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  1. I'd be curious to know if there are any other reviews of the different casts for the other 2 performances, who could arguably be said to be stronger, dramatically. One of my favourite ballets, but I can see the merit in some of the points made in the review and above.
  2. You are not wrong, I had to ask specifically about going to Japan. My first tour was Madrid so I was sent the LA details, which didn't interest / suit me for a number of reasons. But I was interested in DonQ in Tokyo, so requested options, and what they offered worked for me.
  3. So, last night, the final performance of 6, we had Natalia Osipova and Vadim Muntagirov, so anticipation was high for some fireworks and we certainly got them! Other main parts were: Mercedes: Beatriz Stix-Brunell Kitri's friends: Meaghan Grace Hinkis and Anna Rose O'Sullivan Lead Gypsies: Romany Padjak and Lukas Bjorneboe Braendsrod Queen of the Dryads: Claire Calvert Amour: Isabella Gasparini Espada: Valentino Zucchetti Don Q was Gary Avis, Lorenzo - Christopher Saunders, Gamache - Thomas Whitehead, Sancho Panza - Philip Mosley The entire cast pulled out the stops for the last performance and there were some extra jokey bits in the slapstick comedy. Natalia and Vadim were totally switched on and electric from their first entrances on. Natalia's speed of attack was phenomenal and produced gasps from the audience. Interestingly she didn't really attempt the balances in Act 3 which the audience were clearly waiting for, but her fouettes had to be seen to be believed. Vadim, of course, produced leaps that made us gasp, even though expectation was high. I think he does variations on his repertoire of leaps at each performance. Claire Calvert made the difficult technical demands of the Queen of the Dryads look easy and Beatriz was a lovely Mercedes. Very nice to see her in this role. The 4 ruffians tried to outdo each other with their exit from the stage at the end of their dance and Valentino Zucchetti was excellent as Espada. No-one has surpassed Ryo Hirano in that role though - being in his home country appears to have inspired him to new heights. Overall, a joyful experience and a lovely touch at the end when a bouquet was presented to Helen Crawford and she was also pushed on to take a solo curtain call by Philip Mosley and Thomas Whitehead, to mark her retirement. They then joined her and bowed their respect. So nice. I've been part of the Royal Ballet's official tour party as a supporter, and I've had the most amazing experience. I've been able to see all the performances, plus rehearsals, Class and even a studio rehearsal of Mayerling where 5 of the major pdds were rehearsed - 2.5 hours worth. I thought I had gone to ballet heaven at that point. Part of being a tour supporter is that you get to meet the dancers, but I do feel the RB went above and beyond for me, when they saw how keen I was. So interesting to meet members of the management team too. There were only small number of supporters (as opposed to Madrid where there were over 30), so it was easier to arrange - but even so. I also watched Act 2 of last Saturday's performance from the wings, which was extraordinary. All the dancers I met were, without exception, friendly and charming. So, now it's back to work and reality, but with loads of marvellous memories.
  4. and yes, he did dance - so all is well. I'll post later on the performance, which was another triumph. I have a plane to catch!
  5. 5th performance and 5th standing ovation! Marcelino Sambe and Yasmin Naghdi were back in the starring roles, with Ryoichi Hirano (Espada), Itziar Mendizabal (Mercedes), Yuhui Choe and Beatriz Stix-Brunnell (Kitri's friends), Fumi Kaneko (Queen of the Dryads), Romany Pajdak and Tomas Mock as the Lead Gypsy couple. Character parts played by Christopher Saunders, Philip Mosley, Gary Avis and Thomas Whitehead. Another superb performance all round with Marcelino and Yasmin outstanding again - possibly better than Saturday, where there were a couple of minor gliches but the whole company superb again. Yasmin's holding of the long balances were a particular highlight and of course, Marcelino produced a virtuoso display in his solos. Overall, there's quite a lot of interchanging of roles but it doesn't seem to make any difference in terms of quality of output. Only 1 more performance to go (sadly). Good news is that Laura Morera is here and rehearsing for future productions. Not so good news is that Reece Clarke was slightly injured in Act 1 (matador) and didn't return in Act 3. Hopefully, it's not too serious. Another comment is how well behaved are the Japanese audience. Not a mobile phone in sight. It's very refreshing compared to European audiences. Also, everyone is seated on time, no overrunning of intervals etc. They have visible clocks which count down the interval duration and a 5 minute warning too. All extremely efficient and helpful. I'm loving the overall theatre experience. I hired a really good pair of binoculars today too. You pay a deposit and small hire fee and get the deposit back, on return at the end.
