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English National Ballet: Mary Skeaping's Giselle, London Coliseum 2017


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This was a spectacular performance of what surely is one of the very best renderings of Giselle known to today's world.  In short this was a Triumph.  The entire company glowed in its rendering of every aspect of Skeaping's heroic telling of this heart warming tale; one clearly wrought through the magic of balletic dance.  Above all this was/is yet another vast credit to Ms. Rojo's over-abiding genius.

 

Cojocaru's brilliance in the title role has long been celebrated and here that fame was only embellished given the amazement of her ever spontaneous humane zeal - and that in spite of the cold she at times appeared to be suffering from.  Isaac Hernandez, beyond brave, was both hair-raising and heart-stopping as Albrecht - delivering each and every aspect with a great economy of crystalline means.  

 

I think there can be no question but that Lauretta Summerscales now ranks amongst the leading forces on this planet as an interpreter of Myrtha.  Her spine tingling authority was simply awe inspiring.  Rina Kanehara and Cesar Corrales thrilled in the peasant pas de deux with their youthful vigour and Stina Quagebeur etched beneficence via her regal Bathilde.  

 

The WHOLE Company however - most especially the corps of Willis and the ripely astonishing ENB Philharmonic under the ever brilliant baton of Gavin Sutherland - glittered in the joy of our (i.e., the audience's) receiving sun.  We shone in their reflection and they both defined and deserved our pride.  This was one instance where you longed for an opportunity to applaud the genius of all artists concerned even more than we were permitted.  That said, always best methinks to leave 'em wanting more ... and they did.  Golly, ENB did ... to a person.

 

The lighting too of the last act - here recreated by David Mohr - was spectacular in being both spectral and yet still allowing everyone to catch every detail.  I so wish the same effect could be accomplished at Covent Garden.  

 

To ALL:  Bravi!

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Lauretta Summerscales is a fabulous Myrtha. She really inhabits the character, fierce and authoritative, with dancing to match. I hope she'll dance the role for a long time to come.

 

This was my first Skeaping Giselle and Cojacaru's 'debut' (which rather amused my seat neighbour), so I can now finally say I've seen her debut in Giselle. Unsurprisingly, she did tremendously well and I like her with Hernandez though he seemed a bit too far on the unconcerned youth side for Alina's ethereal and tragic Giselle at times.

 

All of this and Corrales in the pdd on top made for a great cast.

 

Lovely Wilis all around, can't wait to go back for more.

 

ETA: couldn't agree more to Bruce Wall's comment about the lighting - it was beautiful and incredibly atmospheric

Edited by Coated
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What a great production this was.  I found Act 2 in particular very impressive, with more physical, forceful Wilis than I have seen in other classical Giselles.  Like Bruce above I found the set and lighting in Act 2 very effective (though in Act 1 the lighting was perhaps a bit too yellowy).  I thought Lauretta Summerscales was absolutely superb as Myrtha, making a huge impact right from the start and her dancing radiated strength and authority.  Alina was exactly as I had hoped and expected - and her whirling 'awakening' was at once tragic and frenetic.  Corrales was on fine form, well, as was everyone frankly - looking forward to a return visit tomorrow.

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I was at the rehearsal Tuesday evening - so here are some photos of the opening night cast:

32218781246_74c6d09c9c_z.jpg
Fabian Reimar, Stina Quagebeur, Alina Cojocaru
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

31881005340_6d6b8ed6b7_z.jpg
Laurretta Summerscales
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

31415620844_7c75639d1d_z.jpg
Isaac Hernandez, Alina Cojocaru
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...

Set from DanceTabs: ENB - Giselle
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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I adored Act 2 but had some reservations about Act 1.  Bearing in mind the only version of a traditional Giselle I've ever seen before is the RB's, I thought that Berthe's mime portrayed much less information than in the RB one - which, if I hadn't been familiar with the story, would have made the plot hard to follow. Also, I was surprised and a little disappointed with what seemed like a lack of actual dancing for the corps to do, especially the tail end of the Marche des Vignerons.

 

I also had dreadful neighbours until I moved in the interval (see my post in the Audience Behaviour thread!) so was probably not in the best position to concentrate on it.

