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Royal Ballet 2017 Spring Casting

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At the risk of getting scythed down (again  :unsure: !!), I have already talked about Muntagirov in this context. However, and given that Hirano, Ball, Clarke etc are likely to be Hungarian Officers, I do feel that opportunities have been missed to cast (and thus stretch) other dancers. Maybe there should have been more performances but, in places, there has been a tendency to go for people who have essayed the roles before.  In addition to Muntagirov as Rudolf and Nunez as Mary, i would have wanted to cast (for example) Calvert as Larisch; O'Sullivan as Stephanie; and Acri, Sambe and Yudes as Bratfisch.

 

I am not brave enough or foolish enough to share my disbelief fully. Suffice it to say that I find it puzzling that Lamb has both of the main female roles, astonishing that Nunez has gone back to dancing Mitzi Caspar and disappointing that Campbell, now a Principal, remains as Bratfisch. Some of that may have something to do with filming, of course.

 

[Edited to add that this is in response to David's question (immediately above but now on the previous page) which I omitted to quote.]

Edited by capybara
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Immensely sad that Bennet Gartside has not been cast. He brings exceptional dramatic range and insight to every role, and gave a devastating, revelatory interpretation of Prince Rudolf in 2013. A performance I dearly wish MacMillan could have seen.

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I'm sad that Osipova isn't in Rubies (unless she's the TBA) as she and MacRae were terrific together. But good to see Hamilton back. Re Mayerling, am very happy about Osipova/Watson. Like the other pairings too. MacRae was amazing in Frankenstein (didn't like the ballet though) and Lamb can be surprising- love her Manon, not her Juliet-when the role has an edge. It's a pity there aren't more performances though. Yes, I'm all for bringing the bad boy out of Muntagirov, and I would have loved to have seen a Polunin/Hayward combo - with Osipova as Larisch...

Edited by Vanartus
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PS I remember reading that MacMillan was keen on Vetsera/Larisch exchange of roles, I think he had that in mind for Seymour and Park but I don't think it ever happened...

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Immensely sad that Bennet Gartside has not been cast. He brings exceptional dramatic range and insight to every role, and gave a devastating, revelatory interpretation of Prince Rudolf in 2013. A performance I dearly wish MacMillan could have seen.

 

Gartside was also very affecting in The Winter's Tale but I suppose it is difficult to give a First Soloist such a coveted role ahead of many Principals. No doubt he will 'cover' Rudolf as before and who knows............................

 

 

PS I remember reading that MacMillan was keen on Vetsera/Larisch exchange of roles, I think he had that in mind for Seymour and Park but I don't think it ever happened...

 

How interesting, Vanartus.

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 I am not sure that Rudolph really is a role for a dancer in their mid twenties. Watson said of the role that by the end of the first act you feel as if you have already  danced a full length ballet with two more to go. David Wall said that the role took several years off his career as a dancer.I know that Polunin who is Muntagirov's contemporary has already danced it but then I am not convinced that he is looking for a long career whereas I suspect that Muntagirov may well be doing so.

 

I know that at  present I would prefer to see Muntagirov in top form for a work like Symphonic Variations which is taxing enough for the entire cast than to see him as Rudolph which is one of the most physically demanding male roles in the repertory. I have no doubt that the role of Rudolph will come in due course but I am pleased to see that he is not cast in the role this time round. There is a vast tract of Ashton repertory that Muntagirov should dance in the next couple of years. Rudolph can wait.As far as the casting of Mayerling is concerned I am not sure that I am ready to assume that the entire Watson, Osipova will be wonderful or that they will be better than the Soares, Cuthbertson cast or the Bonelli, Morera one.

 

There are so many debuts in role with key characters in Mayerling that forecasting the likely impact of any of them seems more than a little premature. We may get an idea from the performances of Morera, Cuthbertson and Osipova in Anastasia who the "must see cast" is. Perhaps we should be grateful that booking for the Spring period does not open until after we have seen Anastasia.I will simply say that there are some intriguing cast combinations not all of which convince me but I shall try to get to see all of the casts because even the casts which I find least convincing have dancers who I do want to see in their allotted roles.

 

 Jewels  may be less than stellar in some of its casting but then I have never been one who believes that the Principals are going to be the best suited to the main roles in every ballet merely because they are principal dancers. If Kevin always casts the most senior dancers in these ballets the junior dancers will not have the opportunities for career development which they and the company need. At a time when the company is going through a transition from the company recruited and  created by Monica Mason to that recruited and created by Kevin O'Hare  the needs of the company as a whole are likely to take precedence over those of individual senior dancers. Having said that I don't think that Muntagirov has much to complain about as far as his career development or his repertory or his freedom to guest is concerned.I do wonder about Matthew Golding's long term position with the company as he does not seem that suited to wide areas of the repertory. It seems to me that his lack of range and versatility restricts his repertory to princely partnering in the classics and even there his self absorption prevents him putting his all into presenting his partner. If he can't persuade us that he thinks that his princess is the most extraordinary creature ever to have trod God's earth and that only his solos matter why should we care about her or want to see him? 

