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Cesar Corrales was back confidently fighting fit as Romeo tonight.  His hair - rather than cut I think - was parted differently (e.g., down the centre) and that allowed the fringe - like theatrical curtains - to be pulled aside to reveal all of his (on this occasion) fuller glory.  He filled each and every moment with ardent precision and piercing theatricality.  You could sense his increased confidence.  It purred; it howled; it cajoled.  It could be felt wrangling through the brilliantine nash of his summoning smile.  I loved in the marriage sequence - as Juliet was pulled away by her nurse - how he violently snatched her back only to toy her up again in his own spontaneous trajectory.  That t'was a fervent balcony of his own imagining.  Like his Juliet, we too could but gaze agog at the intense zeal of his own desires.

 

Ball was - as ever - brilliant - but it seems someone on staff has talked him out of the root of the wit of his caustically smiling genius of a Tybalt.  Here he played - stunningly it has to be said - much more to convention.  I so hope in time he can bring a bit more of his own back a la last Sat's Mat.  It was - at least IMHO - truly magnificent.  The ever clever Hay and that embodiment of charisma Sambe again glittered as Benvolio and Mercutio respectively.  The thud of latter's death thrall was truly deadening.  Even the dust rose in respect. 

 

Still for me the outstanding performance this evening - and perhaps some will laugh - will have been Joe Sissens leading the Mandolin Dance.  Those crystal sharp feet of his entwined their merry selves in the mesh of his audience's rapture.  We all saw pink I think in the midst of his rapid slices.  What a buoyant thrill that was - and we can all rest assured that there is oh, so much more to look forward to from this quarter.  Hayward really had to do nothing but respond - (and that's meant as a considerable compliment) - and that she pliantly did with a dewy wisdom and wide eyed grace.  Hers was an incarnadine mystique.  

 

Indeed - in part as in whole - t'was another for the legend books ... Bring on the third.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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To the extent there were any minor imperfections at the Saturday matinee with this same cast (thinking Corrales slightly falling out of turns in the masks pd3 and Ball dropping his sword) these were ironed out this evening and it was a sublime performance with a charismatic and exciting young cast who danced and acted their roles exceptionally well. 

It is years since I've seen the masks pd 3 danced with such precise timing and control. 

I disagree with Bruce above that Ball had been talked out of his Saturday matinee Tybalt interpretation, rather I thought he had retained much of that but added a touch of extra aggression - he was superb. His Tybalt has opened my eyes to his versatility - I thought he was a Lensky but he is definitely already an Onegin too :) 

For me, the leads were simply sublime: wonderful acting, dancing and most importantly sensational chemistry between them, I couldn't ask for more.

 

 

 

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Oh dear; I think it must be me... I'm afraid that although I thought Corrales's dancing was excellent, I wasn't convinced by his acting to any real extent. So I didn't really feel involved with the tragedy; only when Juliet was dancing on her own was I moved, and that's not really enough. I could see the great potential of the Corrales/Sambé/Hay/Ball quartet, but for me it fizzled out because I didn't believe sufficiently in Romeo as a character; but there were moments that nearly worked, and I liked the times when he became almost non-balletic as he seized Juliet and grabbed at Tybalt. I hope if I see him again in this role I will react differently. Sambé was superb again, as was Hay, and I found Ball an intriguing Tybalt. Hayward danced with incredible lightness, like a firefly flitting round the stage, and was completely believable and very touching. Gary Avis was terrific as a domineering, exasperated, but also loving father.

 

Amazing that this was the 500th performance of R&J at the ROH! I had hoped that Kevin O'Hare might come out front again to say something about this; but I suppose he's had quite a busy day already... I wonder if Lady MacMillan was there. Anyway - here's to the next 500!

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I thought Saturday’s performance tremendous but tonight's was a step change.  Cesar Corrales seemed much more relaxed and the entire cast gave one of those complete performances that will live long in the memory.  So pleased to have seen this second performance and enjoy the final performance for those fortunate people with tickets.  Here’s hoping that next year such casts will not be scheduled for final performances on bank holiday weekends with major engineering works.  Words seem rather superfluous other than congratulations and many thanks to the entire cast, and to Paul Murphy for conjuring some magic from the orchestra.

