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KyleCheng

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Everything posted by KyleCheng

  1. Following bridiem's very helpful musical analogy, one can go one step further and argue that the narrative and non-narrative distinction exists even within the categories of "instrumental pieces" or "choral pieces". For choral pieces we have operas (narrative) but also non-narrative pieces like Beethoven's 9th. While it may be harder to tell a story using only instruments, we do have instrumental pieces that bear some narratives, like Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht or Rimsky-Kirsakoff's Scheherazade. I wonder if you'd agree, RosiesDream, then, that the same can be said about ballet that it is not an art form defined by its content (whether or not narrative exists) but by its form. On a more personal level, I do share your feeling that, for someone who has not been trained in ballet techniques, there can be details whose significance are harder to appreciate. The question then, I suppose, is how much that bothers you. If it keeps you up at night wondering what you're missing, I'd say it's never too late to read and learn about the technical sides of dance (which I have been trying to do through books and videos). If not, that's fine too. Those things you already like, the theatricality, narratives, and visual arts, are quite sufficient reasons to keep returning to the Opera House for.
  2. I find that to be an unfortunate side effect that is getting more common as "smart" watches become more prevalent. I have once sat next to a gentleman who kept checking his light-exuding watch throughout a concert. That is part of the reason I am sticking to my "dumb" watch; dumb as it may be, it boasts the incredible feature of telling time without blinding me and people around me.
  3. I see. Thank you for the information! I think I've seen her in Onegin, if I am not mistaken, but that felt a long while ago. Everything before March 2020 did. I saw the Friday evening performance with Watson/Lamb. Most of my thoughts have been more eloquently put by others so I will not repeat them. Though there seem to have been not as much praise for Sarah Lamb as I feel she deserves. Seeing her in rehearsal, I already felt that her long lines and impeccable elegance showed her to be a wonderful, if not perfect, cast for Beatrice. Now at the main stage, supplemented by the glossy dress and fairy-resembling make-up, she simply looked dreamy, otherworldly but also fragile and sorrowful, reminding one of the absence of a happy ending between the pair. Lastly, a story concerning the lyrical Ed Watson: the last time I saw him was Nov. 2019 at the stage door of the Coliseum, after a triple bill which included a short McGregor piece dance by him alongside Olga Smirnova. I remember saying to him "looking foward to seeing you at the Opera House again soon!" Little did I know it would be nearly two years before that happen...
  4. I went on Saturday, where after the performance Kevin O'Hare showed up to give words of tribute and present Alessandra a bouquet. There was also another lovely moment after the curtain was closed. The applause did not stop so the curtain was drawn open again, showing Alessandra, having picked up her bouquet from the floor, in the middle of leaving the stage. She quickly dropped the bouquet, made a small jump, seemingly surprised by the prolonged ovation, and bowed to the passionate crowd several times more. As for the performance itself, I too think that it's probably less a piece designed to wow and impress than one to give you something to think about. @Blossom spoke my mind in terms of the reflection about what it must feel being a ballerina of the age and experience of Ms Ferri's. It is both touching, seeing someone who has been dedicating so many years of her life to the art, and melancholic, feeling reminded of the inevitability of an end to everything, however hard one tries to evade. But needless to say it is lovely and a genuine privilege to see the prima ballerina assoluta dance.
  5. Thank you @Rob S and @Silke H for the lovely photos. Does anyone recognise Ms Nadia Mullova-Barley, current an artist with the RB, in any of them? I saw her name on the cast sheet but I am terribly bad with faces. The interest, of course, stems from my admiration for her mother, whose Mendelssohn concerto I find to be among the bests.
  6. I was at tonight’s (15th) performance, which seems to have the same cast as yesterday’s, and I think Melissa Hamilton was dancing with Mayara Magri. Both are stunning too. I’ve always felt that Melissa looks particularly convincing and stunning (i wish I could be more precise…) in more contemporary choreographies and tonight was no exception.
  7. I feel greatly empathised by many comments above, includes ones about the confusing plot, lack of dancing sequences that develop relationships, synthesiser-based music with very little melody that can be too loud for too long (I don't mind climaxes but surely they shouldn't last 10-min? (pun unintended)), and an absence of escapism. I would also like to echo the praise for Suzuki. After two hours of difficult-to-follow plot I was surprised to find myself rather upset and even a bit enraged by the ending she received (not to spoil anyone), which I'd say attest to her dramatic prowess. To me this final scene (including the creature's final solo) and the pdd between Marie and the captain, were the two highlights of the whole piece. Both of them, I should point out, are deep into the second act; and for that I am glad I stayed to the end. Incidentally, on leaving I overheard a fellow theatre goer speaking with a staff member, both of whom seemed to agree that they liked the second act more than the first.
