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Who’s Tybalt on Monday, does anyone know?

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The lovers may well have been star-crossed, but we had the good fortune to see both the matinee and evening performances of Romeo and Juliet yesterday (Saturday). And what a galaxy of ballet stars on offer!

On paper, the afternoon cast looked as if it might shine more brightly, but for me it was one stellar performance in the evening that burned itself into my memories – but more of her later. First, here are a few of the highlights and observations across the two performances...

 

Matthew Ball: I was going to say his playing of Tybalt as a disdainful, cocksure bully was a revelation, but in thinking back to his wonderfully socio/psychopathic portrayal of Rudolf in Mayerling, I shouldn’t be surprised. Either way, his presence on the stage demanded the audience’s attention, and also provided a sufficiently nasty villain to almost excuse the red mist that descended over Romeo to drive him to vengeful murder (and what a rage that was! His assault on Ball was so frenzied it managed to knock Ball’s sword from his hand early in the fight).

Having said that, one thing did look slightly incongruous. In this performance, Tybalt pushing his way through two male bystanders with his sword hand extended almost exactly coincided with Mercutio being pushed away by Romeo towards that same spot, so Mercutio being impaled on that sword looked almost accidental.  

 

Itziar Mendizabal: If the phrase ‘pure MacMillan harlot’ is not a contradiction in terms, then I would say Itziar is the purest, most faithful harlot I’ve seen. Full-on, unapologetic lust-for-life, with everything refracted through the prism of casual, no-strings-attached sex. It might not be the ideal career one would wish one’s daughter to follow, but at least she seemed to have got her work-life balance right and was happy…

 

Marcelino Sambé: His Mercutio was an adolescent full of vim, vigour and youthful swagger; it was a joy to behold, rendered as it was with both superb technique and acting. That he did this to the same high level in the afternoon and evening left me hugely impressed.

 

Anna Rose O’Sullivan: She had the same, fairly minor role in both performances, but seeing her on stage with Sarah lamb in the evening caused me to think about similarities – the beautiful poise and grace hard-wired into their arms and legs; their striking looks, especially the eyes; their stage-presence.

 

James Hay: For me, his wonderful Benvolio in the afternoon just edged out Ella’s in the evening. There seemed to be a huge twinkle in his eye as he barged into the various couples at the ball, nudging them into the wings and clearing the stage for the lovers.

 

Tomas Mock: It must go against the grain for a performer deliberately to play a featureless, two-dimensional non-entity such as Paris. But Tomas did it so well I was left wondering why on earth Lord Capulet would even entertain the notion of foisting him onto his cherished daughter, yet alone try to force her to go through with it! Blood may be thicker than water, but I guess money or influence is thicker again?

 

Thomas Whitehead: In the afternoon, Whitehead assumed his ‘exasperated paternalistic superior’ persona (most recently seen as the Professor in Frankenstein) to good effect as the Prince of Verona. In the evening he kept a little bit of this as Tybalt. In contrast to Ball’s thoroughly unlikable character, Whitehead seemed to moderate his nastiness with a measure of family honour/avuncular protection in the way he responded to Romeo’s interest in Juliet.

 

 

So that brings me nicely to the difficult bit - Romeo and Juliet.

The afternoon performance didn’t leave me ‘cold’ like RuthE, but neither did I see the ‘great chemistry’ that Sim did. It popped and fizzed in places, but to me it never became a self-sustaining fire – it never ‘caught’.
The evening performance was much better, but again I didn’t get the impression it ‘caught’. I was moved, but not to tears.

 

That left me really puzzled, for the talent on show (Hayward, Corrales, Lamb, Muntagirov) was stunning. I want to avoid being labelled a miserable git, so I’ve come up with the following to explain my (lack of) reaction...


The title Romeo and Juliet suggests an equivalence between the two characters, or even that Romeo takes precedence. But to me there is a definite asymmetry in the (ballet) story – and that is in favour of Juliet (perhaps the ballet should be called Juliet and Romeo?).

Romeo’s ‘narrative arc’ through the story is much shallower than Juliet’s. OK, he falls in love and ends up killing himself because he thinks he has lost her, but by the end of Act 2 he’s still getting into fights and cavorting with harlots (albeit more reservedly) – superficially, not a huge amount appears to have changed.

