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  1. Triple debuts of varying impact (in my humble opinion). The real standout to me was Bonelli - I hope this is not the final time we see his Onegin. His acting prowess seems to only deepen with time. Younger dancers at the RB would do well to learn from his study of his characters, so natural and in depth. His Onegin isn’t all snobbish swagger and posing - it’s a much deeper portrait of a bored and dissatisfied nobleman. There is a real journey he goes on and I agree with other posters that there is real natural sympathy for him at the close. I must especially recognise Gartside’s Gremin. His is consistently my favourite and I am bowled over by the storytelling he conveys in a brief appearance. His partnering was of the highest quality and his Gremin was so acutely attuned to his wiser, more contained wife. A real exhibition of stoic but real tenderness - no praise is high enough. Naghdi - I was not blown away in Act 1. For the very reasons that she excels as Aurora, she fell flat (for me) in the opening passages. Everything is slow, measured and controlled. I never felt quite that the dream pdd took on a trancelike quality. How can I describe it - she took great pains to ‘appear’ to swoon, rather than throwing herself into Bonelli’s arms. Maybe it is my personal preference. Her line of course is beautiful. I am a big admirer of Yasmine, but at the first and second intervals, I mused that, in my eyes, she had never quite recaptured the magic I felt at her October 2015 Juliet debut. I need only have waited until the final Act! The difference was apparent when she first swept into the ballroom on Gartside’s arm. Total, immersed involvement in the character and less obviously emoting to the auditorium. A whole separate review could be written of the final pdd. I have scarcely seen a finer rendition. Ragged but covered with an inner strength - from when she slowly stood up from her dresser as Onegin, contrite, appeared before her. I love the choreography of the final pdd but sometimes feel it loses the soul of Pushkin’s own ending for Tatiana, where she stands before her first love and with great feeling and pride speaks eloquently and with the dignity her younger self could not muster. It is their first and only meeting as true equals. The ballet interpretation can sometimes appear too distraught - not expressing that this is a triumph (a bittersweet one yes but still a triumph). Yet, Naghdi channelled Pushkin’s heroine. It was beautiful to behold - it was a farewell, not an attempted seduction and she displayed the tragedy with something akin to velvet covered steel. I was speechless. I can only see her portrayal through all Acts improving through time. Sissens has a nervy debut, with some uneven partnering in the Act 1 pdd between Olga and Lensky. He grew in confidence and strength as the night wore on (some noisy landing aside!). His Lensky was very much the hothead sort- I imagined him not a poet but a local fan of amateur dramatics! Anna Rose was very lovely, with all the manner and appearances of the lively English rose transposed into a Russian play. A finely read and nuanced Olga, playful and arch. Much to enjoy all round.
  2. Something that I've been puzzling over - can anyone perhaps shed any light on the Prince Gremin casting? Previously, it had always gone to a more 'senior' 'character artist'-type dancer (Avis, Gartside, Hirano (who seemed to be for a while on the character artist trajectory before his promotion)). I of course relish the opportunity for younger dancers, but Gremin is not I would have thought an appropriate role. His part in the story is to be part of the establishment - a kind, if distant, and dependable figure whose days of sexual frisson are behind him. Watching Avis on Saturday perform the role admirably (the detail, care and reaction - the elder statesman at the ball), I could not quite imagine some of the younger dancers cast having the appropriate gravitas. After all, Gremin is not to Tatiana what Paris is to Juliet. I would welcome any alternative thoughts.
  3. The 2015 Onegin run was also very undersold (I was still a student then and circa four different nights went on student standby the day before with the auditorium only half full - memories of four very delightful nights in the Grand Tier), which perhaps partially explains the five year gap? It has certainly sold very well this time.