  8. i quite agree with the apprehension expressed by Rina and many others... On the other hand there is the effect of "survival bias", the phenomenon that things that survived a certain selection process are very different to those that did not. The classical repertory we so love today is really the creme de la creme, whereas the contemporary works have yet to be held against the harsh selection process of time. Perhaps ultimately it depends on how confident we are in our collective (aesthetic) consciousness. I for one am inclined to believe that, if great pieces such as Bach, Handel, and Mozart were able to survive the many social changes and historical turbulence to remained canonical to this day, our dearly held classical and neoclassical ballets will similarly outlive us for centuries.
  9. Unlike Jan, whose abundant experience seeing the ballet and the company allows a comparative study, I was at Sadler's Well last evening for my very first Northern Ballet performance and what a wonderful first impression the visiting company has made! The original novel by de Laclos, on which the play, the film, and this ballet were based, was an instant favourite of mine when I first read it in uni. I remember mimicking the exuberant/flamboyant writing style employed by some characters in the book until I myself got sick of reading my own letters. Delightfully for a fan of the epistolary novel, the ballet did not fail to highlight the importance of written words. Letters and diaries were seen being written, read and passed along by the dancers, inciting emotions and propelling the plot. The set and lighting were nice and effective, albeit simplistic. The chandelier casting its shadow on the stage like a ominous spirit always made me hold my breath. The choice of accompanying music is an interesting one. At times I felt that it was very effective in conjuring up the world of aristocracy but such is the familiarity of many of Vivaldi's pieces (and, importantly, their titles) there are instances where they can be distracting. I concur with Jan that much of the most enjoyable choreographies can be seen in the many duets. They captured the passionate and titillating relationships between the characters in a way I as an unseasoned theatre-goer may describe as Macmillan-esque. The cast was very competent and exciting to watch. But I want to give special praise to Ms Dominique Larose, who played Madame de Tourvel with exceptional technical robustness and beautiful lines.
  10. Apparently that was exactly what Bolshoi Theatre did back in April: they tested everyone 2 days before a live streamed performance. According to the article, 34 staffers were tested positive and subsequently excluded from the performance, which went ahead. If my memory serves me right Svetlana Zakharova was also featured in that performance. https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2020/04/14/coronavirus-hits-moscows-bolshoi-theater-a69972 This perhaps gives some hope that it is not impossible to roll out?
  11. I was also surprised to notice today that one can now book tickets for performances scheduled on as early as the 1st of September on the website of London Coliseum: https://londoncoliseum.org/whats-on/hairspray/ But then again on the other side of the pond the Met Opera has just announced the cancellation of all fall performances: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/arts/music/metropolitan-opera-cancels-season-virus.html
  12. thanks for the information Janet! Especially looking forward to seeing the mesmerising Natalia and the versatile Cloud Gate.
  13. Similar to @Dawnstar, I have taken this rare opportunity of the past few weeks to watch different productions of the same ballet. I thought I'd share an interesting finding in the hope that someone may have more context to offer. It is known by many that in the Act 1 waltz there is originally a short solo by the Prince accompanied by a 16-bar section (repeated once) where the main melody is played by the trumpet (see this link at 4:05: https://youtu.be/3FmBkAXq4Sw?t=245 ) For an example of Siegfried's solo, see 11:50 of this POB production (Nureyev, 1984, available til 5/4) : https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/magazine/swan-lake-replay As far as I have managed to check, this short solo is consistently featured with the same music at several other notable productions, including Mariinsky's (Sergeyev, 1950) and ABT's (MacKenzie, 2000). Interestingly, this section has been cut out from the music score in Scarlett's production. After some more checking, I found out (with surprise) that this section was also not played in Dowell's or Ashton's productions: Siegfried didn't have a solo in Ashton's Act 1 waltz; he did in Dowell's but not to the original music shown above. Why the omission? It is very curious to me. Trumpet is often associated with royalty (an immediate example is the music signaling the arrival of Siegfried's mother) so if one were to have a solo by the prince, it would make sense to have it accompanied by the trumpet. Can it be argued that the oft-complaint lacking of Siegfried in Scarlett's Act 1 is actually foreshadowed by Siegfried's diminished role musically (waltz-wise) since as early as Ashton's time, for whatever reason?
