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I think that the usual 'repeat' audiences are sitting out Frankenstein in large numbers and that is a huge contributing factor to the drop in sales.  I know from friends working at the ROH that the ballet 'faithful' attend far more performances of a production than the opera 'faithful' (understandably since they want to see different casts) so repeat business is currently more important for ballet sales than it is for opera.   I'm afraid that I am less generous than Floss and think this Frankenstein is an out and out turkey, which I resented sitting through even once.   And I suspect that I am far from alone in that. So, while I might have gone and taken friends to see one or two casts if I had enjoyed the first run (meaning two seats on one or two nights 'unsold' because I'm sitting it out) I'm guessing there are many others who would have gone to most performances and are leaving far more seats unsold that would have been occupied by 'faithful regulars' in the usual course.  The marketing does seem extremely disorganised but it wouldn't have made any difference to me or to others I know if they had bombarded us with Frankenstein PR from morning til night - the ballet is just not good enough. 'Nothing' music, derivative choreography and utterly inept storytelling.

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I'm not sure the prologue is totally unnecessary (although it's by no means as informative as, say, The Winter's Tale's): without it, wouldn't we be assuming that Victor and Elizabeth were brother and sister?  We at least need to see that they aren't actually related, in some form, don't we?  But yes, I agree that the focus needs shifting.  Unfortunately, I assume that would require a major rewrite of the score as well.

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Well, I loved this ballet last time around, and love it even more this time.  Morera and Bonelli are as wonderful as ever, Morera really revelling in the melting choreography that Scarlett has created for the gorgeous pas de deux for Elizabeth and Frankenstein.  Wei Wang makes an excellent Creature, in turn both heart-breaking and menacing – a very powerful dancer. (I would still love to see William Bracewell in this role though – hopefully next time!). And, of course, James Hay is simply fabulous as Henry – so glad he got first cast.  I know many think that the ballet needs "pruning" but I don't agree – for me, it conveys the story clearly, and keeps building and building to it's terrifying but heart-wrenching crescendo, aided by the score from which Barry Wordsworth wrings every drop of drama (the music seemed much more nuanced under his direction).  Again, the audience on the two occasions I've attended have been very enthusiastic.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Alexander Campbell and Meagan Hinkis bring to these roles this evening – I have high expectations!

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1 hour ago, zxDaveM said:

surely large scale advertising for a virtually sold out run of DQ (whether underpriced, or too few performances, or not) is squandering cash

 

I see what you mean, only I am not sure that is what FLOSS was arguing, nor I am sure that it is fair to  assume any significant  cash has been "squandered" on advertising Don Q, given that these things presumably have to be planned out sometime before, and as I recall the fear or complaint of some at the outset was the opposite, i.e.  that Don Q was not going to sell well. So it might be that the advertising for Don Q has proved very cost effective.

 

Also, don't things like automatic email / pop-up adds, once instigated as an algorithm at an earlier stage,  tend to have a bit of a life of their own, independent of cost? Not that I have noticed any particular deluge of these, for any RB production, in my own internet usage.

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Posted (edited)

You are certainly right about Don Q Richard.  I was totally wrong on this one and said I thought there were too many performances.  So much for my knowlege!

 

However, I still think there are far too many of Frankenstein and that, combined with the high ticket prices, has killed it.  I am with Lindsay in not liking it at all, but I can understand that others might, especially if it has been reworked.  What is strange is that despite mixed reviews when it was premiered, it has been given the same lengthy second run that Winter's Tale and Woolf Works got, both of which generated far more successful reviews than Frankenstein.

 

I just did a quick count.  Next Monday you could easily fit everybody in the Stalls.

Edited by penelopesimpson
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1 hour ago, Lindsay said:

I think that the usual 'repeat' audiences are sitting out Frankenstein in large numbers and that is a huge contributing factor to the drop in sales.    I'm guessing there are many others who would have gone to most performances and are leaving far more seats unsold that would have been occupied by 'faithful regulars' in the usual course.  

Agree.  Maybe the marketing people should re-think their plans to push us out;  our bucks do make a bit of a bang, and when many of us desist from attending (like Lindsay and many others, I am skipping Frankenstein altogether this time because I don't think any amount of changes would entice me to sit through it again) the financial implications can be felt.  It may only be a few hundred pounds, but when the House is half empty, those pounds make a difference.  

