Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Jan McNulty

Birmingham Royal Ballet - La Fille Mal Gardée - Autumn Tour 2018

Recommended Posts

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Autumn season started in their home venue last week with the sunniest of ballets, La Fille Mal Gardée.  I was very fortunate to see the 2 performances on Thursday.

 

At the matinee Miki Mizutani made her debut as Lise and was a total delight!  It was very hard to believe that this was her debut as she was a total delight from start to finish.  I thought she absolutely inhabited the role and her footwork could only be described as dazzling. Her Colas was Lachlan Monaghan, who had made his debut in Bristol in July.  I thought it then and confirmed my thoughts on Thursday afternoon that he was just born to dance the role of Colas!  They were a delight together.  The Fanny Elssler pdd was so sublime that I had an unexpected attack of hay fever by the end of it.      

 

James Barton danced Widow Simone in the afternoon and he has really made the role his own.  He was the the loving mother determined to try and do the best for his daughter, without realising that the best would be letting her marry her true love.  James is one of the best actors in the Company, he is so subtle but even the tiniest gestures have meaning behind them.  His rapport with Miki was meltingly gorgeous.  Tzu-Chao Chou was excellent as Alain.

 

What a performance to savour!!

 

Thursday evening provided another cornucopia of delight with Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton in the leading roles.  What can I say - both these dancers, they breathe and all is well with the world!  Rory Mackay gave us a broader brush interpretation of the Widow.  Kit Holder is one of my favourite Alains.  He beautifully brings out all the pathos of a gauche young man who is not used to company and doesn't quite know how to behave.  His final scene when he retrieves his beloved umbrella was very moving.

 

So it was a day of contrast in performance styles, Miki and Lachlan danced with the verve and exuberance of youth where Celine and Tyrone were more polished but nevertheless still brought out very strongly a feeling of youngsters in love.  I thought it was interesting that Jonathan Lo conducted the superb BRB Sinfonia at both performances but in the afternoon the orchestra played a lot faster.  Thinking about it ... Celine and Tyrone are taller than Miki and Lachlan so perhaps needed more time for their longer limbs to fit the steps in.  

 

What a wonderful way to spend a day watching 2 such glorious performances.

 

I'd love to hear what other people thought (and I know a number of forum members were there...).                                                        

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

The Fanny Elssler pdd was so sublime that I had an unexpected attack of hay fever by the end of it.      

 

Oh dear.  Must be all the chaff floating around.  I hope you're not going to have to sit out the cornfield scene in future, Janet :D 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, alison said:

 

Oh dear.  Must be all the chaff floating around.  I hope you're not going to have to sit out the cornfield scene in future, Janet :D 

 

I seem to have had an attack of "delights" too!

 

But I was delighted...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By a very lucky stroke of coincidence I was able to attend three performances of La Fille in Birmingham - I haven’t done that for about ten years !

i won’t attempt to do a review as Janet has, as always, given a very good one already. However, I have to say, and I can hardly believe that I am writing this, by comparison with the two casts that Janet mentions the performance featuring Momoko and Matthias was almost ordinary. That was because the other two were simply EXTRAordinary. 

Momoko and Matthias were exemplary but somehow the overall performance simply didn’t have the thrill of the other two. I saw the Saturday evening show with Celine and Tyrone but,as with the Thursday matinee there was an electricity in the audience that was lacking at the Saturday matinee. I can only put it down to the sheer delight of watching the two pairs that Janet refers to.Miki and Lachlan were so sublime that my poor old man’s tears were not far away. There was a tenderness about their relationship that is often missing in the fun and frolics.  As for the other ten star performance - it was Celine and Tyrone- need I say more. And yes, the Fanny Essler was one of those ‘Wow’ moments. Plus, of course, we had Jade’s ‘farewell’ performance ! I didn’t know about it at the time and wondered what on earth  was going on. It was like being at the last night of Nutcracker!

Sorry to end on a sour note but I had noticed earlier that there were plenty of empty seats at all performances but the front of house manager told me that on Saturday afternoon that for the evening performance they had sold 500 tickets. What’s all that about ?

