all of the choreography look ridiculously easy. If the company maintain this standard throughout the run I might even become a convert. For the first time in decades they had to bring  the houselights up to persuade the audience to leave the auditorium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by FLOSS
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