  6. Judging from what I've just seen in Japan, Mayara Magri is now right up there as a potential Principal, with Fumi Kaneko not far behind. Interesting to see what will happen.
  7. Just to show you that the DonQ horse has also travelled and is behaving beautifully. There's something so exciting about seeing the Royal Ballet perform in another country: it is a different experience. They are really playing to the audience, so with a flourish at the end of each dance and beautiful Spanish attitudes. The enthusiasm with which this is received is exciting in itself and definitely adds to the overall atmosphere and feeds in on itself to create even more buzz. The closest equivalent of the theatre in the UK, is probably the Barbican in London. I'm loving Naomi's posts and she has far more technical knowledge than I do.
  8. Thank you, I posted via my phone, so brevity was necessary, especially as I hadn't sorted out charging any of my devices at that point., but was so overcome by the performance, I felt I had to post something to support Naomi's account. . I'm now on my Laptop, so Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov were out of this world on the first night. I've seen all 4 performances so far, plus a rehearsal and a Class on stage. All 4 performances have received standing ovations, and each so different in their own way, with all 4 couples bringing something different to the main roles. So far, we have had the aforementioned MN&VM plus Alexander Campbell and Mayara Magri, Marcelino Sambe and Yasmin Naghdi, Lauren Cuthbertson and Matthew Ball. Plus the whole cast has been on fire and so hard working. Gary Avis and Christopher Saunders are interchanging as DonQ and Lorenzo, Thomas Whitehead is quite heroic as Gamache in every performance, plus Philip Mosley and Jonathan Howells interchange as Sancho Panza: again physically demanding. The comedy aspects of the ballet are being played to the full and very expressively and overtly, Ryoichi Hirano is on fire as Espada. I've never seen him dance with such fire and panache and the Japanese audiences are loving him but also everyone else. It's really uplifting to hear such applause in places where they would not receive normally it at the ROH, and they are clearly very knowledgeable - they know what to look for All 4 leading couples have pulled out the stops in what is such a bravura ballet. It's really interesting as after the first night, one wondered how it could be bettered, but in their own way they each bring something different. They are all so physically different too. It was a delight to see Mayara Magri really shine as Kitri and she and Alexander Campbell really nailed it - definitely up a notch on their cinema performance. Marcelino Sambe sizzled as Basilio - goodness, he can perform and he also brought a special cheekiness to the role. I agree that his partnering could be refined, but as a couple, he and Yasmin really gelled. Go from him to Matthew Ball, who is so different physically but really went for the spectacular leaps and turns and again, nailed them. Matthew, also has great acting skills too of course. Lauren danced beautifully and was very expressive in the her "naughty, chiding" moments. Special mention for the Queens of the Dryads Fumi Kaneko and Yuhui Choe. Apparently this is a feared role, because of its technical difficulty, but has been executed perfectly by both of them. Other news: Reece Clarke is back from Injury and played Espada today - very well. Clare Calvert is still replacing Laura Morera as Mercedes as well as taking her own allocation of the role, and she has been excellent. Luca Acri is making more than most of playing one of the ruffians. We have extra ninja kicks and jumps thrown in. The full set is here and moving and working very well. The stage door is besieged - it's more like a football match. They have to put barriers up at the end of each performance. Some of the dancers also signed autographs inside the theatre, sat at a table. The ROH shop which has been set up, has sold out of most items. The theatre is modern and well appointed with excellent sightlines - much better than the ROH for this. The audience is predominantly female, we were told 90% on the first night, and that's certainly what it looked like. A few more men yesterday and today. It's a rest day tomorrow and then we are back for Tuesday evening. I've just had my first evening meal since I arrived (Friday 7am). I haven't had time up until now, but what a rewarding experience it has been so far. I'm loving it. '
  9. Yes, I was there last night and if it is possible to imagine Marianela and Vadim getting any better, well they did. Stunning virtuosity. Ryo was on fire too. What a performance
  10. Just going back to Nehemiah Kish, I've always felt he was a very understated and under publicised principal but I have always enjoyed his performances. Most recently in Frankenstein, Romeo and Juliet and the Firebird, but going back I remember that he partnered Marianela in her first performances in Manon. I sat next to him at a Ballet Association dinner several years ago now and he was charming and like many of the dancers, unassuming. I asked him about partnering in Manon and in particular the final pdd, and how difficult this might be. He said "tricky", which is a phrase I have always remembered and comes to my mind whenever I see the pdd. He also commented on what a responsibility it was to partner Marianela in this situation, to ensure that it all went well for her. I loved that. I agree with everyone that it's also really nice to recognise other dancers who are retiring after many years service, as it is in any place of work.
