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Sim

Your Highlights/Lowlights of the Season?

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Now that the Royal Ballet's season has just come to an end, and those of ENB, BRB and others will be ending soon, now is the time to reflect on what we have seen this past year.  What have been your favourite moments?  Revelations?  Disappointments?  This question is aimed at those who watch companies outside of the UK too;  we would be very interested to hear your thoughts.  

 

My starter for ten (although much more will occur to me, I'm sure!):

 

Postives:

-  Seeing La Bayadere again.  It is beautiful and gives good dance opportunities to many company members.  Loved it.

-  DonQ.  Joyous, great dancing, and sent me home with a smile each time.

-  Ivan Putrov's Against the Stream - this is how a gala evening should be done.

-  Ditto the tribute to Margot Fonteyn.

-  The Hayward/Corrales partnership in R&J.  This was a dream cast and knocked me for six all three times.

-  Matthew Ball's Tybalt....a revelation and a truly magnificent interpretation of the role, in a way I had never seen before and was incredibly           effective.

-  Marcellino Sambe's Mercutio....probably the best I have ever seen.

-  Beatriz Stix-Brunell's portrayal of a feisty Juliet.  

-  Naghdi/Ball's R&J, especially the broadcast performance.

-  Two Pigeons.  'Nuff said.

-  ENB's She Persisted triple bill.  Let's hear it for the girls!

 

Negatives:

-  Meh-dusa

 

 

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Nice thread, Sim, and my list is forming already.  However,  I think that I'd like to wait until I've settled down a little after Muntgirov's simply wonderful Beliaev yesterday and, as importantly, until every company has shown their wares (including BRB at Sadlers Wells and the Bolshoi).

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Posted (edited)

Great thread idea!

 

My highlights:

 

- La Bayadere! Amazing cast with Nunez/Osipova/Vadim, and the shades were so lovely. I really hope it comes back in the 20/21 season. 

- Fonteyn Celebration - a true showcase of the RB's talents. Standout for me was O'Sullivan in Daphnis and Chloe, and of course Hayward in Ondine (a successor to Margot if there ever was!). 

- RJ Corrales/Hayward cast. Despite not being my favourite ballet what a great cast. Not only were the leads brilliant, but the supporting cast top notch (Sambe/Ball et al.) 

- Within the Golden Hour - for me, contemporary 'done right' - brilliant choreography and music. 

- Firebird Mixed bill - what a brilliant evening and perfect end to the season, three different ballets which ended the season a real high. The choreography from Balanchine, heartbreaking casts and Ashton at his best in Month in the Country, and amazing sets, score and history with the Firebird. 

- Vadim Muntagirov in pretty much everything. Great stage presence, real depth of emotion/character and flawless technique. Is there anything he can't do?? 

- ENB - Manon with Alina Cojocaru. My god what a brilliant ballerina. 

- ENB - She Persisted Mixed Bill. I think Rojo is leading the company fantastically and they have really found their niche commissioning new productions and doing more contemporary works. This mixed bill was brilliant, especially the Rite of Spring. I look forward to the two Akram Khan's next season! 

 

Lowlights:

- Don Quixote - aside from Nunez/Muntagirov dancing their socks off which is the only thing that made it worthwhile (and O'Sullivan's cupid solo), the story/sets and other dance pieces didn't do much for me. Perhaps not a lowlight, but not really my thing. 

- Mayerling - whilst I have really enjoyed Hirano in everything else I've seen him in and think he's a brilliant dancer, I didn't think he really clicked for me in this. I haven't seen anyone else in it though, so I don't think blame for me not liking it much rests with Hirano and is also do with what I thought was an overly complicated and confusing plot, and not enough character development and too much focus on violence and over the top drama. 

- Dare I say it but Two Pigeons/Asphodel Meadows. Whilst I appreciated two Pigeons, I thought it was a bit long and felt the gypsy scenes could have been cut significantly, if it was a one act ballet I'd probably prefer it. (Sorry I know everyone will disagree!) Saying that I enjoyed the choreography between the young girl/boy and the pigeons at the end. Asphodel Meadows was ok, but merely ok. 

-  Medusa - didn't feel like the dancers were utilised to the best of their ability (not for lack of trying) and found the music not fitting. 

- Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Was really really looking forward to it because of all the hype and rave reviews. Whilst I enjoyed the scenes with the male swans (sadly Ball was injured so I had another cast member which I felt just wasn't technically up to standard as what I was expecting, but perhaps I'm unfair to compare to an RB standard) I found the other scenes not to my taste - I don't like Bourne's 'comedy' and the parody ballet I found distasteful. I think perhaps if I had known it wasn't a proper ballet and more of a contemporary dance inspired by ballet I would have appreciated it more, and I'm glad to have seen it once but I was very disappointed and wouldn't go again. To be honest, I just don't think Bourne is my thing, having had similar mixed feelings and disappointment with his 'The Red Shoes'. 

