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Found 38 results

  1. POB list of streaming performances, again apologies if this has already been posted I couldn't find it when I searched. https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/news/performances-of-the-paris-opera-to-rediscover-online?fbclid=IwAR2897HpAQ5h9NiZPnN7BoT-1TQ0gfcv2arLRxKbXfmrtdug2UjEeoKXlYY At the bottom of the page they say this: "Due to currently unreleased rights, some of these broadcasts are geo-blocked for some territories. The Paris Opera is working on enlarging its broadcasting area." I also can't find a link to donate to POB, has anyone found one yet? If so could you post it, thanks
  2. Paris Opera & Ballet will be screening various operas and ballets in the coming weeks. If I understand correctly available via www.operadeparis.fr https://www.lefigaro.fr/musique/l-opera-de-paris-met-en-ligne-gratuitement-ses-spectacles-pendant-le-confinement-20200316?fbclid=IwAR1g9tgzOGTs8qnxrrnb_tsfVOFfL-yDXGHTC0dFVqgmGKaQkf1r4VlJPq0
  3. Somewhat reduced due to 45 days of strike action ... Nice to see the Ashton ... 22/09/2020 Gala: Défilé/ Shechter/Robbins/Pite The Art of Not Looking Back/In the Night / Seasons’ canon 25/09-17/10/2020 Shechter/Robbins/Pite - The Art of Not Looking Back/In the Night / Seasons’ canon 27/10-14/11/2020 Cherkaoui/Eyal/Ashton – Sheherezade(New Work)/Après-midi d’un faune(New Work)/Rhapsody 4/12/2020-01/01/2021 Kylián - Petite Mort/Doux mensonges/Stepping Stones/Sechs Tänze 10/12/2020-02/01/2021 La Bayadere (Nureyev version) 4-27/02/2021 Ohad Naharin - Sadeh 21 9/03-16/04/2021 Angelin Preljocaj Le Parc (instead of new work Le Rouge et le Noir) 29/03-7/05/2021 Roland Petit Notre Dame de Paris 30/05-26/06/2021 Roland Petit - Le Jeune Homme et La Mort/Carmen/Le Rendez-vous 9-30/06/2021 Romeo and Juliet (Nureyev version)
  4. After nearly two months of strikes, Paris Opera Ballet returned to the stage at last with Giselle on Saturday. And what an evening it was! Firstly, I should explain that although we had excellent seats seven rows from the front of the stalls, two extremely large (tall and wide) people came and sat in front of us restricting the view of my six foot partner, let alone short dumpy me. This meant that all I could see for the whole evening was the right and left sides of the stage but nothing in the middle! It wasn’t a fault of the rake, nor the large people who after all didn’t choose their exceptional size, but it did mean I missed a lot of the action. So bear that in mind when reading my review. Before the performance began there was a speech from the Union, which elicited a rowdy response from the spectators with some clapping support whilst others booed loudly. However after this the audience behaved itself very well . The ballet-starved attendees seemed to be mainly French, with a good number of well-dressed and well-behaved children in spite of the late hour. In fact I witnessed none of the poor behaviour we have recently discussed on another thread, and the audience showed their sophistication by applauding appropriately throughout but not (as annoys me at other venues) when the star dancers appear, before having even danced one step, and not after every little solo. (Having said that I plead guilty to what I am criticising in the case of Zakharova, and a couple of others, so I’m a hypocrite.) The dancing was superb. Honestly, I could not fault either the étoiles nor the corps who were very ‘together’ and homogeneous. Giselle (Léonore Baulac) was delightfully pretty and seemed full of joy at being back on stage. At first I found her interpretation a little too ‘cute and playful’ – I always feel terribly sad and serious throughout the whole of Giselle, whereas the first act in Paris had a feeling of light-hearted jollity. However once she came to the mad scene she was more convincing than any other dancer I’ve seen in the role. She seemed to age visibly as you watched (an effect of sudden grief I have noticed in real life) and her movements were so authentic that it was difficult to imagine this was the sweet young girl who had been dancing so merrily just minutes before. Kudos to Baulac for such a powerful transformation. I realised at that point that she had emphasised the innocent charm earlier in order that the contrast be as dramatic as possible. Germain Louvet danced Albrecht – the embodiment of stylish, entitled aristocracy, he entered with a great flourish and long run from the back of the spacious stage, his cloak flowing out dramatically behind him. He was a splendid dancer, and I especially appreciated his perfect entrechats (which I have noticed some other male dancers closer to home cheating on a little). Hilarion’s appearance was a bit of a shock to me. He was a stocky-looking man with an oversized, shiny bald head, and was almost comic in his portrayal. It was all too clear why Giselle would prefer Albrecht. However when I looked at the programme I found that the dancer (François Alu) is actually a good-looking chap with a full head of dark curly hair so obviously this portrayal was intended, but it did somewhat remove sympathy for the man who is the real victim of this tragic tale. Myrthe was danced with suitable menace by Hannah O’Neill – in spite of her name she looked Japanese to me, and was a rare exception to most of the dancers who were French-born and trained. The scenery and lighting were exceptional; for example, during the mime scene where Berthe warns Giselle about the Willis, it is as though the sun goes temporarily behind a cloud and an unnerving atmosphere washes over the stage, sending a shiver down one’s spine. Then, of course, there are the stupendous surroundings of Palais Garnier itself – the statuary, the all-pervading layers of gold leaf, the multiple painted ceilings, the chandeliers… although I have visited many times it never ceases to take my breath away. You could say that our Royal Opera House looks, in comparison, like a minimalist Scandinavian interior. I love both buildings in their different ways.