 

As for Act 2, I loved it.  Cojocaru was wonderful - my first encounter with her in the role as I've only been going to ballet since late 2011, after she last did it at the RB.  I love the scene near the beginning when the Wilis chase down the group of men.  I was also seriously impressed with Laurretta Summerscales - I don't have an expert eye when it comes to whether somebody's dancing is any good, but her sheer presence was very impressive.  Sexy and ice-cold.  Her eyes seemed to flash with anger at that moment when the clock strikes four and she is forced to abandon her prey.

 

I was expecting musical differences from the RB version, as I always would, but I was taken quite by surprise by the fugue in Act 2 which not only sounds like an interpolation - it sounds like an insert by a different, earlier, composer.  I had to make enquiries afterwards and was very surprised to learn it is part of the original score.

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I can only echo the earlier comments about this performance, it was pure magic. Alina is just perfect, for me one of the great Giselle's of our time. I was hugely impressed with Laurretta Summerscales' Myrtha, power and authority combined with wonderful dancing. Congratulations are also due to the corps who performed as willis beautifully. Mr. Hernandez partnered Alina with great care and danced his solo's powerfully, last but not least Rina Kanehara and Cesar Corrales were just lovely in their peasant pas de deux.

 

Well done, Tamara, reminding us of a traditional Giselle following the wonderful Khan version. Hope they are able to film the performances in September. I, for one, will be first in the queue to buy a copy.

 

If you have never seen Alina's Giselle go see it. You will remember it forever.

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A rather flat, and thus disappointing evening for me. I came away preferring the tinkered with choreography of the RB and Russian versions to this historically correct Skeaping. That may have been to do with familiarity or to do with the central performances which felt as tired as the production did yesterday. I was looking forward to seeing Cojocaru reprise a role I have adored her in on a number of occasions but her performance was faded like a shadow of her former brilliance. Hernandez is a competent if unexciting dancer but I felt zero chemistry between him & Cojocaru. Summerscales's Myrtha was strong and convincing, she has a terrific jump and a secure balance. Her attendants made no impression but the performance of the corps was respectable. I was in the Upper Circle and it was sad to see it was at least 1/3 unsold for the opening night although it meant my friend and I could move to great seats in the centre near the front. 

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Although I couldn't see last night's performance thanks to Southern Fail, the comments remind me of this production so much which personally I think is the best I've seen, especially the fact that the lighting in act 2 is "atmospheric" but the dancing is clearly visible, proves it can be done, I love the fugue too. Glad to know that there is a proper peasant pas de deux, not 4 or 6 dancers, just hoping I will be able to get to see it all next week!

 

Look forward to hearing about the other casts.

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Annamk's comments about the ENB's Giselle were interesting to me, as I had similar feelings about the RB production I saw last year with Nunez and Muntagirov. I have seen Giselle several times live over the years, have different versions on dvd and it remains my favourite ballet. I seemed to be very much in a minority in 2016, although not entirely alone in feeling that it perhaps wasn't the best thing since anything, although dancewise it was pretty faultless. There was nothing I could put my finger on as to why it just didn't move me and I concluded, as there was nothing actually wrong with it, the problem was one of over familiarity.

I knew exactly what was going to happen, who would do what, when and why. The same could be said of any story, ballet, play or film one knows well and sometimes it doesn't matter. One can, hopefully, just enjoy it for what it is.

Last year, it didn't work for me and I haven't booked to see the Skeaping Giselles. No doubt I am missing a treat but with all getting to a London show entails, I decided to give it a miss and come back to it one day with a fresh eye.

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So looking forward to next Tuesday! Please no more rail upheavals and snow clearing. Very white here at the moment. Posts terrific, thank you, so descriptive and such a sense of enJoyment. Interesting to see one negative, so good we all different views.

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Am going next Tuesday as well and really looking forward to seeing Michaela de Prince as Myrthe .....though very glad to hear how well Lauretta Summerscales is doing in the role.....

Also my first time seeing Cojocaru as Giselle though seen her dance many times.