  14. Apart from the donation option being ricked by default, I am also not impressed by the fact that, although they send you a confirmation letter after you've submitted the form, the letter does not show you what response you've provided (e.g. which option I've chosen). Thus it's not possible to check if I've inadvertently made an error; I would also have no proof if I later think that they've made a mistake in processing my returns. Perhaps I am too careless and forgetful to be needing this sort of confirmation, but some not-too-sophisticated platforms such as google spreadsheet does allow submitters to see what the response they've submitted is. The system used by Staatsballet Berlin, where you fill in a form and send it back via email, albeit more complicated, also allows you to keep a copy of your response. So after submitting the forms I also dropped the box office an email to double check. I did take the opportunity to express my gratitude and send my best wishes though, as I imagine many people there, especially those who are not necessarily making all the decisions but are the ones on the frontline dealing with customer feedbacks, are in for an exhausting few weeks.
  15. Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet (one of the best medical journals in the world, based in London) Dr Richard Horton: “The evidence is clear. We need urgent implementation of social distancing and closure policies. The government is playing roulette with the public. This is a major error.” https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/government-is-playing-roulette-with-the-public-as-uk-coronavirus-cases-hit-456/11/03/ Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, Prof Devi Sridhar: "...said the time had come for the UK government to ban large gatherings, ask people to stop non-essential travel, and recommend employers shift to home working" https://www.ft.com/content/c43b9c3e-6470-11ea-a6cd-df28cc3c6a68 Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt: "I think it is surprising and concerning that we're not doing any of it at all when we have just four weeks before we get to the stage that Italy is at." https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51865915 Former regional director of public health for north-west England Professor John Ashton: “We’ve got a complacent attitude, it feels wooden and academic, and we’ve wasted a month when we should have been engaging with the public." https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/12/health-expert-brands-uks-coronavirus-response-pathetic
  16. https://www.roh.org.uk/tickets-and-events/ballet-studio-live-dates?start-date=17-03-20&end-date=17-03-20 You can also see it labelled "This event is cancelled" on the calendar. Apparently the one on the 18th has also been cancelled. I've just phoned the box office and was told that those who've booked online with a credit/debit card will receive a refund automatically.
  17. I think you are right that the evidence has been mixed, i.e. different studies are finding results contradicting with each other in terms of effectiveness. So it depends on which ones one choose to believe. As far as I am concerned either way is not unreasonable. I also think it is helpful to not think of a singular measure as "the most important one" or "all you need to do is this". Washing hands constantly, avoiding unnecessary physical contacts, not touching your faces, coughing into tissues rather than your hands... etc are all equally warranted. It'd be dangerous to think that one is exempt from some of them because (s)he's done the others. The same goes with people who decide to wear a mask, of course. At the end of the day it has not been my habit to wear one, I just hope to put it out there that I am personally not against other people wearing it, in case anyone wishes to do so but is concerned about other people's judgement.
  18. I agree with this, although I think it would be difficult to enforce. I'm afraid that human nature dictates that at least a portion of people with symptoms would still go to the theatres anyways, thinking that they're not too unwell or simply not wanting to miss the performance. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, infected people are able to pass the virus on before showing any symptom. So I think it will do good to everyone to be extra vigilant. Besides hand-washing and avoidance of unnecessary contact, it may actually be a good time to start thinking about wearing masks. Granted, the scientific evidence has been mixed, which does not mean that evidence suggests mask-wearing is ineffective, but that it seems to only be effective under certain circumstances: properly worn, properly stored, worn at places where a mask is needed (which, arguably, includes a crowded indoor space such as a theatre), and coupled with other personal hygiene measures. I will admit that I personally have not been wearing a mask to the theatres so far, including two Swan Lake performances I attended last week, possibly overly confident in my relatively young age, but I would certainly not frown upon the sight of people wearing masks in theatres either.
  19. I very much agree that the music used for Act4 PDD is particularly beautiful and moving, offering a tender reminder of the enduring love between the two before we proceed to the grande finale. Interestingly, this same piece of music ("No. 19, Pas de six - Variation II") was also used in the Ashton production at the exact same place: inserted after the opening of "No.29 Scene Finale", a glorious ensemble of the string section, signified the arrival of Siegfried. Though the choreographies to "No.19" are different. In the Scarlett production, the entirety of "No.19" is dedicated to a PDD. In the Ashton production, the first, more sorrowful half of the music piece accompanied the dance of the corps, and the second, more emotive half accompanied his shorter PDD. My untrained eyes also seem to have noticed some similarities between Ashton's and Scarlett's Act 4 PDDs, such as the lifts, despite being different in length. Perhaps this is a bit like the sort of reference back to Ashton in which @Fonty is interested?
