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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.
Hello, I'm not sure if this is the right place to discuss this so please feel free to move it if not. I am going to Paris on 21/12, and they are performing La Bayadère that evening. I haven't been able to find much of a clear answer, but it seems that they do offer day tickets for performances. Can anyone provide more specific details about how to obtain them? Is it similar to the ROH day tickets? Any advice would be so much appreciated. Many thanks in advance.