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ChrisG

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  1. I'd agree that given the reduced resources Scottish Ballet have that this is probably how it will work. I think it's probably relevant that they're not calling it 'Mayerling' but 'The Scandal at Mayerling' and are talking about it as a 'world premiere'.
  2. Scottish Ballet has just announced its full programme for 2020. Alongside revivals of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, by far the most intriguing prospect is what is described as a 'reimagined and redesigned' version of Kenneth McMillan's Mayerling. The full season details can be found here, but I've done a copy and paste below of the blurb about Mayerling. The year is 1889 and, in the woods outside Vienna, the Empire must hide a terrible secret. At the royal Mayerling hunting lodge, Crown Prince Rudolf is found shot dead alongside his teenage mistress. We rewind the clock to watch this desperate young man, the heir to the throne, plunge into his own paranoia. Trapped by the stifling opulence of the Habsburg court, Rudolf’s mental turmoil envelops all those around him. In a series of increasingly intense duets with his mother, his wife, and his mistress, Rudolf descends deeper into his obsession with death, and hurtles towards tragedy. Rudolf’s morbid fascination, sexual appetite and ultimate violence make this real-life anti-hero as compelling as Hamlet, while Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s breathtaking choreography takes us on a physical and emotional rollercoaster. The sweeping intensity of the ballet is matched by the sumptuous music of Franz Liszt, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra. Reimagined and redesigned by Scottish Ballet, this dramatic world premiere will be the first time MacMillan’s iconic ballet is produced in the UK outside of London. Recommended for audiences 12+ Content warning: please be advised that this production includes themes of mental illness, sexual violence, addiction and suicide. For more information, please contact us. #SBMayerling
  3. I was on row C of the Stalls directly behind the conductor and can confirm that yes, that was exactly what he seemed to be doing! He certainly had his eyes on her the whole time.
  4. I too was surprised that the significance of the telegram wasn't explained, either in the sketches of the variations given in the cast sheet or in the programme, especially when the basics of the plot of Raymonda were given, even though they have no bearing on what happens in the third act. I've just had a look at the programme from the last time BRB did it and there it was made very clear what was going on. I quote: 'The fictional arrival of the telegram announcing Hans Richter's agreement to conduct the score brings a happy ending to the work with friends gathered around the composer for a group photograph, except for the 'absent' Mary Lygon who flits away just before it is taken.' As an Elgar devotee who has sung his choral works many times over I absolutely loved Enigma Variations last night. I have nothing to add to comments about the individual performances, other than that Francesca Hayward was, as usual, magnificent, but what struck me most is how Ashton grasped the essential character of both Elgar and the work in the way he set the variations. To use modern parlance Enigma Variations was Elgar's 'breakthrough' work, the one that finally confirmed him as a composer of substance. To me it is the perfect amalgam of the playful late-Victorian salon pieces of his early career, like Salut d'Amour, and the much deeper sense of melancholy that imbued his more substantial later works, the oratorios, the symphonies, and the almost unbearably sad Cello Concerto. This reflected Elgar's own character, which saw a surface confidence undermined by a degree of insecurity engendered partly no doubt by his position as a self-taught provincial trying to infiltrate the metropolitan musical elite. Ashton captures this two-sidedness perfectly, balancing the moments of joyful abandon, like Dora Penny's solo, with moments of almost heartbreaking tenderness, like the central Nimrod variation, where nothing really happens and yet everything happens. Most of all, and particularly in Nimrod, he saw the importance of Alice Elgar in Elgar's life in providing the rock on which he could anchor his career. It's significant that Elgar wrote little of note after she died in 1920, and seeing their relationship through the lens of Ashton's choreography, you can understand why.
  5. Through a mention on Claire Calvert's Instagram feed I found a link to this stunning looking film that's just become available to buy on iTunes for £9.99. To quote the blurb - 'Dancers from prestigious ballet companies, designer garments, exquisite lighting and state-of-the-art filmmaking technology combine in a work-of-art that showcases the extreme athleticism and sublime beauty in dance as never before. Featuring elite dancers from The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Theatre, The Royal Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and Queensland Ballet, 'missed nuance' uses ultra slow-motion photography to 'slow time', revealing a mesmerising spectacle of dance movement'. I haven't watched more than this trailer yet - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEaQ21X5A1Y - but it promises to be very, very beautiful. Local interest appears to come in the form of the aforementioned Ms Calvert and Alexander Campbell.