  5. Long ago I planned a lovely long weekend in Paris to see Raymonda, Le Parc and the Ballet School. I am none the wiser in respect of these performances as having negotiated a seat on a train not cancelled by Eurostar I arrived in Paris to daily messages saying my booked performances were cancelled. Cancellations are only announced on the day itself as the strikers have until a few hours before curtain up to declare themselves. The public transport strike is said to be rolling up until Christmas with a risk that performances will continue to be cancelled. Notwithstanding my disappointment re the above, Paris is brimming with things to do and wandering around is awesome at this time of year. It really is a City of Light and the French know how to do Christmas 🎄🎄🎄
  6. When Paris Opera Ballet announced that the 19/20 season would include a new choreography by Crystal Pite, I thought JJJ. Exhilaration subsequently turned into hesitation when the company’s web site showed a planned duration of just 60 minutes plus interval for this new piece (it turned out to be around 90-100 minutes including interval) as I thought, well, not really, given Paris prices for tickets and travel … Things changed for the better when Bejart Ballet Lausanne announced that they’d perform Ballet for Life in Paris at the end of October. Adding a few temporary exhibitions, and there it was, a two-day trip to Paris, packed with cultural activities. Paris Opera Ballet with Crystal Pite’s Body and Soul on Wednesday night. Both The New York Times and the Financial Times had published their reviews before I was heading to the Opera House on Wednesday and neither of them were particularly jubilant. I’ve taken a more positive stance on the work. Key to the work is a text that Crystal Pite had written herself and that is read by Marina Hands. The text features in all three parts of Body and Soul. It describes what is happening on stage e.g., steps taken (“gauche droite gauche droite gauche”), parts of the body that are touched (“touchant son front, son menton, sa poitrine”) or moved (“bouge les epaules, la tete, les pieds; se retourne de nouveau”), interaction and fight between figure 1 and figure 2. Figures 1/ 2 can both be performed by individuals, by an individual interacting with a group of dancers, or by groups interacting with each other. The same text is read to combative situations, to tender encounters and to a woman grieving over a man’s dead body. And so Body and Soul refers to the range of relationships from love and harmony to conflict and grief between individuals, between individuals and groups as well as between body and soul within an individual. Part 1 starts with the text read out in a neutral, descriptive manner to a combative situation between two men. Later on, the same text is applied to a much more tender encounter between a man and a woman. The ensemble forms a wave that crashes against a shoreline and that increases in intensity, together with rising chants that reminded me of a sports event with clashing fan groups. Conflict emerges from within the wave, and Part 1 ends with the text being spoken with audible empathy to a woman’s grief over a dead man’s body – this time, the touching of front, chin, chest, etc. is not on the figure's own body but on the body of the deceased man i.e., the other figure. Part 2 to Chopin’s Preludes with a series of PDD and dancers in groups. Some of the movements that featured in Part 1 reappear (e.g., figure 1 on the ground, stretching out his hand to figure 2 but without establishing physical contact; a figure turning and manipulating the head of the other figure). The scenography then changes to what reminded me of a crypt. The text is spoken again, and this time the grieving woman touches the floor rather than the deceased man’s body as the body is not there anymore and yet she is still in the midst of her grieving process. The grieving woman and the dead man are performed by Muriel Zusperreguy and Alessio Carbone. I’ve read somewhere that they will both retire at the end of the run of Body and Soul, and I so I think their roles in Body and Soul are particularly fitting. Costumes for part 1 and 2 are identical for man and women – black trousers, white shirts with white vests underneath, black ties, long black coats (coats, ties and shirts are then taken off). The voice refers to figure 1 and figure 2 as only names of those on stage. So everyone looks the same, everyone is called almost the same. This creates a sense of anonymity and universality of the content of Body and Soul in my view. Change in scenography and costumes for Part 3. Dancers look like insects with their shiny black body suits and black face masks, arms extended with what looks like a sting, women now on pointe. Tall structures have been lowered down from the top, reminiscent of a forest or of cave-like areas underground that the insects inhabit. The insects move in groups of different sizes, then the female insects threaten the male insects. A figure with hair falling down to his waist appears – my initial thought was that this was showing events during the Stone Age but I now think the figure with the long hair is a “king insect” just as bees come with a queen bee. The insects continue to dance, the voice over can be heard again but in a much fragmented way. Teddy Geiger’s Body and Soul is played, and everyone – male and female insects and the figure with the long hair start to dance; this was rhythmic, uplifting, fun, inducing head bobbing on my part. Having since read the lyrics for Geiger’s song, I think it goes way beyond rhythm and fun though e.g. "All that I want is a piece of your heart. Your body and soul, body and soul". So the insects experience the same range of emotional situations in relationships, emphasising the universality and ubiquity of the content of Pite's new work in my view. Most of the 10+ reviews of Body and Soul that I’ve read are mixed (positive exceptions being Le Figaro and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung) but I found it fascinating to see how what was shown on stage has been interpreted differently by different reviewers. To give a couple of examples the costumes – city wear or military