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1 hour ago, Lindsay said:

I think that the usual 'repeat' audiences are sitting out Frankenstein in large numbers and that is a huge contributing factor to the drop in sales.  I know from friends working at the ROH that the ballet 'faithful' attend far more performances of a production than the opera 'faithful' (understandably since they want to see different casts) so repeat business is currently more important for ballet sales than it is for opera.   I'm afraid that I am less generous than Floss and think this Frankenstein is an out and out turkey, which I resented sitting through even once.   And I suspect that I am far from alone in that. So, while I might have gone and taken friends to see one or two casts if I had enjoyed the first run (meaning two seats on one or two nights 'unsold' because I'm sitting it out) I'm guessing there are many others who would have gone to most performances and are leaving far more seats unsold that would have been occupied by 'faithful regulars' in the usual course.  The marketing does seem extremely disorganised but it wouldn't have made any difference to me or to others I know if they had bombarded us with Frankenstein PR from morning til night - the ballet is just not good enough. 'Nothing' music, derivative choreography and utterly inept storytelling.

Resentment was also my feeling, for the reasons you have highlighted, Lindsay. 

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Posted (edited)

If the ticket prices and advertising are anything to go by the Marketing Department underestimated the demand for Don Q while it overestimated the likely demand for performances of Frankenstein. I assume that its estimate of likely demand was based on tickets sales in their initial seasons . The problem is that while the bulk of the ballet audience may have resigned themselves to a not entirely successful staging of Don Q when the management offered the prospect of some very interesting casts the same magic can not be worked on a ballet which had some very serious problems of structure. focus and pace when it was new and has been revived with none of its weaknesses addressed. In its first season it was a new ballet which excited interest because it was the first full length work of a young choreographer. However the ballet has not generated interest because it is no longer a novelty and it is now clear that its weaknesses have not been addressed in an effective manner. If Scarlett could have brought himself to make the cuts that were really needed then perhaps word of mouth and a few really positive reviews would have generated  better ticket sales for the performances scheduled after the first night. Unfortunately the changes which were made did not really involve the work's structure or its focus and the result is unsold seats. Perhaps something positive may come of this if it dissuades the Marketing Department from setting such "dynamic" ticket prices for ballets which are unknown quantities as far as ticket sales are concerned. Perhaps, but this is too much to hope, they might revert to a simpler approach to ticket pricing like the one the ROH used to use. if the hike in prices is a result of the cut in the ACE subsidy it would be fairer to everyone if the ROH said as much rather than allowing the antics of the Marketing Department to alienate a large number of the resident ballet company's loyal followers.

Edited by FLOSS
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57 minutes ago, FLOSS said:

The problem is that while the bulk of the ballet audience may have resigned themselves to a not entirely successful staging of Don Q when the management offered the prospect of some very interesting casts the same magic can not be worked on a ballet which had some very serious problems of structure.

 

Surely it is more reasonable to assume that  Don Q sales went well because "the bulk of the ballet audience" does regard this staging of Don Q as a success!

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Posted (edited)

With two rows of empty seats in front of a large number of the stalls circle standing places tonight I wonder if I’ll be invited to sit down 🤔🙂

Edited by Rob S

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23 hours ago, alison said:

(And why are ads galore for Don Q still appearing on my screen when it's sold out?  Why not Frankenstein?)

 

Plenty of ads for Romeo & Juliet, too.

 

3 hours ago, Richard LH said:

Also, don't things like automatic email / pop-up adds, once instigated as an algorithm at an earlier stage,  tend to have a bit of a life of their own, independent of cost?

 

I'm certainly getting that impression.  It would explain why I used to get ads for productions that were completely in the past.  Can't they be "recalled" once they're no longer needed?

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I'm sitting in the Paul Hamlyn Hall right now (6:30pm), a favourite haunt of mine before a performance.  Curious to note - NO pre-booked tables for food / drinks: I don't think I can ever remember this.  Half of the Balcony restaurant occupied.  So, it's not only ticket sales but also the associated profit making catering that has also been affected it seems. 

 

…...and even the unreserved tables have yet to fill up. On other occasions, I've made sure I'm here before 6pm to secure a chair/ table. Last year, I sat on the floor several times. 

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They're literally giving tickets away - I won a Royal Ballet competition and they gave me 2 central front row amphitheatre seats for Friday's performance! Very excited, but would not have paid £70 each for them.....

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Congratulations Alice!  Let us know what you think.  

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Well, all the stalls circle standing got to sit down, the ones that turned up...then at least half a dozen people came in and sat around me.....10-15 minutes in to Act 1 😮

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1 hour ago, aliceinwoolfland said:

They're literally giving tickets away - I won a Royal Ballet competition and they gave me 2 central front row amphitheatre seats for Friday's performance! Very excited, but would not have paid £70 each for them.....

 

What was the question, your favourite colour? 🤔🙂

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6 hours ago, ElleC said:

Well, I loved this ballet last time around, and love it even more this time.

 

Very pleased to see your post ElleC and that you find Frankenstein even more impressive this time round.  I don’t get to see Frankenstein until later but am very much looking forward to the 23 March matinee/evening performances.  

 

I’ve been reading the discussion with interest and am still thinking about Nogoat’s very informative post much earlier, setting out the tweaks Liam Scarlett has introduced and the defence made of the very brief encounter between Frankenstein and the Creature at the end of Act 1 (page 4 above and apologies for not quoting properly).  