By the way, may I remind everyone that David Bintley told me at last year’s Christmas party that he has lined up Lachlan as his Will Glossop next June . YES!,

 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, George C said:

Sorry to end on a sour note but I had noticed earlier that there were plenty of empty seats at all performances but the front of house manager told me that on Saturday afternoon that for the evening performance they had sold 500 tickets. What’s all that about ?

 

What??  What is it with people?!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I was sitting with Janet on Thursday night I feel obliged to put my thoughts down as well.  Come what may this was going to be a very special performance for me as my husband was coming with me. (I am unable to attend performances by myself any more due to a heavily impaired sense of balance.)   This was to be his first three acter but, more importantly for me, his first experience of an Ashton ballet.

 

We had a very happy evening, enhanced by meeting old friends and Alan enjoyed the ballet more and more as it went on.  I must report that EVERYONE I spoke to who had been at the matinee show just raved about Miki and Lachlan so this can only endorse what has been said above.  I do hope that George C is right and Lachlan gets to do Will Mossop next year.  We have our tickets!

 

This was an odd BRB experience as the company is fielding several casts for both  Birmingham and on tour and I would have very happy to have seen any of them.  Had I been less keen on a Lise, the Colas made up for it.  Had I seen Cesar Morales, whose performance as Colas I have enjoyed before, I would have been very happy to see Maureya Lebowitz for the first time.  She seems absolutely ideal for the role.

 

Having gone on about whom I didn't see I will now rave about the perfomance I was lucky enough to attend.  Had I been asked which couple I would like to have seen most it would have unhesitatingly been Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton.  For me they are the A team in anything the do either separately or - better still - together.  I thought they were terrific and an absolute lesson in the joys of seeing a partnership who are so used to dancing together, are great friends and have real rapport on stage.  If I had a quibble it would be the one that Janet mentions and we discussed it at the time.  Tyrone's two solos were slowed down to allow for his height.  that minor point the Fanny Elssler was an utter triumph for both of them.  I was holding Hubby's hand and when they got to my very favourite bit, very close to the end when Lise and Colas unite to do that sort of hoppy, skippy trip across the stage (please note my incredibly explicit ballet terminology) just before theypart and then go into the bum life I was beating time with both our hands as I got so excited about it all.

 

there was one slightly ironic moment as when Tyrone, the most dependable and strong partner, was lifted by the corps at the very end of the ballet they almost dropped him.  

 

I must also recored that I was very impressed with Kim Holder as Alain.  I found him very affecting and Janet's point about him being a gauche outsider is a very pertinent one.  I really confused Hubby when I told him Lise is actually married to Alain I had to explain it again later.  

 

It has been a while since I have seen Fille and I had forgotten how much the gimicky lighting annoyed me.  the Act 2 storm only needs for someone to come on and say 'Blow wind and crack your cheeks' for what used to be a passing rain shower and is now a full blown tempest.  However, the worst bit was at the very end it so gloomy I was amazed Alain could find his red umbrella on the far table. 

 

without appearing overly sentimental I did muse on the fact that my first Lise was Lesley Collier in about 1981.  She was my great ballet goddess and I have very many happy memories of her with several great partners and then other lovely shows with Marion Tait, Myako Yoshida, Sandra Madgwick with Michael O'Hare, etc etc etc.  If this performance was the last live Fille I will see for some time I am very happy that my Lise was my current favourite ballerina dancing with my favourite man.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to add a point  relating to the poor houses for Fille.  I don't live in Birmingham itself, I live in Worcestershire which is not that far away.  I knew it was Fille to be scheduled in September as I am a friend of BRB, a friend of the Hippodrome and a past BRB subscription holder.  Everything I saw about Fille was contained within those parameters.  This smacks of preaching to the converted but I cannot remember seeing anything about it in the local papers or on Midlands TV.  

 

This comes up time and time again with BRB.  Matinee performances can be very well  attended as Fille as it is ideal for coach parties but the evenings are very sparse.  The Hippodrome and the company cannot rely on the corporate core audience as the theatre is not a destination venue the way the the ROH is.  It is a similar situation when the company appears at Sadler's Wells or the Coliseum.  Unless the performances are Nutcracker, Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet the audiences just aren't there any more.  I am not sure what the publicity department does but it clearly isn't working.

