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Press Release: The Royal Ballet Productions April – May 2016


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SPRING SEASON 2015/16:  APRIL - MAY

 

THE WINTER’S TALE

 

Christopher Wheeldon

Conductor: David Briskin

12, 13, 18, 20, 21, 27, 28 April at 7.30pm / 16 April at 12.30pm / 30 April at 1.30pm & 7.00pm / 

21 May at 7.00pm / 1 June at 7.30pm / 4 June at 12.30pm / 7 June 2.00pm & 7.30pm 

After receiving huge critical acclaim in 2014, Royal Ballet Artistic Associate  Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale receives its first revival. Regarded as one of his finest works, the ballet was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography. 

 

The Winter’s Tale is the first full length adaptation of a Shakespeare play by The Royal Ballet since Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 production of Romeo and Juliet. It is a story of seemingly hopeless love and all-consuming jealousy that contrasts episodes of light and dark, tragedy and comedy, and culminates in a memorable climax of forgiveness and reconciliation. 

In addition to the two casts from the original run, there has been a new third cast added, with Claire Calvert and Thiago Soares making their debuts as Hermione and Leontes, Francesca Hayward and James Hay as Perdita and Florizel, and Christina Arestis and Ryoichi Hirano as Paulina and Polixenes. Itziar Mendizabal also makes her debut as Paulina.

Choreography Christopher Wheeldon 

Music Joby Talbot

Designer Bob Cowley

Lighting Designer Natasha Katz

Projection Designer Daniel Brodie

Silk Effect Designer Basil Twist

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

CASTING

Hermione, Leontes

Perdita, Florizel

Paulina, Polixenes

 

The Winter's Tale is a co production with The National Ballet of Canada.

12 Apr / 21 Apr / 27 Apr / 21 May / Lauren Cuthbertson, Edward Watson

7 Jun / 10 Jun Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae

Zenaida Yanowsky, Federico Bonelli

13 Apr / 18 Apr / 28 Apr / 30 Apr / Marianela Nuñez, Bennet Gartside

1 Jun Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Vadim Muntagirov

Laura Morera, Valeri Hristov

 

16 Apr (mat) / 20 Apr Claire Calvert*, Thiago Soares*

Francesca Hayward*, James Hay*

Christina Arestis*, Ryoichi Hirano*

 

30 Apr (mat) / 7 Jun Claire Calvert, Thiago Soares

Francesca Hayward, James Hay

Itziar Mendizabal*, Ryoichi Hirano

*Role debut

 

 

FRANKENSTEIN

 

NEW Liam Scarlett

Conductor: Koen Kessels

4, 6, 17, 18, 20, 24, 25, 27 May at 7.30pm / 7 May at 1.30pm and 7pm††

Live cinema relay, Wednesday 18 May

†† Special Performance for students, Saturday 7 May

Liam Scarlett presents his first full-length narrative work for The Royal Ballet based on 

Mary Shelley’s Gothic classic Frankenstein. The ballet has a new commissioned score by 

Lowell Liebermann with designs by Scarlett’s regular collaborator John Macfarlane and lighting design by David Finn. Frankenstein will be relayed live into cinemas on Wednesday 18 May. 

The Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett has become known for ballets that marry highly expressive movement, sophisticated musical response and dark psychological depth in works for The Royal Ballet such as Asphodel Meadows, Sweet Violets and The Age of Anxiety. Leading the opening cast of Frankenstein are Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Federico Bonelli as Victor Frankenstein, Laura Morera as his love Elizabeth, and Steven McRae as The Creature. 

 

Frankenstein is a co-production with San Francisco Ballet

Generously supported by The Monument Trust, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Simon and Virginia Robertson, Will and Beth Gardiner, Karl and Holly Peterson and the Frankenstein Production Syndicate.