Juliet, on the other hand, goes from childhood to womanhood; goes from the playroom to the nuptial bedroom; goes from innocent toys to potent draughts; goes from simplicity to complexity; goes from passivity to agency.

Romeo may well be the catalyst for many of those changes; he may well be the engine that drives the story forward; but it’s Juliet who is on the most interesting journey.

So, in terms of any ‘chemistry’ igniting between them, I need both their stories to build and resonate strongly – and the straightforward libretto does not give me that. 


That leaves ‘ignition’ to what might be called the ‘natural chemistry’ between pairs of dancers.

For me (and it is personal!), Nunez and Muntagirov have it; Osipova and Muntagirov have it; Naghdi and Ball have it; Osipova and Hallberg have it - I would guess that Romeo and Juliet with any of those pairings would reduce me to tears (and I’m hoping that will happen on June 1st and 11th with Osipova/Hallberg and Naghdi/Ball!).

But on the basis of yesterday’s performances, for me I’m not convinced either Hayward and Corrales or Lamb and Muntagirov have it. 


I think the reason I found yesterday evening’s performance so captivating and moving was down to Sarah Lamb. Her acting ability seems to have flourished in recent years, and I thought Act 3 yesterday evening was a masterclass in conveying the complex ebb and flow of her emotional journey (the sequences with her parents, her nurse and Paris in particular).

She was perfect in the final scene; unlike other performances I have seen, when she first sees Romeo in the tomb she thinks he is sleeping and crosses over, smiling, to cradle him and kiss him. When she tastes the poison on his lips and realises he is dead, her plummet into outright horror is gut-wrenching. When she kills herself with the knife (having first desperately tried to drink poison from Romeo’s empty bottle) she convulses as the knife enters, and convulses when she hits the floor. She is a very special ballerina indeed.


 

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I wholeheartedly agree with Nogoat in their praise of Sarah Lamb whose artistry brought tears of pity and heartbreak to this old bird’s sorrowful eye, which has only happened once before on this run with lovely Lauren Cuthbertson .

The character of Paris is somewhat perplexing. A young nobleman who is very much cultivated by the scheming Capulets and who initially receives a tentative   acceptance from Juliet . He may find her and her family status attractive but generally he never appears to have any feelings. Thomas Mock played him as the traditional ‘plank of wood’ which is no disrespect to Mock who I know is a fine dance actor having seen him on fire as the gypsy in Two Pigeons. However in the evening Nicol Edmonds played Paris as a real man, both admiring of Juliet and perplexed and hurt when she favours another , and finally angered by her treatment of him , by her scorn and rejection. I far prefer this type of characterisation for Paris. I think he is shabbily treated and does not deserve to die at the hands of the grieving and revengeful Romeo. Top marks to Edmonds. And a very big mention for the corps de ballet who dance and act their socks off throughout Acts 1 & 2 . 

 

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Can anyone tell me who will be dancing next Tuesday, other than Hayward and Corrales?  Sim - after your review I have my tongue hanging out.  Being without Francesca and Ed Watson for so long has left me emotionally deficient!

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1 hour ago, Nogoat said:

Having said that, one thing did look slightly incongruous. In this performance, Tybalt pushing his way through two male bystanders with his sword hand extended almost exactly coincided with Mercutio being pushed away by Romeo towards that same spot, so Mercutio being impaled on that sword looked almost accidental.  

 

But it is an accident .... isn't that the point? (no pun intended!)

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I loved reading your review, Nogoat, but the interesting thing is that, even though I felt that Sarah Lamb had upped her game last night, she was, for me, the reason why the chemistry between her Juliet and Vadim Muntagirov's Romeo was not as overt as that when he is on stage with Nunez or Osipova. Lamb looks at him beautifully but a smile never seems to pass her lips and, without a smile, it isn't easy to express complete adoration or for the partner to respond with complete love.