 

Nogoat writes: “... it’s very clear in the book that despite the sheer intellectual achievement of his obsessive pursuit of the secret of life through the reanimation of dead tissue, Victor’s response is not elation but instant repulsion – “I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room…”

 

The justification certainly is in the novel with Frankenstein’s minimal description of his revulsion and how he fled the room.  But that is written from Frankenstien’s perspective and there’s no reference to the Creature and his response to ‘creation’.  I don’t know the novel well enough but I thought the Creature years afterwards reflected on his creation/rejection when he spoke to Frankenstein so does the reanimation scene need to be solely from Frankenstein’s pretty perfunctory description?  In the Ballet I think we see the Creature looking to his creator for recognition and only finding rejection.  I appreciate it’s difficult to imagine the Creature having awareness/insight immediately on reanimation but could a case be made to draw on both Frankenstein’s and the Creature’s perspectives?  In the Ballet it is so rushed and to me asks for a little more - nothing too elaborate but more time for audiences to appreciate the import of what’s happening.  I’ll see what I think after my London trip and a couple of performances.

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Yes I too thought the whole creation scene far too rushed. it should be the pivotal moment of the ballet; the time when creator and creature come face to face. Their reaction to each other should be the most important part of the ballet and sets the scene for the tragedy that follows. The revulsion of Frankenstein should be matched by the wonder of the creature experiencing life for the first time, his gratitude to Frankenstein for giving him life and gradual devastation when he realises the effect he has on his creator; the person he is looking towards for love and affection. My take on the creature is he is not intrinsically bad; it is just the effect his appearance has on everyone he meets. he wants nothing more than love and affection and it's only after he is repulsed and rejected by everyone, and Frankenstein refuses to create a mate for him that he turns to anger and violence. There should at least be a pas de deux after creation that attempts to convey at least some of this. It could be the most moving part of the ballet. As a ballet I don't dislike it; I even quite like it but feel frustrated every time I see it for this lack of clarity. The ballet should be about love but the love the creature is trying to find in those around him not the love between Frankenstein and Elizabeth which I don't even remember from when I read the book (admittedly nearly 40 years ago). I've never seen it live and didn't plan to do so this time but I booked the Floral hall rehearsals this Friday and thought I might stop over and see an evening performance so I'll see what I think then.

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Well, I don't know how they did it but we had a very well filled theatre this evening and one that cheered enthusiastically. To be fair, they were treated to a very fine performance by all concerned. Campbell/Hinkis I thought gave outstanding performances especially as they were both making their debuts in the roles. I won't go on about Campbell, except to say he danced and partnered particularly well. I saw Kish as the Creature in the first run - this time he seemed even more sinister, or may be I've got better at noticing his menacing appearances! Isabelle Gasparini a beautifully characterised Justine.I have to say that while I think the ballet could do with a bit of pruning,I enjoy it more than many forum members.I think my biggest grouse it the designs which prevent those sitting in Side seats from seeing what is going on.

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I can't fault the dancing at all: excellent from Campbell, Hinkis, Kish and Acri. How I wish Act 3 was matched by Acts 1 and 2 which just don't do for me at all.  The audience were appreciative of the dancers at the end but there were no red run curtain calls at all. 

 

I was right - once is enough.  A shame really, as the dancers certainly gave it their all and there is so much more potential to be extracted from the book than is in the ballet. 

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I agree about the performances tonight, which were excellent. Campbell got everything possible out of the role of Victor, and gave it both drama and pathos; Hinkis was a lovely and very touching Elizabeth, though I thought perhaps (understandably) a bit tentative in the first pas de deux; and Kish a sad, strange creature.

 

I had felt rather depressed and dispirited about seeing this work again, after all I've read about it since seeing the première (which I enjoyed very much, with some reservations). But I actually enjoyed the first two acts quite a lot tonight, to my surprise. It was the last act that really didn't work for me this time; although (like all the acts) it looked amazing, it just seemed interminable, with a lot of samey choreography and slightly odd and unsatisfying elements. E.g. why does only Victor see the creature dancing when a) the creature is real, and b) the creature is there? I assume Victor is meant to be hallucinating; but the creature is actually in the vicinity, so that doesn't quite compute for me (but that's probably just me). And why doesn't Elizabeth shoot the creature when he's killing Henry?! She points the gun at him for ages, but doesn't fire. (I'm not being blasé about killing! But it would have been completely justified here after all. So I found it jolly frustrating. Maybe this happens in the book - I've (already) forgotten.) And the pas de deux for the creature and Elizabeth seemed to go on for ages for no real reason. By the end, I did feel sorry for everyone involved (including the creature), but really I just wanted to go home.

