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Scheherezade

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  1. Returning briefly to overly muscular thighs, can any come close to the size of Ivan Vasiliev's? And, almost as briefly, back to Alexander Campbell, whose thigh size I can't recall having noticed, but I do find it strange that his acting ability should be questioned since I consider this to be one of his particular strengths, along with his ability to sustain convincing partnerships. Along with his notable performances with Francesca Hayward, his partnership with Yuhui Choe in Two Pigeons was a stand-out for me.
  2. Why? We are either sick of subversive nannying and its smug apologists or we’re not. If we are, we have to embrace the principle of freedom of expression in whatever manifestation it may assume.
  3. Ok, thrilled or disappointed? Some thrilling bits, as always, from Osipova, and an extremely moving final act which, for me, massively redeemed the performance but overall, sadly, I am in the disappointed camp, which is a shame because I wanted to be blown away by Hallberg but I just wasn’t. I longed to be swept away by that fabled ‘chemistry’ but where was it? On a personal level, there clearly was abundant chemistry between Osipova and Hallberg, witness his down-on-one-knee tribute to her at the curtain calls, so why couldn’t he bring some of that to his performance? This was Romeo and Juliet, for heaven’s sake! And Hallberg is an esteemed and accomplished performer who shouldn’t have needed two acts comprising one hour and thirty five minutes performance time to warm up. What happened to passion and spontaneity? Where was that coup de foudre that stopped time and changed both of their destinies? For me, the disconnect started right at the start and, yes, the height difference between Hallberg on the one hand and Hay and Dyer on the other, did not help one bit, with Hallberg donning the mantle of a much older cousin doing his unsatisfactory best to get down with the kids. No ‘three amigos’ here but two amigos and their vaguely uncomfortable mentor. And he had none of the braggadocio, nous or stage presence of the fabulous James Hay and an impressive Tristan Dyer, both of whom managed to colour their performances with convincing characterisation that, for much of the performance, Hallberg sadly lacked. One of my friends remarked on the way home that she would have loved to have seen Hay as Romeo and I couldn’t help but agree. So, not the best start. I did wonder, to begin with, whether my impressions might not have been influenced, on a subconscious level at least, by an element of rooting for the home team but I don’t think so. I really did try to be objective but objectivity ruled that the home team came out on top. On, then, to Juliet and, as expected, Osipova gave it her all and then some. Her Juliet was invested with passion a plenty but, as has already been said by some, her Romeo was disappointingly bland. Apart from an initial “Ooh, he’s dreamy!” what was there to hold her? I couldn’t help feeling that this Juliet would have given her Romeo short shrift pretty soon. I didn't find Osipova's Juliet particularly sophisticated but, especially in Act 1, I did find her a little too knowing.There was that sense that I wasn’t seeing Juliet but, rather, Osipova’s portrayal of Juliet and whilst that portrayal was vivid, highly watchable and, yes, compelling, I found it a fraction over-wrought, the emotions a little too contrived. There was a worrying sense of artifice, a lack of innocence, to this Juliet that made me think that if a better looking candidate, Romeo, hadn’t shown up when he did, Paris would have been in with a real chance. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this portrayal but I find that the initial lack of innocence tends to diminish the terrible tragedy that is to follow and I couldn’t help but compare the effect with the searing, heart-breaking Hayward/Corrales partnership that left me in pieces only a week ago. On, finally, to a particularly fine Tybalt. Hirano really is quite superb in certain roles and this is very definitely one of them. Completely different from Matthew Ball’s sneering, entitled public schoolboy, this Tybalt was a fully-formed adult: angry, dangerous and utterly gripping. And, I’m afraid to say, in his scenes with Romeo, Tybalt was the one who drew my eye and held my attention on every occasion.
  4. To those posters who thought that Francesca Hayward didn't fully inhabit the role - my goodness, were we at the same performance? I found her totally magical. As with her Giselle, her performance was touched with that extraordinary spontaneity that made it feel as though this were the first R&J that I had ever seen. She and Corrales were dripping with chemistry, both portrayals imbued with those throwaway touches that bring a character to life - a glance, a shiver, a twist of the spine, the neck, the wrist that made the audience hold a collective breath and made me wish, so much, that I could wave a wand and halt the terrible tragedy that was to come. Unforgettable and sublime! To be honest, I couldn't find a single weak link on stage. The boys' trio was superb. Their camaraderie, that way of constantly watching each other's backs, which.reminded me of my son and his friends. The mandolin players, with a special shout out for Joseph Sissens. And how is it that Marcellino Sambe isn't yet a principal? Come on, Mr O'Hare, what are you waiting for? And then there was Matthew Ball. And, yes, I did like his Tybalt: the swagger, that aura of entitlement, the cultivated nonchalance, so 'public school', that could turn so easily to resentful aggression when things didn't go his way. In my part of the amphitheatre, a roar went up at the curtain calls and it was richly deserved. What was not to love?
  5. I have just received a ‘Friends’ email taking something of a different line to the ‘let’s get rid of the regulars’ approach. After saying ‘thank you for supporting the season through your membership’ it goes on to say ‘It is a real delight to share it with you as you are vital to enabling the magic on stage to take place’.
  6. You haven’t, Lizzie - missed anything. I’d agree with your ‘must sees’ and probably add Agrippina - love all the casting plus Emelyanchev and the OAE. For me, Don Carlo and Otello are both curate’s eggs on the casting front but I will see them anyway as I can never get enough Verdi. And Tristan & Isolde does have the wonderful Semyon Bychkov, albeit saddled with the so-so Christov Loy production. It’s a good season for Kwiecien - Don Pasquale AND Don Carlo and good to see Louise Alder down for Zerlina albeit in Kasper Holten’s over-busy production.
  7. I can barely contain my excitement, Lizzie, at the prospect of a whole season of inspired navel-gazing.
  8. Bonnie Langford's name also seems to be in the mix. And she has apparently said how she'd love to do it.
  9. Can these pages be accessed from the current website or is it just a case of separately saving the old links?
  10. I wondered that, too, Alison. Having only attended the final performance, I had no way of knowing; or, indeed, of weighing the different interpretations in either Broken Wings or Rite of Spring but what a class act all round and what an inspiring evening. This company just gets better and better; unmissable in everything that it does.
  11. I had a similar primary school education, Fonty, with an inspirational teacher dedicated to the importance of exposure to the 'high end' arts. From the age of 8 we acted out scenes from Shakespeare and sang operatic arias and choruses. They were introduced and taught from a background of knowledge, understanding and love. My own love of literature and the arts came from those early years. How many children today have those advantages? How many teachers are able to provide them or, indeed, find them 'relevant'?
  12. There really isn't anything that I can add that hasn't already been said far more eloquently but I would like to add my voice to the general plaudits for this gala as a whole. Overall favourites included the insouciance of the Robbins Suite of Dances and the gasp-aloud fireworks provided by Khaniukova and Zagrebin. I thought that the home team held up their end admirably and they had no discernible competition in carrying off the 'Least Flattering Costumes' award. My only murmur of disagreement in that category would be that I would award it hands down to the men's vest and shorts combos so beloved by the RB as displayed in the Macmillan. But a thoroughly enjoyable evening all round.
  13. Thanks, John (and Richard, too). That's a great help. Long may it last!
  14. Sorry, John, how do we do that through the new website? The only calendar that I can get up is via tickets and events and all past April dates are then inaccessible.
  15. On the topic of printed info, I have today received the latest printed pack from the Donmar.
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