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The Royal Ballet: Sylvia, London, November 2017

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Any comments on the Lauren/Reece cast please?  A friend told me that Reece 'nailed it'......but that's all I've heard so far!!

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Sylvia always makes me feel very sentimental, I saw it at the ROH in 1965 on my second trip to the ballet, and was enchanted by it and have been ever since, I was very happy with last night's performance, I have booked for all 3 casts but if I could only have gone once it would have been to this one, the first time I have seen Lauren Cuthbertson as Sylvia and thought she was beautiful in the role, Reece Clarke gave an outstanding debut, hope there are some photos of them. In fact everyone seemed to be dancing well and enjoying themselves and Nehemiah Kish was back as Orion!

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I was planning not to write much until I had seen all three casts but, since you ask, Sim........

 

 I thought that Reece Clarke made a very assured debut indeed as Aminta last night. He inhabited the role, danced really well and complemented his Sylvia in the pas de deux with great consideration and confidence.

 

Last season he was an 'emerging artist' in the eyes of the critics. Last night, he showed everyone that he had well and truly 'arrived'.

Edited by capybara
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It was a really enjoyable evening. The Opera House was packed with happy people and there was such an atmosphere of support for the cast. Reece Clarke was superb, beautiful lines, terrific elevation and lovely ports de bras. He was a real character too and worked beautifully with Lauren who made a convincing huntress. Loved her when she was getting Orion drunk. Enjoyed the slaves too, am enjoying following Calvin Richardson’s progress. Hinkis and Kay were delightful goats! 

Poor Valentino was trembling a bit at the start when he was a statue, perhaps he was cold! However lovely neat feet as the cloaked figure. 

What a silly plot but such fun, Ashton created such beautiful choreography and used the leitmotifs so well. I wish the last Act was still in Greek costume but the tutus are so pretty! Sets magnificent and really worked so smoothly.

Thanks to all the company and musicians for giving me a magical evening.

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On 11/28/2017 at 19:01, Darlex said:

My programme cast sheet from 4th November 2004 lists Bussell/Cope/Soares. Funny, I don't remember them in it at all, but I do remember seeing Nunez/Pennefather and a frustrating blank in the role of Orion! I think Samodurov or Jose Martin may have danced Orion at some point. 

 

Checking the programme and cast list more closely, Martin was actually a goat at the above mentioned performance and Samodurov's photo and biography is one of a few selected in the programme, so he must have been the third Orion.

 

 

 

Indeed, it was Slava Samodurov who danced with the Nunez/Pennefather cast.

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Thanks everyone;  I am really looking forward to the Saturday matinee now!!  I am so pleased that Lauren finally seems to have found a partner who could be 'the one' for the duration of her career.  It was just starting to happen with Polunin and then, well....it didn't happen, and I am really pleased about this.

 

I am already hoping to see them paired together for Swan Lake next year.....  :)

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On 28/11/2017 at 18:41, capybara said:

I had to thin out my programmes when we last redecorated and I am struggling to remember the various casts for the three main characters in Sylvia:

I have got as far as:

2004 and 2005

Bussell/Cope/ ? then Bussell/Bolle/Soares

Yanowsky/Makhateli/Avis

Nunez/Pennefather/?

 

 

Yes, Nunez and Pennefather were the 3rd cast.  I was lucky enough to go to the Insight evening where they were being coached by Donald McLeary.  McLeary danced in nearly all the Ashton productions of the 50s & 60s but I can't remember if he ever danced Aminta.

 

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He is not listed in the ROH collections catalogue. The fifties seemed to be Fonteyn and Somes exclusively. I remember that insight in the Linbury. The audience were told how That big lift entrance in the last act was set up. A step ladder was used. I was sitting on the side and was able to see this.

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Macleary did dance Aminta, but only a couple of times I think - the ROH Collection database makes no claim to cover everything, and there were at least 5 other casts for both Sylvia and Aminta in the 1950s.

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OK I am dying to hear impressions of Natalia's debut tonight!  Anyone?

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7 hours ago, Sim said:

OK I am dying to hear impressions of Natalia's debut tonight!  Anyone?

