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On the other hand, I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's more enjoyable than the Ek version :)

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All through yesterday I was thinking Carmen couldn't be as bad as the reviews suggested and last night it wasn't, others have confirmed what I suspected, that the role swaps worked, and Laura Morera was fabulous as Carmen, there were risible moments for sure, the sooty bull in the Fate scene, the chairs on wheels, and more, but the actual choreography was good enough for the important moments and I relaxed as soon as Laura Morera was dancing her first solo, that and her pdd's with Jose, Escamillo's solo's and pdd with Carmen, all were fine and for me that was the important factor. Carlos Acosta pulled off some exciting solo dancing. I think I enjoyed the onstage musicians more than those in the pit, they played with tremendous gusto and the dancers responded.  In fact the hour flew by, looking forward to the third cast on Saturday, could be something special.

 

I didn't warm to Viscera last time round and felt the same last night  except the central pdd with Laura Morera and Ryoichi Hirano, the music perhaps.  Loved the central ballets though, great to see Eric Underwood and Lauren Cuthbertson in Faun, and Marianela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov in the Tchaikovsky pdd, so a very mixed bill indeed but I enjoyed it.

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I have to admit that for the most part I was wishing it was last night's casts which were being broadcast to cinemas.  Not that I was ever planning on attending, but still ...

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It's interesting to read that the 'second cast' seems to have worked better. I felt that the cast on Monday evening was very one dimensional with Carmen a vamp and that's it. The wistful music for the Carmen / Escamillo pdd, which was used to such devastating effect in the pdd for Angelo (a sort of Don Jose character) and Rita in the Bourne piece, would, I feel, have worked better for a tender pdd for Carmen and Don Jose. This would have shown another side of Carmen and made her a more sympathetic figure; on Monday night I couldn't care less about her.

 

I think that Carlos and his collaborators thought that they were creating something very modern and original but, in fact, they ended up resorting to singers singing the well known Carmen music and stereotypical Spanish themes: bull, toreador, 'gypsy' costumes, shouting in Spanish etc. I think that an American high school or college setting with Don Jose as a shy misfit or sexual ingenue could be an interesting (and quite convincing) take on the Carmen story but, in the light of the sadly all too frequent school shooting incidents in the US, it would be controversial and probably a bit too close to the bone.

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I have to admit that for the most part I was wishing it was last night's casts which were being broadcast to cinemas.  Not that I was ever planning on attending, but still ...

 

But November 12 will be Carlos's last hurrah so should be a bit of an occasion and, whatever one thinks of Carmen, an opportunity to give him a big send-off.

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After reading the reviews here I went to the bill last night with very low expectations of Carmen, though I tried to keep an open mind; and I found that although in places the expectations were unfortunately matched, I found the work as a whole quite a lot better than anticipated. Colourful, fun and at the end even moving, though also sometimes both boring and baffling. Frankly I had no idea what was happening or why much of the time (didn't buy a programme and the plot summary on the Opera House's website was short to the point of being useless, as it turned out), but the central relationships were at least clear and Laura Morera was really wonderful. It has a different tone and taste to the rest of the Royal Ballet's repertoire, but I found that quite refreshing. I thought that some of the crowd scenes were tedious and some of the choreography derivative, and I agree that it would benefit from editing/cutting, but those criticisms can (unfortunately) be made of many new works. I loved the sets and even the sooty bull! And I thought the work had a certain charm about it. The only other version of Carmen that I've seen is Mats Ek's, a long time ago, and I loathed that; so for me this was a big step up. Acosta himself has such presence that he holds the piece together whenever he's on stage; without him I suspect the faults would be even more of a problem.

 

I thought the rest of the bill was excellent. My only reservation about Viscera was the lighting which was annoyingly low a lot of the time, for no apparent reason; I loved the choreography, music and costumes. And Muntagirov was sensational in the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux.

 

So all in all a very good evening.

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I notice there have been several references to Carmen's second cast but what about the third?  I saw them at the last rehearsal - was that their only outing?

 

Linda

Edited by loveclassics

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I notice there have been several references to Carmen's second cast but what about the third?  I saw them at the last rehearsal - was that their only outing?

 

Linda

 

Their debut is this coming Saturday (eve).

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Thanks for the info - I'm glad they're getting more opportunities because, although I wouldn't normally comment on a rehearsal, I was very impressed with Matthew Ball's Escamillo and I thought Lauren & Eric Underwood were excellent in L'Apres-midi.  Sadly I can't be sorry I didn't buy a ticket for a performance since I don't really get Viscera and the two short pieces don't justify the cost for me, lovely though they were.

 

I won't add to the chorus of disapproval for Carmen but to anyone who was there on Friday afternoon, I was responsible for the "OMG" during the Chippendale moment.   Sorry, it was a completely involuntary response - I won't do it again (hoping never to have to!)