 

Sorry probably too long. Overall definitely more positives than negatives (had to stop myself from just listing so many dancers I've seen this year in amazing performances develop their skill) and feel incredibly privileged to live in London which has all of this to offer. 

 

 

Edited by JNC
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I was wondering if people would be doing end of season round-ups. I'm not sure I'm exactly to do so, as this is the first season I've seen a significant amount of ballet, but I'm going to give it a go. If anyone wants to criticise my very inexpert tastes feel free!

 

Highlights (chronological)

 

Mayerling - I'd never seen the RB live before but was interested in seeing this piece, after unexpectedly coming accross the tomb of the last Habsburg Emperor in Madeira a few years ago & subsequently reading up about late Habsburg history including the Mayerling incident, and I only wanted one opera in the autumn booking period so I though I'd give it a go. While Hirano as Rudolf wasn't to my taste, I was blown away by the rest of it. To the extent that I've seen 16 subsequent RB performances in the following 8 months!

 

Les Patineurs/Winter Dreams/The Concert - only the second time I've ever seen a triple bill & I really enjoyed all 3 pieces.

 

Manon - ENB, again blown away by MacMillan especially McWhinney & Frola, who I preferred to the more famous Cojacaru & Caley.

 

Two Pigeons - yes, perhaps a little too much of the gypsies but I love a romantic comedy.

 

Don Quixote - I know a lot of people aren't keen on the production but I, not having seen anything else to compare it to, really enjoyed it.

 

Romeo & Juliet - especially the Hamilton/Andrijashenko & Hayward/Corrales casts. The first time I've seen a ballet enough times - five - to enjoy seeing dancers in multiple roles. The score, how I love the score.

 

A Month in the Country/Symphony in C - I wasn't as keen on Firebird but really enjoyed the second & third parts of the triple bill.

 

Fonteyn Celebration - first time I've been to a ballet gala. So impressed by the opportunity to see so many of the principals on stage in one performance.

 

 

Lowlight

 

Flight Pattern - I was wishing for it to end from about half a minute in. I will be avoiding all modern dance in the future as it's clearly not to my taste.

 

 

I'm trying to do exceptional dancers but am having difficulties as I've been very impressed by the majority of the RB dancers in everything. I suppose Muntagirov, Campbell, Nunez, Lamb, Cutherbertson, Hayward, Avis, Saunders, Hamilton, Corrales, Magri, Mendizabel, Hay, Storm-Jensen & Mock have all particularly stood out for me in one or more roles but I'm sure I've missed some people out and with injuries etc. I've not seen all the dancers yet.

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Thinking back over the season, I'm a bit worried that I am becoming a bit obsessive about ballet but since that is better than being on drugs or speeding cars, I shan't worry too much!

 

Highlights

 

The Two Pigeons (I saw this ages ago on Sky Arts and loved it, so was so pleased it was being performed this year - in the end I saw it three times - at the general rehearsal, with Alexander Campbell and Yuhui Choe and then with Yasmine Naghdi and James Hay and loved it - I now have the music on my Ipod!)

Within the Golden Hour, which I hadn't planned to see but decided to go to the mixed bill and was so pleased as I did as I thought this was fantastic and taught me to be a bit more open minded about modern works.

Flight Pattern - didn't think I would like this but was overwhelmed.

 

Lowlights

 

Winter Dreams (loved Les Patineurs and the Concert though)

R&J at Covent Garden (but loved the cinema version with Matthew Ball and Yasmine Naghdi). It may not have helped that when  I saw it live the woman sitting next to me kept fidgeting and sighing throughout!)

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This should be a very interesting thread. My personal high was Morera/Bonelli in Mayerling - and a low that the only DVD of them is Frankenstein.  Highs were Campbell's De Grieux and his Lescaut, also his performance in Pigeons with Takada. Most surprising high was thoroughly enjoying Don Q with Osipova and Muntagirov - hadn't planned to see this at all, as it is not usually a ballet I enjoy, but a friend couldn't go and I helped her out! Low meant that my financial situation did not permit me to see as much as I would have liked to, so I have missed many performances I would like to have seen. Firebird a huge high and I suddenly 'got' Month in the Country, although low is not seeing it with Muntagirov. A real high is the overall standard of the company with so many young dancers looking more than able to replace some of those who have left, or who will be leaving.

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52 minutes ago, ninamargaret said:

Highs were Campbell's De Grieux and his Lescaut, also his performance in Pigeons with Takada

Unless there was a cast change I missed, I thought Campbell danced this with Choe, and with Naghdi, whilst Takada only danced it with Hay? 

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8 hours ago, Richard LH said:

Unless there was a cast change I missed, I thought Campbell danced this with Choe, and with Naghdi, whilst Takada only danced it with Hay? 

sorry, my bad wording. You're perfectly correct. it was Choe in Pigeons and Takada in Manon in the performances i saw.