clothing? The figure with the long hair in part 3: part human/ part animal, a figure from a sci-fi work or a figure from the Barbapapas? The ensemble moving as wave a hint of current street protests? I’ve taken this as yet another sign of the universality of what was shown on stage and that, depending on the social context that a viewer is in or applies to the work, Body and Soul allows itself to be read everywhere and at anytime, and this makes Pite’s newest work even more fascinating in my opinion. I don’t know how many visitors from abroad who don’t speak French go to performances of POB but as the programme came – as usual - with a 2-page overview of the piece in English, I guess it will be a fair few. Based on this, I think the text that was the basis for Pite’s new work should have been included in the programme in English, too, or even better, featured in the cast sheet which is handed out to all spectators, whether they buy a programme or not. Links to two reviews that include short video extracts of Body and Soul https://www.lefigaro.fr/culture/decouvrez-la-creation-mondiale-de-crystal-pite-a-l-opera-de-paris-20191028 https://mobile.francetvinfo.fr/culture/spectacles/danse/danse-a-la-rencontre-de-la-choregraphe-crystal-pite_3676669.html Ballet Bejart Lausanne with Maurice Bejart’s Ballet for Life on Thursday evening. This piece had been on my wish list for some time. An homage to life, to Freddie Mercury, to The Queen, to Jorge Donn. Musical, immensely creative, eclectic, wondrous, at times surreal, some poses that are reminiscent of The Queen, some laughing, some shouting. Marvellous costumes by Versace, including a black unitard resembling a costume that Freddie Mercury had worn, bathing costumes for Seaside Rendez-vous, more formal dresses for one of the Mozart interludes, a pair of tights featuring the Union Jack for one of the songs, etc. The penultimate song came with a number of videos with Jorge Donn, including how he arranged huge white cloths in the form of a cross on a studio floor. This was when I got the significance of the white sheets that the dancers lie beneath at the start, which they then handle in the first and the last songs, and which they cover themselves with at the very end of the last song. It is always a joy to see Julien Favreau and Elisabeth Ros perform live but the dancer that stays in my mind from Thursday’s performance is Gabriel Arenas Ruiz with his two substantial rather balletic solos to Mozart’s Thamos Overture & Masonic Music – bravo. I loved the way the curtain calls were handled – Gil Roman inviting dancers to come on stage one by one/ in twos/ in threes, and then hugging/ greeting/ bowing to each of them. I just wish their programme booklets were cheaper, this one cost 20 EUR L A few words about some of the exhibitions that I went to. Da Vinci at The Louvre - no surprise that the exhibition space was busy but it seems to me that ticket sales have been somewhat slower so far than for the Da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery in 2011, relatively speaking. 170+ exhibits; I was particularly impressed by the mathematical and scientific investigations on display. For anyone who plans to see the works – entry is by timed ticket only; the ticket then gives access to the Louvre for the remainder of the day. El Greco at the Grand Palais – I thought I’d seen a fair few works by El Greco in the past but this exhibition included lots of items that were new to me as they stemmed from museums and collectors in the US. Definitely worth seeing for lovers of El Greco’s works. There is also – among many others – an exhibition with works by Degas at the Musee d’Orsay Degas at the Opera that prs59 referred to in a post in another thread, and that I didn’t go to. Putting my legs up now after lots of walking through Paris over the last few days.
  7. 20 sept Opening gala 23 sept - 15 oct: Hiroshi Sugimoto/Alessio Silvestrin : At the Hawk's Well; Forsythe Blake Works 26oct - 17 nov: New Crystal Pite (60 segments in 60 minutes) 3-31 Dec: Raymonda 9-31 Dec: Le Parc (Preljocaj) 31 Jan - 15 feb: Giselle 3 - 22 feb: Concerto Barocco, 4 Temperaments. Serenade 25-30 March: POB School Coppelia (Lacotte) 14 april - 8 May: New Alan Lucien Oyen 12-30 May Mayerling 4-7 JUne Nederlands Dans Theater 26 June - 14 July Play (Ekman)
  8. Has anyone’s child been to the Paris Opera Ballet summer intensive before? I’m wondering what a typical daily schedule looks like?
  9. I have just spotted a tweet advising people intending to attend performances on Saturday 8 December at the Paris Opera. Presumably they are considering cancelling performances due to the planned demonstrations by les gilets jaunes. They haven't bothered emailing me to warn me that my matinee seat at the Bastille (for Nureyev's Cinderella) is in jeopardy. The news reports have focused on trouble near the Arc de Triomphe, some distance away, although the Bastille area can attract demonstrations because of its role in the French Revolution.
  10. For those with access to Arte, the performance of Cinderella by Paris Opera Ballet on 31st December 2018 will be streamed from 22h15 (French time) onwards. The POB site for Cinderella https://www.operadeparis.fr/saison-18-19/ballet/cendrillon states that the streaming will come with a slight delay compared to the live performance at the Opera Bastille (scroll down to the bottom of the page). According to the French site Danses avec la plume https://www.dansesaveclaplume.com/en-coulisse/1040649-adieux-a-la-scene-de-karl-paquette-le-31-decembre/, it will be the final act of Cinderella together with the farewell to Karl Paquette that will be shown, on Arte and on the POB web site (for those who read French, this article also provides a beautiful homage to Karl Paquette). An article in Le Figaro http://www.lefigaro.fr/culture/2018/10/26/03004-20181026ARTFIG00266-opera-de-paris-le-danseur-etoile-karl-paquette-tire-sa-reverence.php also mentions Arte and the POB web site for the streaming of the 3rd act … and for a gala to celebrate the opera’s 350th anniversary. Three sources, three different items of information unless I've missed or misread something. I presume things will become clearer nearer the time.