 

Linda

 

Ed for clarity.

Edited by loveclassics
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I saw the second cast performance of 28 October and agree almost word-for-word with Bridiem's post #67 - except that I love the Mats Ek "Carmen" as a bit of light relief on a heavy bill, or variety on a mainly classical mixed bill. I felt this one showed the broad range of the Royal Ballet's repertoire and capabilities.

We all know how most dancers relish the opportunity to participate in new work. As others have said, much of that new work will be only partially successful but if risks are not taken, nothing that is both astonishing and durable will emerge, and these partial failures play their part in the eventual creation of a masterpiece. On other threads we are wondering if ballet has a future and how it needs to attract new audiences. Perhaps the answer is that classical companies sometimes have to offer it in programmes such as this for its brilliant other-worldliness to be appreciated alongside earthier, more populist dance. Could any of the audience drawn in solely by Carlos Acosta's deservedly high reputation fail to be impressed by the rest of the programme? Not if the applause and general buzz was anything to go by.

The "Carmen" was too long and muddled but so was the original "Raven Girl" by a more experienced choreographer. As Carlos Acosta has said in interviews, he wanted something different. With revision and pruning, it could differ from his previous work as well as existing "Carmen"s and be worth a second run.

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We are all set to come up tommorow as a family of 5 (3 generations ) for the matineé - so I've been watching this rhread with interest!

On ballence very excited because although the main aim was to see DS hero on the ROH stage one last time , it seems we are in for a treat alround and we will see things we might otherwise not have thought of !

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We are all set to come up tommorow as a family of 5 (3 generations ) for the matineé - so I've been watching this rhread with interest!

On ballence very excited because although the main aim was to see DS hero on the ROH stage one last time , it seems we are in for a treat alround and we will see things we might otherwise not have thought of

I'm sure you will all have a great day, I saw almost the same cast on Wednesday, I didn't acually think of it at the time but it was my last sight of Carlos Acosta, something did make me applaud his entrance which I don't normally do, and I wanted to see his curtain call at the end before dashing out to catch a train!

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It is rather sad to think that isn't it.

 

That's why I thought I might go to Acosta at Coliseum in December though these gala things are always a risky mixed bag;  but, it will be more like seeing one more time the Acosta I remember, than this show- perhaps.

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I went today with low(ish) expectations, but was still curious. I'll write up some thoughts here although I can't be sure they'll be as eloquent as others ????.

 

I didn't particularly like Viscera. It seemed to me like a mish mash of other Balanchine-esque ballets (I like Balanchine ballets though, but didn't enjoy this). I didn't like the music and generally found that the whole thing dragged. I kept finding my eye drawn to Naghdi funnily enough (didn't even realise it was her at first). Don't have much to say about this ballet I'm afraid, just wasn't my cup of tea.

 

The middle section was better. I do like Faun, but was not entirely convinced by this particular cast (Cuthbertson/Underwood). Maybe I just need to sleep on it? I love the music & the ambiguity of the whole thing. And mercifully it doesn't overstay it's welcome. I think I maybe compare casts to the original with Le Clercq, which I have on DVD, and don't really think anyone's interpretation has come close to that original.

 

Tchaikovsky PDD is something I tend to think of as being a gala piece. I loved Marianela's dress, and the music of course (can't go wrong with Tchaikovsky really). Not much to say on this one I suppose, other than it was a sweet piece, beautifully danced by both Vadim & Marianela. I did keep wondering how they'd work as a couple next year in Giselle, but that's another topic (& I guess we'll wait and see!).

 

I went with the lowest expectations for Carmen, but have to say I'm in the minority on here! I loved it. There were some parts that dragged of course, mainly towards the beginning if I'm remembering rightly, but I find that's always the potential issue when a full 60 minutes ballet has no break (I kept drawing comparisons to Song of the Earth, another ballet I love, which I also find has some sections that drag). I think never having seen the opera worked in my favour really. The music was beautiful & atmospheric in places & Laura Morera was wonderful, have to say I've definitely become a big fan of hers. However, I can't really see Carlos & Federco's roles reversed, & I'm a little disappointed they won't be using this exact cast for the screening. They seemed to 'fit' their characters very well today. I love Federico anyway but he was absolutely brilliant in this today (& Carlos had the perfect swagger for his scenes).

I'm not the biggest opera fan if I'm 100% honest, but I really don't mind it in ballets, especially the chorus. Would have been nice to know exactly what was being sung in the cards scene, although I got the general gist of it (there wasn't a translation in the programme, was there?). So overall, very surprised I enjoyed it, as reading the reviews it didn't seem like my thing!

 

Just my two cents. Would be interesting to know whether anyone's opinions have changed after a second viewing e.t.c? Definitely seems that the cast for today's matinee is preferred.