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36 minutes ago, capybara said:

I loved reading your review, Nogoat, but the interesting thing is that, even though I felt that Sarah Lamb had upped her game last night, she was, for me, the reason why the chemistry between her Juliet and Vadim Muntagirov's Romeo was not as overt as that when he is on stage with Nunez or Osipova. Lamb looks at him beautifully but a smile never seems to pass her lips and, without a smile, it isn't easy to express complete adoration or for the partner to respond with complete love.

 

I don't understand this comment; I saw her smile often, and very sweetly. She's not a histrionic actress (nor Muntagirov a histrionic actor, which is why I do think they work well together); she's subtle and interesting and intelligent in her approach. And she smiles! (when appropriate).

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24 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

I don't understand this comment; I saw her smile often, and very sweetly. She's not a histrionic actress (nor Muntagirov a histrionic actor, which is why I do think they work well together); she's subtle and interesting and intelligent in her approach. And she smiles! (when appropriate).

 

It must be me (or my eyesight). I don't read Lamb's face as smiling. I suppose that, if I were lucky enough to be a teenager looking up into Muntagirov's (or any Romeo's face), I would not be able to suppress a much more blissful kind of smile.  I do appreciate subtle acting, however, not least because it feels so real and envelops me in the story.

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After just "dying" with her Romeo, Akane Takada was in tears at the outset of at least one of her opening curtain calls, but recovered her smiles later, whereas yesterday Francesca Hayward seemed  happy  from the outset. I wonder if this is  possibly representative of their personalities, or the way they feel about their role as Juliet - or just perhaps that Frankie could not contain her delight at taking applause again in a lead role after her absence.

How have other Juliets  tended to react at their first curtain call?

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I always imagine it must be difficult to pull oneself immediately back into the real world after any great dramatic performance. We know it's only acting really etc etc but nevertheless must have some affect when you've just put yourself through the wringer! 

Its similar for the audience sometimes. I sometimes don't feel like clapping immediately if a performance has genuinely deeply affected me.....just need a few mins to come back to the theatre!

 

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As a side note: I am honestly very impressed by all your knowledgeable and insightful reviews of R&J and I enjoy reading what everybody has to say. It’s amazing how this ballet, as a RB staple, can still spark such a long and lively discussion. Love it 😊!  

I’m looking forward to come over and see it on Mon / Tue / Fri and I hope to catch as many dancers as possible in different roles. Unbelievably, I’ve never seen the MacMillan version live on stage!

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1 hour ago, Richard LH said:

After just "dying" with her Romeo, Akane Takada was in tears at the outset of at least one of her opening curtain calls, but recovered her smiles later, whereas yesterday Francesca Hayward seemed  happy  from the outset. I wonder if this is  possibly representative of their personalities, or the way they feel about their role as Juliet - or just perhaps that Frankie could not contain her delight at taking applause again in a lead role after her absence.

How have other Juliets  tended to react at their first curtain call?

 

I don't know how close you were sitting or if you were using opera glasses but I have seen, over the years, many Juliets (and Romeos) smiling through their tears.  After the first couple of rows people didn't necessarily notice the tears, only the smiles.  I've also seen dancers still so much in role they were beyond smiles initially till they managed to come back to themselves.

 

Was it Lawrence Olivier who said to Dustin Hoffman once something like "Dear boy, can't you just act?".

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3 hours ago, bridiem said:

 

I don't understand this comment; I saw her smile often, and very sweetly. She's not a histrionic actress (nor Muntagirov a histrionic actor, which is why I do think they work well together); she's subtle and interesting and intelligent in her approach. And she smiles! (when appropriate).

 

I definitely saw her smiling yesterday too. Most notably when Romeo & Juliet first met face to face & she started by gazing at him wonderingly then gradually & slowly started to smile.

 

2 hours ago, Richard LH said:

After just "dying" with her Romeo, Akane Takada was in tears at the outset of at least one of her opening curtain calls, but recovered her smiles later, whereas yesterday Francesca Hayward seemed  happy  from the outset. I wonder if this is  possibly representative of their personalities, or the way they feel about their role as Juliet - or just perhaps that Frankie could not contain her delight at taking applause again in a lead role after her absence.

How have other Juliets  tended to react at their first curtain call?

 

Yesterday Lamb was smiling at the start. 2 weeks ago Hamilton wasn't, she seemed on the edge of tears (see @Rob S's lovely photo on page 13).