  4. Late to the party, but I thought the Saturday evening performance was really memorable - not faultless, but very, very enticing. Reece - certainly seemed slightly nervous in Act 1 garden scene. I forget how young he is; the acting isn't quite there in Act 1 (Onegin comes across slightly more a conceited dandy than Cranko perhaps intended. Very 'nose in the air' and slow deliberate footsteps) but his partnering is so secure and strong - certainly no mean feat opposite the spontaneous Osipova! He really came into his own in Acts 2/3. I thought the flirtation with Olga was very well done and the final pdd in the Act 3 very heartrending. I think he will grow exponentially during the next two performances scheduled and certainly in terms of air and aura makes a convincing Onegin. Osipova - one of her strongest outings for a season or two - maybe even since her Mary Vetsera in Mayerling way back in 2018. I didn't enjoy her Aurora, her Manon was good but weakened by the partnering (will say no more of that) and outshone by other casts. Tatiana is a role well within her comfort zone - human, tragic and deliciously flawed. I noticed in the 2015 run (where I saw every cast) that she was the only Tatiana then cast who truly brought home the full meaning of Tatiana's Act 2 ballroom variation. She is so earnest, provincial and shameful in her desperate expression to Onegin that he is repulsed and so irritated by the embarrassment that he sets out to ruin the evening for this small town society that he never respected but now cannot even tolerate. Again performed marvelously this run - making the most of her explosive leaps. Off the music slightly in the end to the final pdd (handed the letter to Onegin too early). Hayward - creamiest, lightest, loveliest dancing and in technical terms the best on the night. The sheer loveliness of her dancing however somewhat overshadows her portrayal of Olga. Olga (as Pushkin imagined) was vivacious, self-absorbed and rather thoughtless. Hayward's Olga was not much more than a very pretty girl who liked dancing a lot and annoyed her betrothed in the process. I would equate it to Vadim when he first arrived at the RB (for example, his first Des Grieux) - his arabesque and line exuded nobility and earnestness, but it seems he did not need to do much beyond that and there was little by way of 'deliberate', thoughtful acting. Ball - the stand out performer on the night. When I recall his first Lensky in 2015 (then, one of the first big roles for him), the improvement is so marked. Honest, idealised, a sunny disposition - he captures the poet in his every movement. His dancing is fine and delicately nuanced but his portrayal large - there is never any doubt of the expression currently on his face. This Lensky did not come across sulky or slightly ineffectual in the name day festivities - you felt quite rightly aggrieved for him and that this is not only a societal affront, but an expression of his devastation at the shattering of his romantic ideals. The pre-duel solo variation overcame Cranko's clunky choreography. He has really grown as a principal and now commands the same level of reassurance when you see him cast - never once nervous of his step!
  5. Hi all, It did not occur to me that the opera broadcast of Massenet's Manon (live from the Met) is on this day also, with a soprano I adore! It is a shame to miss Bolle, but I saw his Des Grieux in 2014 with Yanowsky - a completely delightful performance. Please let me know if you would like to buy my front row amphi ticket (seat A80) for the original price of £18. It is a physical ticket but I can post it if preferred, or leave it at the box office.
  6. I remember Naghdi and Ball’s 2015 debut - incidentally on my birthday! - with a great deal of clarity. I was a university student then, and had just fallen tremendously in love with someone who ultimately was perhaps the right person but situationally wasn’t the right fit for me. I had watched nearly every Romeo cast that run and the clarity, the freshness and awestruck breathlessness of that matinee struck me deeply. It remains my favourite RB performance. Today’s matinee was very good. Both have come a long way since that debut as soloists. Ball in particular has come leaps and bounds - is acting is involved and convincing. I felt his interest in Rosaline was true and also when he met eyes with Juliet, it wasn’t a superficial fancy but a sort of heart rending, earth shaking moment. He is sensitive to the production and incredibly involved in every crowd scene. His ball solo variation was a real stolen moment - not of peacocking (which I felt Hallberg and Corrales were slightly) but that he forgot the consequence of being at the Capulet’s ball in the face of this interesting girl. Ball has not always convinced me in every role (e.g. I found him very underpowered in Swan Lake), but there is no mistaking that he is a remarkable Romeo. Yasmine’s Juliet is wondrous in the arms of her Romeo and flies freely in the balcony pdd. She however, unlike that first outing 4 years ago, doesn’t carry Act 3 that well, an act that is driven by Juliet. There is no sense of moving anticipation, lifted by the soaring Prokofiev score, when she sits alone on the edge of her bed. She took her green cloak and very slowly and perfunctorily ran out. During the death pdd, she was too pretty and poised for a corpse. And finally, she stabbed herself so politely, like an obedient schoolgirl it was hard to believe she was the recipient of this great love. I cried at the end of the balcony pdd but not in the tomb. Her interpretation was so fresh and romantic last run - now she has become distinctly more classical. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for me she is a weaker Juliet for it. I try not to compare separate casts, but for what it’s worth, in the Osipova/Hallberg interpretation, I didn’t believe their initial infatuation as much (Hallberg struck me more as a cad than a romantic youth) but my god did Osipova pour her soul into Juliet. Frantic, unpretty, and honest, you could almost hear the dirt scraping underneath her nails when she pulled herself across the tomb to look at Romeo one last time. She was mesmerised and yet so afraid of the poison when she received it - hints of Anastasia act 3 in her interpretation there - and so powerful in her resolve. Naghdi got some laughs during her reluctant Act III pdd with Paris which goes to show - her portrayal of a protested betrothal lacked pathos and instead people found her going limp in his arms more the comical sulking of a young girl. Avis’ Tybalt was perfect last run but now is a tad overacted - his motivation (pride? Anger? Stoic family values) are not as clear as Hirano and Ball’s excellent new interpretations. Christine was superb as Lady Capulet, a real scene stealer. Zucchetti, compared to Hay is really underpowered and not great acting output either.