 

(Edited to add names of those dancing)

Edited by sylph
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Interesting to read your thoughts, Sylph. I'm curious about Faun. The cast that you saw is apparently sexier than the Lamb / Muntagirov one which I saw. Is it supposed to be a ballet about the sexual awakening of an ingenue? Is the 'girl' supposed to be aware of her sexual attractiveness to the 'boy'? Or are they both innocents who find an attraction to each other when they happen to come across one another in the studio?

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Saw Carmen for the first time this afternoon.  Probably the fourth balletic Carmen I've seen.  Nowhere near as bad as I feared and quite good in places, the comments I heard from others at the end were 100% enthusiastic, the kind of response that suggests the work is a big success.

 

Personally I didn't care for the orchestration, Schedrin's is much better, and I couldn't help thinking what with chairs and a bull, Acosta must have been influenced by the Alonso version.  I agree that much of the choreography was similar to what you might see in a musical, but here and there I detected some sparks of creativity that  makes me think Acosta might have the makings of a choreographer after all.  His aim is clearly to entertain and there is nothing wrong with that.  Bonnelli was superb as Jose and Acosta himself inhabited the role of Escamillo like a second skin.  Morera had an uphill struggle as Carmen, but that is because the female role didn't seem as well thought out as the male ones.

 

For those unfamiliar with the opera, I recommend getting the DVD of Placido Domingo and Julia Migines.  It is a film rather than a stage performance and the Spanish atmosphere beautifully conveyed thanks to filming in Seville.

 

Regarding the scene with the cards, Carmen reads them herself in the opera and I imagine the singer in the ballet is singing the same words in Spanish.  One of Carmen's pals is promised an overwhelming love affair, the other is promised a rich old husband who will die and leave her rich.  For herself Carmen sees death, first her own and then Jose's.

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There was definitely a "muerte" in there.  I'm not sure whether Spanish isn't a good language for opera, because the words didn't come over that clearly to me.

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We thoroughly enjoyed it - there was something for each member of our family to enjoy ! DS favoured the loud and modern viscera (which I didn't mind and appreciated the technical skills shown).

My 80 yr old dad preferred the 2 more classical duets and my mother and I loved the Carmen most of all , to my surprise ! It was such fun and was a multifaceted entertainment !

My youngest son - despite having a headache was transfixed throughout !

A splendid afternoon of entertainment mixed with culture for the whole family ????

I have to disagree with those that said Carlos is no choreographer ....we were entertained and the time flew by . It was a real treat . I imagine that the RB dancers had a lot of fun with this - loved the chairs with wheels and all the dancers were splendid but especially Bonneli Morera and of course Carlos (though DS was embarrassed but the raunchiness - typical 13 yr old .....)

Yes I would go and see it again - if it was part of another programme !

Edited by Billyelliott
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It is rather sad to think that isn't it.

 

That's why I thought I might go to Acosta at Coliseum in December though these gala things are always a risky mixed bag; but, it will be more like seeing one more time the Acosta I remember, than this show- perhaps.

I went to the gala he did back in 2012 and really enjoyed it. My mum loved it so much that she's asked me to book the one in December for her birthday. We have tickets now so I hope it's as good as the last one! Tickets aren't that expensive either as far as I remember.

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Loved Faun with Olivia Cowley and Matthew Ball tonight. From the four casts that I've seen in recent months for this ballet, I thought that those two portrayed the surprise element of seeing the other person most credibly. And the lighting was a joy - after Viscera, which I found too dark for most of it.

Edited by Duck
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I saw the 2nd cast earlier this week and really enjoyed it. I almost didn't go after the first performance (I was working in Swindon so an effort) but was so glad I did.  As soon as Laura Morera came on stage I knew she was going to be outstanding and the male principal swap really worked. I would urge everyone who hasn't seen it yet to keep an open mind and to go and see it. I don't like negativity particularly when the dancers have clearly given 110% and yes, while some "editing" would probably be beneficial, there is much to admire here and to enjoy.

 

Otherwise - Vadim / Marianela were awesome. Vadim is so lyrical and makes the whole thing look totally effortless.

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 And the lighting was a joy - after Viscera, which I found too dark for most of it.

 

Viscera's lighting gave me a headache - like the lighting at Sadler's Wells often does.  And I'm sorry to say the piece still doesn't do a lot for me :(

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After a third viewing of Carmen, I remain stoically unimpressed, and occasionally deeply unimpressed by the machismo tinged representation of sexuality.

