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Posted (edited)

While Romeo and Juliet is not my favourite ballet and Prokofiev is definitely not my favourite composer, there’s a lot to love about a Macmillan classic. Of course there are the stunning pas des deux between Juliet and Romeo- the first meeting, the balcony scene, the morning after they marry and the devastating pas de deux after Juliet appears to be dead - which Cuthbertson played seemingly effortlessly. 

 

Cuthbertson’s Juliet is charming and youthful- her whole body acts out youth and innocence. Her natural humour is well conveyed through the choreography and there were a number of laughs from the audience. Ball’s Romeo is a cheeky chap and a ladies’ man (well harlot’s man) until he falls hook, line and sinker for Juliet. Together they are a perfect pairing and have such a strong connection. Looking forward to seeing Ball dance with Naghdi in the cinema to compare.

 

Aside from the pas des deux, the sword fights and multiple deaths are at the core of the ballet. Acting was superb all round from Avis’ easy to provoke, fiery Tybalt to Zuchetti’s Jack the lad portrayal of Mercutio which had a helping of pure testosterone fuelled impulsiveness thrown in for good measure.They sparred so well and really drew the audience into the action. Romeo’s vengeful fight with Tybalt was full of fiery impulse until Romeo steps back, almost rational again and thinks ‘what have I done?’. As Mercutio and Tybalt succumbed to the sword, the agony and brutality of their deaths were played out so well in MacMillan’s choreography, particularly thinking of Avis stumbling and tumbling around the stage and the agony of Lady Capulet (I think) as she wept. 

 

A final mention for the harlots- Mendizabel, Magri and Calvert - where would a MacMillan ballet be without a sprinkle of harlots? They all seemed to have immense fun playing them but Mendizabel really stood out as a real natural with this sort of character role.

 

Moving onto the company as a whole, I am still in awe at what a brilliant bunch of actors are in the company, from the corps de ballet up to principal level. Along with the expression in the choreography, they really lift Shakespeare’s words off the page with every movement. I imagine the the strong heritage of emotive choreography from Macmillan is what enables this.

 

Finally, I am off to revisit the text. So much detail in terms of the characters’ motivations and actions which I want to explore, but also so many unanswered questions!

Edited by alison
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Glad to see comments about Lauren Cuthbertson's convincing youthfulness, given that I have perceived the same when I've seen her dance the role in the past, but had been concerned that dancing opposite a much younger Romeo might change this.

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23 hours ago, RuthE said:

Glad to see comments about Lauren Cuthbertson's convincing youthfulness, given that I have perceived the same when I've seen her dance the role in the past, but had been concerned that dancing opposite a much younger Romeo might change this.

 

I know what you mean, Ruth, but no, not at all.  For me, nobody quite captures Juliet’s youthfulness like Cuthbertson.  She seems to have the most extraordinary chemistry with her Romeo, regardless of his age in real life.  Her performance with Ball on Tuesday made me wish even more that I’d been able to see their Marguerite and Armand.  

 

Cuthbertson inhabits the role completely and is especially captivating in her reaction to Lord Capulet; she’s already become a young woman which is reflected in the bedroom pdd BUT is both frightened of her Father and simultaneously defiant as only teenagers are.  Ball is quickly developing into a very fine actor and was audibly enraged during his fight with Tybalt.  

 

Terrific performances from the whole cast on Tuesday.  Gary Avis as Tybalt is as multi-layered as you would expect; yet another of his roles that really should be captured on film.  

 

My only gripe was that even more people than usual scuttled out of the stalls the instant the curtains closed.  The performance hadn’t overrun and it seems SO disrespectful to the performers to just up and walk out as if we were at the cinema.  I can’t imagine that all those people had pre-booked trains. 🤔

 

 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

 

My only gripe was that even more people than usual scuttled out of the stalls the instant the curtains closed.  The performance hadn’t overrun and it seems SO disrespectful to the performers to just up and walk out as if we were at the cinema.  I can’t imagine that all those people had pre-booked trains. 🤔

 

 

 

Funny, what really struck me at last Saturday night's DQ performance at the end was the number of people in the stalls NOT clapping but filming the curtain call with their phones.  I was standing in the SCS area and it was very obvious; like a slap in the face.  The volume of appreciation would have been quite different were this multitude not to have been otherwise engaged.  I usually stand in the Upper Amphi and you don't get anywhere the number of people pursuing such activities.  Understandable I suppose given the distance.  I'm not quite sure why but I found this surprising ... and not a little disheartening.  In my mind's ear I could hear my late mother 'tutting'.  

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Funny you should mention that, Bruce. A young woman near me who, inexplicably,  could manage neither a smile nor a clap during either the performance or the early curtain calls suddenly, and totally out of the blue, whipped out her phone and started taking photographs. What the ...?

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Without wishing to take this thread off topic, I was bothered by exactly the same thing at the first night of La forza del destino.  Especially because the "standing ovation" completely blocked my view of the curtain calls.  Half the people standing and blocking my view were only doing so in order to film rather than applaud.

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Am I right in thinking that, technically, filming and photography aren’t allowed even during the curtain calls? If so, surely the ushers should intervene when it reaches nuisance levels.