 

 Jewels is made up of three very different ballets. The first is an homage to the effortless elegance and precision of the French school  and it is by far the most difficult to cast because its mood is so very elusive. A company which casts Diamonds before it has cast Emeralds has merely added to its difficulties.The casting for the these ballets certainly indicates that Kevin is staying true to his word and is giving opportunities to a wide range of dancers whether all the casting decisions are wise will become clear in performance. I shall just say that the inclusion of Naghdi and Ball and Stix- Brunell in the casts of Emeralds does not surprise me, nor does the inclusion of Storm-Jensen with Heap in the casts of Rubies. I assume that Hamilton's name appears in the cast of Rubies as a farewell performance with the company. We can speculate as to who the TBA is who will dance with Sambe in Rubies.

 

The casting for Diamonds contains pleasures and disappointments. I would have liked to see Clarke given some performances rather than Golding but then Clarke is only a First Artist whereas Golding (M.) is a Principal but while Golding may have a lovely technique he lacks stage personality and is far too self absorbed  to be the totally attentive cavalier that is required for the ballerina in this ballet. 

 

All in all it has to be said that casting isn't an exact science and is far closer to one of the dark arts than most would care to admit .It is a subtle mixture of determining the individual dancer's suitability for a role based on their physique,temperament,character, technique,performance style, adaptability, musicality and acting skills and,when not dealing with an established partnership, determining or guessing how well.two dancers will work together.I imagine that everyone involved in casting hopes that two dancers appearing together as partners will be greater than the sum of their parts in performance but even if casting looks good on paper no one can be certain until the dancers appear before an audience.Successful casting is not merely a question of matching dancers to roles and then to each other by height and shared musicality it seems to help if they share a similar approach to preparation as well.It's all far too complicated for a mere member of the audience. It's only six months before we find out if Kevin and those who are involved in casting decisions have got them right.

Edited by FLOSS
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 I am not sure that Rudolph really is a role for a dancer in their mid twenties.

 

Rudolf, please; he's a crown prince (and archduke), not a reindeer. :mellow:

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Rudolf, please; he's a crown prince (and archduke), not a reindeer. :mellow:

 

you mean he DOESN'T have a red and shiny nose?

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Is anyone else surprised that Zenaida Yanowsky is not cast in Rubies in Jewels? Or has she said previously that she will not dance it any more?

 

I am delighted that Heap, Hamilton and Storm-Jensen are cast in the role though. It's great to see them given a chance.

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PS I remember reading that MacMillan was keen on Vetsera/Larisch exchange of roles, I think he had that in mind for Seymour and Park but I don't think it ever happened...

No, although Park did dance Vetsera. Others to have danced both include Alfreda Thorogood. Jennifer Penney, Lesley Collier and Mara Galeazzi (famously, once switching roles between matinee and evening shows). In 2013, she was cast only as Vetsera before retirement. Morera has been saying in at least two Dance Insight videos that she has been around a long time. Let us hope that her withdrawal from Larisch this time isn't following precedent. Were Rosato and Conley the only two to dance both Larisch and Elizabeth?

Edited by Jamesrhblack

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At the risk of getting scythed down (again :unsure: !!), I have already talked about Muntagirov in this context. However, and given that Hirano, Ball, Clarke etc are likely to be Hungarian Officers, I do feel that opportunities have been missed to cast (and thus stretch) other dancers. Maybe there should have been more performances but, in places, there has been a tendency to go for people who have essayed the roles before. In addition to Muntagirov as Rudolf and Nunez as Mary, i would have wanted to cast (for example) Calvert as Larisch; O'Sullivan as Stephanie; and Acri, Sambe and Yudes as Bratfisch.

 

I am not brave enough or foolish enough to share my disbelief fully. Suffice it to say that I find it puzzling that Lamb has both of the main female roles, astonishing that Nunez has gone back to dancing Mitzi Caspar and disappointing that Campbell, now a Principal, remains as Bratfisch. Some of that may have something to do with filming, of course.

 

[Edited to add that this is in response to David's question (immediately above but now on the previous page) which I omitted to quote.]

