Jump to content
zxDaveM

Royal Ballet: The Two Pigeons, Monotones I & II, November 2015 & Rhapsody January 2016

Recommended Posts

.The way that performances have slowed down and the effect that it has only becomes obvious when you see old recordings of the same work. I recall some years back a discussion on this forum about the two recordings of Fille that were available one with Acosta and Nunez and the other with Coleman and Collier which raised the question whether the dancers in the older recording had been dancing more quickly than usual for some reason connected with the fact that it was being televised. The answer was quite simply that was the speed at which it was danced in the early 1980's. But any one who thinks that the Collier Coleman cast were fast should look at the BBC recording of the original cast in action.The earliest recording and the Acosta, Nunez recording look like completely different ballets. The recording from the 1960's has a joie de vivre lacking in the later one...If the Covent Garden company manages to give us casts as good as the first night cast of Pigeons and the revival of Fille earlier on this year we may not have too much to complain about

...apart perhaps from speed (again): as it happens we were able to compare the timngs of this year's Fille with the old BBC recording, and the difference was pretty striking. Perhaps conductors these days just don't think to go faster?

 

In any case, a magnificent and most illuminating post FLOSS: thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, Morera and Muntagirov were the leads for the first night of Fille as well as for Two Pigeons (with Cuthbertson). Perhaps, therefore, no real surprise that both fans and critics have responded so positively.

 

Huge plaudits to Vadim in particular for 'catching' the Ashton genre so wonderfully well.

Very interesting to read Luke Jennings more negative review of Two Ps leads and corps this morning .....: even Matthew Ball's hair doesn't escape his critical eye ;)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very interesting to read Luke Jennings more negative review of Two Ps leads and corps this morning .....: even Matthew Ball's hair doesn't escape his critical eye ;)

Why am I not surprised....

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, he is one voice among many. There's always one!

 

I'm always a little surprised by criticism of Muntagirov's acting. Sure, he doesn't act "overtly" like most others - but he is very expressive, and the fact that his acting is more subtle makes it more natural, and to my mind, far more convincing and effective. He never goes over the top and his characterisations always seem nicely judged.

Edited by Balletfanp
  • Like 11

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting that while some or all of the ladies are being praised in Monotones 1 & 2, there are hardly any comments on the men by the critics.  Has anyone seen Watson?  I am going on Tuesday, and am looking forward to seeing him doing some pure classical dance. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, he is one voice among many. There's always one!

I'm always a little surprised by criticism of Muntagirov's acting. Sure, he doesn't act "overtly" like most others - but he is very expressive, and the fact that his acting is more subtle makes it more natural, and to my mind, far more convincing and effective. He never goes over the top and his characterisations always seem nicely judged.

I totally agree. His subtle but incredibly affecting Des Grieux broke my heart. Sometimes, less is more.

  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree. His subtle but incredibly affecting Des Grieux broke my heart. Sometimes, less is more.

 

I agree too. For me, Muntagirov comes across as totally 'in the role' whatever that may be. There is a touching truth about his portrayals which one rarely sees - especially when combined with such beautiful dancing as his.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He has a very transparent face which shows every single emotion, plus a real gentleness and vulnerability that comes across to perfection in all the roles he dances. And yes, combined with his stunningly beautiful dancing, makes him my "must see" male dancer. I could happily watch him all day.

  • Like 12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting that while some or all of the ladies are being praised in Monotones 1 & 2, there are hardly any comments on the men by the critics.  Has anyone seen Watson?  I am going on Tuesday, and am looking forward to seeing him doing some pure classical dance. 

 

Well, the 2 dancers that I noticed in a good way on opening night in Monotones were Trystan Dyer and Valeri Hristov, possibly because this was the first time I had seen them in the roles.

 

I haven't read Luke Jennings's review yet, but I did notice Matthew Ball's costume in Pigeons looked quite garish and clashed with his hair and make-up :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is more to Luke Jennings' review today than comments about Vadim. A couple of points chime with what I thought and felt but had not yet found a way of putting into words.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Jennings that Cuthbertson was less than ideal in the young girl role.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Jennings that Cuthbertson was less than ideal in the young girl role.

