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Jonathan Howells features in my 'ideal' selection from the casts on display this run.

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4 hours ago, alison said:

I have noticed from all 3 casts, though, that the humour of the "lost keys" segment is a bit lacking - the timing could be sharper, I think.

 

I was wondering  what Yslaev's keys were for, and why does need them at that moment?

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Last night, as I was watching Yasmine Naghdi standing very still downstage right towards the end of Firebird, using those incredibly dark expressive eyes to observe all the movements she had initiated amongst the people and creatures, and her arms in classic 'Firebird pose', looking haughty and imperious....I was thinking 'gosh, what an amazing and formidable Myrthe she would make.'   Praying to the ballet gods that she will get both roles in the next run of Giselle....

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Will write a tad more later but I loved Muntagirov and Cuthbertson in the main roles in Month last night ....for me Muntagirov is the best since Baryshnikov in terms of how he brought this role to life ....glorious in that first little solo .....I also don't see Beliave as a womaniser at all....just a somewhat ardent young man beginning to delight in his own attractiveness and in the company of women perhaps ....but his feelings are for Natalia! Have to dash!!

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1 hour ago, Richard LH said:

 

I was wondering  what Yslaev's keys were for, and why does need them at that moment?

 

I've never really thought about that; but maybe it's a) a bit of light relief, b) an indication that Natalia's husband is older than her and a bit absent-minded, and/or c) an indirect reference to the fact that Yslaev has lost the means of keeping things (people?) secure/confined; the fact that it is Natalia who then finds the keys has myriad possible interpretations!

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Some quick thoughts from last night's performance:

 

Firebird - everytime I see this I appreciate the music more and more. I love the costumes, the set design, the lighting. Naghdi's technique is flawless but I have to say Mendizabal edged it for me actually, which surprised me because I was really looking forward to seeing Naghdi and only booked Mendizabal last minute. Even from the amphi you could see Mendizabal's eyes and feel her presence, with her arms perfectly bird like. Though Naghdi can jump higher, to me it felt very much like a classical ballerina playing a firebird, whereas Mendizabal was the firebird. This is not to say Naghdi's performance was bad at all, and I see her really developing in this role and I enjoyed both interpretations. 

 

A month in the country - honestly, Vadim is called 'Vadream' for a reason. No wonder all the ladies love him! But he played Beliaev like a real dreamer, not at all a 'playboy' and just someone who is genuinely confused about his feelings but really does care for both Natalia and Vera. Of course he never put a step wrong, and was perfectly 'soft' and elegant in this role (contrasting with his more bold and 'strong' technique in Symphony in C the other evening). Cuthbertson was beautiful as Natalia, flawless technique and whilst a more reserved performance than Osipova, you could still feel her character coming through. O'Sullivan, my gosh she is such an amazing dancer and as others have commented, if she is not principal in two years I will be very surprised. I thought she danced in a very 'Hayward-esque' manner for lack of a better description - the way I would describe this is such charm, an absolute delight and beautiful dancing which is fleet footed and quick, but executed brilliantly and seemingly naturally and without effort. I predict very big things for her and I will be keen to see her in the Autumn season if I can as either Aurora/Swanhilda. David Yudes was great as Kolia, lots of quick turns and he even managed to (somewhat) pull off the wig! Despite an amazing performance, I have to say I actually preferred Osipova/Hallberg for pure emotional connection, but this feels like splitting hairs, and the supporting cast here was much stronger, and I'm glad to have seen two different interpretations. 

 

Symphony in C was practically perfect - literally. The first and second movements were executed with absolute precision, completely in time by the corps as well as the 'principal' pairs. Kaneko/Ball were stunning, Lamb was absolutely dreamy in the second movement. But the thing that really made it was the corps all in perfect harmony, I was loving every minute! Sambe in the third movement proved exactly why he was promoted to principal - my gosh his jumps and leaps are so high and so effortless, and he brings a great presence to the stage, he will be a brilliant principal next year I'm sure. I always feel after the first three movements, the fourth feels a bit short and perfunctory, but Hayward and Hay did a solid job of rounding things off, though admittedly I do think Naghdi is better suited to Balanchine than Hayward is. Interestingly I do always feel when the four principal women dance together in the final section there is always someone slightly out of timing which ruins it slightly, but I presume this is because the corps are dancing to it every evening so get in more practice (?) whereas the four principals mix it up? But this is no excuse because they should be keeping time with the music! But overall, the first two movements being perfect and the final two near to it, what a brilliant end to the evening. It is such a shame there is no Balanchine next year, but I'm hoping for Jewels or at least one or two one acters the 20/21 season, because RB right now is in such a good place to deliver the choreography! 