I really enjoyed her second act. She got through the third act, but it didn't look easy. It will be interesting to see how she settles down into the role

Edited by Darlex
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8 hours ago, Sim said:

OK I am dying to hear impressions of Natalia's debut tonight!  Anyone?

Who is Natalia? I’m not that au fair with RB dancers.

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4 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

Who is Natalia? I’m not that au fair with RB dancers.

 

Natalia Osipova. 

 

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2 hours ago, Darlex said:

I really enjoyed her second act. She got through the third act, but it didn't look easy. It will be interesting to see how she settles down into the role

 

Unfortunately for us, in some ways, Osipova is likely now to be concentrating on the Project Polunin venture which is on at the Coliseum next week. So I guess that, when we see her on the 11th December, she will be discovering Sylvia anew.

 

But, meanwhile, I'm feeling the need for more comment on how it went last night (Osipova/Bonelli/Hirano). And has anyone now seen all three casts?

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I am not seeing Osipova/Bonelli until the 16th, so maybe she will have settled into it by then.   I am seeing Lauren/Reece tomorrow and saw Nela/Vadim on opening night.  Will post a few impressions once I've seen all three casts.

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10 hours ago, Sim said:

OK I am dying to hear impressions of Natalia's debut tonight!  Anyone?

 

First of all, the critics were in last night- Gerald Dowler from Dancing Times and Clement Crisp on a night out together. Would love to have been sitting closer to see what they thought....

 

I don’t want to give a detailed review as I was feeling rather unwell last night (nothing contagious) but no way I was going to miss the performance! 

 

The orchestra, first of all was fabulous. The sets - and the moving sets in act 2 - capture the mood Ashton was trying to create brilliantly. Will be swotting up later on the set design with the article in the programme. Essentially, for both, DVD just can’t match a live performance.

 

I thought Osipova improved with each act. I found her to be more boyish/tomboy than ‘strong woman’/Amazonian in act 1 - much preferred Bussell who I have on DVD (and I appreciate that’s a contentious statement to make having read the above). Act 2 she was stronger but Act 3 I think although the steps are challenging she better suited them. Some of the pdd lifts were a tad clunky but assume that’s just the joy of seeing her first night. 

 

Clunky dancing wise, I did feel that some  of the act 1 dancing by Sylvia’s attendants was a bit lumpy in places, I think that’s just the challenge of all of those tiny, intricate steps from Ashton... having said that, Choe stood out for me, as always. 

 

Was pleased to see David Donnelly dancing in the Terpsichore PDD (can’t remember name of his character and don’t have programme on me right now). I had the pleasure of seeing Bonelli coach him at a workshop about a year ago now and as a result am enjoying watching him progress. 

 

Loved Bonelli- he seemed a bit shaky (hands!) as he went into his Act 1 solo but didn’t disappoint.

 

Claire Calvert was a perfect Diana- she really embodies the Ashton style and this stood out for me.

 

Oh and just to edit, Hirano wasn’t really my idea of a villain. He danced well but just didn’t convince me that he was the bad guy. Not a patch on Soares.

 

 

Edited by Blossom
Missed Hirano
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10 minutes ago, Blossom said:

 

Was pleased to see David Donnelly dancing in the Terpsichore PDD (can’t remember name of his character and don’t have programme on me right now).

 

 

Apollo

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We went last night and I thought it was a fabulous night out. I wonder why this isn’t the sort of winter tradition that Nutcracker is. FB was a tiny bit shaky at first but warmed up and was a beautiful Aminta. I wonder whether NO is maybe not as focused on it as she can be though it was her debut I think so perhaps a few errors are not surprising: really small things but her technique is normally something that you can just take for granted...and she isn’t a very convincing huntress figure, somehow.  Minor gripes. She is always so watchable. 