I like Nuñez enormously (who doesn't) but I can't envisage her height and maturity working well for Vetsera (ideal, surely for Larisch, except that that was choreographed for a small dancer) and although Campbell is one of my absolute favourite dancers I'd think his lack of inches would complicate the partnering, albeit he coped extraordinarily well with Mendizabal in Pigeons. Edited by Jamesrhblack
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although Campbell is one of my absolute favourite dancers I'd think his lack of inches would complicate the partnering, albeit he coped extraordinarily well with Mendizabal in Pigeons.

 

But isn't he taller than McRae?

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But isn't he taller than McRae?

 

 

In all the photographs I've seen of them in close proximity, there doesn't seem to be any appreciable height difference that isn't down to Campbell's springier hair ;)    FLOSS pointed out last year that Campbell had clearly hit his ballerina height limit in Nutcracker when partnering Morera, who is not tall.  

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I must admit I was rather surprised they are staging Mayerling this year given that several of the male principals whom I thought could be really good in the role are either very new as principals or relatively new to the Company. I thought they may have waited for staging Mayerling until next season when they may be experienced enough to possibly tackle the role. Also this would mean it may have been filmed for cinema broadcast as it would have been a few years since it was last filmed. Re what other posters have said about getting experience as Hungarian officers before playing Rudolf it will be interesting to see if any of them are so cast but would they cast a principal in such a relatively minor role? Only Campbell is cast as Bratfisch and hasn't he done that before? So how do they get the experience for them to tackle this role in the future? Like many posters I would have loved to have seen Vadim in the role but perhaps it's just a bit to early for him. Will be interesting to see if he gets Onegin if they do that next season (though his Lensky is wonderful; criminal it may never be filmed). I know he can't carry on learning all new roles as he did in his first 18 months or so at the Royal but this year is rather disappointing to those of us who want to see him, and especially in new roles. It was a shame he missed out on Frankenstein as a major full length ballet though there is Jewels to come which will be new to him at the Royal at least. Pity he isn't in the filmed cast; not just for him but for Naghdi as well. Apart from that it seems to be mainly the classical rep. he is doing; Nutcracker and Beauty which aren't exactly challenging for him. I know he's in the modern triple but there aren't any matinees and I'm not paying for overnight accommodation to see something I may not like.

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Re what other posters have said about getting experience as Hungarian officers before playing Rudolf it will be interesting to see if any of them are so cast but would they cast a principal in such a relatively minor role?

 

It's been done in the past - quite a few times, I think, which is why I suggested it.  Just as in Anastasia.

 

I thought they may have waited for staging Mayerling until next season when they may be experienced enough to possibly tackle the role.

 

But would Watson still be around then?  He did say a year or two back that he probably only had a couple of years left in the company.

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Maybe it would have made sense to wait another year until 2018, for the ballet's 40th anniversary. But given what Alison says above, maybe KoH wanted to ensure that Watson got one final opportunity to reprise his greatest dramatic role, and Bonelli/Morera a first and possibly last go. Maybe that also explains its short run. Here's hoping that they bring it back again in 2018 for a longer run, thus giving more dancers a chance at the leading roles. Hmmm....I wonder.

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 I am not sure that Rudolph really is a role for a dancer in their mid twenties. Watson said of the role that by the end of the first act you feel as if you have already  danced a full length ballet with two more to go. David Wall said that the role took several years off his career as a dancer.I know that Polunin who is Muntagirov's contemporary has already danced it but then I am not convinced that he is looking for a long career whereas I suspect that Muntagirov may well be doing so.

 

I know that at  present I would prefer to see Muntagirov in top form for a work like Symphonic Variations which is taxing enough for the entire cast than to see him as Rudolph which is one of the most physically demanding male roles in the repertory. I have no doubt that the role of Rudolph will come in due course but I am pleased to see that he is not cast in the role this time round. There is a vast tract of Ashton repertory that Muntagirov should dance in the next couple of years. Rudolph can wait.As far as the casting of Mayerling is concerned I am not sure that I am ready to assume that the entire Watson, Osipova will be wonderful or that they will be better than the Soares, Cuthbertson cast or the Bonelli, Morera one.

 

There are so many debuts in role with key characters in Mayerling that forecasting the likely impact of any of them seems more than a little premature. We may get an idea from the performances of Morera, Cuthbertson and Osipova in Anastasia who the "must see cast" is. Perhaps we should be grateful that booking for the Spring period does not open until after we have seen Anastasia.I will simply say that there are some intriguing cast combinations not all of which convince me but I shall try to get to see all of the casts because even the casts which I find least convincing have dancers who I do want to see in their allotted roles.