  20. This is an interesting topic that I'd love to learn more about from my fellow forum members. I will share the very little bit of information I've learned from the internet and a book I enjoy revisiting before attending one of the ballets discussed in it: "Tchaikovsky's ballet" by Professor Roland John Wiley. From what I have read, an authoritative record of Petipa/Ivanov's 1895 revival of Swan Lake is the notes made by a certain Mr Nikolai Grigorievich Sergeyev, the regisseur of the Imperial Ballet between 1903-1917, during which the 1895 production was being staged at Mariinsky. Mr Sergeyev later came to London and created the first full-length british Swan Lake production for the Vic-Wells Ballet (1934) based on these notes (and presumably his own recollection from seeing it for a number of times). According to ROH Collections, it was only after Mr Sergeyev's death in 1951 that a new production was staged by Dame Ninette de Valois and Sir Frederick Ashton (1952). It perhaps can be posited that Mr Sergeyev, having worked in both St Petersburg and London, played a crucial part in linking the productions we have been seeing in London back to what Petipa/Ivanov created. Mr Sergeyev's notes have since been obtained and owned by the Harvard University Library.
  21. From what I've read about the measures taken by some venues, reducing the size of audience, which is usually coupled with an elaborate rearrangement of the seats, is to increase the distances between audience members. Say if one cut the audience size in half, it would allow every two people to be separated by one empty seat. This is supposed to decrease rate of transmission by preventing close interpersonal contact. I can only imagine how complicated and nightmarish a task that must be for the venues who've decided to do so, though.
  22. I cannot agree with this more. I feel very lucky to have booked for the opening night as well as today's matinee, having thoroughly enjoyed both. Akane has always been one of the most fascinating RB principals for me. Her elegance and classicism, especially with regards to her upper body, coupled with a delicate physique, never fail to create a transcendent and otherworldly atmosphere, and what other role offers a better showcase of such a quality than Odette? But then she transformed so convincingly after the first interval. One of my favourite bits was when von Rothbart revealed his plot at the end of Act III, Odile immediately and very effectively changed from seductive and cheeky to full-blown evil. On another note, I also found her mime more "articulate" and natural in comparison. That being said, I was absolutely mesmerised by Nunez/Muntagirov too. Marianela's technical excellency is as wonderful as always to witness. The exact same can be said about Vadim and his stunningly effortless jumps. I also thought Melissa Hamilton was brilliant in both performances, yesterday as the Hungarian princess and today as one of the big swans. How fortunate are Londoners to be able to enjoy two performances so brilliant in different respects within 24 hours.
  23. While person-to-person contact such as sneezing and coughing is the most important method of spread, another way of transmission is via surfaces or objects that have the virus on it; this may include handrails, tables and trays at cafes, door handles... etc that people with the virus may have unknowingly coughed on or touched. If you touch a surface that has virus on it and then put your fingers in your mouth, pick your nose, or rubs your eyes, the virus may find a way into your body. So personal hygiene really is key to protecting oneself: washing hands frequently, especially after, say, holding on the escalator handrails (I carry an antiseptic gel when traveling), covering your mouth when coughing (especially when you do so in an auditorium), and avoiding unnecessary visits to crowded places (indeed, like an auditorium) especially if you are feeling sick. The last tip doesn't only prevent the infected from infecting others, but also prevent the infected from contracting something else. As mentioned by others in this thread, comorbidity is an important risk factor for poor prognosis. To be honest, these personal hygiene tips are not just for times of epidemic, but people, including me, are used to ignoring them. I concur with zxDaveM that rather than panicking, we should see this as a good opportunity to establish a healthy and informed attitude towards disease prevention.
  24. Thank you for the warm welcome, capybara and alison; that means everything to me! I will definitely strive to write more! It really was the most lovely surprise Sim! My first post on the Forum, first BRB performance, first Peter Wright Swan Lake, and meeting you (the first person from the Forum I've known, as you can imagine) all happened on the same day? I will be waiting to report this as my most unforgettable ballet moment at the 2020 end-of-year review. I would certainly think so! I also feel like the circles were perhaps designed to optimise view more than acoustics (understandably so I suppose), resulting in people sitting at the front of them (e.g. me on the second circle) being a bit too close to the stage to get a good reverberation.
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