 

As no-one else has yet posted any curtain call photos from yesterday evening, I hope it's okay to quote my own tweet (easier than having to do photo re-sizing for the site!).

 

 

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I found Saturday’s matinée (11May) to be a mixed bag, featuring ravishing performances from the leads but some disappointments elsewhere.  I will deal with my disappointments first.  I have not seen MacMillan’s ballet live for many years and so my first viewing of the current run yesterday afternoon was inevitably coloured by the numerous performances I have seen of Nureyev’s version for ENB.  This was especially true of the music in which I am used to being completely swept away by its passion from the opening notes of the overture onwards when the ENB Philharmonic is under the galvanising baton of Gavin Sutherland.  Disappointingly, I found Koen Kessels to be almost pedantic in his interpretation, right from those first notes.  Too often I heard notes rather than the phrases which give the music the drive it needs and I never felt the spine-tingling sensation the music usually gives me.  An example was the wonderful rise and fall of the musical phrases as Juliet sits on her bed contemplating her predicament, which has always suggested to me the rise and fall of her breathing, increasing in intensity before she flies to Friar Laurence.  Sadly, this afternoon I did not get that feeling from the orchestra.  I also missed the vibrant crowd scenes which are the highlights of Nureyev’s production.  (I should say here that my dream “Romeo and Juliet” would feature Nureyev’s crowd scenes, Cranko’s ballroom scene and Juliet’s run to Friar Laurence, and MacMillan’s pas de deux, preferably conducted by Maestro Sutherland!).  I remember from my original viewings of MacMillan’s first scene my irritation at the ladies constantly sweeping the square with their brooms and this has not gone away!  Nureyev gives us the much more dramatic, clearly delineated Capulet servants versus Montague servants firstly exchanging insults before escalating into physical combat, and I would have loved more of this boisterousness turning to dangerous physical aggression from the townsfolk in this scene.  I missed the sense of menace that used to be the hallmark of the Dance of the Knights in MacMillan’s production.  I remember this as testosterone seething away under a very thin veneer of respectability, reflecting the violence of renaissance Italy, with weight being given to every step by the men, and then the ladies sweeping forwards in an equally aggressive manner, as if saying “we are the Capulets, mess with us at your peril”.  The steps were there, but not the intent.  In fact, I found there was a surprising casualness to most of the supporting roles, from the rather ineffectual Prince of Verona to Lord Capulet who seemed to stroll around the stage, even his exit after Juliet has refused Paris, rather than move with any sense of purpose.  (Michael Somes was never a great actor in romantic roles but I do remember his wonderful, commanding presence as Lord Capulet!).  My definitive Paris was the late, lamented Julian Hosking.  This golden-haired Adonis was a born aristocrat who radiated charm and he bestowed such loving tenderness on Juliet that, in some performances, I would wonder why she chose the Romeo on offer instead of him!  Tomas Mock started well, in the little scene before the ball, showing a genuine tenderness towards Juliet, but then seemed to retreat into himself and made little impression after that.  I am all for different interpretations of roles, but the laid-back Tybalt of Matthew Ball did not do it for me.  I did not get the feeling from him of Shakespeare’s hot-headed youth always spoiling for a fight, especially when he discovers Romeo at the ball, nor did he appear to be seething the following day when he seeks out Romeo in the town square.

 