 

 Jewels  may be less than stellar in some of its casting but then I have never been one who believes that the Principals are going to be the best suited to the main roles in every ballet merely because they are principal dancers. If Kevin always casts the most senior dancers in these ballets the junior dancers will not have the opportunities for career development which they and the company need. At a time when the company is going through a transition from the company recruited and  created by Monica Mason to that recruited and created by Kevin O'Hare  the needs of the company as a whole are likely to take precedence over those of individual senior dancers. Having said that I don't think that Muntagirov has much to complain about as far as his career development or his repertory or his freedom to guest is concerned.I do wonder about Matthew Golding's long term position with the company as he does not seem that suited to wide areas of the repertory. It seems to me that his lack of range and versatility restricts his repertory to princely partnering in the classics and even there his self absorption prevents him putting his all into presenting his partner. If he can't persuade us that he thinks that his princess is the most extraordinary creature ever to have trod God's earth and that only his solos matter why should we care about her or want to see him? 

 

 Jewels is made up of three very different ballets. The first is an homage to the effortless elegance and precision of the French school  and it is by far the most difficult to cast because its mood is so very elusive. A company which casts Diamonds before it has cast Emeralds has merely added to its difficulties.The casting for the these ballets certainly indicates that Kevin is staying true to his word and is giving opportunities to a wide range of dancers whether all the casting decisions are wise will become clear in performance. I shall just say that the inclusion of Naghdi and Ball and Stix- Brunell in the casts of Emeralds does not surprise me, nor does the inclusion of Storm-Jensen with Heap in the casts of Rubies. I assume that Hamilton's name appears in the cast of Rubies as a farewell performance with the company. We can speculate as to who the TBA is who will dance with Sambe in Rubies.

 

The casting for Diamonds contains pleasures and disappointments. I would have liked to see Clarke given some performances rather than Golding but then Clarke is only a First Artist whereas Golding (M.) is a Principal but while Golding may have a lovely technique he lacks stage personality and is far too self absorbed  to be the totally attentive cavalier that is required for the ballerina in this ballet. 

 

All in all it has to be said that casting isn't an exact science and is far closer to one of the dark arts than most would care to admit .It is a subtle mixture of determining the individual dancer's suitability for a role based on their physique,temperament,character, technique,performance style, adaptability, musicality and acting skills and,when not dealing with an established partnership, determining or guessing how well.two dancers will work together.I imagine that everyone involved in casting hopes that two dancers appearing together as partners will be greater than the sum of their parts in performance but even if casting looks good on paper no one can be certain until the dancers appear before an audience.Successful casting is not merely a question of matching dancers to roles and then to each other by height and shared musicality it seems to help if they share a similar approach to preparation as well.It's all far too complicated for a mere member of the audience. It's only six months before we find out if Kevin and those who are involved in casting decisions have got them right.

Yet another wonderful post, Floss.  I learn so much from you.

I understand your thinking (and others) re Muntagirov and with hindsight I think you are probably right.  There is plenty of time.

 

Re Golding, and I mean this with no disrespect to an immaculate dancer, I have wondered what he was doing in RB since he was first brought in.  He does, as you say, seem only to be cast as the Princely other half where his physique gives him a commanding presence, but RB's repertory, thank goodness, is so much wider and he simply doesn't fit the bill.  Was there a shortage of male Principals at the time KOH brought him in or has something else happened?

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I think that if you look at the regularity with which the MacMillan cash cows are revived there appears to be a timetable and this year it is Mayerling's turn to be revived and, if they stick to the schedule, it will be Manon next year.

 

As far as casting is concerned I hate to have to remind everyone but Watson was born in 1976 and Yanowsky in 1975. I can't help thinking that their respective ages may explain why they are not appearing in  the ballets which have been listed for the Spring booking period. As far as Clarke is concerned he might well appear in the rehearsal room as an understudy. The way that his career is progressing it is quite possible that will be part of his development plan. As to Muntagirov I am not sure that I would dismiss his appearances in Nutcracker and Beauty as the balletic equivalent of treading water as every dancer needs to consolidate and develop the roles that he has learned whether they were completely new to him or merely a different version of a ballet in which he has previously appeared. I tend to agree with those who think that you only  develop as an artist and only develop the interpretation of a particular role by repeated performances.