 

I can't wait to see what the next season will bring, and look forward to new pieces and seeing new dancers as well as some 'old favourites' develop even further. 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Beryl H said:

I saw Jonathan Howells and thought him very funny, but I fear I was also laughing at myself, I am forever fumbling with keys!

 

At the risk of repeating myself, maybe take a look at the YouTube recording I posted earlier (see https://www.balletcoforum.com/topic/20401-the-royal-ballet-firebird-triple-bill-june-2019/?do=findComment&comment=286956 ) Imho this section of the old recording is funnier because it is so much faster (so there is less of the now-we-dancers-are-doing-something-funny style we have been seeing this run: it is impossible to be mannered when going as fast as they were in the 1970s).

 

If the differences in tempo are linked to who is conducting; whether today's casts are not as versed in Cecchetti as in the old days; or a grumpy Sir Fred got everyone to go as quick as possible, I leave to experts to say.

 

 

Edited by Geoff

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17 hours ago, Richard LH said:

 

I was wondering  what Yslaev's keys were for, and why does need them at that moment?

15 hours ago, bridiem said:

 

I've never really thought about that; but maybe it's a) a bit of light relief, b) an indication that Natalia's husband is older than her and a bit absent-minded, and/or c) an indirect reference to the fact that Yslaev has lost the means of keeping things (people?) secure/confined; the fact that it is Natalia who then finds the keys has myriad possible interpretations!

As well as showing that he's going a bit daffy ( agree this is all too familar!) and is no longer 'in charge'  I think there is more symbolism going on here as well- he has 'lost it' in every sense.......

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24 minutes ago, Mary said:

As well as showing that he's going a bit daffy ( agree this is all too familar!) and is no longer 'in charge'  I think there is more symbolism going on here as well- he has 'lost it' in every sense.......

 

Yes indeed Mary, not (as some recent performers seem to have been trying to indicate) that he is forgetful because he is an old man: he’s only in his thirties. 

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I had the interesting experience last night of seeing this bill from the Amphi but without opera glasses. I forgot them, for I think only the second time in 42 years of ballet-going!! I was rather dismayed when I realised I didn't have them, but of course it forced me to allow the bigger picture to prevail instead of spending so much time focussing (literally!) on the leads or other individuals. And it was a great experience! Especially with Symphony in C, where I was much more aware than usual of the way the shapes unfold and complement each other. What an incredible ballet it is. And in The Firebird I got the whole magnificent sweep of the drama all the time. I was even more impressed by Magri's Firebird this time, and it really projected up into the Amphi. Hayward was a brilliant Vera again in Month (those angry, stabbing kicks towards Natalia!) but seemed less secure in Symphony in C. Kaneko, Muntagirov, Lamb and Campbell all shone in Symphony and it got a great roar of approval as the curtain came down. A great evening.

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I thought Hayward looked very secure in Symphony in C last night. It felt like the whole ballet was taken at a much faster tempo. It made for a really exciting performance, probably the best I have seen (and I have seen this ballet many times). I wondered if the faster tempo suited Hayward better. 

Firebird was magnificent again. I love the way the ballet unfolds. As Bridiem said, Magri's performance really reached the Amphi, as did Mendizabal's on Saturday. I didn't see the Naghdi cast. 

I loved Nunez in Symphony in C, but her Natalia didn't move me - some moments (both dance and mime)  felt just a little forced and abrupt to me,  but there was also plenty to enjoy in her performance.

A wonderful programme, a wonderful company and a wonderful end to the season.  