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I completely agree with John and Anna.  How rare to see an R&J where all five lead males are on a par with each other technically, passionately  and dramatically. Add into the mix a totally believable Juliet who sizzles with her Romeo and it made for a very special night indeed.  

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8 hours ago, bridiem said:

 

Amazing that this was the 500th performance of R&J at the ROH! I had hoped that Kevin O'Hare might come out front again to say something about this; but I suppose he's had quite a busy day already... I wonder if Lady MacMillan was there. 

 

well, she was in attendance in the Yorke Dance performance of 'Playground' (in the Clore) so I'd be surprised if she didn't watch the 500th R&J. I was a little surprised they didn't make a bigger fuss of it to be honest, apart from a brief message on the front of the cast sheet

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Well, that was definitely one of those evenings when you thanked all the gods that you were there.  What a rumbustious tempestuous tumble of a production that swept its audience along as if they were watching the latest action movie.

 

I have seen R& J many times but I acquired a totally different take on it from last night.  This was no 13th century period piece, it was more West Side Story than Shakespeare.  It could have been taking place on any street corner in any city.  The males were bursting with testosterone, swaggering around for all the world like the rich young entitled aristo's you can see today.  One felt their parents pain in trying to keep them out of harms way.

 

Francesca is and was superb although I don't think she as yet inhabits Juliet in the way that she does Manon.  That is not a criticism; from anyone else it would be a performance of a lifetime but Francesca has much more to give.  My first time seeing Corrales (other than with ENB and a Hungarian officer at ROH) and I adored him.  I thought he took a little time to warm up and, as another poster has indicated, he was not always shown to advantage with Hay and Sambe, but once he and Juliet were on their own, he was magnificent.  He has the physicality of Hirano but it is less sophisticated, somehow still raw yet with an underlying warmth and I couldn't help but respond to it.  I felt he and Francesca had magnificent chemistry and I hope they will be together again.

 

For me the night almost belonged to Matthew Ball.  The sheer menace coming off of him was terrifying.  I almost needed  a sofa to hide behind in the sword fights where he and Coralles were magnificent.  Ball's Tybalt was playing with his enemies, savouring the moment when he could use cold steel and I loved every minute.  Can hardly wait for him and Naghdi.

 

Sambe so fast my head was spinning with him, and he and Hay were fabulous together.  Apart from all the individual performances, there was something extra special that I think came from this cast being so young.  I know more mature dancers bring different qualities to the roles but, for me, this is all the better for a young cast who are near in age to the protagonists and who all seemed to be swept along with the excitement.

 

Fabulous.

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1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

Well, that was definitely one of those evenings when you thanked all the gods that you were there.  What a rumbustious tempestuous tumble of a production that swept its audience along as if they were watching the latest action movie.

 

 

Lovely, evocative review Penelope.

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I have been convinced that many different ballerinas were Juliet in the past.  I have seen many Romeos danced beautifully, however, last night, watching Cesar Corrales,  it may be the first time I have ever felt the same about a Romeo.  

 

His youth and raw talent; the fact that his eyes never left Juliet's face for a second, even as she looked up reverently at the Friar as they knelt before him in the marriage scene; the moments when his impulses were so strong that he was forced to use an 'unballetic' movement, such as when he grabbed Juliet's hand after she'd leapt from the stairs in the balcony scene; the inability to let her go at the end of each meeting, constantly sweeping her up for another kiss:  maybe it is the fact that Cesar's teenage years are still so recent, that enabled him to portray these emotions, but it certainly reminded this middle-aged lady of those feelings of first love, of staying up talking all night at the start of a relationship because you can't get enough of each other, that I hadnt thought about in a along time.....

Edited by cavycapers
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6 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

Francesca is and was superb although I don't think she as yet inhabits Juliet in the way that she does Manon. 

 

I agree; although I am a tremendous Frankie fan, I was just thinking today that I see her more as  Manon than Juliet. For me  she also brilliantly inhabited Clara, Giselle, Perdita in Winters Tale, and Princess Stephanie in Mayerling, rather more completely than she inhabited Juliet, somehow. 

 

I also agree that this is no way detracts from her wonderful performances in the Juliet role to date, by any normal  standards!