Edited by Two Pigeons
Spelling!
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Two Pigeons for the very tactful way you corrected my typo.........Glossop 🤭- where on earth did that come from ?!

Actually I suspect that it wasn’t a typo, just me suffering from a surfeit of joy from those performances last week.

On the subject of audience numbers I do remember that many years ago I heard David Bintley point out that whilst ballet fans are fully familiar with La Fille to the casual ballet goers the name means nothing at all. A recent statistic from BRB states that over 40% of attendees at the last Nutcracker were first timers. I suspect that many, if not all of those were not tempted to go to this ballet with it’s strange name.. Mr.Biintley also gives the same reason for not reviving Cyrano and he may have a point.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When caught out just blame spellchecker George C.  It is amazing some of the alternatives it comes up with when you know exactly what you mean!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Two Pigeons said:

I would like to add a point  relating to the poor houses for Fille.  ...  I am not sure what the publicity department does but it clearly isn't working.

 

I think there are several reasons audience for Fille we're poor. It is almost unknown outside of regular ballet goers and the title gives no impression as to what you are about to see.  Money is also tight at the mo, and I suspect people are saving up for something more well known, like Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty or Nutcracker. If you think audience were small for Fille, wait until the double bill this week.

 

One regular I was talking to was shaking his head is disbelief at the low attendance figures. "But, it's Fille" he said. I said to him, that it means nothing to anyone outside of the regulars, but he wouldn't have it. He seemed to expect people to go just because it was Fille.

 

Of course, it could be that people have finally woken up to what I've always said about it - "It's pants!" (Sorry Janet!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was told by an impeccable source that David Bintley said that his biggest disappointment in recent years was that the Ashton double bill of a couple of years ago sold so badly.  Not only did it consist of The Dream but immaculate and rare chances to see A Month in the Country.

 

I would suggest that this was not 'pants' and it was pretty heartbreaking to see such sparse audiences for a programme which was an artistic triumph for the Company.  Triumph or not, we all commented on the forum as to the lack of coverage by critics of the national newspapers.   

 

I am afraid this is becoming a vicious circle.  Insufficient coverage leads to ignorance for the general public leads to smaller audiences.  

 

None of this bodes well for the incoming director, whoever he or she may be.  This is all doubly sad as I doubt the company has ever had such a depth of talent as it does now.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would very much like to attend one of BRB's performances at Sadler's Wells but, unfortunately, as I live out of town I cannot do so.....this is because of the dire service provided by Southern Rail ( fail ). I cannot believe that I have only attended one live performance this year. I used to go to the Mayflower in Southampton regularly too but I cannot face the stress of wondering if I will get to a venue on time or if I will get home. Maybe this is one of the reasons ticket sales are sluggish?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there Susan.  My original home is Worthing and I remember when SWRB used to appear at both the Mayflower and the Congress theatre at Eastbourne.  However, your point about Southern Rail being basically useless is a very fair one.  My brother and his wife have to divide their working time between West Sussex and London and they have their fair share of horror stories about missed appointments and general stress over the service (or lack of it).  

 

I wish you all the best and really hope that things will finally improve on Southern Rail.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone know how much of the ROH audience is made of passing tourist trade? I don't know if a tourist would come specifically to Birmingham, unless they were a fan of Pre-Raphaelite art, and if they did, the Hippodrome isn't exactly central. Mind you, it is probably easier to get to the Hippodrome than Symphony Hall at the mo, and that isn't taking the Tory bun fight into account. Maybe the BRB should have commissioned Brexit, the Ballet as a tie in 😊 There is the Commonwealth games in a couple of years; a golden opportunity to attract audiences.

 

Brexit, the Ballet. Half of the corps in Union Jack tutus, bourreeing away from the rest of the corps in blue tutus with gold stars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Two Pigeons said:

I was told by an impeccable source that David Bintley said that his biggest disappointment in recent years was that the Ashton double bill of a couple of years ago sold so badly.  Not only did it consist of The Dream but immaculate and rare chances to see A Month in the Country.

