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Tonight was the first night of the Royal Ballet's last triple bill of the season.  I'm afraid I didn't make it through to the end, but would be glad to hear from those who did!

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I was at the rehearsal on Friday - here are some photos:

 

 

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Obsidian Tear - Calvin Richardson, Matthew Ball
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Marguerite & Armand - Lauren Cuthbertson, Matthew Ball
©  Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

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Elite Syncopations - Sarah Lamb, Ryoichi Hirano
©  Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

See more... 

Set from DanceTabs: RB mix bill - Obsidian Tear, Marguerite & Armand, Elite Syncopations
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr


By kind Permission of The Royal Opera House


 

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Many thanks Dave.

 

I very much enjoyed the Triple Bill when I saw the General Rehearsal so I can’t make any comments about the casts other than note who danced.  What a series of contrasts in the Triple Bill, with the terror of Obsidian Tear, the heartache of Marguerite and Armand, and the frivolity of Elite Syncopations.  

 

I was truly appalled by Obsidian Tear when first performed and it was good to have confirmed just how gripping the ballet is on its revival.  I find the sacrifice of the outcast one of the most traumatic pieces in modern ballet.  The cast was led by Joseph Sissens and Benjamin Ella.  Esa-Pekka Salonen’s music adds so much to the performance and many thanks to Vasko Vassilev, Tom Seligman and the ROH orchestra.  From the Grand Tier I really enjoyed the set and lighting.  This ballet is a real tour de force, challenging and disturbing, and seems particularly apt for our troubled times.

 

I’ve always enjoyed Marguerite and Armand and Marienela Nunez and Vadim Muntagirov were dancing.  I thought the ballet profoundly moving.  The Liszt piano sonata works so well with Dudley Simpson’s sympathetic orchestration and in 30 minutes the essence of Lady of the Camellias is distilled for two principal dancers, supported by Father and Duke character performances.  It would be good to dispense with the swishing curtain which may have served a purpose years ago for scene changes but I’m not sure is needed now.  

 

And we are ensured to end on a smile with Elite Syncopations, with the Melissa Hamilton Reece Clarke cast dancing at the General Rehearsal.  Robert Clark switches from Liszt to Ragtime/conducting with panache.

 

Very much looking forward to public performances when hopefully I can say more and trust what I say about the General Rehearsal is ok.

 

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Daughter and I were there last night.  I found Obsidian Tear interesting and very impressively danced, but not moving.  This may have been because we were looking sideways at the stage (side of stalls circle) and on a level with the dancers as I suspect this ballet is better from slightly higher.  One observation we made is that there is a lot going on leading up to the moment of sacrifice which means that from the side it can be missed if you are looking (as my daughter was) at the other dancers.  We both loved the lighting and set.  Applause at the end was reasonably warm although I felt the dancers themselves deserved more.

 

Quite a few of the RB's "Powers that be" were watching from the Grand Tier and if by any chance they were pondering whether to promote Matthew Ball, I would say "do it" on the basis of his performance in Obsidian Tear as he really was excellent.  

 

As ever I was irked by a 30 minute interval following a 29 minute ballet as it does make for a very long evening, but it was interesting to see the staff come onstage with what looked like ballet barres with suction cups to lift the orange perspex flooring. 

 

Elite Syncopations was delightful; a rainbow of frivolity and humour beautifully danced by the company.  I love the partnership of Lamb and Hirano and with Lamb's flexibility and endless limbs she is perfect for the Stoptime Rag.  Choe and Dyer were enchanting together (spoiled only slightly by the incessant whispering of the ladies behind us) and James Hay was terrific in "Friday night". 

 

I'm not sure how eloquent I can be about Marguerite and Armand, given that I started to weep within about a minute and a half.  It's fortunate that this was the middle ballet of the three because I was wrung out by the end and needed some time to collect myself.  The chemistry between Ferri and Bonelli was extraordinary and time seemed to stop when he first entered the room and they gazed at each other.  Wonderful acting by both Christopher Saunders and Gary Avis as Armand's Father and the Duke respectively.  Listz's soaring music shone under the ROH orchestra and the hands of Robert Clark.  The 30 minutes sped by far too quickly and how I wished this cast had been filmed.   A heartbreaking but wonderful performance.  

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A great evening at the opera house.  I was very moved by the Ferri and Bonelli performance and agree with Anna's description.  It brought back memories of the first performance I ever saw of this ballet - 1965 - with Fonteyn and Nureyev, an evening I have never forgotten.

 

Obsidean Tear was also good, though I think I also  missed some of what was happening, again as Anna said.  There was so much going on, but the view from the amphi was good.  I think I would need to see it again to appreciate it fully.  It was great to finish with Elite Syncopations, wonderful cast and that includes the musicians, especially Robert Clarke!  