 

But what a show! The staging is just gorgeous without being a farrago of glitter and fuss. The music is so lush and the orchestra and soloists were on top form. I’m not knowledgeable enough to critique dancers really but Eros was outstanding. The costumes are wonderful, sort of Poussin via the 1950s. So many good things. Makes you proud to be human 

Edited by Ian Macmillan
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I have just unearthed my copy of the Ballet Annual for 1953 and it makes for really interesting reading for those who have grown up in a dance world in which punters have to be persuaded to attend mixed bills by offering cheaper tickets for them than are the norm for full length works. In the early fifties  a programme of one act ballets was the norm and the creation of a three act ballet could be regarded either as the inevitable consequence of the company's opera house residence or a grave risk. Somehow it is comforting  to know that even sixty five years ago Sylvia was at the centre of a sort of culture war between those for whom the creation of a full length ballet particularly one set to French nineteenth century ballet was seen as a retrograde step and those for whom it was almost a natural development. Today the dispute seems to be between those who want ballet as a serious art form to be didactic and earnest or at least to have a half decent plot and those who have no objection to a ballet being as light as a souffle and intended to amuse and entertain as long as it has a serious dose of choreography with steps.

 

Looking through the 1953 edition of Ballet Annual a number of photographs enable me to add a few names to the list of those who appeared in the ballet during its initial seasons apart from Fonteyn and Somes. They include :-

 

Violetta Elvin and John Field,

 Nadia Nerina and Alexis Rassine,

Beryl Grey and Philip Chatfield

 

The only dancer in this group whose performance is mentioned in the text is Beryl Grey who was described as having  " the advantage of height in the impersonation of the huntress and her performance is entirely her own. It has all her ease and beautiful phrasing". If it does nothing else I should have thought that this list lays to rest the idea that the role was really only intended for compact dancers who were called Margot Fonteyn . I do wonder whether Ashton made any choreographic adjustments to accommodate Grey ?

 

I am going to  wait to see tomorrow's cast again before I write about the three casts at any length. But here is a general comment about the choreography which any one dancing Sylvia has to master and make her own. Although if it is danced well it looks wonderfully elegant and easy it is in reality extremely challenging. Ashton does not make it easy for the ballerina by giving her a lot of big flashy steps to perform of the type which impresses an audience. He strews the entire ballet with combinations which really test the dancer's full technical armoury. If I recall correctly the dancers who performed the role at the Mariinsky all said that it was the most difficult thing they had ever danced. Personally I  did not think that Osipova looked nervous at the beginning of the performance but she would have had every right to do so as Yanowsky is on record as described dancing the role as being like performing three different ballets in one evening.

 

As far as the coaching is concerned I imagine that nearly everyone else is working on getting Nutcracker  stage-ready at present. Whatever you may think of Bussell as a performer of this or any other role she has the distinct advantage, as far as Sylvia is concerned, of having recent experience of dancing the full three act ballet. She is well placed to provide advice on how to pace a performance of the role and she is available to coach it. On looking at the performances of the lead roles the coaches seem to have made  pretty good job of it. Bussell may not have been a great Ashton dancer herself but on this showing she seems to have a good idea of what it should look like in performance. I suspect that differences in individual performances will probably turn out to have more o do with the individual dancer's musicality than anything else.

 

 

 

 

Edited by FLOSS
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What a wonderful ballet - the perfect adult Xmas ballet. Why is it not performed more often and why no cinema showing?

 

ashton did Delibes proud in my opinion. The slave dance in act 2 reminded me of the Chinese dance in the nutcracker. The goats in act 3 the white cats in Beauty.

 

thought that FB had a few wobbles in the first balances but then settled. Osipova dropped the arrow but was a terrific, stern Amazon in act 1. A pity that she didn’t rescue Aminta! Great huntresses with her.

 

in act 2 she became a seductive minx. For those of you who saw Fonteyn how did she dance this? From reading her biography I  cannot imagine her as a minx.

 

In tbe the torch lift in act 3 I was worried that FB was struggling and I think she caught her foot on his shoulder as she descended. Well done to both that they kept it together. Loved the choreography in this act. The pizzicato - did I see gargouillades? Was it just me or did they dance better in the solos rather than together? The ‘jump fish dives’ (excuse non technical term) looked perfect.  

 

Enjoyed the goats et al.