  11. To my astonishment I was given a set of earplugs at the Paris Opera Ballet mixed programme, prior to Schechter's piece, The art of not looking back. (The message on the plastic cover said, in French, 'So that the music remains a pleasure"). Has anyone been given ear plugs at the ballet before? Unfortunately the ear plugs didn't prevent someone in the central stalls being seriously incapacitated during the piece. Like the music, the choreography was often dark and aggressive, and contained words blaming his mother for leaving him. Danced by nine women it contrasted utterly with a ballet by another angry man, Robbins, for eight female dancers, which I had seen just three weeks before at the Robbins festival. Antique Epigraphs is brightly lit, has varied pastel coloured costumes, is joyous and serene, to lovely music by Debussy. The programme opens with a site specific work by the circus artist, Thierree, with a wide selection of POB dancers slithering about the steps and locations of the Garnier dressed as mystic creatures. The third item is The Male Dancer by Ivan Perez, to music by Part, for 10 males, including etoiles, all in extravagant costumes. The solos include references to L'Apres-midi d'un faune and Le spectre de la rose. The final piece, my reason for doing a day trip to Paris, was Crystal Pite's The Seasons' Canon to Max Richter's version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons (which is also the music Kenneth Tindall is creating his new ballet on), as impressive and moving as ever. This programme was filmed last week and will be available to watch on line for several weeks. The music is all recorded.
  12. Le Figaro published an article on 15 April 2018 containing the results of the a survey carried out among the POB company. The article is behind a pay-wall, but it has been summarised in an on-line ballet press round-up in France: https://www.dansesaveclaplume.com/hors-scene/584214-revue-de-presse-dansee-s17-18-ep24/ It appears that almost 77% of dancers who participated considered they had either been the victims of or had witnessed episodes of moral harassment (I think this is probably "bullying") and 26% considered that they had been the victims of sexual harassment. 87% considered that the complaints process at the POB was inadequate. The article apparently makes uncomfortable reading for Aurelie Dupont, the director of the company, whose choice of repertoire has already been heavily criticised for its emphasis on modern dance at the expense of the company's classical heritage. Indeed, there is an on-line petition against the 2018-19 repertoire. Interestingly, on the same day the Figaro also published an article about the Paris Opera Ballet School, in which complaints were made by students about the focus on teaching only classical technique which leaves dancers ill-equipt - they believe - to then make the transition to the company's modern repertoire, and also renders them unable to perform for 3 months or more as they try to acquire the necessary skills to dance the company's modern works. The publication of this article has coincided with Elisabeth Platel, the director of the School, being on medical leave. It would be interesting to have the opportunity to read both articles in full, but it seems - at first blush - that these may be the precursors of a larger battle to come.
  13. Paris Opera Ballet: Thanks, Bruce! I'm not sure what the geographic spread of these outside France is, but thought we should record it anyway.
  14. I was delighted with POB's performance of Don Quixote last night, but imagine my delight when after the show Aurelie Dupont came on stage to promote Valentine Colasante to Etoile!! Valentine had just danced a fantastic Kitri with some amazing long balances so I was already impressed but so must the boss have been!! It was quite something to see. As I am currently still on the hoof my best photos of the occasion will have to wait but hopefully this gives you an idea. https://mobile.twitter.com/Scarfie1/status/949423935862575104/photo/1
  15. The anniversary performances of Jewels started in New York last night. If anyone has been please post your thoughts! In the meantime this lovely film from the curtain call has appeared on You Tube via Twitter. Enjoy. Http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4LL8rdTsQzg
  16. Emmanuel Thibault is retiring from the Paris Opera Ballet. I vividly remember watching Paquita at the Garnier, my companion was seeing Thibault dance for the first time, he was so excited at what he saw, he nearly went over the parapet. He is, unsurprisingly, a huge admirer of Lopatin too. Thibault had an army of admirers, his first leading role was in Don Q., conveniently a matinee, that had fans from across Europe congregating in Paris for the event, Clement Crisp and John Percival were sitting together in the front row of the stalls. The atmosphere was very special and the POB students chanted his name 'Manu!, Manu! at the curtain calls. I had hoped that reception would have made the POB management reconsider his position within the company but it wasn't to be. Apart from Don Q. his only other lead role was Colas in Ashton's Fille and unsurprisingly he was the best in the role I've ever seen. I sincerely hope he gets an opportunity to pass on his skills to the next generation.