 

Oh dear!

I went to Birmingham for the matinee of this double bill and, IIRC, it wasn't noticeably empty.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought one of those £10 specials for a seat for a magical matinee of that fantastic programme (The Dream/Month in the Country) ... the Saturday matinee in fact .... and it breaks my heart to report - at least in the upper echelon of the Hippodrome ... that there was a flood of red.  I only wish my memory instructed otherwise.  There is NO question but that it deserved to be filled to the rafters.  I agree with Bintley.  I found the sight of those empty seats totally disheartening.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops, where did my post go?!

 

I posted that I took advantage of that offer, and extended my stay from the matinee to the first half of the evening performance so I could see The Dream twice.  I may have had to buy a new rail ticket for the journey home, though.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, trog said:

Does anyone know how much of the ROH audience is made of passing tourist trade?

 

No, but there have been occasions where I have heard more people speaking European foreign languages around me than English (fellow Ballet.coers excepted, of course).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And so back to BRB and Fille.

 

BRB are at the Lowry with Fille next week and what a treat - six performances with six different Filles and Colases!!

 

To get us in the mood, To The Pointe has published a lovely interview with Lachlan Monaghan (who is due to dance Colas on Wednesday evening).

 

http://tothepointemagazine.wixsite.com/tothepointemagazine/single-post/2018/10/19/To-The-Pointe-Meets-Lachlan-Monaghan

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 02/10/2018 at 17:49, Two Pigeons said:

I would like to add a point  relating to the poor houses for Fille.  I don't live in Birmingham itself, I live in Worcestershire which is not that far away.  I knew it was Fille to be scheduled in September as I am a friend of BRB, a friend of the Hippodrome and a past BRB subscription holder.  Everything I saw about Fille was contained within those parameters.  This smacks of preaching to the converted but I cannot remember seeing anything about it in the local papers or on Midlands TV.  

 

This comes up time and time again with BRB.  Matinee performances can be very well  attended as Fille as it is ideal for coach parties but the evenings are very sparse.  The Hippodrome and the company cannot rely on the corporate core audience as the theatre is not a destination venue the way the the ROH is.  It is a similar situation when the company appears at Sadler's Wells or the Coliseum.  Unless the performances are Nutcracker, Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet the audiences just aren't there any more.  I am not sure what the publicity department does but it clearly isn't working.

 

Its not just BRB, I feel this in London about ENB too. For Fille, they could have had a nice slot on Blue Peter or in First News (kids weekly paper) like they do for other plays and new books. Digital media might appear to drive ROI but it isn’t so great at awareness and I agree that audiences reached tend to be the most obvious.

 

On the plus side and back on topic, my mum is thrilled that Fille is coming to Manchester- first ballet she saw as a child and she adores it. I am also delighted it’s so affordable at Sadlers Wells vs ROH. Am taking both my daughters (will be my 8 year old’s first full length ballet) and we have excellent seats at a snip. This will be our second year seeing BRB in London so am enjoying getting to know the dancers. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Blossom said:

On the plus side and back on topic, my mum is thrilled that Fille is coming to Manchester- first ballet she saw as a child and she adores it. I am also delighted it’s so affordable at Sadlers Wells vs ROH. Am taking both my daughters (will be my 8 year old’s first full length ballet) and we have excellent seats at a snip. This will be our second year seeing BRB in London so am enjoying getting to know the dancers. 

 

Actually Fille is coming to The Lowry which is located in the City of Salford.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

Actually Fille is coming to The Lowry which is located in the City of Salford.

Fair point Janet. My parents actually live in Salford too and I grew up there, but in the days before Media City made Salford better known! 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A great friend of mine saw Delia Mathews and Brandon Lawrence in Plymouth.  I will quote her - 

 

'Dancing of the highest quality, complete understanding of the characterisation, fun loving and tender........joyous Ashton.'

 

This is someone in whose experience and judgment I have total respect and faith.  Must confess to being a bit jealous too.

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite understandable.  I think I feel a bit jealous as well!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...