With an honourable mention for the sunny, acrobatic dancing of Valentino Zucchetti in the mandolin dance and the charming Benvolio of James Hay, the performance for me firmly belonged to the three leads.  Marcelino Sambé was everything I want in a Mercutio – witty, cheeky, a beautifully projected personality with the power to move in his death scene (in which his face expressed genuine shock that he had been fatally wounded) and, of course, dancing of the highest quality.  In fact, with Cesar Corrales as Romeo, Sambé and Hay completed a dream team for the pas de trois before the ballroom scene and were the epitome of three high-spirited best friends, always getting into scrapes or playing practical jokes, evidenced in their high jinks with the Nurse, a delightfully understated performance by Romany Pajdak.  After an extended absence this season, Cesar Corrales blazed back onto the stage for his debut as Romeo at full strength both dramatically and technically.  He is an artist who completely immerses himself in a character, always subjugating his formidable technique to create a real person whom we care about.  From the moment he appeared, pursuing Rosaline, his magnetism and charm captivated, with a devastating smile that lit up the auditorium.  His Latin good looks and temperament make him a natural for Shakespeare’s impetuous youth caught up in the volatility of life in renaissance Verona.  Just as his Romeo was totally believable and immediately engaging, so was the naïve yet headstrong Juliet of Francesca Hayward.  When Corrales saw her in the ballroom, he did not take his eyes off her from that moment on and, when she finally looked into his eyes, it was electrifying, as both these exceptional artists made full use of the stillness to leave us in no doubt that  they were immediately infatuated with each other.  I have always found the interpolation into the ballroom scene of the Act III Aubade, so that Romeo can have a solo while Juliet plays the mandolin, to be rather jarring harmonically but, of course, it was beautifully danced.  Watching Corrales, I realised that however ostensibly MacMillan created this role for Christopher Gable, there is no doubt how influenced the choreography for this solo was by Nureyev at the peak of his youthful powers, containing steps at which Nureyev excelled and which he would use again and again in his own choreography.  However, while Nureyev always reminded us he was Nureyev, Corrales always reminded us he was Romeo, using the solo as an expression of his love for Juliet, and he has a natural elegance and beauty of line that always slightly eluded Nureyev.  The balcony pas de deux which followed was, quite simply, breath-taking as an expression of youthful passion, (even if the sound from the pit did not quite reflect this) and I loved the way Hayward used the ‘limping’ step (a series of a very quick, low jeté onto pointe followed by a coupé over) to express the fluttering of her heart at his touch.  I hope in her next performances, she will have complete trust in the superb partnering skills of Corrales to let her rapture flow throughout her whole body, going beyond her fingertips and toes, and making it even more pliant, as I feel she is a very worthy successor to the passionate performances of Alessandra Ferri I remember so well.  The brief marriage scene was an absolute delight as the two of them could not bear to be parted from each other, reminding us of their extreme youth.  Corrales gave further proof of his maturity as an artist with an almost unbearable outpouring of grief over the dead Mercutio (reminding me of his amazing Albrecht grieving over the dead Giselle in 2017 when he was not even twenty-one).  It therefore seemed completely natural that he would have no hesitation in violently attacking Tybalt, who seemed to be caught completely unawares, in a heart-stopping sword-fight.  At the beginning of Act III, I loved the way he woke up, his body heavy from sleep, and then tried to steal out of the bedroom without having to say goodbye to Juliet.  The ensuing pas de deux was intensely moving in its despair.  Because the other characters were underpowered (in my opinion), Juliet carried the next scene by herself, and the tiny Hayward was wonderful as the bewildered, then angry girl as she is forced to agree to marriage with Paris.  Her wonderful sense of stillness was used to great effect as she sat on the bed, trying to decide what to do.  Of course, the final scene in the crypt was heartbreaking and mesmerising as Corrales rushed in, quickly dispatching Paris, and being overwhelmed by grief as he desperately tried to bring the the apparently dead body of Juliet back to life.  His taking of poison was all the more moving for being so understated.  Hayward’s final movement of reaching towards his now dead body after she stabbed herself was intensely moving in its gentleness and hopelessness and brought the performance to a close with an awed silence from the audience.  This was certainly a performance to treasure from these lovely dancers and I am thrilled to have a ticket for their third performance as I cannot wait to see them develop their partnership even further.

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Terrific review, Irmgard. Thank you for taking the time to write it and honour the performances of the three leads in particular. I would have made it four, with Ball's Tybalt in the mix as well.

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11 hours ago, Sim said:

I was standing in the Stalls Circle and had no trouble seeing his face.  Maybe someone should inform Mr O’Hair (!) about the problem?!  He might then suggest a quick trip to the barber before Tuesday!  

 

I've just been reminded of another observation which I think needs to be changed: the positioning of the balcony scene kiss.  Wasn't it too close to the proscenium arch in the matinee?  I was on the right-hand side, but suspect it might have been well-nigh invisible to a lot of people on the left.

