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Birmingham Royal Ballet - Giselle - Autumn Tour 2019


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1 hour ago, Sim said:

Did anyone see the Delia Mathews/Tyrone Singleton debuts last night?

 

 

Yes and very beautiful is was too. Delicious Delia is always on top form, and last night was no exception. Whether it was the coy Giselle, the bolder dancing Giselle, the mad Giselle or the ghost Giselle, every character was played distictly. I especially liked her in the ensemble pieces, when she is dancing with the villagers.

 

I never really been a fan of Tyrone. There is no doubting his ability but for me he rarely seems to fit the role, although last night he somehow did.

 

Beatrice Parma and Lachlan Monaghan gave it they're all on the harvest pdd. I think it is probably amongst the most joyous times that I have seen in danced.

 

I have always preferred the second act to the first. It is a feast for the eyes. Alys Shee was very aloof as Myrtha. Men would certainly be compelled to obey her orders!

 

A nice little moment. There were three girls sitting on a bench, sharing grapes from a basket. The look of horror on one them as she dropped a grape I found quite funny. One of the other girls retrieved it before there was any mishap.

 

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Thanks to all for the posts on the start of BRB's run of performances of their Giselle. I also saw Delia Mathews/Tyrone Singleton on Friday eve.  I thought the leads and the whole cast was absolutely splendid, a completely convincing masterpiece of the Ballet repertoire. More than any individual performance I was simply enchanted by this strange, powerful supernatural fantasy. As Samara Downs said in the pre-performance talk - 'It's full on!'. It certainly was. 

 

I've seen Giselle live only a couple of times, which is probably a advantage in some ways (I've seen the ENB Skeaping version with Alina Cojocaru leading, and the RB live cinema relay with Nunez and Muntagirov last year I think). The production and staging of this BRB production is fabulous in my opinion. The village in Act I is feels quite intimate and natural (only minor flaw - I wasn't sure about the waterfall), while the gothic ruins and moonlight of Act II I just loved. 

 

Above all I remember the moments of high drama and intense mood to which all of the company contributed so wonderfully. And the dramatic 'space' in the story, the moments of stillness, shock, or those passages that built tension and mystery. The mad scene with Mathews at the centre really did feel like a horrific (and heartbreaking) turn of events, with the villagers joining the audience in one large circle of aghast onlookers around her. Then from the warm colourful countryside, the contrast to the dark cold opening of Act I with Alys Shee spinning a supernatural mood in her extended solo, utterly transporting and chilling. In the moments of stillness in these scenes I felt the whole theatre was spellbound. 

 

Mathews has beyond doubt all the qualities one could wish for in a principal dancer and it is a delight to follow her as she progresses in her career (I saw her Aurora debut last year). She has all the technique and the tricks no question. But her characterisation I found also moving and convincing, particularly the growth in confidence she portrayed through her steps as she danced with Albrecht, and in her unravelling was nearly as tear-jerking as the most moving performance I saw (Nunez and Muntagirov). Then in Act II the sadness and sense of separation was even finer I would say, with her opening solo particularly impressive. I find it harder to say much of Singleton besides repeating what Trog said about his undoubted abilities, but the connection he and Mathews created was very fine. And his series of silent entrechats, with the the Willis boureeing behind him were marvellous. 

 

But more than the individual qualities of Mathews or Singleton or any other dancer, the sense of such a uniformly high quality through the whole company was so impressive and lead to that continuing theatrical spell working it's magic throughout the entire evening.  Many stood to applaud at the curtain calls. 

 

Such a shame that this production is not including Salford (or any other location in the north) in its tour this year, as I would surely go and see at least one more performance if it were. I doubt I am able to travel to see any of the remaining performances, but I'd highly recommend anyone else to see this exquisite BRB Giselle.

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I saw the first 3 performances last week in Birmingham.  If I ever had any doubts about the staging of Act 1 they completely disappeared and I appreciated its structure like never before.  Act 2 is utterly sublime and always has been - I just love the setting in the ruined, gothic-style church with its eerie lighting.

 

I will say from the outset that the company looked to be on absolutely dazzling form and the ladies of the corps in Act 2 were exemplary and chilling.  In the mass arabesque across the stage there were in as near absolute sync as you could hope to get and all the legs were at the same height and angle.  Just chilling (in a good way).

 

All three leading casts I saw stressed the romance in Act 1.  Albrecht was obviously in love with Giselle and mortified when he got caught out by his fiancée.  He was devastated and guilt-ridden by Giselle's death.  In Act 2 all three Albrechts were were full of remorse for what had happened.