  17. Brigitte Lefèvre organised a number of – I understand informal – choreographic events for the company’s dancers when she was at the helm of POB. Benjamin Millepied changed this into something more formal and set up a Choreographer’s Academy, with Sébastien Bertaud, Simon Valastro, Bruno Bouché and Nicolas Paul – all dancers with POB – participating, and with William Forsythe as – then – mentor (I’ve read somewhere that Aurélie Dupont has since put the Academy on standby, and I can’t see any choreographic events scheduled for next season at all). The mixed programme at Palais Garnier last week presented the results of the Academy’s work. I saw the performance on Sunday afternoon. The four dancers all started to produce their first choreographies some 10 to 15 years ago, though I hadn’t previously heard of any choreographies by Valastro or Paul. Bertaud’s Renaissance for 15 dancers was undoubtedly the piece that received by far the most press coverage before the opening night, due to the designs by Olivier Rousteing/ Balmain. The costumes looked sparkly in the pictures and even more so on stage, reflecting the strong lights. The choreography to Mendelssohn’s 2nd Violin Concerto was vivid and fluid, alternating corps, PDD and small groups. Some movements gave a hint of a story (a dancer running to the side of the stage, pausing, his hand on his front as if thinking about something, and running back into the centre of the stage; also some of the PDD), other elements were purely abstract. While I thought at times that, given the passionate music, a stronger narrative element would have been great, the work was just beautiful to look at. The uncontested star of the performance and indeed of the whole programme for me was Pablo Legasa (Coryphée), who stepped in for Mathias Heymann the day of the opening night, and thus danced his corps role plus the role created on Mathias Heymann with its many intricate and incredibly fast solos. And dear me, he delivered! With astonishing fluidity, assuredness, precision and an immensely visible joy of performing. In one of these allegro solos, following a fast section, he took his leg into a high developé à la seconde (with the leg at say, 10 o’clock) on demi pointe, and then he held that position for a second or two or three, all while smiling exuberantly … followed by the next fast section of that solo. I fell in love with his dancing rather helplessly! Great also to see Joseph Aumeer on stage in a corps role that put him centre stage. Simon Valastro’s Little match girl Passion (Passion with a capital “P”) is based on Andersen’s story and uses David Lang’s music. This is a multisensorial work – live Passion-like music in the orchestra pit, 4 singers – one singer wears a soutane, the others are dressed in black from head to toe, they start in the pit, then walk onto the stage where they walk around to sing and tell the story, they hold and comfort the little match girl (Eleonora Abbagnato, superb) on her deathbed, they end the piece back in the pit. I sensed that the singing was the driving force and the dancing was shaping out its content. I guess I will have read the story as a child but had forgotten its bitter end, and I found the piece incredibly emotional. If Pablo Legasa in Renaissance was the star performer of the programme for me, Simon Valastro’s choreography achieved this for me in its story telling cum choreography, and I would love to see more of him as choreographer. Bouché’s Undoing world is about refugees; to quote from the programme book, “seeking out rare halos of resistance in a society torn between chaos and survival”. Dancers use golden rescue sheets to highlight their plight, and they dance simple steps in circular groups as a means of calm and resistance. While there were elements of the choreography that went beyond me, I found the group sections very effective. Paul’s Seven and a half metres above the mountains uses Renaissance music and, based on the programme book, refers to “submersion in all its forms”. Dancers in everyday clothes walk up the stairs from the orchestra pit onto the stage and then towards the back of the stage, where they disappear, just to walk up the stairs again, etc., creating an endless and possibly hypnotising flow of such movements. Some dancers walk towards the centre of the stage where they perform contemporary solos, duos and trios, while other dancers continue to walk past them. A number of comments on social media praised this work very highly, so, clearly, I will have missed something there (as I really didn’t get it). It’s a pity the work of the Academy is not continued as it not only gives dancers the opportunity to present and further explore their choreographic talents on the main stage; it also gives some of the more junior dancers who may not be in a featured role that often the chance to shine more prominently. I understand that with new works, the duration of the programme may be difficult to tell upfront. In this case however, something clearly went wrong. The programme was shown – up until the last performance – as 1 hour 50 minutes in duration. It took in fact 3 hours, and I understand the first night even went beyond that. I normally travel back the evening of a matinee performance which allows for a performance of up to around 2 hours 40 minutes in duration; the only reason why I was staying in Paris until Monday this time was because the train fare was so much lower on Monday that the savings even outweighed the costs of a cheap hotel on Sunday night. Lucky me that I did as I would have otherwise had to leave during the – one – interval. Who knows, though, how many others will have been affected. The first four minutes of the video in the following link show short extracts of the four choreographies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6Hog0RQaJI.