Choreography Liam Scarlett

Music Lowell Liebermann

Designer John Macfarlane

Lighting designer David Finn

Projection Designer Finn Ross

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House 

 

CASTING

Elizabeth, Victor, The Creature

4 May / 7 May (eve) †† / 18 May / 24 May Laura Morera*, Federico Bonelli*, 

Steven McRae*

6 May / 17 May / 27 May Marianela Nuñez*, Vadim Muntagirov*, 

Ryoichi Hirano*

7 May (mat) / 20 May / 25 May Sarah Lamb*, Tristan Dyer*, Nehemiah Kish*

 

*Role debut

†† Special Performance for students, Saturday 7 May

Live cinema relay, Wednesday 18 May

 

 

INSIGHT EVENTS

Do it Yourself: Dance with The Royal Ballet

14, 21 March / 5, 11 April at 7.30pm

Royal Ballet Soloist Kristen McNally teaches repertory inspired by Peter Wright’s mesmerising production Giselle. No dance experience is required. 

Clore Studio Upstairs

£14/£7

 

In conversation with Christopher Saunders and Samantha Raine

15 March, 7.30pm

Senior Ballet Master Christopher Saunders and Ballet Mistress Samantha Raine share their career journeys from dancers to celebrated ballet staff of The Royal Ballet.

Clore Studio Upstairs

£14/£7

 

The Royal Ballet in Rehearsal

16 March, 7.30pm

Dancers and coaches of The Royal Ballet perfect their roles in the rehearsal studio in preparation for the Covent Garden stage.

Clore Studio Theatre

£17/£7

 

 

Frankenstein

7 April, 7.15pm

Weeks before its world premiere Royal Ballet Artist in Residence Liam Scarlett rehearses and discusses his artistic vision for his first full-length ballet for the main stage. 

Clore Studio Upstairs

Tickets: £17/£7

 

Joining The House: The Royal Ballet 1946-1956

12 May, 7.30pm

The Royal Ballet celebrates its 70th anniversary as resident ballet company for 

the Royal Opera House. Special guests explore the Company’s rich history during its first decade based at Covent Garden. Featuring an excerpt danced by members of The Royal Ballet. 

Clore Studio Upstairs

£14/£7

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Ticket sales must be poor so far.Can anyone remember a time when this sort of press release has been issued a couple of days after the lowest tier of of Friends have been able to buy tickets?

 

Thinking very much the same myself and, no, I cannot remember ever seeing such a  missive before.

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I think there are too many performances of The Winter's Tale, and Frankenstein isn't immediately attractive, although the synopsis on the ROH website sounds quite good, more human tragedy than Hammer horror, and at least there are 3 different casts, it might be another huge hit like Woolf Works.

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Ticket sales must be poor so far.Can anyone remember a time when this sort of press release has been issued a couple of days after the lowest tier of of Friends have been able to buy tickets?

 

When I first started processing the press releases, we often used to get similar from the RB - not so much recently.

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Janet, in the past did you get the press releases within days of tickets going on sale to Friends or close to the date of the performance? I ask as I am genuinely interested. It may be that they have learnt from their recent experience with Pigeons, I may be wrong in all this but I got the impression that Mason was able to operate on a looser rein than Dowell as far as programming was concerned because she was able to demonstrate that she knew what she was doing when it came to mounting revivals of works that rarely see the light of day or that were all but lost and  constructing triple bills that did not rely on the spurious idea that the ballets in them would only attract an audience if they could be sold as part of a themed programme.

 

As far as Woolf Works is concerned I wonder how much its success was attributable to a cast that included Ferri and Osipova ? I am not talking about the artistic merits of the piece merely the public's willingness to buy tickets for it with only a limited amount of information available about it.I am not sure whether part of Woolf Works success was attributable to the choreographer having a following,which I don't think Scarlett has,and how much was attributable to the ticket prices.As far as Wheeldon is concerned has too much of his work been programmed this season?