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Highlights

- Mayerling with Bonelli/Morera (and I do hope we see them in Onegin)

- Bayerdere Shades without the scrim

- Winter Dreams with Morera, a very special performance 

- DonQ with Osipova and O’Sullivan’s Amour every time

- R&J and a fabulous set of performances: Sambe/O’Sullivan’s debut; Correles/Hayward and such a well matched cast with their second performance the overall standout of the year for me; Ball/Naghdi in the theatre and in the relay; and of course Osipova’s extraordinary Juliet

- Month in the Country with all casts in a truly wonderful Triple Bill that brought the curtain down so fittingly on a fabulous season

 

Lowlights

- Some disappointments by way of casting.  Would have loved to see Hayward as Mary Vetsera, Morera in Month in the Country, and O’Sullivan having her Stephanie debut here - lucky LA audience!

- Not convinced by some guest dancers.  I thought Tissi and Hallberg were weak when compared directly on stage with Royal Ballet Tybalts/Mercutios/Benvolios.  I do hope we see Osipova developing more Royal Ballet partnerships.

- Unknown Soldier I found hugely disappointing.

- Royal Opera House’s website where we still don’t have a functioning calendar, the Baker Richards consultancy and its handling by the Royal Opera House, and I regret very much what I consider to be the Royal Opera House’s failure to engage audiences in constructive debate.

 

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Posted (edited)

Highlight:

1. La Bayerdere. Nunez/Osipova/Vadim, dreamy. I went to 3 performances and had tears.

2. Vadeam pretty much in everything

3. Les Patineurs opening night opened my holiday season :)

4. ground floor coffee counter has great coffee.......

Lowlight:

1. DQ Don't like the set. 

2. Forever changing ROH website.

Edited by HelenLoveAppleJuice
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Seemed a bit of a strange season, this one just gone. There were gaps where I wasn’t at a ballet for 2-3 weeks, then other times when at 5-6 performances inside 6 days!

 

Highlights

Many RB highs, inc:

 Yasmine Naghdi, Francesca Hayward,  and Beatriz Stix Brunell as Juliet. Each brought something tangibly different and great to the role.

Agree with Sim about Marcelino Sambe and Matthew Ball as Mercutio and Tybalt respectively

Laura Morera and Federico Bonelli in Mayerling. Should have been filmed.

Akane Takada and Yasmine Naghdi’s rivalry in Bayadere

Seeing Infra again - the music in that is something I really like, and love the dancing

Nutcracker shows - it makes Christmas as far as I’m concerned

Asphodel Meadows reminding me of Scarlett’s good stuff

Yasmine Naghdi and Marcelino Sambe ripping up the stage in Don Q (and Marcellno’s promotion to Principal for next season)

‘In the Golden Hour’ was sublime - ‘Flight Pattern’ again shattering

Symphony in C having TWO runs (and what a perfect way to end the season!) - Fumi Kaneko and Sarah Lamb particular standouts in quite a long list for me. Think I could happily watch this at least once a week for the rest of my days

the recent Fonteyn gala was very well done. Vadim Muntagirov simply left corsaire shaped scorch marks on the stage! And Francesca Hayward was an enigmatic Ondine, amongst a good few highlights

 

 

ENB’s ’She Persisted’ bill - great seeing ‘Broken Wings’ again, and of course the Pina ‘Rite of Spring’, plus the in-house ‘Nora’ from the talented Stina Quagebeur

Ballet Cymru’s ‘A Child’s Christmas’ with Cerys reading Dylan Thomas. Bliss!

Northern Ballet’s ‘Victoria’

San Francisco Ballet’s visit to Sadlers Wells with 12 terrific short works all new to London - in fact, some were outstanding, and the Ratmanski triple bill in particular was a thrilling evening. Made my year

Ballet Black’s ’The Suit’ and ‘Ingoma’ double bill just this week - wowser!

 

 

 

Disappointments

Sight lines in the new Linbury for us in the cheap seats. There are no sight lines

Which may have affected my interest in the International Drafts and ‘New Music, New Work’ bills there, which weren’t up to much

New works generally for the RB weren’t keepers (Medusa, Unknown Soldier, (neither of which I exactly disliked as such, just didn’t ‘wow’) and drafts mentioned above)

The continuing reduction of triple bills at ROH - and so less variety through the year. (Is there a plan to move them to the Linbury afoot?) Huge runs of MacMillan doom-wracked blockbusters seem to be squeezing everything else out - and Winter Dreams was utterly tedious

Too many male guests in RB - the RB chaps deserve better! Wasn’t as if said guests were earth shattering, from what I saw.