 

Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales had the opening night honours. on Wednesday.  Momoko has always had a dazzling technique and it has been a joy to see her developing into a true artist.  Yes she had the steely technique to make everything look easy but she also had an innate fragility that perfectly fitted the role.  In her performance in act 1 she was joyful but frail and in act 2 she looked almost boneless and as though she was floating through the air.  Cesar Morales is incredibly elegant and romantic and was the perfect partner.  

 

Kit Holder was the best Hilarion I think I have ever seen in that he fleshed the character out as a person truly in love with Giselle but was consumed by jealousy.  He was broken and remorseful at Giselle's death, in fact he was so moving I was moved to tears by his grief.

 

Samara Downs was magnificently terrifying as Myrtha.

 

Thursday afternoon was one of those performances that people will be asking if you were there with jealous longing for years to come.  I'm still welling up just thinking about this very, very special performance.  Celine Gittens and Brandon Lawrence made their profoundly moving debuts in this stunning performance.  I can't describe with any coherence how they danced but they just lived the roles.  I felt so privileged to be in the audience and witness their perfect partnership.

 

In more debuts Alexander Yap was great as Hilarion and Alys Shee made a wonderful and terrifying Myrtha.

 

What an afternoon!

 

On Thursday evening we were privileged to see even more debuts with Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman leading the cast.  Miki was just sublime in both acts and particularly ethereal in act 2.  Mathias Dingman was a bit broader brush in his interpretation of Act 1, his acting being very effective and his dancing scintillating.  He was beautiful in act 2 with Miki.

 

Lachlan Monaghan made an excellent debut as Hilarion and Yijing Zhang sent chills running down my spine as Myrtha.

 

So I was put through the emotional wringer with 3 glorious performances from BRB and I can't wait to see more of them later in the season.

 

The company is in very fine fettle indeed, moving with ease from a modern-looking triple bill to a beautifully staged traditional classic.

 

 

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Totally agree with Janet above. I was lucky enough to see all the performances. All the casts were superb. I have to mention Miki Mizutani as Giselle. A first soloist whose Giselle was so achingly sad and last night Celine Gittens and Brandon Lawrence were extraordinary. It was one of those nights where everything just comes together. I really believe that Celine Gittens touched greatness last night.
 

 

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Indeed I am jealous Janet about missing Celine's debut. I would have loved to have seen that but what with life getting in the way of ballet it was a rush last minute job even arranging to see the Friday Eve show.

 

It's so interesting seeing the 'changing of the guard' in the BRB top dancers especially the female one with the recent departure of Elisha Willis Jenna Roberts and Nao Sakuma, and seeing their photos in this role in the programme and website a tinge of regret that I didn't see them dance Giselle, especially Willis who I saw dance everything else.

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A seating question, now that the casting for the Giselles & Albrechts is now up on the BRB website for both Plymouth & Sadler's Wells. Can anyone give advice on what the view is like at Sadler's Wells from the slip seats at stalls & first circle level? They look to be the only seats left on the Friday that aren't pretty distant from the stage.

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15 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

A seating question, now that the casting for the Giselles & Albrechts is now up on the BRB website for both Plymouth & Sadler's Wells. Can anyone give advice on what the view is like at Sadler's Wells from the slip seats at stalls & first circle level? They look to be the only seats left on the Friday that aren't pretty distant from the stage.

 

It depends which slips seats you mean.  The ones at the side of the stalls have a view of most of the stage.  In my experience, you only miss the extreme side.  I've only once sat in the seats at the side of the circle but found that the safety rail affected my view and that of my friend. We were in First Circle SG5 and SG6.  I don't know if this problem applies to the other side circle seats.  There are also  stools in the side circle.  These are much closer to the stage and I have no personal experience of them but I know some people like to sit there.  I think they can only be booked on the phone.

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Thanks. I was referring to the stalls slips. I booked one, went to add it to my theatregoing list, and realised that I'd completely forgotten the fact that 1st November is the day after 31st October! So I've managed to book things in London 3 days running which, as I don't live in London, is probably not going to be possible to do. Drat!

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On ‎28‎/‎09‎/‎2019 at 09:12, Sim said:

Did anyone see the Delia Mathews/Tyrone Singleton debuts last night?

 

Am off to Birmingham this afternoon to see Gittens/Lawrence so will report back!

 

Looks as though that was a very clever thing to do, Sim!  I'm hugely disappointed that we won't get to see them in London :(  :( 

 

Someone mentioned a while back that casting had been released for Plymouth and Sadler's Wells.  It can be accessed here:

https://www.brb.org.uk/whats-on/event/giselle#dates-and-times

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I went to see a couple more performances in Plymouth after seeing one performance in Birmingham, which was just not enough ! I must admit I was tantalised by the descriptions of GIttens/Lawrence Birmingham performances. Thank you again those who contribute to this forum. 