 

Perhaps it was unwise to programme  Winters Tale and Frankenstein in the same segment of the season without something more conventionally attractive  to encourage people to buy tickets so that they might at least think that they might buy a ticket for one or other of these ballets as well.There are lots of books about the psychology of  marketing. I find it hard to believe that nothing has been written on the psychology of marketing tickets for theatrical events..I am sure that there are psychological tricks that can be applied to ticket sales much as there is to virtually everything else. Whatever the balletic equivalent of having the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the shopping area of a supermarket is,the RB has not hit on it yet.Clearly they assumed,erroneously,that the success of a Winter's Tale last season was a strong enough selling point in itself.It is to be hoped that the company manages to sell tickets without too much  discounting.it seems to me that if the AD is no longer perceived to be someone who knows what he is doing when it comes to commissioning new works and programming then we shall return to ultra careful programming which won't be good for anyone.New works are a gamble and it only takes a couple of big failures,artistically and/or financially to take us back to ultra safe programming which would mean far fewer interesting revivals and fewer new works.

Edited by FLOSS
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There's plenty of time for tickets for these performances to sell. Winter's Tale sold well last time, I believe, and Frankenstein is a well known story, which should bring people in. Ticket sales which may initially be sluggish often pick up nearer the time or once the run has started. The ROH is a destination in itself and quite a few people visiting London on holiday or for business will want to visit and will book for whatever is on. Winter's Tale and Frankenstein do at least have the advantage of name recognition.

 

Personally, I'm not sure that I'll be booking for either ballet. I enjoyed Winter's Tale overall and there were some lovely touches but there were some longeurs as well and I found some of the choreography dull. It will depend on the prices; I won't pay a lot to see it again. I've not liked any of Sweet Violets, H&G or Age of Anxiety and so I will probably wait to seek what opinions and reviews are like before making up my mind about booking.

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It's not just me that isn't keen on Scarlett then Aileen. At the moment I can't imagine anything worse than his interpretation of Frankenstein. I guess it has been commissioned to cash in on the halo effect from the new 'Victor Frankenstein' movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and to try to attract a younger audience.

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I am going to see the Winter's Tale again but I hope that Wheeldon took the opportunity to make some revisions when he staged the work in Canada.I thought that too much time was taken up with Leontes lurking in act I, there was at least one lurk too many.We came close to being beaten over the head when it came to portraying Leontes' jealousy. Wheeldon did not seem to notice that what are almost cliches when it comes to creating works on Watson, stand out and make a point quickly and effectively when performed by other dancers.

 

The Bohemian jollifications could do with being trimmed, they go on at great length and to no great purpose. I also think that the choreography for Perdita and Florizel would have benefitted from being clearly differentiated from that for the rest of the dancers The recognition scene needs to be extended possibly by as little as 30 seconds. It was over so quickly that unless you know the play and were looking out for it you could easily have missed it.

 

I am also prepared to chance my arm as far as Frankenstein is concerned. Scarlett will eventually stop wearing his MacMillan persona and become himself.Perhaps that's another reason for asking for more Ashton works such as Daphnis and Chloe to be revived as a sort of antidote to that sort of influence.

 

Do you really think that the Frankenstein ballet has been announced to tie in with the cinema release of a film? I should have thought that it was somewhat unlikely.The Scarlee work was announced in March/ April this year. It wont be seen until about a year after it was announced, by which time the film will have disappeared from cinemas and only be available on DVD.

 

If people don't go to the first revival of a new ballet full length ballet they cease to be financially viable. I can't see anyone being prepared to load all the costs of the production on the initial run, so poor ticket sales. for these works in subsequent seasons could quite easily result in a repertory dominated by a handful of box office safe works such as Don Q.in lengthy runs. 

Edited by FLOSS
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Janet, in the past did you get the press releases within days of tickets going on sale to Friends or close to the date of the performance? I ask as I am genuinely interested. It may be that they have learnt from their recent experience with Pigeons, I may be wrong in all this but I got the impression that Mason was able to operate on a looser rein than Dowell as far as programming was concerned because she was able to demonstrate that she knew what she was doing when it came to mounting revivals of works that rarely see the light of day or that were all but lost and  constructing triple bills that did not rely on the spurious idea that the ballets in them would only attract an audience if they could be sold as part of a themed programme.

