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Romanian National Ballet: DSCH, The Dream - Bucharest, December 2015


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I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get this review out as I promised I would - but I have been travelling so much for work.  I wrote it on an aircraft flying to Slovakia from Romania the day after I saw the second RNB performance of DSCH/The Dream ...

 

DSCH \ THE DREAM REVIEW – ROMANIAN NATIONAL BALLET

 

Had a grand time seeing two premiere performances (5 & 6/12/15) of two key masterworks – one of the 20th Century and the other from the dawn of the 21st Century - at the lovely Operal Nationala Bucuresti.  The programme on both evenings consisted of Ratmansky’s zealously vivid CONCERTO DSCH and Ashton’s entrancing etching of THE [bard’s] DREAM.  Both were performed by the Romanian National Ballet Company which Johan Kobborg is quite obviously building into a world class ensemble.  May there be much, much more well deserved power to the already heady stealth of his arm.  I certainly will be back for more.  Of that there can be no question.

 

The highest compliment I can perhaps pay to this very fine assemblage of dancers and production crew was that the performance on the Sunday evening – the second performance I saw – and one entirely honed by the home team – was by some considerable distance the better of the two.   The Dream premiere on the Saturday night for me simply didn’t gel, whereas DSCH was mightily served on both evenings.  There is no question but that Ms. Cojacaru was the apple of her native nationals’ eye but much of the deliverance of the Ashton was – as he might say – ‘too buttery’ on that occasion.  It may well have been that Ms. Cojacaru had very limited rehearsal time given her many obligations.  The sincerity of her obligation however cannot be doubted and her admiration for her husband’s entrancing ensemble is - without hesitation - well placed.

 

What an ardently thrilling depiction Ratmansky's is of Shostakovich’s elaborately compulsive array of piano music which on both nights was zealously played by the very skilful Stefan Doniga.  Doniga well deserved his cheers from both capacity audiences.  Indeed I myself delighted in arriving early on both evenings just to hear him rehearse in this very handsome and acoustically astute opera house so lovingly set in an enchanting park setting replete with tastefully telling Christmas lights. 

 

Dawid Trzensimiech (who many may remember from his time with the Royal Ballet) shone in DSCH whereas his opening night Oberon was sadly somewhat mute theatrically I felt and (very much unlike his performance in the Ratmansky the next night) some of the partnering in the major Ashton PDD seemed awkward.  The DREAM lovers at the opening performance simply did not take hold and the audience responded to them not at all which was decidedly not the case when a Romanian quartet took colourful charge of these roles the following day.  It was markedly different.  A special nod must be given to Bogdan Canila’s effectively forged Demetrius; one so obviously distraught at the restrictions of Victorian mores.  Both Bottoms were effective with young Alistair Beattie taking especially musical delight in his dancing at this work’s RNB premiere.  Trzensimiech’s partnering of the lovely Sena Hidaka (who beautifully etched the central DSCH role created by Wendy Whelan at the height of her powers on both evenings) fully allowed her to come into her special own opposite his musical tenure.  That said she more than pleased on the night previous aside young Henry Dowden who – even now – shows much promise.  On both nights the combination of Bianca Fota – with her especially elongated leap -  and – most especially – Takahiro Tamagawa – a very special find who reminded me very much of the young Teddy Kumakawa – simply dazzled in the Ratmansky trio.  His ballet – now a mainstay throughout the key balletic world – is one which will build the strength of any ensemble much as Ashton's and Balanchine's works do.  How I wish the Royal Ballet might bring it into their rep to set it aside the McGregor, Wheeldon and Scarlett.  The speed it demands is very much akin to that of both Ashton and certainly the Balanchine works that Ashton so admired.  Shuhei Yoshida who has unquestionable strength but often is muddy in his placement completed the trio in DSCH on the opening night and was I felt was a dramatically monotone Puck on the same evening.  Indeed he was I thought totally overshadowed in the latter charge by Christian Preda on the second night.  Preda BEWITCHED with a gleeful razzmatazz much akin to that Valentino Zucchetti so delightefully evidenced in the Royal Ballet’s most recent run of this Ashton MASTERWORK. 