 

Oh - and doom and gloom lighting. SFB showed how to do nice bright lighting at Sadlers Wells. R&J at ROH seemed to shrink into a bubble surrounded by gloom (Capulet Ball excepted), I don't remember it being that dark before - perhaps we should have a whip round for the electric meter! 😉

 

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Highlights:

La Bayadere: Osipova (Nikiya), Nunez (Gamzatti), Muntagirov (Solor) - sublime and I wish it were this configuration that had been filmed
Romeo and Juliet: Hayward, Corrales, and everyone else in this cast

Winter Dreams - a quiet revelation
Symphony in C 
Medusa - intriguing choreography, inspired use of music, magisterial Osipova
Alina Cojocaru as Manon (ENB)


Lowlights:


The Unknown Soldier - excruciating

The Two Pigeons - I don't love it and the run went on forever
The brass section in Romeo & Juliet (ouch)

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31 minutes ago, Tebasile said:


The brass section in Romeo & Juliet (ouch)

 

I heard they are still looking for that note, even now...

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2 minutes ago, zxDaveM said:

 

I heard they are still looking for that note, even now...

 

A member of the orchestra explained to me that, when the orchestra is tired, as they are now, it shows more noticeably in the brass and woodwind sections than anywhere else.

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4 hours ago, JohnS said:

- Not convinced by some guest dancers.  I thought Tissi and Hallberg were weak when compared directly on stage with Royal Ballet Tybalts/Mercutios/Benvolios.  I do hope we see Osipova developing more Royal Ballet partnerships.

 

 

I don't feel I can judge Hallberg on one out of context pdd but I agree that Tissi was a bit disappointing. I know he only had limited rehearsal time but so did Andrijashenko & I thought he was in another league compared to Tissi. Having two guest Des Grieuxs next season seems rather excessive. Hallberg seems at the moment to be dancing more principal roles with the RB than some of the actual principals are!

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Absolute highlight of my season was La Bayadere. I think Osipova/Nunez/Muntagirov just edged it over Nunez/Osipova/Muntagirov but both were absolutely wonderful. How I wish they had filmed both (but with Sambe as the Bronze Idol both times!)

Other standouts have been 

Sarah lamb's Marie Larische and James Hay's Bratfish in Mayerling

William Bracewell, and Yasmine Naghdi in Winter Dreams

Osipova's stunning Juliet on June 1st

and Matthew Ball's Tybalt

I have also very much enjoyed watching Anna Rose O' Sullivan and Joseph Sissons light up the stage whenever they appear

and (of course) almost everything danced by Vadim Muntagirov

 

The exception to the latter is Don Quixote as even a dream team of Osipova/Muntagirov couldn't rescue it for me. The music has had the life sucked out of it, the choreography is a mess and the costumes ugly. Both ABT and Bolshoi versions are so much better.

I didn't particularly enjoy Flight Pattern. I'm not so keen on some of the modern pieces and the gloomy lighting didn't help (although I thought the music lovely). 

However, bottom of the pile has to be Unknown Soldier. That was so awful words fail me......

 

 

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16 hours ago, MJW said:

that

 

3 hours ago, zxDaveM said:

Oh - and doom and gloom lighting. SFB showed how to do nice bright lighting at Sadlers Wells. R&J at ROH seemed to shrink into a bubble surrounded by gloom (Capulet Ball excepted), I don't remember it being that dark before - perhaps we should have a whip round for the electric meter! 😉

 

 

MJW, I do agree with you, the ROH overdo the gloomy lighting in too many ballets.  R&J was the worst - e.g. not being able to see Lord Capulet when Tybalt dies.  It’s a show - we need to easily see the dancers and sets.  I suggest they rewatch the cinema broadcasts to brighten things up for the audience (we are not all 20 years old with 20/20 vision).  

 

Other lowlight for me is over-complicated costumes masking the dance.  Anything that makes the dancers shoulders look like they are up ruins the necklines and spaces.  (Macmillan was keen on spaces between parts of the body, I remember from a documentary long ago)

 

So many brilliant performances from many principals and soloists.  Notably for me, were Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Fumi Kaneko and Marcelino Sambe who have all been given real chances to shine and have done so on each occasion 👏👏👏 

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1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

 

Having two guest Des Grieuxs next season seems rather excessive. Hallberg seems at the moment to be dancing more principal roles with the RB than some of the actual principals are!

 

I agree. A case could be made this spring when injuries couldn't readily be covered from within the Company but Reece Clarke more than earned his spurs as Des Grieux in 2018 and deserves more than one show and some public exposure in the role this coming autumn. The fact that some ballerinas seem to be able to select their partners does not sit easily with me and will re-appear as one of my 'lowlights'. It is surely beneficial for younger dancers to be able to be paired with more experienced ones; but now...........!!!!!

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1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

 

Hallberg seems at the moment to be dancing more principal roles with the RB than some of the actual principals are!

 

I liked Hallberg a lot in Month in the Country, but unless he’s more comfortable with lifting than he was in the Balcony pdd at the Fonteyn Gala (the only one I can comment on) I do wonder how the Manon pdd will go.

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My highlights have been:

 

Royal Ballet:

 

- La Bayadere- I really love this ballet but my highlight was the Osipova/Corrales/Nunez cast.  I also saw the the Nunez/Muntagirov/Osipova cast but I much prefer the casting the other way round, and while I think Muntagirov is clearly an absolutely amazing dancer he just doesn't usually do much for me; whereas Corrales on the other hand blew me away.  

