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21 minutes ago, alison said:

Infra has seemed to fly by on both occasions to me.

 

 

Wouldn't you - and Linda - have done better, in that case, to wait for the second run of Symphony in C?  Or do you dislike the other parts of that bill equally?

 

I've been out of the loop for ages, stuck down here in Sussex trying to sell my mother's house,  so when someone offered me a ticket I snapped it up without checking.  When is Symphony in C on next and what other pieces are on the same bill?

 

I know all the information is probably online but the new ROH website gives me a headache trying to find the right page and right now I don't need the extra aggro - I'm getting enough from the buyer's solicitors!  (Sorry Lee, nothing personal)

 

Linda

 

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Was anyone else aware of strange noises during Infra? At the interval after it the usher in the right Stalls Circle  was asking if anyone heard things. Because I’ve never seen Infra before I assumed the noise was part of the show.

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17 minutes ago, loveclassics said:

I've been out of the loop for ages, stuck down here in Sussex trying to sell my mother's house,  so when someone offered me a ticket I snapped it up without checking.  When is Symphony in C on next and what other pieces are on the same bill?

 

I know all the information is probably online but the new ROH website gives me a headache trying to find the right page and right now I don't need the extra aggro - I'm getting enough from the buyer's solicitors!  (Sorry Lee, nothing personal)

 

Linda

 

 

I'd forgotten it was on again this season! Just checked, and it's on with The Firebird and Month in the Country in June. Can't wait!

 

Good luck with the house sale.

Edited by bridiem
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7 minutes ago, Rob S said:

Was anyone else aware of strange noises during Infra? At the interval after it the usher in the right Stalls Circle  was asking if anyone heard things. Because I’ve never seen Infra before I assumed the noise was part of the show.

 

Yes, sounded like a woman screaming somewhere below Grand Tier level. Definitely not part of the soundtrack.

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21 minutes ago, alison said:

Would anyone like to piece together which dancers were in whose roles for Infra, based on the original cast?

 

By my count: 

 

Original - First - Second

Benjamin - Katsura - Hinkis

Choe - Maeda - Dias

Cuthbertson - Takada - Stix-Brunell

Galeazzi - Magri - Bracher

Hamilton - O’Sullivan - Kaneko

Nuñez - Naghdi - Pajdak

Cervera - Dyer - Kay (replaced by Dyer)

Hirano - Sambé - Donnelly

Kay - Acri - Sissens

Underwood - Bracewell - Edmonds

Watkins - Serrano - Junker

Watson - Richardson - Ball

 

Please do correct me if I'm wrong. 

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6 minutes ago, MrsBBB said:

 

Yes, sounded like a woman screaming somewhere below Grand Tier level. Definitely not part of the soundtrack.

 

People were saying it was some sort of audio equipment, I did check to see if I was blasting everyone with the Eagles in error. 

Edited by Rob S

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9 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I'd forgotten it was on again this season! Just checked, and it's on with The Firebird and Month in the Country in June.

 

That's weird - I could have sworn it was on with Within the Golden Hour and something.  Must be imagining things.

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Thanks very much, Saodan!  I didn't really take in the cast names properly in either instance, and being up in the amphi with no opera glasses didn't help, either.

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47 minutes ago, Rob S said:

Was anyone else aware of strange noises during Infra? At the interval after it the usher in the right Stalls Circle  was asking if anyone heard things. Because I’ve never seen Infra before I assumed the noise was part of the show.

 

I noticed the usher addressing the audience in that area but I hadn’t heard anything untoward during Infra.

 

During Symphony in C, however, there was something that sounded like someone shouting – a wordy shriek. I thought it had come from the stage area. 

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1 hour ago, DanJL said:

I'm very much not an expert, but really enjoyed Beatriz Stix-Brunell tonight - great debut in Infra and quick change of pace for Symphony in C.

 

 

I find this a tad strange.  I agree she was lovely in the SiC - as she was on the opening night - but she did not appear - as far as I am aware - in INFRA on 22.11.18.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall

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My cast sheet says she did - and so did my eyes, even without the opera glasses :) 

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1 hour ago, bridiem said:

 

I'd forgotten it was on again this season! Just checked, and it's on with The Firebird and Month in the Country in June. Can't wait!