 

On seeing  Akane Takada in her debut run  (which was also my own "debut"  for seeing R&J live) I thought she did truly encapsulate my idea of Juliet, and  I suppose when you form that sort of opinion at the outset it can  influence  your view of later performers. 

 

Edited by Richard LH

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Well I loved it last night it's a very long time since I've seen such an enjoyably refreshing R and J ....these two were dynamite for this ballet. 

Thanks all for some fab comments on last nights (and other R and J 's ) especially liked yours Penelope and Cavycapers .... ....a friend and I were only just saying in the first interval we'd go off with Caesar's  Romeo any time after that glorious pas de  deux ....they so got across that first love feeling of besottedness.....that butterflies in the stomach at just the thought of the loved one coming into view down the road and that real excitement at any physical contact ( alas so long ago now!) 

The thing for me about R and J is you have to believe in the two main characters for it to come off. No matter how perfectly or beautifully danced if there's no real chemistry going on then it's a long one to sit through......though of course the music is glorious in itself! 

Last night I was gripped right from the start such a freshness with these two and I loved  the way Romeo let his passion get the better of him......you could feel the warmth of his performance from up in the Amphi and that's how it should be for me......and you could see his wonderfully expressive face....so the hairstyle thingy must have been resolved!!   He was the young hot head of a Romeo. Francesca Hayward was a lovely young both girlish and delicate Juliet absolutely responsive to her Romeo and completely believable. Both of them are such musical dancers. Both of them have a certain naturalness about them ....nothing is forced and obviously in their element on that stage. 

It was certainly dream casting last night with both Sambe and Hay....what a treat those three together were ....and Ball as Tybalt!! What more could you ask for. Sambe who has such an exuberant stage presence was so good as Mercutio ...the best friend to perfection....you could totally understand Romeos rage at his death and also loved the way Corrales didn't keep that real not too neat and stylised. Hay whilst quietly trying to keep his friends unsuccessfully from going over the top was all classical excellence and style beautiful to watch.

Romany Pajdak was a gentle and loving nurse....not seen her in this role before and had to look up who was playing the role in the interval! Both Gary Avis and Christina Arestis made the most of their roles as Lord and Lady Capulet ....in fact found Gary's irate father quite uncomfortable to watch at times as Hayward is such a tiny Juliet and she did take a bit of man handling at times but father's ruled the household in those days and arranged marriages more the norm .....couldn't understand a love struck girl who didn't want his choice of husband ..no way.....and we so felt her angst after her scenes with Romeo! 

Amother of my favourite dancers was in the cast yesterday ....Joseph Sissens ...he lead the Mandolin Dance ( why does that tune stick in your head so much) and very fine he was too. I really would like to see him given a chance to play more interesting roles next year. His dancing is always great to watch .....both a beautiful classical and contemporary dancer. He can dance no doubt about that but would like to see what he makes of a more meaty role. 

Interestingly yesterday I was more moved to tears in the balcony pas de deux ...at the pure joy of Loves young things ...than at the very end of the ballet with all the deaths. 

I think for me this is more about the nature of the story though than the dancing. It is ...although tragic..  almost a melodramatic an ending. However it does remind us of the sometimes deeply held passions of youth where unfortunately death seems the only way out.

Luckily the naturalness of both the performances of Romeo and Juliet yesterday kept it on the tragic side so a lot of pathos as Juliet dragged herself over to be as near to her Romeo as possible as she was dying. I was left with that sense of the sheer waste of it all. 

The wonderful  score of this ballet is so evocative and Macmillan does it perfect justice....I just cannot imagine one without the other now his version of the ballet for me is just at one with the Prokofiev music.

 

As there was no bus in sight at Bloomsbury Square I decided to treat myself to a taxi for the rest of the journey back to Islington ( a rare thing for me) and the driver asked me what I had been doing. When I told him I'd been to the ballet he said that last year he'd been to see Swan Lake and loved it and that only the other day he had picked up Wayne Sleep and his mum and how lovely they were!  I remember Wayne in the Mandolin Dance many years ago now so a rather perfect end to the evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by LinMM
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Just to add to comments about Romany Padjak. 45 minutes before we saw her in scene 2, she was being battered, abused and heaven knows what else in the Clore Studio in MacMillan’s Playground as part of the Yorke Dance Project.