 

My feeling this time was that although there's a lot to like, it doesn't hang together as a work. And I think in fact that the most fundamental problem is the music. I actually like it quite a lot, but it's not right for a ballet. It's like a film score, and would be fine as such; but ballet music needs to have light and shade, contrast, climaxes, ebb and flow, etc. This music really only allows for choreography that reflects/parallels it, rather than expressing depths, heights, subtleties, nuances. It's storytelling music, and so the story was told. But that's not enough.

 

The performance was indeed greeted with loud cheering; but bizarrely, there were no front of curtain calls. The cheering/clapping stopped as soon as the red curtain came down after the company calls, and I did wonder if some at least of the cheering was because there were a lot of student/discount ticket holders who didn't realise that there would be more calls to come (and the calls didn't happen because the cheering/applause had stopped). Maybe that's an unworthy thought, but it was strange.

 

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6 hours ago, JennyTaylor said:

I'm sitting in the Paul Hamlyn Hall right now (6:30pm), a favourite haunt of mine before a performance.  Curious to note - NO pre-booked tables for food / drinks: I don't think I can ever remember this.  Half of the Balcony restaurant occupied.  So, it's not only ticket sales but also the associated profit making catering that has also been affected it seems. 

 

…...and even the unreserved tables have yet to fill up. On other occasions, I've made sure I'm here before 6pm to secure a chair/ table. Last year, I sat on the floor several times. 

 

I noticed the attendance in the Amphi restaurant was zero - not a sausage (was sold)

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59 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

My feeling this time was that although there's a lot to like, it doesn't hang together as a work. And I think in fact that the most fundamental problem is the music. I actually like it quite a lot, but it's not right for a ballet. It's like a film score, and would be fine as such; but ballet music needs to have light and shade, contrast, climaxes, ebb and flow, etc. This music really only allows for choreography that reflects/parallels it, rather than expressing depths, heights, subtleties, nuances. It's storytelling music, and so the story was told. But that's not enough.

 

The performance was indeed greeted with loud cheering; but bizarrely, there were no front of curtain calls. The cheering/clapping stopped as soon as the red curtain came down after the company calls, and I did wonder if some at least of the cheering was because there were a lot of student/discount ticket holders who didn't realise that there would be more calls to come (and the calls didn't happen because the cheering/applause had stopped). Maybe that's an unworthy thought, but it was strange.

 

 

yes, the music is quite cinematic, though I don't mind that. I actually think it generally works quite well, and that there are contrasts and climaxes etc - but whether they are used to best effect is open to question. Some of the best bits of the score seem to be when there isn't anything happening!

 

No red-runs was a bit bizarre wasn't it. I agree that once the curtain dropped, the cheering stopped dead and every just left, which is a shame for the dancers. Obviously an inexperienced (with free/very cheap tickets via the student union!) crowd, filling up those sadly empty seats.

 

Overall, I quite like the piece, with some reservations. There are sections I'd cheerfully hack out, and quite a few bits I'd shorten, especially in Act 1. I'd also put an extra 50p in the meter for the lighting at times. 

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5 hours ago, zxDaveM said:

 

yes, the music is quite cinematic, though I don't mind that. I actually think it generally works quite well, and that there are contrasts and climaxes etc - but whether they are used to best effect is open to question. Some of the best bits of the score seem to be when there isn't anything happening!

 

No red-runs was a bit bizarre wasn't it. I agree that once the curtain dropped, the cheering stopped dead and every just left, which is a shame for the dancers. Obviously an inexperienced (with free/very cheap tickets via the student union!) crowd, filling up those sadly empty seats.

 

Overall, I quite like the piece, with some reservations. There are sections I'd cheerfully hack out, and quite a few bits I'd shorten, especially in Act 1. I'd also put an extra 50p in the meter for the lighting at times. 

 

I think all the fuses blew in the creation scene...

 

I've been at performances where the applause has moreorless stopped before the red-runs (didn't know they were called that!) but they still go ahead. I know it had completely stopped last night, but it would have started again if the dancers had appeared. Really not fair on them, especially since there were debuts involved.

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11 hours ago, Rob S said:

 

What was the question, your favourite colour? 🤔🙂

Your ballet highlight of 2018! I talked about Francesca Hayward as Manon 

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8 hours ago, zxDaveM said:

 I'd also put an extra 50p in the meter for the lighting at times. 

 

And an extra bullet in the gun....poor Elizabeth died from a gunshot nobody heard

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1 hour ago, Rob S said:

 

And an extra bullet in the gun....poor Elizabeth died from a gunshot nobody heard

 

Elizabeth died when the creature broke her neck surely

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2 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

 

Elizabeth died when the creature broke her neck surely

 

Oh, I missed that then, I thought Victor accidentally shot her while she was close to the Creature but wasn’t actually being held by it. Victor had his gun pointed in that general area

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