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8 hours ago, Nogoat said:

So that brings me nicely to the difficult bit - Romeo and Juliet.

The afternoon performance didn’t leave me ‘cold’ like RuthE, but neither did I see the ‘great chemistry’ that Sim did. It popped and fizzed in places, but to me it never became a self-sustaining fire – it never ‘caught’.
The evening performance was much better, but again I didn’t get the impression it ‘caught’. I was moved, but not to tears.

I'm with you there 100%.... and BTW I LOVE your reviews.

I didn't see  any extraordinary chemistry with either R&Js and I've seen rather a lot in my time.  So compare Vadim in his last performance with Daria Klimentova, Cope/Guillem, Soares/Nunez in this particularly ballet - and there is no comparison.  In other ballets Hayward had electric connection with Campbell, but the RB management seems to have robbed us of this particular partnership.

So, for me, yesterday: the supporting dancers, if one can call them that, were of equal, if not more interest than R&J, but like you, I was most impressed with Sarah Lamb who surpassed my expectations. The other 3 principals, met my expectations.  

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2 hours ago, Balletfanp said:

They are tons better than mine!

 

You haven't seen all the ones I had to delete because they were blurred to the point of unrecognisability!

 

7 minutes ago, JennyTaylor said:

In other ballets Hayward had electric connection with Campbell, but the RB management seems to have robbed us of this particular partnership.

 

I did find myself wondering yesterday why it is that Ball is dancing both Romeo with 2 Juliets & Tybalt and Sambe both Romeo & Mercutio with 2 casts yet Campbell isn't dancing at all...

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11 hours ago, J_New said:

Who’s Tybalt on Monday, does anyone know?

No, no one does it seems. I will say no more but I did find this surprising when I asked 

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By deduction, it could be Nehemiah Kish.

I think Luca Acri will be Mercutio.

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17 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

I don't know how close you were sitting or if you were using opera glasses but I have seen, over the years, many Juliets (and Romeos) smiling through their tears.  After the first couple of rows people didn't necessarily notice the tears, only the smiles.  I've also seen dancers still so much in role they were beyond smiles initially till they managed to come back to themselves.

Jan I am sure you are right. Actually my particular comparisons  were not only based on my viewpoints at the time, but also on videos/pictures, later aired on social media. I imagine  how Juliets feel at the end can also vary from performance to performance, based on all sorts of factors we can only guess at. Certainly Akane, for one,  has looked pretty distraught at the end of her performances,  and indeed beyond smiles to begin with, which for me showed  how much she inhabited the role, as well as being  appropriate for the  initial mood of all of us at first curtain call !

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16 hours ago, Irmgard said:

This was certainly a performance to treasure from these lovely dancers

 

Irmgard that is a great review.

There is nothing  I can add about Hayward's wonderful dancing and acting!

I definitely  agree that the three amigos  were great together, although I felt  their pas de trois tended to emphasise that  if anything Hay and Sambé  somewhat had the edge over Corrales.

I am not quite as sure as you, just yet, about him. He can spin very very fast, for example, but of course we need a lot more than that.  I thought he was not quite there with all the partnering and all the acting, and I feel Hayward may  have been better served by others in the Company with whom she has previously formed great partnerships - indeed Hay and Sambé  spring to mind, as well as Campbell. 

That said, this is the first time  I have seen Corrales in a lead role, he is only 22 I believe, and  he did very well for a lead debut at the ROH after a long period out through injury. He is clearly a very talented young man who now  hopefully can  only get better and better. 

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43 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

 

I definitely  agree that the three amigos  were great together, although I felt  their pas de trois tended to emphasise that  if anything Hay and Sambé  somewhat had the edge over Corrales.

 

I think when you are Romeo AND you have been off stage for many months you need to be very careful to pace yourself, rather than trying to dance full throttle from the outset. 

 

43 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

I feel Hayward may  have been better served by others in the Company with whom she has previously formed great partnerships - indeed Hay and Sambé  spring to mind, as well as Campbell. 

 

I would love to have seen James Hay as Romeo but with the MacMillan partnering I am resigned to it never happening. 