- Les Patineurs- I'd never seen this ballet before but I thought it was just spectacular and riduclously enjoyable.  I wish it was on every year! 😃

- The Two Pigeons- I always liked this ballet before but I saw the Takada/Hay cast and I truly fell in love with it and actually cried at the end which is extremely rare for me as I'm not usually a ballet crier...I felt like it was just one of those magical performances

- Romeo and Juliet- I saw the Hayward/Corrales cast- just fantastic

- The Firebird/A Month in the Country/Symphony in C triple bill: I can't think of a mixed bill I've seen that has been better than this, really loved it and fell hopelessly in love with A Month in the Country (I saw the Osipova/Hallberg cast and thought she was completely fantastic and captivating...and that Hallberg was brilliant too)...and I was already in love with Symphony in C but that was as brilliant as ever.

 

Other companies:

- BRB's La Fille at Sadlers...so joyful.  I saw the Celine Gittens/Brandon Lawrence cast and they were wonderful

- ENB performing Pita's Rite of Spring- I thought it was unbelievable (was not much of a fan of the She Persisted bill but I would sit through anything to see Rite of Spring again)

- Seeing Alina Cojocaru in various ENB productions...even if I'm not so keen on the ballet it's great to see her as I never got the opportunity when she was at the RB

- Bolshoi cinema broadcasts...La Sylphide and Don Q(can't remember if Don Q was a repeat or live but either way I absolutely loved them)

 

My lowlights were:

- RB's The Unknown Soldier...I get so sick of completely uninspiring new work 

- RB's Don Q- love the ballet but never seen the Acosta production before...I'm not sure what he did to it but I felt like he somehow ripped the heart out of it

- San Francisco Ballet Welch/Scarlett/Peck bill...looked forward to finally seeing a Peck piece since it was announced it was coming and then I just hated it and the other 2.  I think this bill wins the prize for my personal biggest disappointment 

- Having to return my Romeo and Juliet ticket for the Osipova/Hallberg cast and then my local cinema being sold out (well there was a couple of seats left but they were the ones so close to the screen it's a strain to watch it) so I didn't even get to see what all the fuss is about with Nagdi and Ball ☹️

 

All in all I think it's been a pretty great ballet season though!

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Posted (edited)

Highlights

Ratmansky trilogy - SFBallet @ Sadler's Wells

opening night of Swan Lake - ENB @ Coliseum

Matthew Ball in Mayerling

Beatrix Stix Brunell and Calvin Richardson in Within the Golden Hour

 

Downlights

Medusa (what a waste of talent)

Winter Dreams (after Judas Tree last season I start to consider MacMillan as an overrated choreographer...)

Hirano in Winter Dreams - how can you cast this type of dancer in a dramatic ballet ? 

Fumi Kaneko and Daniel Camargo in Don Quixote - where you can see that wonderful technique is not everything...

Edited by MAX

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Highlights (I've tried to be selective, but have failed miserably!):

- The Unknown Soldier: the beautiful young men restored to vibrant, joyous life in a golden heaven

- La Bayadère: magnificent performances by Nunez/Muntagirov/Osipova, and the corps

- Les Patineurs: thrilling to see it again

- Muntagirov in Winter Dreams: heartbreaking

- ENB's beautiful production of Swan Lake at the Coliseum

- Asphodel Meadows: Scarlett's best work

- The 2 Pigeons: sublime choreography and obliging pigeons

- Don Quixote, which I loved against all expectations

- Pina Bausch's Rite of Spring, ENB: the raw, exciting power of it

- Romeo and Juliet: brilliant débuts by O'Sullivan, Sambé and Stix-Brunell, sublime performances by Lamb and Muntagirov, Sambé's thrilling Mercutio and Avis's magnificent Tybalt

- San Francisco Ballet, Shostakovich Trilogy: wonderful choreography, music and dancing

- Month in the Country: brilliant ballet, brilliant performances, especially Muntagirov as an incredibly moving Beliaev

- Symphony in C: thrilling every time; one of my desert island ballets

- The Margot Fonteyn Celebration: an unexpectedly rich and moving evening

 

Lowlights (fortunately very few):

- the new work in the Linbury in Feb 2019: abysmal

- Nora, Stina Quagebeur's new ballet: so disappointing

- Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake: loved the swans, hated everything else

- Nunez and Tissi in Romeo and Juliet: Nunez miscast, Tissi very poor

 

General: one of the best seasons ever

 

 

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8 hours ago, Mummykool said:

Absolute highlight of my season was La Bayadere. I think Osipova/Nunez/Muntagirov just edged it over Nunez/Osipova/Muntagirov but both were absolutely wonderful. How I wish they had filmed both (but with Sambe as the Bronze Idol both times!)