 

Overall the Sunday evening DREAM - in its entirety - was a joy to behold – made especially so because the Oberon and Titania of Barnaby Bishop and Andra Ionete took complete and charming theatrical charge in equal and rightfully dramatic tandem.  Even now I’m not certain that Barnaby Bishop is not one of the very best Oberons in the Ashton that I have EVER seen.  This was especially impressive as one has to remember that this was his DEBUT in the role.  Bishop ruled every inch as a mighty king of the fairies with total and easy authority and danced gloriously in very much Kobborg’s own mould and certainly replete with a legato line similar to that of Dowell.  The central pas de deux between the two glistened in a way that it had not the evening before.  The music on both evenings shone out under the conductor's mighty baton. 

 

Sunday’s audience were especially and sincerely ecstatic and rose to their feet – as well they might – and kept calling the delighted – and seemingly amazed ensemble - back.  This audience's pride in their home team was not only palpable; it was well placed. I happily joined in myself with keen appreciation. 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I'd love to hear people's thoughts if they have seen this programme!

 

Dear Janet,

 

I would hope that you mean 'other' people's thoughts ... as I would pray that you might think me worthy of being deemed a person - as opposed, say, to a machine - or perhaps just simply an entity whose thoughts as related above are merely invisible.

 

A request if I might- Could you please correct the title in this category which you so kindly created to 'Romanian NationalAL Ballet' ... as that is how it shows on the programme.

 

For that and all - AS EVER - much, much thanks.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Wonderful stuff, Bruce. Would you say the company is worth flying over for? I hear prices of goods, tickets etc in Romania also good value vs £?

I think you can definitely get a 5 star hotel for the price of 2 or 3 here!!  I noticed that the Romanian airline Blue Air, which flies from Liverpool to Bucharest, whilst charging cheapish flight fares charges a whopping £14.95 (€20) to use a credit card and about £10 for a debit card so pick your airline with care!

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Wonderful stuff, Bruce. Would you say the company is worth flying over for? I hear prices of goods, tickets etc in Romania also good value vs £?

 

Hi Nick, I stayed in a hostel - as I usually do when I'm working away - for £6 a night ... and found I could eat (at my own cost of course) a very full meal for £3.  The ticket for the ballet (and, yes, the luxury of a seat) was £5 - and very much worth it.  The flights on Ryanair were £17 each way and the bus fare to/from the airport was less than a pound.  I thrilled at being able to buy a hot chocolate from a machine in a shop for 40p.  Very good it was too ;)  I would say the value was excellent and the people I had the privilege to engage with both professionally and personally during my brief stay could not have been nicer.  I will be back to follow up on this programme of work later this year.  Hope that helps.  I definitely would recommend it.  Kobborg is doing a brilliant job building his world-class ensemble.  The pride in the audience is both palpable and rightfully placed ... or so it appeared to me.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Hi Nick, I stayed in a hostel - as I usually do when I'm working away - for £6 a night ... and found I could eat (at my own cost of course) a very full meal for £3. The ticket for the ballet (and, yes, the luxury of a seat) was £5 - and very much worth it. The flights on Ryanair were £17 each way and the bus fare to/from the airport was less than a pound. I thrilled at being able to buy a hot chocolate from a machine in a shop for 40p. Very good it was too ;) I would say the value was excellent and the people I had the privilege to engage with both professionally and personally during my brief stay could not have been nicer. I will be back to follow up on this programme of work later this year. Hope that helps. I definitely would recommend it. Kobborg is doing a brilliant job building his world-class ensemble. The pride in the audience is both palpable and rightfully placed ... or so it appeared to me.

All great value for us but for the dancers that are over there, their pay is very low too.

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