 

Who would you have cast, MAB? I think that that role may have been a more difficult call for the RB than that of the Gypsy Girl.

 

I would have liked to have seen both Yasmine Naghdi and Francesca Hayward given a go as The Young Girl.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed- not for the first time I had mis read the casting because of ROH's odd headlining.

 

On the bright side, looking forward to seeing Alexander Campbell as the young man.I wonder whether anyone has seen him in that role before? ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed- not for the first time I had mis read the casting because of ROH's odd headlining.

 

On the bright side, looking forward to seeing Alexander Campbell as the young man.I wonder whether anyone has seen him in that role before? ?

 

I believe it is Alex' debut in role on 5th December.  He did not perform the role with BRB.

 

And yes, I am there on 5th December in case anyone hadn't realised!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thought you might be, Janet.

 

 

I imagine Campbell would be ideal in that role but also it is good to have such  varied casts for a short run,- even though not everyone we admire might be dancing. I look forward to James Hay as well, and  I think Takada and Choe will also be well worth seeing as the Young Girl.

 

Do agree that Hayward and Naghdi would have been a treat. Maybe next year. They must have spent money on this revival so perhaps that will encourage a repeat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yes, I am there on 5th December in case anyone hadn't realised!

 

Really??!!   :o

 

:D

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't pass comment on Cuthbertson until I have seen her.  However, from the things I have seen her in, she doesn't strike me as being a natural for the Ashton style. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I enjoyed the first night cast of Two Pigeons.I am sufficiently familiar with the ballet to know that the role of the Young Girl bookends the ballet. I knew that I wasn't going to see a dancer remotely resembling Seymour in the role of the Young Girl,or for that matter resembling Nichola Katrack or Margaret Barbieri, but I was surprised by the way that Morera's Gypsy dominated the ballet.However good a dancer is as the Gypsy you usually come away remembering the last pas de deux.Although there was a contrast between Cuthbertson and Morera it was not as pronounced as I recall it being in the past.It is a contrast that I have found lacking in recent BRB revivals as well.There should be a real difference between the Girl and Gypsy. The Girl soft and lyrical, not limp or small scale in her movements,the Gypsy a shimmering,alluring technician.Although I think that the first cast managed a greater contrast between the two roles than Salenko and Kaneko did somehow Cuthbertson did not make as much impact in the final pas de deux as she should have done.Did Luke Jennings identify the problem?

 

In his review published in the Observer 22nd November 2015 Luke Jennings talked about Cuthbertson's performance lacking Seymour's "soft backed velocity of an Ashton dancer".He also says "Rather than dancing through the music, she dances on it,showing us not a skein of movement, but a series of cut glass positions". Interestingly in her book Frederick Ashton's Ballets - Style, Performance, Choreography Geraldine Morris attributes a significant part of the problem of performing Ashton's works in the appropriate style to the almost universal adoption of Vaganova training which she says claims to teach how steps should be performed in every ballet and which seems to encourage movement from pose to pose rather than a flow of movement.

 

It will be interesting to see how the other pre Christmas casts manage with the choreography.Let us hope that ticket sales pick up. If revivals are based solely on ticket sales Acosta's Carmen is more likely to be revived in future seasons than Pigeons and that would be a great loss. As far as the designs are concerned I should just like to remind everyone that so far Ashton redesigns have not been a great success and have done more harm than good.

 

Good ballet stage design is far from easy and as so many choreographers make abstract works opting for designs that are either a variation of the Balanchine uniform or knickers and vests few people have much experience of producing designs that establish time and place or create a mood.Both the redesign of Les Rendezvous and Daphnis and Chloe were disasters. As to the choice of colours in sets and costumes in Pigeons I have no problem with the bright colours of the Gypsies clothes.They are not intended to be anything other than stage Gypsies and the designs set them apart from the "nice" girls who are the Young Girl's friends whose clothes in pastel shades tell you that they belong to the safe world of the known,while the bright clothes of the Gypsies sets them apart as excitingly different.Change the designs and the colour palette and although you have not altered a single step of the choreography you will have changed the ballet for good or ill. I, for one,am prepared to accept that Ashton knew what he was doing.If he had been dissatisfied with the designs he would have replaced the original designs with some new ones. It was performed frequently enough in his lifetime to have made it a viable option.