 

Good luck with the house sale.

Thanks for the info Bridiem and for your kind wishes.  Much appreciated.

 

Linda

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2 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

I find this a tad strange.  I agree she was lovely in the SiC - as she was on the opening night - but she did not appear - as far as I am aware - in INFRA on 22.11.18.  

 

 

Then who is this?

 

 

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4 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

Then who is this?

 

 

My error.  Forgive me.  She was, as ever, compelling. 

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Who was the Telegram Boy in Unknown Soldier, please?

 

If the young people in the Amphi were, indeed, students with teachers, not staying for Symphony in C was a real pity - unless transport issues  made that impossible.

Edited by capybara
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7 hours ago, bridiem said:

 

There was also applause on Tuesday night when the curtain went up on S in C. Understandable!

 

Indeed there was - it is a wonderful, bright sight and would have lifted everyone's spirits after the rather dark end to Infra.

 

By the way, I was wondering  how the dancers and orchestra coordinate, so exactly,  the striking of that first  chord of music  with the girls' opening  move  (from  - I think-  5th position into croisé devant with arms in high third). My theory, looking at the NYBC DVD,  is that  the two girls in the front of the two groups can see the conductor and follow (with the orchestra) an indication from him/her to start the move off, with the other girls behind almost imperceptibly following on. Does this make sense? 

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I notice that in SIC a young Artist, Isabel Lubach, stepped into a role otherwise danced by First Soloists.  Good for her !

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9 hours ago, bangorballetboy said:

Choe & Sambé the stars of Symphony in C tonight.

 

I'd have loved to see them tonight, as they were originally scheduled 😣

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My wife and I went along last night (22/11), I with some trepidation following all the negative comments about "Unknown". We both found it far better than we had been led to believe and wondered what the fuss was about in the final scene. The dancers had to wear something and to be in their uniforms would have been inappropriate,  We found the whole thing appropriately sensitive and enjoyable, taking into account the subject matter. I thought Anna Rose gave a good account of herself both here and in Concerto.

 

As commented elsewhere,  there did seems to be an unusual number of groups of teenagers in the audience. Perhaps this was  because it was a very mixed programme with three diverse styles which I guess would make it an apprpriate study opportunity. At least unlike other parties, the girls near us stayed for all three works. Surely every piece has something to give so why sit out? As McGregor once said (paraphrasing)  'I like the audience to leave my work with a strong feeling; even if it is dislike, they have gained something emotional from it'. 

 

 

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Really can´t wait for tonight! May I ask if at the Unknown soldier the second cast is the same group as the first cast (except for the Principals of course), just with different roles (at first night the Telegraph boy was Leo Dixon, I think, second cast it is Sissens)? Or are there more different dancers?

 

Also I noticed that there doesn´t seem to be a real second cast for Symphony in C, except for the Principal roles. The smaller solos are the same dancers aside from the dancers who got a promotion to a Principal solo in the second cast. They are replaced by someone new (except Hamilton who didnt get principal solo but also doesn´t appear in the second cast with a small solo - weird). Was it always like this?

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The Unknown Soldier cast was largely, but not entirely, the same.  As was the named support in Symphony in C - I couldn't speak for the "corps" dancers, who are now unnamed, unlike previously, although where I looked I noticed significant overlap with the first night.

 

I'm pleased to say that the scrims in Unknown Soldier didn't have such an adverse effect as I'd expected: whether any tweaks had been made to either the staging or the choreography since the first night, I don't know, but I could see most of the dancers clearly enough, except the women on their first(?) entrance.

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3 hours ago, Richard LH said:

I notice that in SIC a young Artist, Isabel Lubach, stepped into a role otherwise danced by First Soloists.  Good for her !

 

Do you know if she was originally cast, or filling in as a replacement?

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Just now, Rachelm said:

 

Do you know if she was originally cast, or filling in as a replacement?

 

She was on the cast sheet and these are normally printed in advance so it certainly wasn't a last minute replacement.