  6. In a similar vein I will just say that though when I arrived for the rehearsal I was a little bit disappointed to find it was the same cast I'd booked for my one visit in the run, by the end I was extremely glad I would get the chance to see them again!
  7. Just got to see this at Theatre Royal, Glasgow having missed it by a week at the Edinburgh Festival. Having seen several performances of the play in the production staged by Chester Storyhouse last year I was both excited at the prospect of seeing it in dance form and slightly apprehensive that it would not live up to my expectations. However, I was most definitely not disappointed, feeling shivers at exactly the same points that I had during the play, most especially at the end of Act 1 as the girls begin their accusations, and at John and Elizabeth Proctor's final parting. The dance characterisations throughout were completely believable, as with the lyrical movement give to John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth (Nicholas Shoesmith and Araminta Wraith) in their three main pas de deux, the barely controlled hysteria of the girls (especially Abigail Williams, played with appropriate malice by Constance Devernay), and the stylised, almost ritual movement given to the rest of the villagers (particularly Thomas Edwards as Reverend Parris) and the deputy governor Danforth (an excellent Christopher Harrison). The contrast between the lyrical and the stylised in Helen Pickett's choreography was reminiscent of the way Winston and Julia's dancing stands out in Northern Ballet's 1984. My one caveat would be that though for the most part it is possible to follow the plot without knowing the play, there were moments towards the end when I knew what was going on having seen the play but could sense that I might not have been in the majority! I think this is partly because the end relies so much on Arthur Miller's words, particularly in John Proctor's final fateful decision as he tears up his confession 'because it is my name'. Maybe a little more detail in the synopsis could have helped, but this is a minor gripe in what was a powerful production. A final comment must go to Peter Salem's score. I've seen comments on this forum about the lack of memorability of newly commissioned ballet scores. Well, this score didn't have tunes that you could go away humming (I would have hated it if it had!), but its power blew me away and it felt completely in sync with the ballet.
  8. Absolutely agree - I had a smile on my face from beginning to end. Each to his or her own, but I couldn't understand the people behind me in the amphitheatre loudly dissing it at the interval. Well yes, it's not Swan Lake, but it's fun!!!
  9. I saw a powerful production of the play at Storyhouse in Chester last year so knew I had to see this. Sadly my Fringe weekend didn’t coincide with the premiere performances in Edinburgh but I’ve managed to get a ticket for one of the Glasgow performances. After positive reports like these I can’t wait!
  10. I'm looking forward to this too. As a taster for tonight's performance, here's an interview on the Today programme with Daria Khokhlova https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07jsmrp
  11. I do indeed. Where I live is an easy drive or train ride from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Sheffield, so I get a healthy dose of BRB, ENB and NB. Also close to home I have Theatr Clwyd in Mold, which has lots of good contemporary dance, Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and on my doorstep Storyhouse in Chester. My London trips are governed by a mixture of cost and artistic decisions. If I can get a matinee with a cast I want to see then Bob is my uncle! If not, or if there are no matinees (which sometime happens) I scan the Premier Inn Hubs for the cheapest night and that often makes the cast decision for me! I realise now I should have added Hobson's Choice to my list of highlights. Just got back from a matinee at Sadler's Wells (cheaper than the matinees in Birmingham!). Never seen it before except for the clog dance and Lily of Laguna pas de deux but loved every minute of it. Beatrice Parma was a pocket dynamo as Maggie and Max Maslen as Will exuded Northern-ness! I wish I could have stayed for the evening show - I didn't realise when I booked that that would be David Bintley's last show, but I'm sure he was given a wonderful send off with this wonderful ballet.
  12. How interesting. I was up and down about it too. I have to say, however, that with Muntagirov I felt it was a different show entirely. He brought a Russian soul to the proceedings that seemed somehow to magically weave flesh unto all other characterisations. He was a noble yet tellingly vulnerable heart. He and Sarah Lamb siphoned ours. It was utterly magical. Well, that's how I read it. I probably need to see it again (one of the drawbacks of living up north is that I can only afford to see one performance of each production), but my main feeling was that it was two-dimensional, both in terms of the set and the way the story was presented. If felt like a set of attractive and occasionally comical scenes, rather than something more coherent, though maybe that's the point. Also context is everything, and placing it alongside Les Patineurs and The Concert probably didn't show it off to its best advantage to a first-time viewer.