Other standouts have been 

Sarah lamb's Marie Larische and James Hay's Bratfish in Mayerling

William Bracewell, and Yasmine Naghdi in Winter Dreams

Osipova's stunning Juliet on June 1st

and Matthew Ball's Tybalt

I have also very much enjoyed watching Anna Rose O' Sullivan and Joseph Sissons light up the stage whenever they appear

and (of course) almost everything danced by Vadim Muntagirov

 

The exception to the latter is Don Quixote as even a dream team of Osipova/Muntagirov couldn't rescue it for me. The music has had the life sucked out of it, the choreography is a mess and the costumes ugly. Both ABT and Bolshoi versions are so much better.

I didn't particularly enjoy Flight Pattern. I'm not so keen on some of the modern pieces and the gloomy lighting didn't help (although I thought the music lovely). 

However, bottom of the pile has to be Unknown Soldier. That was so awful words fail me......

 

I have to agree with just about everything @Mummykool says - though I'd also throw Gary Avis' Tybalt into the mix.

 

The Osipova/Muntagirov/Nunez La Bayadere on 16th Nov was always likely to be special, but its ineffable perfection left me stunned. I'm glad that sort of performance doesn't come along too often as I'd risk getting habituated, so diminishing the 'hit'.

 

In fact, I think I need the other extreme - the 'lows' - to keep me grounded by acting as a reference point against which to calibrate my sense of joy. That's my rather tenuous justification for shelling out to see the the dog's dinner and dog's breakfast productions that were The Unknown Soldier and Don Q (the former being so bad it probably doesn't even warrant the false hope implied by the label 'dinner' - it was just a dog's meal).

 

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12 hours ago, capybara said:

 

A member of the orchestra explained to me that, when the orchestra is tired, as they are now, it shows more noticeably in the brass and woodwind sections than anywhere else.

 

How sweet. But there is always an excuse. Just imagine if an accountant asked for sympathy when submitting false tax returns because of being “tired”. What is the right amount of sympathy for people unable to do their jobs professionally?

 

By way of recent comparison I have just been to Wagner’s Ring in Budapest, where the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra played the four shows of that enormous operatic cycle on four consecutive nights (a schedule forbidden in Britain by the MU, I understand, “not enough rest breaks”).The all-important brass section sounded world-class at the end of the last show (after six and half hours in the theatre today) just as they had at the beginning, seventeen hours of playing ago. Bet they were “tired”.

 

Incidentally, if you are going to quote an unnamed member of what is possibly the most complacent orchestra in Britain, maybe I can quote an unnamed senior member of the ROH music staff. If I understood correctly, the ROH is not allowed to introduce regular re-auditions (but if the MU is so convinced their members are immortal and never get lazy or sloppy or drunk or whatever, why not have the courage to let that be tested occasionally?) And although management have apparently calculated the cost of moving on the worst players, the bill is supposedly too high to be countenanced. 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Mummykool said:

The exception to the latter is Don Quixote as even a dream team of Osipova/Muntagirov couldn't rescue it for me. The music has had the life sucked out of it

 

The person who did this lousy job is sadly also hired to conduct it, so it seems we may be stuck with it for a while. Oh for John Lanchbery! 

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12 hours ago, Geoff said:

 

The person who did this lousy job is sadly also hired to conduct it, so it seems we may be stuck with it for a while. Oh for John Lanchbery! 

 

Although its last outing was slightly less insipid than before, an improvement that seemed to bypass the costumes and sets.

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Posted (edited)

My highlights (in order ! ) 

 

Corrales/Hayward (RB)- 3rd Romeo & Juliet, one of the greatest performances

Morera/Bonelli Mayerling (RB)- very fine portrayls from these exceptional artists

Cojocaru/Caley ENB Manon - Alina, Alina, Alina

Muntagirov in Winter Dreams & Month in the Country (RB) - he was simply magnificent and I held my breath.

Cao/Arrieta ENB Swan Lake - a beautiful production, a fine orchestra and conductor, a well rehearsed corps de ballet and central performances full of nuance, pathos and melancholy

Shklyarov/Yevseyeva Don Q (St Petersburg Mariinsky) - fun and pizzazz in spades

La Sylphide (St Petersburg Mikhailovsky) a rare opportunity to see the still great Sarafanov

Ratmansky Shostakovich Trilogy (San Francisco Balle) for the brilliance of the choreography

Ratmansky Bayadere in Berlin for the spectacle

Edited by annamk
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My Highlights (mainly Royal Ballet)