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Maybe she was ‘extremely secure’ as Vera and ‘very secure’ can be considered ‘less secure’ 🤔😆

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1 hour ago, bridiem said:

I had the interesting experience last night of seeing this bill from the Amphi but without opera glasses. I forgot them, for I think only the second time in 42 years of ballet-going!! I was rather dismayed when I realised I didn't have them, but of course it forced me to allow the bigger picture to prevail instead of spending so much time focussing (literally!) on the leads or other individuals. And it was a great experience! Especially with Symphony in C,

Agree SiC is best seen 'whole' and best from the amphi. I find if I try to focus in, I just miss too much and anyway the part does not mean as much without the whole. whereas for Month I want to zoom in at times, eg the pas de deuxs.

My beloved opera glasses have just died and it is not easy to replace them so I might have to start a thread to ask for recomendations...

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Mary said:

 

My beloved opera glasses have just died and it is not easy to replace them so I might have to start a thread to ask for recomendations...

 There’s usually an ad in the programme for Leica opera glasses...I guessed they would be priced at a ridiculous level like £350...turned out it was more than double that!! I presume they give a better view than the £5 ones I got from the book club at work though!! 🧐😂

Edited by Rob S

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20 minutes ago, Mary said:

 

My beloved opera glasses have just died and it is not easy to replace them so I might have to start a thread to ask for recomendations...

 

Please do.  I am also looking for a pair and was thinking the very same thing.

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1 hour ago, Darlex said:

I thought Hayward looked very secure in Symphony in C last night. It felt like the whole ballet was taken at a much faster tempo. It made for a really exciting performance, probably the best I have seen (and I have seen this ballet many times). I wondered if the faster tempo suited Hayward better. 

 

I saw Hayward struggling at last Friday’s matinee and wondered if the speed was too slow. I assume it operates just as singers have certain speeds which work best for them when it comes to coloratura - it’s not simply a question of too fast or too slow, things just click in at particular tempi.

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Hayward is a natural "left turner".  Therefore, it must be SO difficult for her to dance this since all the turns are to the right, and she obviously has to turn the same way as everyone else.  I thought she was fabulous last night - at very high speed, as has been pointed out!! 

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First of all, a bit of a moan. I went to the Firebird mixed bill last night (Thursday). The website indicated a finish time of approx. 10:40 but the programme indicated 10:30 (interval of 25 and 20 minutes as opposed to two lots of 25 on the website - not sure how the other 5 minutes disappeared off to - perhaps the orchestra were going to be asked to play a bit faster?). In any event it finished at 10:50!

 

Needless to say (and this does annoy me) people were getting up to go whilst the cast were still on stage at the end of the performance (no curtain calls for Symphony in C). Just managed to get my train at 11pm (by about 30 seconds) - not sure how I managed to get to Waterloo in 10 mins.

 

I really can't understand first why the website and programme seem to differ so often, and secondly why can't it start and finish reasonably on time?

 

Any moans over..this was the second time seeing the Firebird (first time on Saturday). I am still not sure what to make of it - perhaps because it is so different from what I have seen before.

 

A Month was lovely and so glad I was able to see Nunez, Hayward, Ball (recovered from R&J on Tues!) and James Hay (what a wig! it needs putting down!). Symphony was equally lovely and was the first time I had seen both of these so wasn't sure what to expect. I would be very happy to see both again. So nice to see such a large part of the company all on stage in such an impressive performance.

 

A lovely way to end the season. Roll on October.

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Oh dear- when you say 10.50pm do you mean after all curtain calls etc?

 

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I thought I knew the plot of the firebird. As it turns out... I did not. I have never seen a ballet without knowing the plot before. What follows is a very hurried note of my thoughts written out in the interval, which reads not unlike a five year old watching her first pantomime.

 

Anyway I think the Firebird is 500% more fun when you don’t know the plot. It starts off pretty simple - we’ve got a bird, and a prince, the prince is trying to catch the bird. Standard ballet fare. Then there are lots of dancing girls in nightgowns. Up to this point I thought I knew exactly what was going on, possibly because I’d confused the Firebird with the Twelve Dancing Princesses somehow. Then there were apples? We’re dancing with the apples, okay. Prince boy shows up. There’s a nice dance. There’s a VERY long kiss by ballet standards. Enter Koschei. He points at you and you get a stomachache, so he’s a baddie. But it’s okay! The Prince has a feather! This... changes everything, for some reason! The bird shows up! At this point I’m the most confused I’ve been all night, because I thought the bird and the princess were the same person. There’s some fantastic angry dancing from the guards in costumes that make me feel like I’m in a Studio Ghibli movie. Everyone goes to sleep? Then they wake up for a bit. Then everyone goes to sleep again? THE PRINCE FINDS A BOX. What’s in the box? Gold? Jewels? His delightfully ineffectual crossbow from the previous scene? It’s an... egg? WE HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE EGG. He breaks the egg. MAYHEM ENSUES. Curtain goes down. Curtain comes up. Prince has a crown now and is using his newfound powers to get dates for all his new friends. Then we stand still for what felt like ten entire minutes until the music ends. They shouldn’t have put this first on the bill. I’m now too confused and delighted to concentrate on anything else. I could not tell you how good the dancing was, the story was too thrilling. 10/10, would watch repeatedly for the costumes alone, or at least until I understood what was going on.