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I saw her dance  as a student with RBS a couple of years ago now in their school studio and thought she was a lovely dancer ....one of the ones have circled on my programme notes back then! 

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A Triple Bill can be a heady, intoxicating mix and, just like a Biblical wedding party, it will leave its best wine until last. So it turned out last night - though I imagine the hosts were somewhat embarrassed to start off the proceedings by unscrewing the ballet equivalent of a bottle of Blue Nun.

 

The word ‘unsophisticated’ smacks of elitism, but that’s the best word I can think of to describe The Unknown Soldier. There are so many levels at which this didn’t work for me that it’s difficult to know where to start (and I have to qualify that remark with ‘for me’ because I fully recognise that anyone’s response to anything is completely determined by their unique mix of nature and nurture; to paraphrase the usual get-out clause, “other responses are available”).

 

The title of the piece is ‘The Unknown Soldier’, so why name him in the cast sheet? How does that add more than it detracts? That might sound a bit pedantic, but it can be the little things that jar and make one question the integrity of the whole.

 

The timing also jars. If I ever reach 100 years of age, I would like to think my Nursing Home will hold a little party at which I’ll get some cake, cards, and a telegram from the Queen (I would not be in the least surprised to find her still on the throne!). But it wouldn’t mean the same if her telegram arrived a couple of weeks too late; hang on, I’d think, the Queen has had 100 years to prepare that telegram! Timing is everything; the moment has passed. This tribute doesn’t sit well on this side of 11/11/2018 - it appears more tardy than timely.

 

Unfortunately, for a work of art, it also came across as rather tacky; to stretch my '100th birthday telegram from the Queen' analogy a bit more, it was like getting one of those generic, ‘everything but the kitchen-sink’ greetings cards - with a spray of flowers on the front (with the card embossed to match the flowers), a sprinkle of glitter glued around the flowers, a hint of cheap perfume suffusing the card, and with a cloying, Patience Strong ‘inspirational’ verse in it, printed in a cursive, handwritten font. It tries desperately to press all the buttons, but ends up pressing none.

 

Let’s start with the music; the words that spring to my mind are 'unsubtle, literal and derivative'. Perhaps as a result of commissioning a score from a film composer, we ended up with something trying to have a direct effect on the emotions by being literally tied to the action (like a score for a blockbuster/action movie). In terms of being derivative, the repeated, three-note brass motif reminded me of a similar one used to great effect by Lowell Liebermann in Frankenstein (to denote the monster, if I remember rightly). The opening section (once the intro was over) reminded me of Alice (the White Rabbit?). The music for the PDD between Feltham and Billington also sounded a bit too similar to that used for the PDD between Victor and Elizabeth in Frankenstein. Finally, there was a section that seemed pure Bernstein - which for me didn’t sit well with the 1914-18 period.

 

Then there’s the visual effects. Use of projected video can be risky, probably because it’s so common that we all have experience of it (think Powerpoint presentations!). When done well it works well; an example would be the first and last sections of Woolf Works. However, simply projecting vastly magnified talking-heads (with a bit of vertical rasterisation thrown in) did nothing for me. Keeping the scrim partly in place, and continuing to project vertical lines on it just annoyed me by interfering with my view (and I was at the front of the Amphi; I presume the sight lines were even worse for those towards the back). Did the creative team pay any thought to those not paying an arm and a leg for non-Amphi seats?

 

Then there’s the narration. Almost by definition, narration and ballet do not sit well together - though Sitwell’s poems in Facade are an exception (the spoken word also worked well in Woolf Works, in being used prior to the first and last pieces; also in Second Breath, with the rendition of Do Not Go Gentle… by Richard Burton incorporated into the music; and even in Facada with Osipova explaining what the Portuguese word ‘faca’ means). Last night I felt like I was in primary school, with the narration explaining to me what was going on on stage (particularly the very last bit; effectively being told that the group of almost-naked men cavorting around were in the ‘afterlife’ and would always be with us). I didn’t need it, I don’t want it. There was a place for those words, and that was printed in the cast sheet (one of the broadsheet cast sheets, not the new, tabloid ones). I could have read it beforehand and recalled it during the performance. Barking out ‘quick march’ orders on stage was also a step too far for me.