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8 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

Am I right in thinking that, technically, filming and photography aren’t allowed even during the curtain calls? If so, surely the ushers should intervene when it reaches nuisance levels.

 

As they do (or did) at the Coliseum at the first sight of a phone.

The approach at the ROH is far from consistent. My daughter recently had to ask a very truculent neighbour who had spent much of the first act checking emails to turn off her phone with no intervention from the ushers whereas, on a different occasion, I brought mine out to turn it off and was jumped on by an usher. 

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

Am I right in thinking that, technically, filming and photography aren’t allowed even during the curtain calls? If so, surely the ushers should intervene when it reaches nuisance levels.

 

Most of the dancers post videos of the curtain calls on Instagram taken by audience members. 

 

Personally I use a camera with a screen which folds back on itself and an electronic viewfinder that I hold to my face so it’s not emitting any light or sound, I don’t video it but take short bursts of photos between my moments of applause and I remain seated. 

Edited by Rob S
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14 minutes ago, Scheherezade said:

 

As they do (or did) at the Coliseum at the first sight of a phone.

 

 

Last time I was at the Coliseum (admittedly for opera), there was a message on the surtitle screen encouraging the filming of curtain calls.

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7 minutes ago, Rob S said:

 

Most of the dancers post videos of the curtain calls on Instagram taken by audience members. 

 

Personally I use a camera with a screen which folds back on itself and an electronic viewfinder that I hold to my face so it’s not emitting any light or sound, I don’t video it but take short bursts of photos between my moments of applause and I remain seated. 

 

That’s why I worded my comment as I did. I meant that by having a rule against it which is not generally enforced, they have reserved the right to stop people from encroaching on others’ view or enjoyment of the curtain calls.

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I didn’t see anything at the recent Akhenaten performances although, admittedly, I was probably too busy applauding to check the surtitle screen. 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, bangorballetboy said:

 

Last time I was at the Coliseum (admittedly for opera), there was a message on the surtitle screen encouraging the filming of curtain calls.

 

Sorry, my earlier comment was replying to BBB’s above post. 

Edited by Scheherezade

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I think it is *before* the opera that ENO are now putting up the "please feel free to film the curtain calls" message - I've been there twice this month (for The Magic Flute and The Merry Widow).

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Before I forget, here is the whole of Tuesday’s cast for those also seeing Cuthbertson and Ball (and, I assume, the Naghdi and Ball cinema relay?):

 

Juliet: Lauren Cuthbertson

Romeo:  Matthew Ball

Mercutio:  Valentino Zucchetti

Tybalt:  Gary Avis

Benvolio:  James Hay

Paris:  Ryoichi Hirano

Lord Capulet:  Christopher Saunders

Lady Capulet:  Elizabeth McGorian

Escalus: Bennet Gartside

Rosaline:  Christina Arestis

Nurse:  Kristen McNally

Friar Laurence (sans wig) and Lord Montague:  Alastair Marriott

Lady Montague:  Olivia Cowley

Juliet’s Friends:  Ashley Dean, Leticia Dias, Isabella Gasparini, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Romany Pajdak

Three Harlots:  Itziar Mendizabal, Claire Calvert, Mayara Magri

Mandolin Dance:  Marcelino Sambé plus Luca Acri, Tristan Dyer, Benjamin Ella, Paul Kay, Calvin Richardson.

 

”Ballroom guests and Townspeople”, listed as usual as “Artists of the Royal Ballet” included Reece Clarke. 

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2 hours ago, Anna C said:

 

 

 

 

My only gripe was that even more people than usual scuttled out of the stalls the instant the curtains closed.  The performance hadn’t overrun and it seems SO disrespectful to the performers to just up and walk out as if we were at the cinema.  I can’t imagine that all those people had pre-booked trains. 🤔

 

 

It's not just booked trains that count!  I was not there so am innocent, but this is a long programme and our last train leaves Waterloo just before 11 pm - fine if a taxi happens to pass at just the right time but tight for a walk across Waterloo Bridge so I would have been amongst the scuttlers, but only if I were at the end of a row.  In the past I have swapped places with someone standing so I can get out in time for the train without pushing past other audience members.  

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That is tight, timing-wise, so fair point.  Lots of the scuttlers were mid-row though, which must have been annoying for the others in their row as well as the row behind. 

 

Out of interest, would you applaud while making an exit?  

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4 minutes ago, Anna C said:

That is tight, timing-wise, so fair point.  Lots of the scuttlers were mid-row though, which must have been annoying for the others in their row as well as the row behind. 

 

Out of interest, would you applaud while making an exit?  

Always!

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Absolutely - and sometimes when I'm in the amphi I even stick my head in at Stalls Circle level on the way down and give them a bit more applause if circumstances permit.

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And even if it’s not the last train, very often at that time of night there are only two trains or fewer an hour - and if I’m working the next morning (and in the shires and provinces we generally start work earlier than Londoners) that makes a real difference.

 

One other thing: I can’t speak for this week but there has been overnight engineering work on some lines from Waterloo recently, which for me has meant journey times more than doubling after about 10.40.