 

So I saw Gittens and Lawrence on the Thursday Matinee, and also Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman in Thursday evening. Once more, I was enraptured by the power of this ballet and the power of the production, the individual performances, the fabulous score, and the quality of the whole company. I am extremely intrigued by Gittens as I see more and more of her performances, since seeing her first years ago as the Rose Fairy in Nutcracker and thinking who is that amazing dancer?. I have tended to think of her as supremely classical and elegant, and it was therefore a marvel how well she was suited to the romantic role of Giselle. Both her and Lawrence fully inhabited the roles and I found the climactic disaster of the Act I finale more powerful than any of the performances I saw. How complementary was the pair of Mizutani and DIngman was in the evening, and how tiny little difference in their expressions, and in their steps and attitudes made it a new and fresh experience. 

 

More than anything I just marvelled at this masterpiece of ballet, and what fine production it is. I'm getting more anorak-y about ballet the more I see and I really appreciated the short 'flute' solo that Giselle performs in her first meeting with Albrecht, (just after the 'basket' dance) it seemed that is not in the present Royal Ballet version, of most of the YouTube performance that are available. With seeing more and more ballets it is little differences like this that become more meaningful and one treasures more and more. 

 

Nice to see Janet and Sharon at the intervals also making the Giselle odyssey down to Plymouth from up here in the NW. It was well worth it, especially since it may be years since BRB do Giselle again (last time was 2013 the programme says). and my first trip to Plymouth (in fact probably the furthest south in UK I've ever been). Hope you got back OK - my trains were fine, except the cattle crush transport of the Virgin Trains final leg - but that's a subject for the room 101 thread!

Edited by northstar
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What an evening.  I think this qualifies as the performance during which I have shed the most tears in a whole lifetime of ballet-going.  Hirata and Morales were both superb.  In fact Hirata was better than superb; so utterly delicate throughout.  She immediately enraptured the audience with the sweet joie-de-vivre that we knew was tragically doomed.  This version is close to the original 1841 production and to me it seemed the perfect ballet in every aspect.  The music was so sensitively played, the scenery was delightful/scary, the whole thing was completely memorable.  I usually write quite long reviews but tonight I am speechless with wonder and gratitude. Well done BRB.

Just going off to find a fresh pack of tissues.....

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2 minutes ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

What an evening.  I think this qualifies as the performance during which I have shed the most tears in a whole lifetime of ballet-going.  Hirata and Morales were both superb.  In fact Hirata was better than superb; so utterly delicate throughout.  She immediately enraptured the audience with the sweet joie-de-vivre that we knew was tragically doomed.  This version is close to the original 1841 production and to me it seemed the perfect ballet in every aspect.  The music was so sensitively played, the scenery was delightful/scary, the whole thing was completely memorable.  I usually write quite long reviews but tonight I am speechless with wonder and gratitude. Well done BRB.

Just going off to find a fresh pack of tissues.....

 

I echo your words 100%, maryrosesatonapin. I am stunned by the beauty of this production and of the performances tonight. Perfect indeed in every aspect. Magnificent sets and costumes and Hirata and Morales were - perfect. The whole company were magnificent. Samara Downs was an icy Myrtha, with just the tiniest hint of a smile as the wilis dealt with Hilarion. Absolutely flaming terrifying. A horse. A waterfall. Flying wilis. A ruined cathedral. Marion Tait prefiguring the wilis as she gestured furiously for Albrecht to leave at the end of Act I. Albrecht's long, slow walk of shame early in Act II. A fantastic series of entrechats from Morales. Simply exquisite dancing throughout from Hirata, and every aspect of Giselle's character so clearly portrayed. Kit Holder a wonderful Hilarion. A superb peasant pas de deux from Parma and Chou. And at the end, a vision of a peaceful, loving Giselle at rest in eternal life and watching over her redeemed Albrecht.

 

I too am speechless with wonder and gratitude.

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Just want to echo the other comments on last night. An excellent performance. 

 

Also, to build on discussions elsewhere, the music was indeed well played, and at what seemed to be authentic tempi: it tends to help an evening when that which should be played briskly, is indeed played to time.

 

Also, the general point has been made before: the high quality of the overall performance reflects on the benefits of touring (as has also been remarked upon at performances of the ENB). Compared to the Royal Ballet company, often forced to throw works on to the stage after perhaps not quite enough rehearsal time, while also performing other works (in sometimes very different styles) in the same week, we see the benefit of a troupe comfortable with a work they have performed in many different venues over an extended period. Practice makes perfect, was my overriding feeling last night. 

 

Edited by Geoff
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15 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

Hirata and Morales were both superb.  In fact Hirata was better than superb; so utterly delicate throughout.  She immediately enraptured the audience with the sweet joie-de-vivre that we knew was tragically doomed. 