  11. I saw this at the cinema last night and what a difference this makes (some good, some not so good) to seeing it at the theatre. I must start with Matthew Ball, who is now at the top of my list in "must see" for any dramatic dancing role. I was first blown away by his Rudolph in Mayerling which I saw quite by accident due to a cast change. Since then I have been watching with avid interest and have never been disappointed. This was my first view of his Romeo and I loved it - every nuance of expressions which flitted through his face, made even better by the close up camera work for the cinema. Pretty good dancing too! As a pairing, I loved them both - Yasmine is such a lyrical dancer and again, the close ups at the cinema exposed the acting required for the role in this genre, far more than is ever necessary for a stage production viewing. She really stepped up for this. Such a strong supporting cast and fascinating to see Gary Avis's portrayal of Tybalt. Loved it - what a great character artist he is. He seems to get better and better. Down side of the cinema is that you miss what's happening on the whole stage, especially in the market scenes, which for me is one of the joys of watching at the theatre, where I can see Romeo, Tybalt, Mercutio, Benvolio simultaneously and not miss any action.
  12. For the applause - I think not. For Yasmin Naghdi - yes perhaps, but the degree of difficulty here was very high and I'm feeling sympathetic towards her effort. Overall, the two of them brought the house down
  13. I went last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not normally a fan of galas because although you get to see some very well known pieces, seeing them and getting the full emotional impact is sometimes quite difficult out of context of the whole ballet. I was offered a ticket at an extortionate price initially by the ROH with dinner afterwards, so I declined. However, I then discovered you could buy tickets at "normal" prices, so I did and was happy with my choice of E1 in the Orch Stalls. That meant I could view the dancers at close hand at a price I would normally expect to pay at the ROH if that was my choice. As soon as I saw Vadim was performing in Le Corsaire, my evening was made and he performed beyond my expectations. Just enjoy this dancer while he is performing like this. He is phenomenal. Interesting to note who the audience applauded when they came on stage, as opposed to at the end - Marianela, Vadim and Darcey Bussell. I hadn't seen this particular cast for the Firebird, so that was interesting in itself. I am a big fan of Itziar Mendizabal and loved her interpretation. As for all the gala performances. Marianela nailed the Rose Adagio and watching her face as she went through the final balances and the radiant smile as the 4th balance was completed, told me she knew she had too. Very well supported by her princes Gary Avis, Nicol Edmonds, Nehemiah Kish., Thomas Whitehead. I'm not a big fan of Ondine (hate the music) but Francesca Hayward was phenomenal and perhaps the most emotive of the spirit of Margot Fonteyn in the entire evening. It also reminded me how much we have missed Ed Watson. I was very distracted during Romeo and Juliet because I was reminded of all the comments on this Forum about Natalia Osipova's shoes. I thought her ballet shoes looked messy but couldn't see the particular features that have been mentioned. It was my first viewing of the Osipova/ Hallberg partnership as I have never booked for them, but I saw enough to be interested if not overwhelmed. I don't mind different interpretations of Juliet, and hers is different. but I had no objection to that. Gary Avis did out dance Darcey Bussell and I was slightly surprised by that, but he is just so good, he would probably out dance anyone. I enjoyed the humour of the piece and it did make for light relief within the context of the programme. I loved Le Corsaire, because of Vadim of course, but Yasmine Naghdi really went for it and apart from the 1 slip, was excellent. In Swan Lake in Madrid, her fouettes in Act 3 travelled significantly down stage and we were worried she was going to end up on the queen's throne. Last night, she remained on the spot for what was a lot more fouettes and only travelled slightly in the last few. It must be really pressurised being asked to perform such an iconic piece on such an occasion. I wonder also, if when Vadim is SO good, it's an additional pressure to perform with him. I'd never seen Apparitions so was pleased to see it, but did feel I was sort of reliving a version of the 2 Pigeons. Lauren Cuthertson and Matthew Ball were exemplary in the main roles. I would have liked to see Marguerite and Armand (Cuthbertson/ Ball) as it was such an iconic ballet for Fonteyn. I never saw Margot Fonteyn dance live. My mother once secured tickets on the phone but the ROH never sent them on. She berated herself for not going up and collecting them, but in those days a trip to London was a very big thing.
  14. I'd love it if they just said Left or Right, as they always used to do. That's how I still think. Fortunately, I still have seat numbers versus left or right in my head.
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