I really enjoyed this afternoon’s matinée which absolutely justified a dawn start from Rye.
Interesting how different performances read. I agree with bridiem that Mayara Magri was superb, but found her aggressive, authoritative and aquiline (and not just because I like a bit of alliteration), with a thrilling jump. I was reminded more than once of Karsavina’s injunction, “Here is no human emotion.” Conversely, Ryoichi Hirano partnered well, but I thought his final gesture of authority lacked exactly that. The Enchanted Princess’ apple catching was well below championship standard too (surprised to see Christina Arestis, Claire Calvert, Melissa Hamilton and Beatriz Stix-Brunell-Brunelleschi amongst them). Even so, the glorious final tableau against Stravinsky’s wonderful score raised the hoped for lump in the throat.
A Month in the Country was sheer joy from start to finish. It was one of my late mother’s favourite ballets (ideally with Sibley and Wall, although she liked Baryshnikov too), and I wondered if thinking of that raised my emotional vulnerability. I can honestly say that I was damp around the gills for much of it from the exquisite matching of choreography, music and situation. Natalia Osipova seems to bend a great deal more than the last time I saw her in this, and her variety of mood (bored, capricious, despairing, longing, the astonishment of “Natalia Petrova, you are in love”), the fluency of her footwork and the remarkable bleak misery she can convey read strongly, not just in partnership with David Hallberg but in her interactions with Nehemiah Kish too (how wonderful to see him back on stage, even if in a different style of role now). Hallberg may be a little more mature in demeanour than some as Beliaev, but his beautiful long lines, articulate feet and still, burning intensity were absolutely captivating, and he has the glamour of look and magnetism of personality to make Natalia’s and Vera’s fascination, as well as Kolia’s adoration understandable. A lovely maid from Tara-Brigitte Bhavnani (good to see her back so vividly), a Kolia fleet of foot and youthful of demeanour from Luca Acri (I’d never before registered the little bits of gaucheness Ashton puts in to show youth with the upturned foot in a turning sequence) and a Vera of hurt indignation from Meaghan Grace Hinkis, swooning in Beliaev’s arms but incredulous at the hypocrisy of adults.
Perhaps I’d invested too strongly emotionally in Month fully to surrender to Symphony in C. I know it is a great favourite of many people, but I have to be honest and write that although I enjoyed it I didn’t experience the euphoria which others have felt. Maybe it was concern at an early slip from Fumi Kaneko, although she recovered splendidly; a slight irritation at the slowing of the orchestral score (well though it was played under Emmanuel Plasson’s fluent baton - lovely pacing of Chopin in Month); a slight sense of Marianela Nunez in Queen Bee form, marvellous as she is; or having read some criticism of Yuhui Choe’s and Francesca Hayward’s technical prowess (bold of anyone to criticise those two on here I’d think) that seemed possibly quasi self-fulfilling in observation. Alexander Campbell was dazzling though (he really has honed his technical prowess to something remarkable - those whiplash turns) and I noticed none of the grimaces of which others have complained. I’ll confess he’s a personal favourite, but I like to think that that means not that “love” is blind but that it enables one also to be honest about failings as well as strengths. He’s going to be a wonderful Troyte.
This is a bill that should certainly have reached the cinema and I am sorry to have the chance only to see it once as I would very much like to have seen all The Firebird (including Tierney Heap, as it were) and A Month in the Country casts.