 

 

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I’m looking forward to see this bill on the 4th. Keep the reviews coming in! One thing re M&A...really think the RB knows how to handle it - a hot mix of ages, home crew, guest artists, familiar faces and new pairings...it’s a great vehicle for all of these!

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Looking forward to this bill on Wednesday. I've seen Obsidian Tear twice before and both times from Stalls Circle left - same next week, so I've never really seen the end properly! Wish choreographers would consider the ROH's layout a bit!

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On April 15, 2018 at 06:00, Margaret said:

A great evening at the opera house.  I was very moved by the Ferri and Bonelli performance and agree with Anna's description.  It brought back memories of the first performance I ever saw of this ballet - 1965 - with Fonteyn and Nureyev, an evening I have never forgotten.

 

Obsidean Tear was also good, though I think I also  missed some of what was happening, again as Anna said.  There was so much going on, but the view from the amphi was good.  I think I would need to see it again to appreciate it fully.  It was great to finish with Elite Syncopations, wonderful cast and that includes the musicians, especially Robert Clarke!  

 

 

Boston Ballet did Obsidian Tear in the fall of 2017.  They will be taking it to NYC this spring, from what I understand.  On my first viewing, I was not sure I liked it, which was surprising because I enjoy McGregor's work.  I had to see it several times before I really appreciated it.  

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Well,, I loved ObsidianTear.  I have absolutely( no idea  what it was about, but who cares.  Beautifully danced. Brilliantly staged and light.

 

less happy with Marguerite and Armand.  I‘Ve seen Rojo and Polunn and Osipova and Shylklarov and been blown  but not tonigh.l gBonelli was a revelation and for me he has never been better. Elegant and oozing virility, he was marvellous.  For me, Ferri was the weak link.  Yes, she has beautiful lines but there”sno passion and zero chemistry with Bonelli.  Mara Galeazzi or Francesca Hayward would have been a better choice.  Ferri has had a wonderful career but I humbly suggest thato the “isn’t she incredible for her age” factor is not enough to sustain performances at this level.

 

i can”t comment on Elite Syncopations because the lady two doors down threw up  l{yes, we”re talking projectile vomiting) and the smell made me nauseous so Ialso made an early exit.  Certainly a first!  Off home for a bath!

Edited by penelopesimpson
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I must admit, first of all, to being an out and out Bonelli fan! But I think he excelled himself tonight- such beautiful lines and his partnering was so secure. I find Penelope's comments about Ferri the Elite interesting  i saw her do it the last time it was done and thought that her performance then was a lot more moving.I too have little idea what Obsidian  Tear is about, although as other posters on the forum have said there is an element of a sacrificial victim about it. But a super performance, particularly the two leads. I'm sorry about the Elite Syncopations experience - a horrible thing to hapoen

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Well, I saw Ferri on Saturday, and thought she was magnificent then, although I would perhaps have liked to have seen a bit more fire/ardency from Bonelli

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15 minutes ago, alison said:

Well, I saw Ferri on Saturday, and thought she was magnificent then, although I would perhaps have liked to have seen a bit more fire/ardency from Bonelli

you pays your money and takes your choice! Interesting , as always , to read how views of the same performance differ.

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Really looking forward to tonight! So enjoyed dress rehearsal different cast tonight. Saw Lauren and Matthew working on M and A at Insight so looking forward to performance. 

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A fabulous evening! It was great seeing Obsidean Tear again and I still found Ella exceptional, tears in the eye again. I did prefer his partnership with Sissons, special spark there. However magnificent work by all the men.

Fonteyn and Nureyev will always be in my head as Marguerite and Armand but last night Cuthbertson and Ball gave me something special. I could see how they used the Insight coaching to produce a special and moving performance. Couldn’t fault it. However a mobile phone spoilt the emotional departure of Marguerite from a Sleeping Armand. Then as she died a very small child let out a loud wail! However I think we were all feeling moved. 

Loved Elite Syncopations, terrific way to end a very special evening. Wonderful varied programme. Now really looking forward to Manon next Tuesday. As I have to spend so much time around hospitals at the moment the Royal Ballet is an absolute lifeline——A’s is the forum! 

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If I had been going to this triple this is the pairing I would have liked for M and A as saw Ferri last time.

thanks for review Jillikins and lots of love 

Linda xx

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I can't imagine it's the right sort of evening for a small child, Elite notwithstanding!!  

 

Can't wait to see this cast;  many thanks for your thoughts, Jillykins!

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I couldn't tell if it was a small child or an incapacitated adult :(

 

Either way, it was on a par with the time somebody fainted immediately behind me at that exact same moment of the ballet (an anecdote I recently shared on the Audience Behaviour thread).