  18. I am about to book tickets at the Opera Garnier for November triple bill by Paris Opera ballet. Please can I have some advice about where in the theatre is a good place to sit and any tips about visiting the opera house. Thank you
  19. Below a first set of announcements for the 17/18 season at various companies and venues in France. Bordeaux will announce their 17/18 season on 22 May; Ballet Nice Mediterranee, Mandalain Ballet, Ballet Preljocaj & others tbc. Feel free to add others. Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris http://2018.theatrechampselysees.fr/saison/danse We’ve already known from toursenlair for some time that the National Ballet of Canada will perform Nijinsky in October. Further companies and works: St Petersburg Ballet Theatre (Swan Lake, Paquita, Chopiniana), LA Dance Project, a programme in honour of Ingmar Bergman, Tanztheater Wuppertal, and others Theatre Chaillot, Paris http://theatre-chaillot.fr/la-saison-2017-2018 Boris Charmatz, a flamenco festival, Angelin Preljocaj (La Fresque), a festival with dance from Scandinavia, Alonzo King, CNDC d’Angers with a Cunningham triple bill, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo (Le Songe), a number of contemporary works Theatre de la ville, Paris http://www.theatredelaville-paris.com/ Various works by Jerome Bel, a new work by Maguy Marin, a double bill by Shechter II, 2 triple bills with the Ballet de l’Opera de Lyon, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre Taiwan, and a number of contemporary works Ballet de l’Opera de Paris https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/season-17-18/ballet Already known, so here just for completeness Maison de la danse, Lyon http://www.maisondeladanse.com/programmation-2017-2018 Alonzo King, Ailey II, Yacobson Ballet (Sleeping Beauty), Maguy Marin, de Keersmaeker (Rain), Sao Paulo Dance Company (a triple bill with works by Goecke/Oliveira/Scholz), and a long list of contemporary artists Ballet de l’Opera de Lyon http://www.opera-lyon.com/page/saison-17-18 Forsythe/Brown/Bel (The second detail, Set and reset/reset, a new work), Kylian (East shadow), Roland Petit (L’Arlesienne, Carmen), Maliphant/Millepied/Forsythe (Critical mass, Sarabande, Steptext), Inger/ Kylian (A new work, Petite More, No more play) Opera national du Rhin, Strasbourg/ Mulhouse/ Colmar http://www.operanationaldurhin.eu/danse-2017-2018.html Mario Schroeder’s Chaplin, various triple bills e.g., with Forsythe/ Kylian/ Scholz, and a ballet for children based on Sleeping Beauty Theatre du Capitole, Toulouse http://www.theatreducapitole.fr/1/saison-2017-2018/saison-2017-2018-2373.html?lang=fr Belarbi’s Giselle, Belarbi’s Nutcracker, a double bill with works by Bombana and Bigonzetti, a triple bill with works by Roland Petit (Les Forains, L’Arlesienne, Carmen) Ballet de Marseille http://www.ballet-de-marseille.com/fr/calendrier Choreographies by Greco and Scholten
  20. Last Saturday there was a 'soiree' to celebrate France's most famous 20th century ballerina, Yvette Chauvire. The Palais Garnier was full of distinguished ballet dancers from the past but the event was a shambles. There was no introduction. It opened with a defile of all the current Opera dancers, as impressive as ever on the huge raked stage; but from then it went downhill. In all there were only 33 minutes of live dance, badly under-rehearsed. The orchestra played so badly they were booed at the end. The Grand Pas Classique, which was created on her, was poorly danced, and brought back memories of how spectacular Sylvie Guillem was in it. There was a brief pas de deux from Lifar's Les Mirages, a pedestrian performance of The Dying Swan, a 2 minute excerpt from Two Pigeons (well performed by the POB School) and, best of all, two extracts from Lifar's Suite en Blanc. It is time that there was a revival of Lifar's ballets, he was a good choreographer. Finally- and it was finally, as the first two attempts to start it failed- there was a film compiled of extracts of her dancing, including a moving Dying Swan and her final performance, in Giselle, her most famous role, plus shots of her teaching. The whole event was lack lustre and dishonoured a wonderful ballerina.
  21. A new documentary about the Opera de Paris has been in cinemas throughout France since 5th April. I saw it in Nice on Sunday. The documentary traces individuals, groups and events behind the scenes and on stage over at least one season. In doing so, it shows what I would summarise as the human side of work at an opera house – such as facial expressions of participants in discussions (e.g., expressing disagreement), worries and doubts of performers during the rehearsal process as well as the successful performance, challenging managerial aspects (dealing with a strike that has been announced for the opening night of a performance; the search to find a replacement for a lead singer for an opera at two days’ notice), the commitment and success on stage coupled with the exhaustion of a performer as soon as the artist is in the wings, etc. While I guess some French will be helpful, I think that focussing on facial expressions and the atmosphere shown might work just as well. Most of the documentary focusses on opera, with some content about POB and organisational aspects of the Opera de Paris (who sits where in the most prestigious box for the opening gala of the 2015 season; the approach to ticket prices in light of budget constraints and the need to be accessible). Specifically, in relation to opera it follows a young Russian tenor (Mikhail Timoshenko) from his successful audition for the Opera’s Academy programme, his arrival in Paris, rehearsals and coaching, some doubts, and through to a successful performance, presumably towards the end of the season a group of primary school children who come in for a monthly rehearsal in preparation for an end-of-the year concert performance in front of their proud relatives various opera rehearsals, with e.g., the conductor looking to get the sound from the orchestra that he is looking for, looking to synchronise the chorus with the lead singers, preparations for a new opera through to the successful premiere some funny aspects, too – the new opera that is being prepared involves a bull on stage. The documentary shows how the bull is chosen (pictures of a massive bull) … followed by a sequence that shows the bull in his stable with a loudspeaker a couple of yards away, playing the music of said opera at full volume, so as to get the bull acquainted with what will be happening on stage (this made me wonder whether Peregrine gets to listen to music from La fille mal gardee even now and then, or did so before the very first performance?) In relation to ballet (and to avoid a double posting in a separate part of the forum) a short extract of the defile as part of the opening gala a brief segment from La Bayadere (and showing the dancer completely exhausted once in the wings) a rehearsal extract for Millepied’s Appassionata (interrupted by him replying to an email … with the music changing dramatically to something much darker, followed by Stephane Lissner on the phone to Millepied with what sounds like an intense discussion in relation to the latter’s potential departure and as if they had a number of prior discussions whether this may happen or not, an extract from the press conference that announced Aurelie Dupont replacing Benjamin Millepied, an extract from a related announcement (and yet with different words and a different tone) by Millepied himself to the dancers, followed by the successful premiere of Appassionata in early February 2016 In case some here are in France over the Easter break ... the following link provides a list of cinemas that show the documentary plus a trailer http://www.allocine.fr/film/fichefilm_gen_cfilm=253361.html My only regret is that the staff of the Paris Opera House and the artists were not introduced by name when they first featured in the documentary e.g., with just the name and the title or role displayed on screen, as it is done in many other documentaries (the credits at the end of the documentary do provide a long list operas that featured in the documentary as well as the artists involved). I did recognise Stephane Lissner, Philippe Jordan, Benjamin Millepied and some of the dancers shown, plus I think Bryn Terfel and Toby Spence however there were many others whom I didn’t recognise. Not having the names did not prevent me from enjoying the documentary but it would have given a little more context. Though maybe that’s not an issue for those who watch opera more often than I do.