  13. Highlights (in date order): Natalia Osipova/Jason Kittelberger - Six Years Later - part of Pure Dance at Sadler's Wells English National Ballet - No Man's Land/Vera/Second Breath/Dust - Sadler's Wells Michael Clark Company - to a simple rock 'n' roll... song - Storyhouse, Chester English National Ballet - Manon (McWhinney/Frola) - Manchester Opera House. Royal Ballet - La Bayadere (Nunez/Osipova/Muntagirov) - Royal Opera House Royal Ballet - Les Patineurs/The Concert - Royal Opera House Alessandra Ferri/Herman Cornejo - TRIO Concert/Dance - Linbury Theatre Hammond School - And So We Take Flight/La Folia - Storyhouse, Chester (two delightful little pieces danced to Mozart and Vivaldi as part of a Chester schools' gala) Royal Ballet - Don Quixote (Osipova/Muntagirov) - Royal Opera House English National Ballet - Broken Wings/Nora/Rite of Spring - Sadler's Wells Dutch National Ballet - Sand & Royal Ballet - Canto de Ossanha - part of International Draft Works at Linbury Theatre Scottish Ballet - Dextera/Elite Syncopations - Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Royal Ballet - Romeo and Juliet (Hayward/Corrales) - Royal Opera House Royal Ballet - Within the Golden Hour/Flight Pattern - Royal Opera House Royal Ballet - The Firebird (Mendizabal/Kish)/A Month in the Country (Cuthbertson/Muntagirov/O'Sullivan)/Symphony in C - Royal Opera House Birmingham Royal Ballet - Lyric Pieces/Sense of Time/Peter and the Wolf - Birmingham Hippodrome plus any time Isabella Gasparini was on stage - that smile! Lowlights: Royal Ballet - Medusa - Royal Opera House (the music and the dance appeared to belong to two different works) New Adventures - Romeo+Juliet - Lowry, Salford (to me it was completely uninspired) Moscow City Ballet - Nutcracker/Sleeping Beauty - Storyhouse, Chester (why do regional theatres book these knock-off Russian companies? I guess it's just a case of bums on seats) Disappointments: Royal Ballet - The Unknown Soldier - Royal Opera House (great premise, disappointing treatment) Birmingham Royal Ballet - Ignite - Birmingham Hippodrome (ditto) Northern Ballet - Victoria - Grand Theatre, Leeds (not bad, and it had some great moments. Just not a satisfying overall whole) San Francisco Ballet - Shostakovich Trilogy - Sadler's Wells (I should have liked it and on another day I probably would have liked it, but left feeling slightly underwhelmed) Royal Ballet - Winter Dreams - Royal Opera House (was looking forward to this but again left somewhat underwhelmed. Maybe it was in the wrong programme)
  14. I think I know what you mean, but I have to say I do like an element of compare and contrast in mixed bills, seeing how the dancers tackle different sets of problems within the same performance. Having said that, although I loved each of the three pieces, Peter and the Wolf did feel as though it didn't quite belong, much as I felt that it was utterly charming. The ostensible reason given for the programme was of course that all the works were by female choreographers, which shouldn't need to be a reason for grouping works together, but sadly has to be, as with the recent ENB She Persisted, a similar mish-mash of choreographic styles that nonetheless to me proved a satisfying whole. The real problem for me was the pitifully poor attendance for a Saturday matinee, with the stalls only about a third full (if that). This is the third mixed bill in a row that I've been too at the Hippodrome that's been afflicted in this way, and one can only conclude that outside of London mixed bills simply don't sell. Last night I was at a packed Covent Garden for the stupendous RB Firebird mixed bill, and I couldn't help wishing the wonderful BRB dancers had similar audience pulling powers when they do repertoire out of the norm. That was the day after I'd been to the Lowry for the Matthew Bourne Romeo and Juliet (it's been a busy week with the cinema R&J relay on Tuesday as well!). That had no trouble getting an audience for a matinee and yet I felt it had a fraction of the choreographic inspiration that I saw in the two mixed bills - a huge disappointment in my humble opinion but a reminder that name recognition is what really sells seats.
  15. Prior to the ENB Triple Bill at Sadler's Wells yesterday, Tamara Rojo paid a very touching tribute to Kevin Richmond, and made particular mention of their appearance together in these roles.
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