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Can't wait to see it on Saturday night. I have to say that I had thought from seeing some of the rehearsal video clips that there seems to be little chemistry between Cojacaru and Hernandez. I want to try to sneak in a Badenes/Corrales show if I can - she came across in the clips as exceptionally expressive and Corrales is a huge draw.  I have my eyes set on Wednesday...

 

A question from my daughter - how does ENB play Giselle dying? Does she die of a broken heart or does she stab herself with a sword as in the RB version? 

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Can't wait to see it on Saturday night. I have to say that I had thought from seeing some of the rehearsal video clips that there seems to be little chemistry between Cojacaru and Hernandez. I want to try to sneak in a Badenes/Corrales show if I can - she came across in the clips as exceptionally expressive and Corrales is a huge draw.  I have my eyes set on Wednesday...

 

A question from my daughter - how does ENB play Giselle dying? Does she die of a broken heart or does she stab herself with a sword as in the RB version?

 

Appears to stab her heart with the sword

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Jurgita Dronina spun an exquisite tapestry of story telling this evening in Skeaping's truly mesmeric production, one which allows us - much as Ratmansky's reconstruction of Sleeping Beauty does - a peek through a historic keyhole.  Skeaping and Ratmansky both allow us to learn for ourselves just why the balletic delivery of these tales - at their best - took hold in such a special way and led ultimately to the more doctored interpretations we know best today.  It is indeed a privilege to be able to view these gloriously animated captures.  

 

Dronina is such a musical dancer and her Giselle was entirely committed therein.  I'm not certain I have ever seen such a sharply realistic stab of costochondritis depicted on any ballet stage; it was thrilling both early in her first act round and then immediately prior to her equally blood tingling and frantically violent confrontation with Hilarion at the end of her soul curdling mad scene.  Indeed Dronina's exit from the second act did naught but addle my own heart so stunningly delicate had the simplicity of her execution wafted.  It was there ... and then it melted away.  The emotion was ours.  Magic.  

 

Isabelle Brouwers too made a wonderful fist of her first Myrtha.  There is oh, so much joy to come in this perceptive assimilation.  

 

For a moment - on his entry into the second act swathed in that cape - Alejandro Virelles in profile made me think of Bujones who I must have seen dance this role any number of times.  That I fear is where any likeness stopped however.  Virelles is certainly taller than Bujones ... and more classically handsome perhaps ... but nowhere near the same league as a dancing artist .. but then few are.  (Indeed the Albrecht of the evening before was a much more consistently fine dancer in terms of dedicated execution.)  On a number of occasions I felt Dronina deserved better.  I wondered what it might have looked like if Forbat had danced the role with her.  That, for me, I think would have been preferable - but then perhaps he is injured or ill.  That same goes for the Peasant PDD.  Saruhasi was listed but didn't dance ... and the shape of that lovely piece was but a shadow of the night before.  

 

That said, neither of those somewhat disappointing elements diminished the great joy that was to be had from the whole.  Not at all. Dronina, Brouwers, Streeter, the zealous ENB corps and Skeaping saw to that.  Bless them all. 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Isabelle Brouwers too made a wonderful fist of her first Myrtha.  There is oh, so much joy to come in this perceptive assimilation.  

 

 

 

It was rather a shame that Isabelle didn't get flowers on such a big night for her, I thought she deserved them (or maybe she did and I missed it trying to get a curtain call picture).  I've never paid much attention - is it a convention that only principals receive them on stage, or does it just depend on who has put their hand in their pocket on the night?  She's always been eye catching and I thought she punched above her weight tonight, albeit it would be unfair to expect her to match Lauretta's impact last night.

 

I got chatting with a couple of people in the interval who had just googled the plot on a phone and were managing to persuade themselves that the description of the Akram Khan outcasts, landlords, wall etc that came up as the top result was in fact what they had just seen  :).    They are now safely rerouted and also pointed in the direction of tickets for September..

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Briefly for now...I agree with Bruce's assessment above. I loved Dronina and Brouwers. I was also a bit disappointed with Virelles although I thought he improved in Act 2. I also noticed the change in the peasant pdd...couldn't they have made an announcement before curtain up as to who was dancing? I don't think it is fair on the dancer or the audience (definitely no cast change slips here). Can someone tell me who it was please?

 

Will write more impressions tomorrow.

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