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OMG she must have been relieved to get into kindly nurse role! But what amazing talent that is ...unbelievable! 

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Slightly off the topic of R&J but in the context of Francesca Hayward's roles, mentioned above, she will be dancing Vera in the forthcoming A Month In The Country.

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55 minutes ago, LinMM said:

Francesca Hayward was a lovely young both girlish and delicate Juliet absolutely responsive to her Romeo and completely believable.

 

I would add ‘headstrong’ as well - she knew what she wanted and there was a real urgency, determination and desperation about what she had to do.  I thought there were even hints of the possibilities of what love might entail when being introduced to Paris (although not with Paris).  I found her portrayal irresistible.

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Yes I agree in those scenes with her father you felt the power of what she wanted as against her father's will.

I think my description of her comes from Act one really she has such a delicacy about her and she is such a natural dancer. 

I think the pairing was inspired though. They may not suit every ballet together but Romeo and Juliet is the perfect match for sure!

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To those posters who thought that Francesca Hayward didn't fully inhabit the role - my goodness, were we at the same performance? I found her totally magical. As with her Giselle, her performance was touched with that extraordinary spontaneity that made it feel as though this were the first R&J that I had ever seen. She and Corrales were dripping with chemistry, both portrayals imbued with those throwaway touches that bring a character to life - a glance, a shiver, a twist of the spine, the neck, the wrist that made the audience hold a collective breath and made me wish, so much, that I could wave a wand and halt the terrible tragedy that was to come. Unforgettable and sublime!

 

To be honest, I couldn't find a single weak link on stage. The boys' trio was superb. Their camaraderie, that way of constantly watching  each other's backs, which.reminded me of my son and his friends. The mandolin players, with a special shout out for Joseph Sissens. And how is it that Marcellino Sambe isn't yet a principal? Come on, Mr O'Hare, what are you waiting for?

 

And then there was Matthew Ball. And, yes, I did like his Tybalt: the swagger, that aura of entitlement, the cultivated nonchalance, so 'public school', that could turn so easily to resentful aggression when things didn't go his way.

 

In my part of the amphitheatre, a roar went up at the curtain calls and it was richly deserved. What was not to love?

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I've loved her in everything I've seen her in so far! I don't get too much into "fanship territory" with any of the dancers as so many are really good today but she for me is a dancer in the purest sense because she is so natural so always believable to me.

Has she ever danced Odette/Odile role ....at least at ROH? 

 

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58 minutes ago, LinMM said:

Has she ever danced Odette/Odile role ....at least at ROH? 

 

No, but let us hope she will  in the run next year.....

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There's currently a nice range of prices online for next Saturday's matinee :) 

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I think we’ve been completely spoiled by recent performances but tonight’s left me somewhat underwhelmed.  There were some real highlights - Marcelino Sambe’s Mercutio, Ryoichi Hirano’s Tybalt, and Benjamin Ella’s Benvolio, with Joseph Sissons Mandolin and Anna-Rose O’Sullivan yet again exquisite as Juliet’s lead friend.  But ‘Romeo and Juliet’ requires believable leads and I’m afraid I was not persuaded by either Marianela Nuñez or Jacobo Tissi.  

 

Juliet in Act 1 didn’t come across to me as a young girl about to fall in love, the teenager on the cusp of becoming a woman.  When Juliet was introduced to Paris, the nurse simply took Juliet’s doll from behind her back - Juliet was not active in pushing the doll away from her, putting aside childish toys as she recognised the possibility of something very different.  Other Juliet’s have been much more active in wanting to seize that moment.  And Juliet did not leap into her nurse’s lap, choosing instead to sit by her nurse’s feet which rather emphasised that we were not looking at a young girl.  

 

I found Romeo unconvincing, perhaps because of limited rehearsal time, a debut in the role, and pressures of delivering a performance as a guest principal?  At times he seemed out of step with Mercutio and Benvolio - those cross stage leaps in Act 2 for the three were poor.  I thought some of the Act 1 pdd lifts were laboured.  And given some technical uncertainty I found it difficult to see a credible Romeo.

 

That said, Act 3 to my mind was much better and the final scene genuinely moving.