 

Keeping the scrim down for the stage calls was also too literal; OK, we get it - all the people in the ballet, men and women, are now dead and ‘on the other side’, but the whole point of these calls is that they break the invisible fourth wall - we don't want a fifth wall!

 

And on the subject of the see-through netting that is scrim, why did Joseph Sissens’ ‘telegraph boy’ costume appear to be made out of blue scrim? For someone whose appearance was a harbinger of death, the costume appeared rather inappropriate.

 

There were a few positives. Bracewell, O’Sullivan and Sissens made the most of the poor material they were provided with. Through the story of Florence Billington, I am now more aware of the ‘collateral’ casualties of the Great War (though Lest We Forget conveyed the effects of the war on relationships more convincingly). Finally, I can see no excuse - other than, say, the 140th anniversary of the Great War - to revive this work, by which time I will be more focussed on getting a telegram from the Queen than I will be in making the trip to the ROH (assuming I can still remember where it is by then).

 

I do like Infra. The staging, music and some of the choreography work for me; in fact, the section from the ‘moving crowd’ scene with the stationary Munch-like girl to the end of the ballet usually presses a combination of buttons in my head such that I have to surreptitiously blow my nose at the end of the performance. It did that last night, though not as much as it has in previous runs. I think a lot of that is down to the music; it is mournful, soulful (with the interjection of the loud, random noises acting to highlight that feeling through contrast). During the interval I even considered whether transposing the Infra music to The Unknown Soldier would immediately improve the latter!

 

Symphony in C was a joy to watch and a great way to finish off the evening. And what a welcome contrast to the other two pieces (that many in the audience thought the same was evident by the excited response to the curtain going up on a brightly-lit stage with ballerinas in tutus!). I was sat next to a young lady who was seeing ballet at the ROH for the first time; she kept excitedly exclaiming (quietly) every time a wave of dancers appeared - and very heart-warming that response was, too! There seemed to be a lot of teenagers in the audience (at least in the Amphi); I presume they were there for McGregor’s Infra as it is now part of the GCSE curriculum. It would have been interesting to have carried out a survey at the end to find out which they liked the most…

 

Despite my dislike for The Unknown Soldier, I am pleased it was commissioned and performed. To explain why, I’d like to go off at what might seem like a tangent (or even off my rocker). I was thinking on the way home that last night’s Triple Bill is a good example of Darwinism. ‘Selection of the fittest’ requires that variety is introduced, and in ballet that is the commissioning of new works. Last night we saw one new piece, one about ten years old, and one decades old. At one time, all were ‘new’ and were released into the ‘testing ground of Darwinism' that is public performance. Only those that ‘survive’ public approval tend to be shown repeatedly, and the failures fall by the wayside and drift into obscurity. Over time, those that survive are changed ever so subtly in response to the changing environment in which they find themselves (without wishing to open up that can of worms again, the recent run of a staple ballet is an example). The ‘old’ ballets that we see and love are the survivors, but there is a legion of other works that didn’t (what might be called ‘hopeful monsters’ in Darwinian terms). Unless we believe in an omniscient choreographic god (and perhaps only [insert your favourite choreographer here] might aspire to that!), then poor works are inevitable (and in the majority over the long term). Last night I thought The Unknown Soldier was an evolutionary dead-end, Infra a piece that has long-term promise, and Symphony in C a nigh-on perfect creation, ideally suited to its environmental niche.
 

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Wow Nogoat that's a terrific review.

im not going to this programme till next Monday but feeling a bit worried about Unknown Soldier now.

I went to the Insight evening and enjoyed that and was looking forward to it .....I felt  the choreographers were genuine etc but of course that was a mere snapshot of the whole ballet so just hope I'm not now going to be disappointed.....especially as I do love the ENB 's tribute.

Marriot did explain why he chose this musician to work with at the Insight so hope he has actually delivered on this score but to be honest probably difficult to be in the same Company as the other composers in this triple!! 

Oh well will see. I've discovered I've never seen Infra before so looking forward to that.....love Max Richter so that should be okay ....was muddling it with Chroma .....which have seen before. 

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