 

However much members of this forum may want to see a dancer like Muntagirov appear in every possible role as quickly as possible it is not the way for a dancer to gain mastery of  roles and develop as an artist unless perhaps you see the classics simply as technical exercises. I have almost come to believe that the fact that the dancers appearing in the grand pas de deux in the RB's Nutcracker mostly make such light work of its technical challenges does them a disservice as it leads the audience to believe that it is easy to dance. Now I don't want to see the dancers show that what they are dancing is difficult thus turning the roles into a display of technique rather than the performance of a role  I want to see the development that takes place when a dancer returns to a role. The current director of the Bolshoi is quoted as saying that you don't master the main roles in Swan Lake by dancing them three times in a season and that great performances only become possible when a dancer has danced a role something like twenty five times. I think that is true of all the major roles in the classics and of roles in Ashton's ballets as well, as these ballets call for extraordinary levels of technical skill and do not allow the dancer to cover their flaws with emoting. In fact it is questionable whether with the vast repertory that the RB has whether anyone ever really performs any of the nineteenth century classical roles or any Ashton's works a sufficient number of times to produce fully rounded performances let alone truly great ones by which I mean performances in which on the one hand there are no technical blips and on the other hand the dancer does not depend entirely on the wow factor of his/her technique to  convince us of the greatness of his/her interpretation.

Edited by FLOSS
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 I tend to agree with those who think that you only  develop as an artist and only develop the interpretation of a particular role by repeated performances.

 

 

I'd just like to say that my earlier comments did not ignore the truth of this. However, with both ENB and the RB, Muntagirov must by now have danced the Nutcracker Prince at least 40 times and the Prince in Sleeping Beauty over 20 times (plus some performances abroad, I believe). I would suggest, therefore, that he has already met the Bolshoi Director's criterion.

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It may well be true that he has danced those roles a significant number of times but that does not preclude further development on his part.It also means that he is in a position to bring the benefit of his experience to his work with less experienced dancers who will be making their debuts in Beauty and other classics in the next few years.I hope to see him partner them in due course.I assume that you are not suggesting that the company's repertory should be built around Muntagirov but if you were AD and could build the repertory around him what would you like to see him dance?

 

I know that I hope that we get a break from Nutcracker in the 2017-18 season but recognise that it was inevitable that it would be revived in the year in which Sir Peter celebrates his ninetieth birthday.On my general revival wish list with no specific dancers in mind are ballets like Cinderella, Sylvia,  Wedding Bouquet, Facade, Les Patineurs, Enigma Variations,Daphnis and Chloe in the Craxton designs,Les Rendezvous in the Chapell designs and another crack at Birthday Offering. and La Fete Etrange which was so badly served at its last revival, Les Biches, Les Noces and Pierrot Lunaire all of which are masterpieces.

Edited by FLOSS
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It seems to me a very forgiveable thing for us all to want to see Muntagirov in everything, impractical though it is. But I agree with those who are not sure Rudolf in Mayerling is really his role. It remains, of course, to be seen.

 

He would be perfect in Sylvia - as I type I am looking at the poster on my wall of Cope and Bussell, looking beautiful  in that beautiful ballet - which really had the most lovely sets. Not sure who I see him with.....

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I assume that you are not suggesting that the company's repertory should be built around Muntagirov but if you were AD and could build the repertory around him what would you like to see him dance?

 

 

Hahaha, FLOSS. No, of course I'm not suggesting that the RB's rep. should be built around Muntagirov  :) However, I do feel that the development of dancers at all levels should be prominent in the thinking of ADs and some recent casting makes me wonder if that consideration is sufficiently 'up there' as far as the RB is concerned.

 

Perhaps I'll start another thread in relation to the roles one would like to see certain artistes dance!

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On my general revival wish list with no specific dancers in mind are ballets like Cinderella, Sylvia,  Wedding Bouquet, Facade, Les Patineurs, Enigma Variations,Daphnis and Chloe in the Craxton designs,Les Rendezvous in the Chapell designs and another crack at Birthday Offering. and La Fete Etrange which was so badly served at its last revival, Les Biches, Les Noces and Pierrot Lunaire all of which are masterpieces.

 

I don’t disagree for a moment with your selections of works you would like to see but they are mainly Ashton with a couple of Nijinska works thrown in. I’ve salted it away to look out for but, since next year is the 25th anniversary of MacMillan’s death, it seems likely that his works will pre-dominate in 2017/18. With a legacy of 90 plus ballets, could you please offer a similar personal look-out-for MacMillan list, focusing perhaps on those that are not irretrievably lost and could (and should) still be saved?     

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As far as casting is concerned I hate to have to remind everyone but Watson was born in 1976 and Yanowsky in 1975. I can't help thinking that their respective ages may explain why they are not appearing in  the ballets which have been listed for the Spring booking period. 

 

 

Do you mean that they are not appearing in Jewels?  They are, of course, both scheduled to appear in Mayerling which is also in the Spring booking period.

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Thank you my comments were connected to their non appearance in Jewels. The word "some" went AWOL at some point.

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