 

I’m very sorry Reece Clarke was injured as it would have been good to see Marianela Nuñez dancing with her planned partner, having the benefit of full rehearsals.  I do wonder about pulling in guest principals although there have been some great performances from guests.  And I couldn’t help thinking that on stage we did have a Romeo and Juliet who have only had one public performance ... and, very selfishly, what might have been as I recognise there are many thousands of Marianela Nuñez fans.

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I really enjoyed tonight's performance but can empathise with some points made by John. 

 

Jacobo Tissi started slowly and somewhat hesitantly. He was understated in his acting, which I think emphasises the RBs emphasis on strong acting and yes, there were some timing incidents. I admit to feeling somewhat worried.

 

However, he did pick up and I didn't feel there were any issues with his dancing with Marianela. Indeed, I loved the balcony pdd.  I also thought the pd3 before the ballroom scene was well executed, as were the marketplace scenes in Act 2.  I remember seeing Nicolas La Riche guesting with Sylvie Guillem many years ago now, and his pd3 with Mercutio and Benvolio was positively shoddy. Nothing like that tonight.  He's very tall BTW and at one point it looked as Yuhui as 1st harlot had trouble reaching his eyes to cover them up in the interplay in Act 2.  He seemed to tower above the rest of the cast.  

 

I loved Marianela's Juliet. It's a completely different interpretation from anything else I have seen in this run with more overt characterisation, different gestures and facial expressions.  For me, she was the star of the show (if anyone can eclipse Marcelino Sambe as Mercutio) and I felt her Juliet really came alive.    I think her partnership with Tissi will mature and expect future performances to go up a notch.    

 

I remarked to my (very patient) husband this evening on returning home - I don't usually book this number of R&Js, but I'm booking not just for the R&Js but to see the supporting cast because we are seeing such strong performances throughout the cast. I think this is a reflection on how high a standard we see at the RB these days.  Is now the time to admit I snapped up late ticket for the 3rd Hayward/Corrales performance, possibly to see Matthew Ball as Tybalt again.  

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Thanks for posting your thoughts, JohnS and Jenny Taylor - very interesting. I am seeing this cast on Thursday, and I hope it will be the same supporting cast too!

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Very pleased to see that JennyTaylor enjoyed last night’s performance - and that she has a 3rd ticket for Hayward/Corrales.

 

There was certainly plenty of characterisation in Marianela Nuñez’s Juliet but for me it was coquettishness rather than endearment, more suited to Fille than Juliet with those pulled faces (when Romeo kisses her back) and I’m afraid to my mind underlined that we were not seeing my no doubt idealised young Juliet.

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55 minutes ago, JohnS said:

Very pleased to see that JennyTaylor enjoyed last night’s performance - and that she has a 3rd ticket for Hayward/Corrales.

 

There was certainly plenty of characterisation in Marianela Nuñez’s Juliet but for me it was coquettishness rather than endearment, more suited to Fille than Juliet with those pulled faces (when Romeo kisses her back) and I’m afraid to my mind underlined that we were not seeing my no doubt idealised young Juliet.

I think it's entirely a matter of personal preference in what we like to see.  You didn't like that, I did - it's just a different interpretation. 

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It's difficult for a Director. I know that there have been wonderful older Juliets but, when a dancer is in her late thirties and has essayed Juliet for 10 - 15 years, a case could be made to stand her aside or, at least give her fewer shows - and I'm not just thinking of Nunez here.

Along with many others, I have booked for a lot of R&Js this year but my choice has been focused on the younger dancers or those new to the roles. And it has been a great run................

 

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I have not been yet and really appreciate all these thoughtful posts.

Given that every performance has sold out perhaps there could have been a few more? Then there could have been opportunity for all. I have said before I think that I don’t regard age of the dancer as relevant to my choice of performance but understand if others do. I have also seen performances where Juliet was sublime but Romeo was not - indeed that was the case when I saw Asylmuratova with the Kirov. However I would not have missed seeing her for the world. 

Edited by Shade
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I agree with Capybara and whilst many would disagree I would prefer to see Juliet as the province of the younger dancers.  However good the acting, there is something a little silly about a mature Worman in her late thirties pretending to be a child with a doll.

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