Having waited a few days before setting down my thoughts on Wednesday's opener has given me time to rationalise my reactions to what was, first and foremost, an assured and inspired selection of classical and contemporary works from ENB's current core repertoire, each of which contributed to an extremely enjoyable evening.
So, yes, I did indeed enjoy the evening and would encourage anyone who hasn't already been along to the RFH to snap up a ticket before the run closes but, echoing Capybara, and contrary to my prior expectations, I wasn't totally blown away. I agree that this may, in part, have been due to the lingering high of the RB's recent Balanchine/Robbins programme, but also, in my case at least, there was the inevitable comparison with ENB's fabulous pre-Covid 70th anniversary gala which, with a similar mix of the classical and the new, was frankly off the scale.
That said, there was much to applaud in Wednesday's performance, more particularly since this was the first night in which the company had performed its classical repertoire in over a year, and the performances were all of such a high standard that it would be almost impossible to single anyone out.
Unlike some of the posters, I loved the extract from Broken Wings, which was given so much dramatic heft by Katja Khaniukova and Fabien Reimair: this work really does take the art of partnering to a new and exciting level and I adore the music which, enhancing but never overpowering, gives such an authentic flavour to the work as a whole.
Moving on to Swan Lake, Annamk and Irmgard have each indicated that they were not entirely convinced by Natascha Mair. For me, her Black Swan started strongly, with a cogent and persuasive characterisation, but - and I am not entirely sure why - after the initial impact, her performance seemed to lose its edge. It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has seen her subsequent performances since at present I am very much in two minds about her. Less so, on the other hand, about Isaac Hernandez, whose dancing, whilst technically accomplished, has previously failed to engage me but delivered a compelling performance on Wednesday evening.
There is little that I can add to previous posts with regard to the other pieces. The programme finished strongly with the infectiously upbeat Playlist which, I understand, will be expanded during the Forsythe evening at Sadlers Wells early in 2022. Something else to look forward to from ENB in the coming year.