 

(I applaud as long as I can when exiting and often poke my head into the Grand Tier on my way down to get another burst in.)

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I knew you all would. 👏😍 

 

Sadly, a good number of people on Tuesday did not.  You’d think they were at the cinema.

 

Not that I was judging and inwardly tutting, of course.*

 

 

* I was.

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Yes, I think sometimes people who rely on the Tube and other frequent services don't realise how difficult it can be for people who have to use trains to get home.  At Don Q on Monday night I was standing there applauding and thinking how glad I was that I didn't have to travel from Charing Cross at the moment, because I wouldn't have made the next train and would have had to wait 30 minutes for the one after that.

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I still think a slightly earlier start time would help everyone, especially those with last/late trains to get. If the performance is delayed for any reason the 2230 finish can make even staying for the end of the performance impossible.

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I agree; it's routine for longer operas to have earlier start times, and indeed for shorter ones to start later (not that I particularly like that practice), so why does it apparently never happen with ballet?

 

(Am sensing the imminent approach of a mod moving these lasts few posts elsewhere, so we can start talking about R&J again...)

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Posted (edited)

The problem about an early weekday start is that for some people a regular 7 pm start for three act ballets would make it almost impossible for them to attend performances as they have to come from work. For many of those working outside London a standard 7:30 pm start makes it possible to attend performances without having to take time off to do so. If you live outside London the very occasional early start for an opera can be accommodated by taking time off to attend it but a regular early start for long ballets would make it impossible to attend all but a few performances in any one season.The Charing Cross service that I used to use when I lived outside London was only a half hourly service at peak times and after 10:30 pm the service thinned out with a last train at about midnight. If it was an opera performance I often used to have to use the last train which was a stopping service which took at least an hour and a half to complete a journey which at peak times took less than an hour. I was just grateful that the standard 7:30pm starting times at both the ROH and ENO enabled me to experience a wide range of the opera and ballet repertory and that I was able to get home even if it might mean that I would not get to bed until nearly 2 am. The truth is there is no ideal starting time that will meet everyone's needs.

Edited by FLOSS
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3 hours ago, Anna C said:

Before I forget, here is the whole of Tuesday’s cast for those also seeing Cuthbertson and Ball (and, I assume, the Naghdi and Ball cinema relay?):

 

Juliet: Lauren Cuthbertson

Romeo:  Matthew Ball

Mercutio:  Valentino Zucchetti

Tybalt:  Gary Avis

Benvolio:  James Hay

Paris:  Ryoichi Hirano

Lord Capulet:  Christopher Saunders

Lady Capulet:  Elizabeth McGorian

Escalus: Bennet Gartside

Rosaline:  Christina Arestis

Nurse:  Kristen McNally

Friar Laurence (sans wig) and Lord Montague:  Alastair Marriott

Lady Montague:  Olivia Cowley

Juliet’s Friends:  Ashley Dean, Leticia Dias, Isabella Gasparini, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Romany Pajdak

Three Harlots:  Itziar Mendizabal, Claire Calvert, Mayara Magri

Mandolin Dance:  Marcelino Sambé plus Luca Acri, Tristan Dyer, Benjamin Ella, Paul Kay, Calvin Richardson.

 

”Ballroom guests and Townspeople”, listed as usual as “Artists of the Royal Ballet” included Reece Clarke. 

Hooray! Arestis is back! I have missed her! 

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I live and work well outside London and welcome earlier starts. Given that for many outside London the working day might start at 8 and finish at 4 or so, it’s perfectly possible, for example, to get to London from Bristol for a 7pm start, even allowing for getting across Town from Paddington and without making arrangements to leave work early. The same applies for e.g. Salisbury and Winchester.

 

What gives me pause, rather, is the prospect of not getting home until well after midnight.

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1 hour ago, RuthE said:

(Am sensing the imminent approach of a mod moving these lasts few posts elsewhere, so we can start talking about R&J again...)

 

Good idea! 

I would like to send best wishes to Akane Takada on her debut as Juliet tonight.

(picture presumably from the General Rehearsal,  with acknowledgements to artoftheroyalballet on Instagram)

Juliet.jpg

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34 minutes ago, Richard LH said:

 

Good idea! 

I would like to send best wishes to Akane Takada on her debut as Juliet tonight.

(picture presumably from the General Rehearsal,  with acknowledgements to artoftheroyalballet on Instagram)

Juliet.jpg

Really looking forward to it!

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1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

If you live outside London the very occasional early start for an opera can be accommodated by taking time off to attend it but a regular early start for long ballets would make it impossible to attend all but a few performances in any one season.

 

It's not "very occasional" at the Royal Opera, it's a regular occurrence.  Looking only at recent shows, Traviata was a 7pm start, Forza is 6:30, and I didn't book for Cosi fan tutte but I know it's quite long so I'm sure it would have been a 7pm start at the latest.  Katya Kabanova was an exception by starting late at 8pm, and in that case they had originally intended to do it without an interval so it would have had an early finish. Had it originally been planned with an interval that might have been the only Royal Opera show since Christmas(?) with a 7:30 start.

 

Some of us here do attend at least as much opera as ballet.  Occasional it is not.

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