 

17 hours ago, Irmgard said:

.  I remember from my original viewings of MacMillan’s first scene my irritation at the ladies constantly sweeping the square with their brooms and this has not gone away!  Nureyev gives us the much more dramatic, clearly delineated Capulet servants versus Montague servants firstly exchanging insults before escalating into physical combat, and I would have loved more of this boisterousness turning to dangerous physical aggression from the townsfolk in this scene.  I missed the sense of menace that used to be the hallmark of the Dance of the Knights in MacMillan’s production.  I remember this as testosterone seething away under a very thin veneer of respectability, reflecting the violence of renaissance Italy, with weight being given to every step by the men, and then the ladies sweeping forwards in an equally aggressive manner, as if saying “we are the Capulets, mess with us at your peril”.  The steps were there, but not the intent.  In fact, I found there was a surprising casualness to most of the supporting roles, from the rather ineffectual Prince of Verona to Lord Capulet who seemed to stroll around the stage, even his exit after Juliet has refused Paris, rather than move with any sense of purpose.  (Michael Somes was never a great actor in romantic roles but I do remember his wonderful, commanding presence as Lord Capulet!).  My definitive Paris was the late, lamented Julian Hosking.  This golden-haired Adonis was a born aristocrat who radiated charm and he bestowed such loving tenderness on Juliet that, in some performances, I would wonder why she chose the Romeo on offer instead of him!  Tomas Mock started well, in the little scene before the ball, showing a genuine tenderness towards Juliet, but then seemed to retreat into himself and made little impression after that.  I am all for different interpretations of roles, but the laid-back Tybalt of Matthew Ball did not do it for me.  I did not get the feeling from him of Shakespeare’s hot-headed youth always spoiling for a fight, especially when he discovers Romeo at the ball, nor did he appear to be seething the following day when he seeks out Romeo in the town square.

 

 

I loved your entire review Irmgard and I was as captivated by the leads as you were. 

 

I was particularly interested in your comments about some of the ensemble dancing and the orchestra. I wasn't watching MacMillan's Romeo before the 1990s so I cannot compare and I have never seen Nureyev's version but I will track down some DVDs. Maestro Sutherland is a treasure !

 

I liked Ball's interpretation of Tybalt but I can also see that he did not appear to be seething as you say. 

 

 

 

Edited by annamk
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I don’t think that Tybalt has to seethe for the interpretation to be believable.  Simmering, repressed anger is just as dangerous as fully-expressed anger!  I thought Ball’s take was fascinating and it worked for me.  

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And (apologies if this is repeated) but I thought it worked incredibly well having such a matching set of lead men - all looking young, fabulous dancing, unrestrained sword fighting, and real energy/charisma/stage presence.  I may well be wrong but haven’t Tybalts tended to be older dancers?  To my mind the matinee seemed so refreshingly young and balanced for the quartet.

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2 hours ago, annamk said:

I would love to have seen James Hay as Romeo but with the MacMillan partnering I am resigned to it never happening.

 

Is that because of height (lack of) or if not then what?

 

Anyone else glued to the ROH website & their email today in case of news on Clarke or is it just me?

 

(Further to my last post above, I've also realised that Clarke would have danced Romeo to 2 Juliets plus Paris if not for being injured & Hirano is doing so. Quite apart from any issues of favouritism, career opportunities, etc. I would have thought that concentrating lots of work on only some dancers would make injuries more likely & goodness knows the RB men seem to be getting quite enough injuries this season already.)

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

I don’t think that Tybalt has to seethe for the interpretation to be believable.  Simmering, repressed anger is just as dangerous as fully-expressed anger!  I thought Ball’s take was fascinating and it worked for me.  

 

I liked Ball too. Actually all the Tybalts this run have worked for me. Very different readings but all believable. I think that Ball will show us something different in his next performances.

I appreciate that it is difficult to take performances away from a dancer but I have felt that Hirano's Paris shows could have been given to a young dancer - Donnelly? - once he collected 5 shots at Romeo.

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Just received this from ROH:

 

“... due to injury, Reece Clarke is replaced by guest artist Jacopo Tissi as Romeo on Friday 17 May, Thursday 23 May and Wednesday 29 May.”

 

Very sorry for Reece.

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