 

loved it and want to go again 

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Folks:  However it may often seem, not all Forum members are familiar with the Royal Ballet's personnel and it would be helpful, even polite, if we did not use unexplained initials or other abbreviated forms in reporting on dancers' performances.

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Hear, hear!

Abbreviations are far too obscure for me, but also, using first names alone  (let alone nicknames and short forms -like 'Nela') can be confusing too. Even those of us who are reasonably familiar with one company might struggle with the names of other companies, and we do perhaps sometimes, ahem, forget peoples' names.... not to mention lots of other things...

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This is such an informative and entertaining thread and nicely prepared me for my first ever Sylvia last night. The first act was such an explosion of joy from the music, from the choreography and from the dancers. Act 2 was ok, nothing special but pleasant enough. Act 3 was lovely. Wonderful ensemble dancing and then some tutus (yay). Everyone in the cast was superb from the leads to the corps. Looking forward to seeing it again in a couple of weeks at that strangely timed 11:30am matinee.

I also saw Noumena beforehand. Not really sure what it was about but very enjoyable.

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Like Timmie, it was my first Sylvia last night and I enjoyed it immensely. To begin with, it’s so pretty to look at, with those Arcadian stage sets and colourful costumes, and then, of course, you have the music.

 

All the dancers were on excellent form - a shame Diana doesn’t have more of a role because I enjoyed Itziar Mendizabal’s all too brief appearance. Not sure about Soares’s Orion - I didn’t find him sufficiently menacing.

 

Marianela’s Sylvia was just lovely - the pizzicato solo exquisite. And I can’t really say anything about Vadim that other members of this forum and the reviewers haven’t already said, except to say that the plaudits were all fully deserved. And to add that I adore the way he just seems to radiate happiness when dancing things like the Act 3 solo so that the whole auditorium seems to hum with it. That, and the fact that I swear he has springs in his legs. That apparently weightless bounding around the stage is mighty impressive and a joy to watch.

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I was going to wait until after all three casts to say anything about Sylvia, but this afternoon's performance was so lovely that I can't contain myself!  For me, Lauren Cuthbertson IS Sylvia.  She comes on, guns (bow!) blazing but smiling at the same time.  She is the huntress, she is announcing herself to us and to the watching Aminta (although she doesn't yet know that) that this is someone not to be trifled with;  the body is tough but the smile gives an indication of the happy girl she is underneath.  Lauren just gets it all right:  the technique, the interpretation, the arc from what I have just described to a tender woman in love for the first time, and the musicality.  Such musicality, such fleet footwork.  She was having a great time the whole time, and was a total joy to behold.

 

Reece Clarke was incredibly impressive, and as I've said elsewhere he looks and dances more like a Greek god than a mere shepherd!  He partners so well, his jumps are high, his lines are long and beautifully shaped.  The partnership between him and Cuthbertson is developing really nicely, and as with Naghdi/Ball I hope it is allowed to keep developing into something truly special.  For a principal to love dancing with a soloist (and even a first artist as he was last year) is testament to how darn good he is.  I agree with Capybara above;  he isn't emerging, he has truly arrived.

 

More after the final cast, but I just wanted to share with you all how much I loved this Sylvia today!  

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Spot on Sim. Her musicality and phrasing were absolutely wonderful. Lauren has had a number of partners over the years, but like you, I hope that this partnership is given a chance to develop. For someone like Reece who is very new to the big roles, she is the ideal partner to allow him to develop into a truly outstanding dancer.

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5 hours ago, Tony Newcombe said:

Spot on Sim. Her musicality and phrasing were absolutely wonderful. Lauren has had a number of partners over the years, but like you, I hope that this partnership is given a chance to develop. For someone like Reece who is very new to the big roles, she is the ideal partner to allow him to develop into a truly outstanding dancer.

Indeed.  I wonder how much of Muntagirov's wonderful talent was honed and polished by his partnership with the older and more experienced Daria klimentova at ENB?  It's an excellent idea:  Nureyev also paid tribute to Fonteyn's assistance in the development of his skills.

 

Linda

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