  • Kevin O'Hares choice of mixed bills. To me these have improved immensely this season and seem to be continuing over to the next season also . Previously I thought the RB choice of mixed bills fairly lacklustre often with one ballet I really wanted to see, one ballet I wasn't too bothered about and the third I didn't want to see at all (the latter usually in the middle so I couldn't arrive late or leave early though at least once I sat it out on the terrace). However, this year most of the mixed bills from Patineurs, to 2 Pigeons and the final glorious Firebird all were truly excellent and inspired choices. The next season looks to be getting off to a great start too with the Concerto triple and an added bonus it is being filmed.
  • Margot Fonteyn celebration. A fabulous evening that I'm so glad I attended. I have been very critical about Kevin O'hare about the seeming lack of planning for this great event but the actual event was very well planned and beautifully danced. it was wonderful to see all the Ashton performed, especially the rare pieces (though it highlighted the disappointing amount of Ashton available next year). A great choice of extracts and it would be wonderful to see more of these sort of evenings in the future; perhaps an annual event (?) It doesn't need to celebrate anything except how wonderful the RB is at the moment! The programme organised by Laura Morera last summer for one of the tours also looked really well planned as regards content and dancers. I would have loved to see that also.
  • Individual ballets; anything by Ashton, so Les Patineurs and Two Pigeons were especially wonderful. La Bayadere; great to see it again after too long an absence (though I wish we had a different production. I don't like the Makharova version at all.) However the casting was to die for; Nunez, Osipova and Muntagirov though disappointed to miss the Osipova/Coralles performance. Apart from Asylnuratova I don't see how it could have been bettered and seeing it at the cinema was an added bonus. Hopefully a dvd will follow eventually (hint, hint!) Also seeing Brandon Lawrence in la Fille at the Lowry. He is a great Colas and an great asset to any company. Disappointed he isn't cast as Will Moffat in Hobson's Choice.  
  • Debut performances. Sambe/Naghdi and Campbell/Magri in Don Q were wonderful but possibly the stand out debut performances for me were Hayward/Coralles and O'Sullivan/Sambe in Romeo and Juliet. they were both amazing performances anyway but as debut performances they were just incredible. I don't even especially like Romeo and Juliet but like many other ballets I've not been especially bothered about over the last few years I'm now hooked because of all the mesmerising performances I've seen. Also Vadim in Winter Dreams. He gave such an emotional performance I was practically in tears at the end.
  • Individual performances; where can I start?! Seeing Francesca Hayward as Juliet, Ondine, Symphony in C and Month in the Country made me realise what a very special talent we'd been missing for most of the season. Hopefully she'll be with us all next season and we'll see her develop her already considerable artistry even more. She is a true inheritor of Fonteyn's mantle as was seen in her Ondine. Joseph Sissens has continued to impress in whatever he does and I'm hoping his prominent role in Symphony is C is a precursor to another well merited promotion. Teo Dubreill came to my notice as Benvolio in R and J and was my favourite Benvolio so I hope he is promoted too, also Francisco Serrano who was a wonderfully memorable beggar in Don Q. Ball and Naghdi continue to impress both with their partnership and individually. Matthew Ball's Tybalt was so memorable; probably the best Tybalt I've ever seen. Also Sambe was an amazing Mercutio and I hope he and Matthew will be filmed eventually, preferably with Hayward and Coralles. Gary Avis and Christopher Saunders in most roles they do. I love the RB idea of creating Principal Character Artists as they can help so much to 'flesh out' a ballet in a way many foreign companies don't seem to get. The fact they are both teachers as well is an incredible added bonus. Anna Rose O'Sullivan and Marcellino Sambe have developed so much over the past year both together and individually; they wowed New York with their Balanchine and then wowed us with their wonderful Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. it is wonderful to have such a wealth of talent emerging from many of the younger Royal Ballet dancers; there are really no weaknesses anywhere.
  • Finally (leaving the best to last!) Vadim Muntagirov. In just about everything I've seen him in this year he has been amazing; his versatility and artistry are second to none. He practically reduced me to tears in 2 Pigeons, Winter Dreams and A Month in the Country (for me the latter two were the standout performances of the year). He can give Vasiliev a run for his money in virtuosity in Don Q and Corsaire, was beautifully romantic in Bayadere and Romeo and Juliet and sparkled in Symphony in C. As someone on the Forum very aptly put his is the gift that keeps on giving; just when you think he can't get any better he surpasses even your high expectations of his performance and always (when appropriate) with that megawatt smile; Vadream indeed!

Lowlights

 

There aren't very many of these mainly as the RB is so good and because I live a distance from London and evening performances involve a hotel stay I tend to be very selective and only book for performances and dancers I am fairly certain I will enjoy.

