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I've reached an age where I believe birthdays should be properly celebrated in this transient life. So when I saw via Marianela's social media posts that she was going to dance in Onegin with Roberto Bolle at La Scala Milan, then I knew, this was the special event I was looking for. What a pairing - a dream, as Marianela herself calls it. Setting about achieving this was actually much easier than I anticipated. I booked a ticket via La Scala's website which has an English portal, and it arrived miraculously, it seemed to me, by post, a few days later. Then flights and an hotel were easy to get. Once in Milan, I oriented myself and visiting the theatre early on the day of the performance, I was able to book an English tour of the theatre at 4pm. This proved to be a massive bonus. Not only was the tour extremely interesting in itself, but we also saw the state of the stage at 5pm - 3 hours before the performance, which looked a shambles (I'm sure they all knew what they were doing). As we left they were laying the blocks for the ballet stage and there was no scenery in place at all. When I saw the curtains open at 8pm the transformation was hard to believe. (they did know what they were doing) La Scala is a beautiful theatre and it was fascinating to compare it to the ROH. It's how the ROH used to be rather than it is now in terms of public areas and layout. The top tier is not connected to the lower tier and stalls - separate entrances as our guide told us rather grudgingly. All the Stalls Circle, Grand Tier and Balcony are boxes - nothing else. Good if you go as a group. Not so good if you want a single seat. There is price differential within the boxes unlike the ROH. The facilities are limited! It's an amazing aesthetic experience to go to a performance. I was in the Stalls at one side, and noticed how much further back I was compared to the ROH. The orchestra pit extends much further back. The theatre is so beautiful, just being there is a joy - and then there is the ballet. To the performance - did it live up to expectations - well a resounding YES. Do go and look at Marianela and Roberto's social media sites - loads of photos and video clips which I will treasure a memories of a glorious evening. Comparisons with the ROH production: Ballet itself was the same in terms of choreography Different scenery - which made no difference at all Different costumes - prettier dresses for the girls Corps de ballet - I think the ROH had the edge though not much to choose between them Programme 10 euros but much better Marianela and Roberto were a dream pairing. I've seen Marianela dance Tatiana on many occasions and she grows into the role more every time. I was curious to see how Roberto addressed a more unsympathetic role - I've always seen him in the romantic ballet roles - and melted - but could he do nasty? The answer is - yes he can. The scenes in Act 11 where he gives the letter back to Tatiana were almost the most fascinating for me. He played cards with himself with multiple expressions of boredom, don't care, disdain passing through his face. Then after he had returned the letter and Tatiana cried - his expression and gestures for - "for goodness sake little girl, get over it" was perfect. The dancing was peerless. I suspect Roberto has lost a little speed in delivery - thought that when he came to partner Zenaida in Marguerite and Armand- but frankly, I don't care. The 2 major pdds (end of Act 1 and final Act 3) sent shivers down my spine and made every £ I had spent in getting to Milan worthwhile. The audience obviously agreed with me - after the "standard" curtain calls came further appearances, the final one with the house lights up. The cheering and clapping demanded this and the dancers obliged and also seemed overwhelmed. I was so happy to be able to manoeuvre my way to the front of the stalls and show my appreciation along with everyone else. .... I have never experienced anything like this - except for dancers' final performances, which of course, can't compare. Lenski was danced by Timofej Andrijashenko and Larina by Beatrice Carbone. They were at their best in the ball scene in Act 11 but they didn't leave me with an overwhelming impression. Perhaps it was just difficult to look at anyone else than the 2 principals. Marianela is proliferating posts on social media about this ballet #dream everything. It is - but of course, she is #dream herself as a dancer, which is what's making the experience. If she wasn't such a wonderful dancer, none of this would have happened.