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 10

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I knew that I wasn't going to see a dancer remotely resembling Seymour in the role of the Young Girl,or for that matter resembling Nichola Katrack or Margaret Barbieri, but I was surprised by the way that Morera's Gypsy dominated the ballet.However good a dancer is as the Gypsy you usually come away remembering the last pas de deux. [...] There should be a real difference between the Girl and Gypsy. The Girl soft and lyrical, not limp or small scale in her movements,the Gypsy a shimmering,alluring technician.Although I think that the first cast managed a greater contrast between the two roles than Salenko and Kaneko did [...]

 

That's interesting, Floss, because - not having seen the first cast as yet - my impression of the second cast was of Kaneko dominating it.  She certainly made the greatest impression on me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I (just about!) recall the Royal Ballet School performance in 1995 when Laura Morera similarly dominated Mayuko Maeda.

 

From a greater distance than I saw Morera last week, I also found the wonderful Fumi Kaneko totally pre-eminent as the Gypsy Girl. It will indeed be interesting to see what happens with further casts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would just like to echo others in saying how incredibly informative your posts are, FLOSS. I am not a dancer and know nothing about ballet except that I enjoy watching it. However, as an academic I know expertise when I see it and that's why I come to this forum, to learn.

 

I so wish I could go and see this, to boost those ticket sales, but the prices remain too high for me even in the Amphitheatre.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While Lynn Seymour is so well known as being one of Kenneth MacMillan's muses, between Two Pigeons, A Month in the Country, and Five Brahms Waltzes, I must say Ashton really did her proud.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Girl  soft and lyrical, not limp or small scale in her movements,the Gypsy a shimmering,alluring technician.

 

Interesting that Barbieri did both roles, with equal success!

 

A couple of footnotes:

 

1. Gail (Thomas) Monahan has just posted on Twitter that originally all the Gypsies (men and women) wore black wigs.

 

2. I keep reading that Christopher Gable danced the Young Man at the premiere because the planned first cast, Donald Britton, was injured at the dress rehearsal - but, assuming they mean THE dress rehearsal, i.e. the public rehearsal the day before the first night -  I was there and not only did Gable do the whole thing, from curtain up, but according to the notes I made at the time this wasn't a surprise - we already knew that Britton wouldn't appear as he had dropped out several days earlier, ill rather than injured. Anyone else remember it differently?

Edited by Jane S

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that it is surprising to find a dancer who was equally good in both roles but Barbieri always seemed to be a dancer with an exceptionally wide range.She was one of my favourite Giselles and had perfect command of the Romantic style. I don't think that I ever saw her give a bad performance in anything and she gave some very good accounts of roles that you would not readily associate her with such as Pineapple Poll. Peter Wright was very lucky to have her in his company and it always seemed to me that MacMillan was a complete idiot not to take her into the Covent Garden company.The company would have had a real ballerina when it needed one at the beginning of the eighties and we would not have had Collier in quite so many ballerina roles to which she was not entirely suited.Collier never convinced me in Swan Lake. I always wondered how a very nice woman who had spluttered "But she's a soubrette", when Park was programmed to dance Swan Lake, would have reacted to the prospect of Collier's Odette/Odile.

 

I went to the Covent Garden matinee at which Jeffries and Barbieri made their debuts in Romeo and Juliet.I think that the audience was very happy with the performances they gave.I know that everyone where I was sitting was surprised at the end of the second interval to pick up the rumour that only Jeffries was going to join the main company. It was suggested that MacMillan had said that Barbieri would never dance the role again, As she never did dance it again I assume that there was some truth to the rumour.

Edited by FLOSS
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, one single shot at Juliet, but never forgotten in the role, if that story is true it doesn't say much for KM's artistic judgement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...