 

 

 

From my recollection they usually send something out around about the time the programmes go on sale to the general public.

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At the moment I can't imagine anything worse than his interpretation of Frankenstein. I guess it has been commissioned to cash in on the halo effect from the new 'Victor Frankenstein' movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and to try to attract a younger audience.

No cashing in possible (never mind the different lead times) as the critics have made it clear that the film is laughable garbage. There is a modern day film version on the way from horror doyen Bernard Rose but that probably won't sell ballet tickets either.

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With these new ballets I prefer to see them at the cinema first as it is a cheap way to see them especially if they turn out to be a pup.  I did not particularly like Winters Tale so glad it only cost me £15 or so at the cinema and I won't be going to see it again. Likewise with Frankenstein it will be a cinema job for me, as it sounds a likely one for me not to like.  So glad we have the relays!

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Do you really think that the Frankenstein ballet has been announced to tie in with the cinema release of a film? I should have thought that it was somewhat unlikely.The Scarlee work was announced in March/ April this year. It wont be seen until about a year after it was announced, by which time the film will have disappeared from cinemas and only be available on DVD.

 

No I don't think it has been announced to tie in with a film, but there is a Frankenstein zeitgeist at the moment, with a couple films, an ITV series, now a ballet. All I meant was that there would be a positive effect of a ballet being created on the back of everything else going on . I wasn't very clear - I didn't mean to imply that the ballet was commissioned directly in response to the film, even though reading back my post, it sounds like that.

 

Even if the film is panned by the critics it doesn't really matter as it will still raise awareness and young people will still go and see it regardless of the critics.

Edited by tabitha
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Even if the film is panned by the critics it doesn't really matter as it will still raise awareness and young people will still go and see it regardless of the critics.

Sounds plausible! My guess (and it's just a guess) is this commission may have been triggered in some way by Danny Boyle's theatre production at the National.

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Personally I can't wait to see Frankenstein - I think Scarlett has real talent and I'm hoping that everything will 'mesh' in due course. Though I'm a bit apprehensive too in case it has the defects of Sweet Violets (too busy, too confusing, too MUCH) writ large. Though SV also had merits (confidence, ambition, ideas, even good choreography). We'll see... And I'm clearly in a small minority in that I didn't enjoy The Winter's Tale at all. I liked the way it looked, most of the time, but found the characterisations and narrative unconvincing and the choreography uninteresting. However I may have been in the wrong frame of mind at the time so I've decided to try it again this time. I will attempt to be receptive to the good (and do a bit of homework on the play first, perhaps).

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Personally I can't wait to see Frankenstein - I think Scarlett has real talent and I'm hoping that everything will 'mesh' in due course. Though I'm a bit apprehensive too in case it has the defects of Sweet Violets (too busy, too confusing, too MUCH) writ large. Though SV also had merits (confidence, ambition, ideas, even good choreography). We'll see...

 

I haven't seen Sweet Violets, but I think this is my main complaint about most of the new works I have seen over the past few years by the RB.  Too much going on at the same time.  If there are 3 couples on stage all doing something different, I don't know which pair to look at.  My eyes end up darting about all over the place, and the overall impression I get is one of frantic confusion. 

 

That's why I find it a relief to get back to Monotones or Symphonic Variations.  

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It's not just me that isn't keen on Scarlett then Aileen. At the moment I can't imagine anything worse than his interpretation of Frankenstein. I guess it has been commissioned to cash in on the halo effect from the new 'Victor Frankenstein' movie starring Daniel Radcliffe and to try to attract a younger audience.

I'm with you, there.  Frankenstein has absolutely zero appeal for me so I will give it a miss

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