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An unlisted youtube video of Cuthbertson and Ball rehearsing Marguerite and Armand has been put on the production page. It’s not all that visible, so I thought I would link it directly here so that nobody misses it.

 

 

Edited by Saodan
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Just home from tonight’s performance. Marguerite and Armand broke me, especially the middle two scenes. But I have a question about Elite Syncopations... was it ever longer, i.e. with at least one additional dance? I was wondering why there are two women (tonight Leticia Stock and Romany Pajdak, if my eyes were reliable) who feature in the “front line” of the larger ensembles along with all the main characters, but don’t have anything else to do individually.

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1 hour ago, RuthE said:

Just home from tonight’s performance. Marguerite and Armand broke me, especially the middle two scenes. But I have a question about Elite Syncopations... was it ever longer, i.e. with at least one additional dance? I was wondering why there are two women (tonight Leticia Stock and Romany Pajdak, if my eyes were reliable) who feature in the “front line” of the larger ensembles along with all the main characters, but don’t have anything else to do individually.

 

ES was the usual length.  And your eyes were reliable! 

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3 hours ago, Saodan said:

An unlisted youtube video of Cuthbertson and Ball rehearsing Marguerite and Armand has been put on the production page. It’s not all that visible, so I thought I would link it directly here so that nobody misses it.

 

 

 

I’ll watch this properly tomorrow, but I started watching it just now and it really threw me to watch an excerpt from the 2nd scene in a partial costume that’s very much from the 1st scene!

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Just now, bangorballetboy said:

 

ES was the usual length.  And your eyes were reliable! 

 

I didn’t mean to suggest it’s changed length within the current run, but has there EVER been an extra bit?

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On 18/04/2018 at 23:27, penelopesimpson said:

  For me, Ferri was the weak link.  Yes, she has beautiful lines but there”sno passion and zero chemistry with Bonelli.  Mara Galeazzi or Francesca Hayward would have been a better choice.  Ferri has had a wonderful career but I humbly suggest thato the “isn’t she incredible for her age” factor is not enough to sustain performances at this level.

I thought the same during the last run but she had rave reviews. The emotion was there then but there was something about her physically which just didn’t work for me. Can’t wait to see Nunez/Muntagirov next week but after seeing the photos  and clip of Cuthbertson/Ball I wish I was seeing them too!

Edited by Blossom
Adding a missed word!

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8 hours ago, RuthE said:

 

I didn’t mean to suggest it’s changed length within the current run, but has there EVER been an extra bit?

 

I didn't think you did.  The piece comprises the same musical numbers as it always has.  The ladies to whom you refer partner other members of the soloist line-up and take part in the "soloist" ensemble pieces but do not have a solo piece of their own, so it could be argued that they are there "to make up the numbers" or to balance the soloist line.

 

There are a number of reports that KM choreographed a number of other rags that didn't make it into the ballet (and I note the original score recorded by Phillip Gammon includes three numbers that don't appear in the ballet), so it's more than possible that these ladies might have been included in one or more of those rags that didn't make the final cut.  

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43 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

There are a number of reports that KM choreographed a number of other rags that didn't make it into the ballet (and I note the original score recorded by Phillip Gammon includes three numbers that don't appear in the ballet), so it's more than possible that these ladies might have been included in one or more of those rags that didn't make the final cut.  

 

That makes sense! It reminds me of the "extra" fairytale characters in The Sleeping Beauty...

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This was my first viewing of this triple.  Lovely to see Matthew Ball and Calvin Richardson reprise their roles so wonderfully in Obsidian Tear.  I did prefer it when Nicol Edmonds was the 'leader' as he had more of a fearsome presence than William Bracewell did last night.  Great dancing all around, though.  

 

M&A.....I was left strangely unmoved at the end.  I don't know why, because Nunez and Muntagirov danced perfectly well, and acted their roles perfectly well, but for some reason it just didn't get at my heart, the way I felt when I saw Rojo/Polunin or Osipova/Shklyarov.  I felt wrecked after those performances.   I didn't feel much of a deep connection between them, and at a couple of points it looked like they were in two different ballets.  Funny how we all perceive things so differently!  Cuthbertson/Ball tomorrow night so I will be interested to see how I react to that one.

 

Elite Syncopations.....a cute ballet that hides some very difficult choreography.  A fun way to end the evening, but I think I would have preferred it to be in the middle and end with M&A.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, Blossom said:

I thought the same during the last run but she had rave reviews. The emotion was there then but there was something about her physically which just didn’t work for me. Can’t wait to see Nunez/Muntagirov next week but after seeing the photos  and clip of Cuthbertson/Ball I wish I was seeing them too!

I think she has a cold physicality which worked tremendously well in Woolf Works but didn't cut the mustard in M &A where the passion needs to overcome the coldness.

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