  7. I have already seen this cast on their first outing - Osipova's scream itself is worth the ticket! Slightly less impressed by Hallberg's Romeo so have opted for a last minute Ball/Naghdi matinee ticket on the same day. Seat is B-41 and retail price is £58.
  8. There are some pictures on instagram under "salscalzo" 's page (I think he acts as agent for a few RB dancers? Not sure). His page is public. Yuhui looks wonderful.
  9. Chipping in as I saw Cranko's Onegin at the Staatsoper back in March! If you don't mind ROH amphi-esque distance, the central Galerie is excellent - with far better sightlines than ROH! I sat in the second to last row and saw everything immaculately, without having to even move my head once. Very well raked/staggered. The following pic is one I took from my seat! I booked some three weeks before the performance; ballet isn't hugely popular in Vienna. There's plenty of cafes that open late central in the streets behind the Staatsoper - just follow the crowd and you'll find something!
  10. The more I look, the more disappointed I am. The only two I am certainly going to see are Giselle and Sylvia, neither of which are exactly new experiences. I can't stand either full length Wheeldons, dislike triple bills generally and post-Frankenstein, am filled with nothing but gloom regarding SL. I overdosed on Manon the last time it was on, but will be eager to see interesting casting combinations, having missed Hayward last time. I liked Obsidian Tear a lot, but am put off by the other parts of its bill... overall a sad, cheap season for me.
  11. I managed to nab 3 opening night Mayerling tickets (central amphi) this morning - and seated together nonetheless! There were also returns for SCS and affordable side amphi so keep checking!
  12. Agree with every word that bridiem posted. I attended the second night and was gobsmackingly underwhelmed, to the extent of bored. 'Qutb' consisted mainly of Osipova and two male dancers undulating to a tribal rhythm without much thought or finesse, resulting in thirty minutes of manic writhing. 'Silent Echo' was perhaps the best of the sorry lot and Polunin does seem to bring out the best in Osipova. Maliphant seemed the only choreographer that somewhat understood what makes both dancers so fiery and spectacular, best demonstrated by Polunin's solo. Although Osipova is the headliner, the audience around me would agree that Polunin was the star. As for 'Run Mary Run', I have scarcely enough words to describe the mind numbing tedium. Gimmicky, crass, disjointed and so hindering as to preclude the dancers from emoting, it elicited laughs unintentionally at solemn moments, as the recorded lines became increasingly saccharine. I am shocked at how Pita has managed to completely obscure the prodigious talent at his fingertips. I say this all as an ardent admirer of Osipova in classical dance. She is not untalented in contemporary medium; however, for all her great acting ability and fantastic flexibility, she is not able to become a 'canvas' in the way contemporary repertoire requires. Her presence in all three pieces seemed similar and joined whereas, on the other hand, Polunin has the sanguineness to approach each piece new. She has the hunger, but her approach unveils more exertion than art.
  13. Much better season than the current one, I'd say. Intrigued by Anastasia and also quite possibly the last Mayerling run with Watson at peak powers. I've only seen the Stanislavsky production with Polunin as Rudolf (very powerful). Delighted with Woolf Works return having absolutely adored it last time. Less than enthused for SB and Nutcracker, would be tempted to see Fille again if some of the younger dancers are given a shot (Nagdhi please!) Interesting question of who to cast as Marguerite. Half the principal roster seem very ill-equipped for the role. Would love to see Ferri, but that is a pipe dream...
  14. In no particular order: Alessandra Ferri Svetlana Zakharova Natalia Osipova Olga Smirnova Certainly a list that benefits heavily from spending three winters in Moscow. Ballerinas I've really enjoyed but haven't seen in enough works to count as favourites Aurelie Dupont Alina Cojocaru Yasmine Nagdhi - she is a particular enigma, seen her in lead roles of two productions only (Onegin, R&J) but can't forget either!
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