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Just in case some people don't read the ROH's own comment pages (they can be hard to take, particularly when ROH staff post marketing language blah or patronise the punters, Kasper Holten being an impressive exception) in the interests of balance I thought it might be useful to quote one recent response to Carmen someone has posted. It is by an obviously knowlegeable if perhaps not entirely objective person, and so might interest people here (as I am one of those who thinks Acosta's Carmen is mostly junk, I am apparently automatically designated a "fuddy duddy" who is against "innovation" but nonetheless):-

 

Jakegee responded on 30 October 2015 at 8:55am

 

I wish to dissent with many of the opinions given above in criticism of Carlos Acosta's "Carmen". I was at both performances and the audience gave a most enthusiastic response at both. I felt the second one was better, since, in my opinion, Laura Morera was a much more accurate Carmen, and I felt Carlos better suited the role of Escamillo than Don Jose.

 

I did feel that it was occasionally a bit 'gimmicky', but no one can deny that it was wonderful dance, great theatre with a very simple but hugely effective set and lighting, and, above all, a wonderful piece of entertainment to end a very enjoyable quadruple bill.

 

It vexes me, and indeed annoys me, that it is always the same critics and reviewers who assume their roles as judges of what WE, the audience, must enjoy! As I've said above, the audience gave a huge response to "Carmen". Elena above decries "the fiasco that was Don Quixote" Get your facts right, woman, Don Quixote has been a huge success for Royal Ballet. Last year it packed the house for 16 performances in its second season and has had world wide acclaim.

 

Additionally, for those who say that Carlos Acosta is not a choreographer, remember that his "Tocororo" held box office records at Sadlers Wells for years (and perhaps it still does?) His choreography for "Guys and Dolls" at Chichester Festival Theatre has had great praise and is now about to tour.

 

Sadly the world of ballet seems to be too much influenced by the fuddy-duddies who will not accept anything outwith the realms of classical ballet, and cannot appreciate any change or innovation. The same critics shouted down Hofesh Shechter's "Untouchable" and Wayne McGregor's "Woolf Works" - but audiences LOVED them.

 

The goal and purpose of the Royal Ballet is to entertain audiences with a range of tastes, not just those few elitists who consider their opinions to be the final judgement. We other mere mortals must also be heard. I congratulate Kevin O'Hare on his courage to introduce new exciting pieces to the Royal Ballet repertoire. I visit the R.O.H. frequently and see every production at least once each season and rarely leave feeling less than happy. Yes, I do occasionally think " That one was not for me." However, the solution to that is not to attend that production in a future season. It is not my right, nor that of anyone else, to sit in judgement as to what audiences should watch.

 

"One man's meat is another man's poison", but too much poison is whispered and sometimes shouted by the few who consider their opinion to be gospel. I hope many others will share my view.

 

Thank you, Royal Ballet. Thank you, Kevin O'Hare. Thank you, especially, Carlos Acosta, for all your wonderful performances and dedication to your admiring audiences.

Edited by Geoff
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What a ridiculous post. My first reaction was to go on the ROH site and write a riposte, but for someone like this it isn't worth it. Many of the 'fuddy duddies' to whom I have spoken about Carmen and who didn't like it are in their 20s and 30s. Some of the critics are very young as well. And some of us 'fuddy duddies' loved Chroma, Infra, Carbon Life, Woolf Works and many other such productions. How dare he make value judgements like the above? Just because some of us don't like Carmen it means we are 'fuddy duddies' and just want to see the RB mired in the past? This poster knows not whereof he speaks, methinks.

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I did think it was worth replying to that ROH post, so I have just posted this: 'Just to say that I agree with many of Jakegee's comments above, but 1) I love Hofesh Shechter and I loved Woolf Works but I still had reservations about Carmen, and 2) it's legitimate to question the quality of a work even if it has proved to be popular. So I don't think it's fair to label anyone who criticizes a new work as a 'fuddy-duddy'; it's often the people who go to ballet most often and/or have been going for the longest time who care most about it as an art form. That said, I enjoyed Carmen and thought it had a lot to recommend it.'

Edited by bridiem
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I'll throw in my two penny's worth re Carmen. Saw second cast only but going to see Acosta "free" cast on 9th which will be interesting. Yes it's a mixed bag. Morera was great but could do with a killer solo to help define character. The best bits were better than I thought, some bits far worse. I reckon if it had been part of a "Acosta and Dancers with guests from the Royal" season at Sadlers or the Coli, people would have been more open to the Matthew Bourne type mix. It's a big ask to be part of a RB triple at ROH and expectations were too high. I'm mellowing because I was more negative immediate after showing, but you can't fault him for trying, but the work needs pruning, sharpening and the eye of a helpful dramaturg.

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My reaction has mellowed now that I have seen the second cast twice and the third cast also. The interpretations of Laura Morera (Carmen), Federico Bonelli and Vadim Muntagirov (Don Jose) and Matthew Ball (Escamillo) gave the proceedings quite a 'lift'. But the pas de deux still feel over-long and there is much corps work (and the fortune teller scene) which could be pruned to advantage. Maybe, just maybe, there is a half decent ballet in there waiting to get out.

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