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Posted (edited)

Other, more sensible thoughts - I thought the entire show was delightful. I've never enjoyed a mixed bill so much, or enjoyed each part as equally. I think A Month in the Country was my favourite (but I'm a big Nunez fan), but I also enjoyed the Balanchine far more than I expected. Sarah Lamb was to die for, and I really enjoyed seeing Romany Padjak in a solo role for the first time - I think she's wonderful. As for the men... it's almost mean to put Joseph Sissens in a group. He was so good in the first movement of Symphony in C that he made the other male dancers look practically clumsy (which of course they're not!)

 

Edit - forgot to say - would love to see Hirano in more leading roles. He went straight from a dark and almost irritatingly sexy villain in Medusa to a very darling Prince Ivan with ease.

Edited by Tatiana
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18 minutes ago, Mary said:

Oh dear- when you say 10.50pm do you mean after all curtain calls etc?

 

 

Yes - there were no curtains calls for Symphony (by which I mean the cast coming out in front the curtains) and I happened to look at my watch as the lights came up and saw it was 10:50 (my watch might have been fast but only by a couple of minutes).

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Running shoes on then! thanks v much.

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3 minutes ago, MJW said:

First of all, a bit of a moan. I went to the Firebird mixed bill last night (Thursday). The website indicated a finish time of approx. 10:40 but the programme indicated 10:30 (interval of 25 and 20 minutes as opposed to two lots of 25 on the website - not sure how the other 5 minutes disappeared off to - perhaps the orchestra were going to be asked to play a bit faster?). In any event it finished at 10:50!

 

I had already decided I was only staying until the second interval, thankfully! I was dead on my feet, and also was ready to commit murder thanks to the audience member in the Balcony whose hearing aid screeched for several minutes, spoiling the middle of Month in the Country...

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1 minute ago, RuthE said:

 

I had already decided I was only staying until the second interval, thankfully! 

 

I've been going back and forth over whether to do the same tonight!   I do really want to see Symphony, but also the thought of a 10:50 finish (and interminable journey home) is really making my heart sink.

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, RuthE said:

ready to commit murder thanks to the audience member in the Balcony whose hearing aid screeched for several minutes, spoiling the middle of Month in the Country...

This happened to the man next to me during my first ever Month on Wednesday. So irritating/uncomfortable but obviously also no one's fault! 

 

But does make me wonder if they were using amplification for the piano and this was causing difficulties for hearing aids generally, since the offending device had been fine for the Firebird (on Wednesday at least) 

Edited by standingticket
Clarity

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36 minutes ago, RuthE said:

 

I had already decided I was only staying until the second interval, thankfully! I was dead on my feet, and also was ready to commit murder thanks to the audience member in the Balcony whose hearing aid screeched for several minutes, spoiling the middle of Month in the Country...

 

How horrid for you! You should have come and sat next to me in the stalls as the two young women on my right left at the second interval as well.

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34 minutes ago, onemouseplace said:

 

I've been going back and forth over whether to do the same tonight!   I do really want to see Symphony, but also the thought of a 10:50 finish (and interminable journey home) is really making my heart sink.

 

You never know, if the conductor wants to get home on time they might just play that bit faster!

 

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ROH:please shorten the intervals!

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30 minutes ago, Mary said:

ROH:please shorten the intervals!

 

Month is quite a big set to get up and down, especially after Firebird; and some of the dancers are in works both sides of the intervals. So I doubt if possible to have shorter intervals in this bill.

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