  • The Medusa triple. saw this at the cinema and very glad I didn't go to London to see it as even Within the Golden Hour didn't really do much for me and I was frankly bored with the other two.
  • Lighting in some Royal ballet productions, especially Romeo and Juliet. Do lighting engineers not realise that most people prefer to actually see what is going on onstage? it becomes an especial problem if that production is filmed as there doesn't seem to be any way to improve lighting for cameras which don't adjust to gloomy conditions as fast as most eyes can.
  • ENB Manon. I saw this production in Manchester and hated it so much I couldn't even bear to go and see Alina in it and I'm sure she was incredible.
  • St Petersburg Ballet Cinderella at the Grand Theatre, Blackpool. Uncharacteristically a very disappointing production; more pantomime than ballet. In fact when the prince arrived in a classical costume I could almost have kissed him as there had been very little choreography until then.
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Posted (edited)

There has been so much to celebrate over the past season - be it with the stunning outputs of the Royal Ballet replete that PERFECT Triple we have just enjoyed and the breakout seasons for the ever effervescent Joseph Sissens and Anna Rose O'Sullivan and the welcoming of the ever stunning Cesar Corrales as much as the continued blossoming of Ball's dramatic acumen most blisteringly inherent in his Tybalt;  English National Ballet - (most vividly in the revival of the Broken Wings- a masterwork); Birmingham Royal Ballet (thanks be for that exciting revival of The King Dances - and would that London audiences might have been more plentiful) or Northern Ballet (most especially the intoxicating delights of Martson's Victoria).  The extraordinary prolonged PDT that ends the first first act of that latter will live with me a long time.  So, SO much to celebrate.  

 

Outside of the above I would myself like to note;

 

(i) Putrov's Against the Stream - for bringing gala back to gala ... and ABOVE ALL giving London audiences their one and only glimpse of Joaquin de Luz.  So little; so late - but happy that this was able to happen AT ALL.  Bless Ivan for this.  

 

(ii) That extraordinary moment (and I realise that SheilaC and I may be alone amongst members on this board to have seen this) when Dylan Wald - then a PNB corps member - was tossed onto the Parisian stage at Le Seine Musicale in Robbins' (in the year of his centenary) stunning Opus 19/The Dreamer.  The audience applauded the end of the first movement SO much the conductor was forced to delay the start of the second - with the dancers already in place.  They applauded through the beginning of the second moment - with Wald continuing to dazzle.  This was a shivers down the spine moment.  WHAT A GIFT THIS YOUNG MAN IS.  Would that we might one day we might see him in London. 

 

(iii) In that same outing (the Robbins Celebration in Paris by Les Etes de la Danse) I vividly also recall the theatrically brilliant Pink Girl of Tiler Peck in NYCB's DAAG.  She is rightfully hailed (alongside Osipova) as one of the great ballerinas of the beginning of the 21st Century.  Both I think are largely thought so because of the number of vital roles they have originated - and both have Ratmansky to thank for much.  (This being said - and speaking of that mastermind Ratmansky - there is no question but that the showing by the SFB - a company of SUCH wonderful dancers - here in London of Ratmansky's Shostakovitch Trilogy must rank as a season high on the lists of any of the regretfully few who actually saw it here at any one of the three performances offered.)   I hope we get a chance to see Peck here before her career quite finishes.  I was privileged to also see her in several things - including the first movement of SiC but a month later in Copenhagen and - as ever - she dazzled.  Her capacity for musicality through speed is I think unmatched today.  It allows her to toy in a way with phrasing that few others can.  Perhaps Putrov can bring her over for his next Against the Stream-like gala - and I do sincerely pray that their will be one.  

 

(iv) Speaking of Robbins (and we must thank Tamara Rojo/ENB for sharing The Cage with us in London's celebration) and in addition to the two examples mentioned above - although I didn't think that the four performances of the Robbins'  POB programme were all that they might be - and certainly not offering much to write home about - I would like to note the fine effort - as ever - of Francois Alu as the first sailor in Fancy Free.  This chap shines - indeed uniquely so - in whatever he does.  His performance in La Source still reigns in my memory.  He will have a feast when they do Mayerling.  That he is not yet an POB Etoile boggles the (well, my) mind.  

 

(iii) The TOTAL joy of being able to revel in Balanchine's Liebesleider Waltzer and the Brahms Schoenberg Quartet in Hamburg.  These are two of my favourite works - so different - but so enriching.  What a privilege it is to yet again - and as ever - to witness the TOTAL authority of Alexandre Riabko.  At the second performance I saw a young Australian ballerina, Olivia Betteridge, thrown into the first ballet and rightfully indulge in a radiant soloist assignment in the third movement of the second.  She was entirely breathtaking.  I look forward to perhaps catching a glimpse or two of her next week when I'm back for more of this same and others - plus the Nijinsky gala.  At six hours of ballet that is my idea of a good time :) 

 

(iv) I agree with Anna - the Ratmansky Bayadere is a jewel.  (Like Anna and DonQFan, I was lucky enough to see this in Berlin - in fact shared a performance with the latter - and will see her next week in Hamburg :) .) Unlike the Makarova, the narrative is SO clear ... allowing the choreography (of which there is more) to fully glisten.  I saw it twice - and knew immediately that wasn't enough.  I will be back next March for two more ... and a Haydee Sleeping Beauty sandwiched in between.  I would love to see the RB ditch their current production (now over 30 years old) for this - but I know that is not about to happen somehow.  

 

Still in all so, SO much to educate and entertain us.  So much to shout about.  We have indeed been lucky.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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