  22. It has been reported in Paris that the performances already announced for New York of 3 national companies performing the three ballets of Jewels, will be reprised in September, opening the Paris season with Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet and the Bolshoi respectively dancing Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds
  23. Well After a 3 hour delay to my flight on Christmas Eve (the plane had a wheel change right in front of me!) I got to Paris in plenty of time for 2 performances of Swan Lake. I had been really looking forward to this anyway then posters here said that posters on asimilar French site were raving about Miriam Ould Braham - she was Odette/Odile for my performance! The POB Swan Lake is by Nureyev after Petipa and Ivanov. Act 1 opens with a sleepy Prince on a throne played by the wonderfully elegant Mathias Heymann and while he slumbers Rothbart (Karl Paquette) appears rear stage and makes off with Odette (I presume at this early stage danced by Ould-Braham) who has been dancing rear stage and turns her into a swan! Rothbart then reappears as the tutor to the Prince (a slightly more sinister tutor than usual I found). Once the Prince is awake the corps de ballet take to the stage and engage in lots of ensemble dances including a nice solo for the Prince and then a PdT with some of the lady friends of the Prince. Mathias Heymann is infinitely watchable with beautiful lines and movement. I found the corps de ballet a little untidy at times but what I really liked was the use of the male members rather than the female members - such a refreshing change and a nice show case for the men. Time and again throughout this ballet we saw geometric formations and I think a lot of work in groups of 4 and 6 going on - for the men the front four right would move out of the main group of 16 and move across the stage then be followed by the 3 other groups of 4 etc... There were joint male and female dances as well but at times the already large stage looked a bit overcrowded! The icing on the cake of Act 1 though was the Pas de Trois. Enter FRANCOIS ALU! Wow wee what a power house of a dancer! I don't think I've been this excited by a dancer since Ivan Vasiliev burst onto the stage in DonQ years ago or Cesar Corrales in Corsaire as Ali. He was ably partnered by Leonore Baulac and Hannah O'Neill both of whom were beautiful too but Francois stole the PdT for me! He performed a circle of 12 tours en l'air each one as perfect as the next right to the end, no flagging and he put his own interpretation into the turns with one slightly straighter leg - it looked really difficult to do. His other jumps and cabrioles were similarly powerful and high, just amazing! So glad I got to see him! He reappeared in Act 3 in the Czardas was again great. As we move without interval into Act 2 Odette appears and meets the Prince. There was good mime displayed as well. Ould-Braham had lovely arms. But the piece de resistance was the swans:- I LOVED the choreography for the swans in particular. I was seated in the 2nd tier - so very high up - a perfect place to see all the intricacies of the choreography and intricate it was. 32 swans at some times on the stage and it was sight to behold. The swans entered the stage La Bayadere Shades style snaking their way across and down the stage to line up. Their lines were so straight and the moves so well executed and together that there can only be the Mariinsky that's better. The swans moved effortlessly around the stage going from a circle to a fabulous V moving forward towards the audience. Then they would break off into groups again and 4 smaller Vs would make a pattern with the points in the middle of the stage so overall a square and then move again into another shape - I was mesmerised by the geometry. How on earth did Nureyev do it?! The cygnets were great and that all went fine. I can't say much about Ould-Braham and Heymann as I was so taken with the swans! They were good of course but I'm not sure I can adequately describe them. After the single interval we moved on to Act 3 and all the national dances and a Queen desperate for her son to marry. The dances were nice but none stood out for me. Rothbart is given a solo just before the Prince and Odile do their fireworks so that disrupted the ballet flow for me a little bit BUT on the other hand it made use of Rothbart a bit more and showed that Karl Paquette still has it. Ould-Braham managed her 32 fouettes although she did travel quite a bit if I am being super critical, her "mistake" was doing a double right at the end, after having done all singles, as she landed a little awkwardly. Mathias Heymann did his 16 pirouettes perfectly as well and it all quite exciting to see. After the Prince realises he has been duped there was a brief pause the the final act started. The wonderful swans returned to the stage and were just a fabulous as in Act 2 with their precise lines and patterns. The ending is most tragic with Odette throwing herself off a cliff followed by Rothbart and then going up to heaven whilst the Prince is lying on the stage - I presume dead. Photo from the curtain call Karl Paquette/Miriam Ould-Braham/Mathias Heymann On Sunday (Christmas Day) I watched a the matinee of Swan Lake this time the main roles danced by Ludmilla Pagliero one of the few non french Etoiles at POB and Germain Louvet a Sujet. Rothbart was again Karl Paquette (it was earlier supposed to be Mathieu Ganio so I was disappointed to miss him). Pagliero and Louvet were very nice dancers as well. Considering Germain Louvet is a Sujet I think his future is bright as he coped extremely well with the role of Prince and he was a lovely dancer not dissimilar to Mathias Heymann. The Pas de Trois was nowhere near as thrilling as that on Christmas Eve. It was danced by Marine Ganio, Eleonore Guerineau and Axel Ibot. Ibot was far more slender than Alu and he did begin to flag at the end of his 12 tour en l'air so not quite the treat that the PdT had been the night before. In Act 3 Pagliero did her 32 fouettes as well and she managed to stay on the same spot better than Ould-Braham but she did mainly doubles and ended facing the back of the stage. The swans were just as fabulous as the night before, you would never know that they had done it all less than 24 hours earlier - the majority of dancers were the same so kudos to them. For me nobody stood out in the matinee performance in the way Alu had the night before, but don't get me wrong both performances were wonderful and I was thrilled I got to see them and would love to see it all over again! The orchestra under the baton of Vello Pahn was magnificent. The music alone would have been worth the ticket price. The Saturday audience was much quieter than the Sunday matinee which suffered slightly from a few nattering ladies and some sweet rustlers, but still not as bad as some theatres here! If you are not fussed on Christmas like me a trip to Paris was the perfect antidote even some of the shops (patisseries in particular!) were open on Christmas Day and buses and trains were running! After the show I went straight off to the airport to fly home. Photo of the curtain call - Karl Paquette/Ludmilla Pagliero/Germain Louvet The magnificent corps de ballet swans take their applause.
  24. Paris Opera Ballet and The Bolshoi are to collaborate with New York City Ballet in 5 performances next summer, 20-23 July 2017, to celebrate 50 years of Balanchine's trilogy Jewels. POB will dance Emeralds, NYCB Rubies and the Bolshoi Diamonds. Later in the run NYCB and the Bolshoi will swap. Each company will use it's own costumes, so Lacroix for POB, Karinska for NYCB and Zaitseva for The Bolshoi. Should be a fantastic treat to see this!! http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/arts/dance/celebrating-balanchines-jewels-with-an-international-flair.html?smid=tw-nytimesarts&smtyp=cur
  25. I had never been to any of the performances of Giselle at the Royal Opera House in the past, thinking that the choreography would be too classical for me. Then, back in February, Jérôme Bel’s Tombe hit me with all its power and emotion. So I went to the cinema broadcast of Giselle in April and saw Giselle Reimagined, and however enjoyed the latter much more than the former. I thus concluded that I would not go and see POB’s version of Giselle unless it would be with a specific cast. This remained valid … until a week ago, when I listened to the Giselle podcast on the Opéra de Paris web site. There was the music that had been used in Tombe, taken from the PDD in Act 2 when Albrecht brings flowers to Giselle’s grave! Enthralled, I went with a return ticket that became available early the next day, and this happened to be for last night. Vadim Muntagirov and Dorothée Gilbert were a wonderful lead couple, and I fully believed in their story. Albrecht is besotted with Giselle; he is free, happy and relaxed in his interactions with the peasants, in stark contrast to the stifling atmosphere of the court and his engagement with Bathilde. His lips tremble when he is asked to kiss Bathilde’s hand as a sign of honour and commitment. All this makes his devastation at Giselle’s death so truly believable. Equally, Giselle’s emotional journey from in love to desolate to protective of him is immensely convincing – just because Albrecht is so down to earth and likeable. The superbly realistic acting was coupled with excellent dancing from both - on their own and together. The POB version has a peasant PDD rather than a Pas de Six in Act 1. François Alu danced his variations with incredibly high elevations in his jumps (triple cabrioles if I saw this correctly) and received a huge ovation on the spot. While his elasticity is really impressive, thinking about it today, this was in some contrast to the much more lyrical style of his partner, and so I was missing some connection between them yesterday. One of the aspects that impressed me most in the cinema broadcast in April was Myrtha’s fierce stare and dominant body language throughout, emphasising her menacing presence and the real threat for Albrecht. I didn’t see much of this last night – I didn’t find Myrtha threatening or dominant. I don’t know whether this is intended to be softer in the POB version and/ or whether other Myrtha’s in the current run show more of it however it left me unconvinced last night. There was immense applause at the curtain calls for Vadim Muntagirov and Dorothée Gilbert and also for Koen Kessels, however much more polite for everyone else. Following the performance, it was wonderful to meet capybara & spouse at the stage door! Coming back to how it all started - it was a joy to see the backcloths and the scenery again that had been used in Tombe. What was so much more though - I was able to see how very closely the middle section of Tombe had been choreographed for Sébastien Bertaud and Sandra Escudé based on the PDD in act 2 of Giselle – Albrecht running across the stage carrying flowers, wearing a cape, the ground covered in fog; Giselle appearing and disappearing (in Tombe, rolling across the stage in a wheelchair); Albrecht pursuing Giselle; Albrecht dancing with Giselle (in Tombe, Albrecht holding Giselle’s hand while running across the stage in a small circle and pulling Giselle in her wheelchair in a larger circle all around him), Albrecht lifting Giselle (in Tombe, the overhead lift from Giselle is translated into a lift upside down) – all with the same steps for Albrecht and translated for Giselle in her wheelchair, with the same music, at the same locations on stage. If there are some aspects of last night’s performance that I am less convinced of, what it has achieved, taken all three parts of Tombe together, is illustrating how extraordinary I believe Jérôme Bel’s achievement is. --- edited to tidy up as I had clicked on "save" to early
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