Beautifully put. So happy I got to see them
 

15 hours ago, bridiem said:

A horse. A waterfall. Flying wilis. A ruined cathedral.

 

So good 👏
 

15 hours ago, bridiem said:

A superb peasant pas de deux from Parma and Chou


Totally agree. What a joy. Well done BRB — am going to book Nutcracker now.

As a fan girl bonus, I spotted Alexander Campbell in the lobby (did not bother him obviously). Sweet to see dancers supporting other companies.

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Just to add to last night’s brief post - I thought Mimoko Hirata was an absolutely exquisite Giselle -  her joyful radiance for most of Act 1 was so poignant, and she was heart-breakingly tender and protective in Act 2. Cesar Morales was a handsome, charming and sympathetic Albrecht, with the most incredible technique. The staging was superb in both acts: vibrant and colourful in Act 1, (the gorgeous harvest pdd!) and eerily beautiful in Act 2. Samara Downs was an imperious and chilling Myrtha - Act 2 had me in bits and that beautiful ending was just perfect. I’m so happy I got to see it, and I’m looking forward to seeing BRB again soon.

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So enjoyed the matinee performance. First time I have seen this production. Great gothic feel to act 2 - also my favourite.

 

i was surprised by the horse in act 1 very well behaved , but no credit in cast list.

 

wish I could go this evening as well! Shame it wasn’t sold out. Thoroughly recommend.

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22 hours ago, bridiem said:

And at the end, a vision of a peaceful, loving Giselle at rest in eternal life and watching over her redeemed Albrecht.

 

Can someone explain what happens on stage at the end? From my - slightly restricted seat at the top - I didn’t see this. 

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A beautiful performance from Delia Mathews tonight.  Such pure, glorious classicism. Her Act 2 was an ethereal embodiment of forgiveness and pure, unsullied love.  Tyrone Singleton’s Albrecht  made very clear his love for Giselle from the start, and this is why it was so very heartbreaking at the end.  We felt his loss, but we also felt his gain. He had experienced love, in all its joy and all its pain. At the end, as Giselle’s spirit rises above him, we know that she will always watch over him.  Lucky Albrecht, and lucky audience to have seen something so special.  
 

I just love this production and would happily watch it once a week for the rest of my life.  

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9 hours ago, Geoff said:

 

Can someone explain what happens on stage at the end? From my - slightly restricted seat at the top - I didn’t see this. 

You see Giselle, veil back on, rising above Albrecht as he weeps over her grave. 

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I really enjoyed this BRB Giselle production yesterday evening. I haven’t seen it for many years and had forgotten the lovely scenery in both acts ( the Bastide-style gateway which gives the first act a real French countryside feel and the gothic church style in the second) but I hadn’t forgotten the horse! Both music and dancing throughout the company was excellent as was the orchestra. I think this may be my favourite production. I was just a little disappointed that Marion Tait wasn’t in last night’s cast - I gather she was on Friday from comments above. The principals both performed well, especially Mathews, who made the madness and death of Giselle very convincing. Both acts ended on the right emotional and dramatic note.

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I saw the Miki Mizutani and Mathias Dingman cast yesterday afternoon.  They danced well but I wasn't really convinced in terms of their acting. 

Act 1 seemed rather cramped on the Sadler's Well stage, and overall I prefer the Peter Wright/RB version.

Act 2 saved this version of Giselle for me.    I actually gasped at the flying Wilis - they took me by surprise! The whole staging was beautiful and the ethereal corps looked hauntingly beautiful.  Alys Shee stood out especially, as Myrtha - wonderfully danced!

 

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Went to both the Friday and Saturday night performances and enjoyed both - Friday I think most especially given the whispering glory that is Hirata.  I was certainly taken with the fine music playing by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia - so alive; so rich - and was delighted on both nights when it got the pride of the audience's place at the final calls.  There were some lovely touches to the Bintley/Samsova/Heeley production such as others have expounded.  That said I wouldn't trade it overall for the Skeaping one which continues to stand as my personal favourite out of the vast array of productions I have seen over the ever mounting years.  

 

I had gone on Friday on a soon-to-be-historic £8 Senior Concession ticket reserved in considerable advance.  I arrived early on the Saturday - having enjoyed the evening previous - not having an advance booking - with £17.50 in my eager hand and was - as it happens - first in the Standby queue.  The kind lady at the box office offered me a ticket in the First Circle and - when I went to pay - told me that BRB had stipulated that Standby for their presentations should be £25.  That came as something of a slap in the face - because it certainly goes against what is in Sadler's Wells' published material.  I told her politely that I didn't think I could afford that; thanked her and walked away.  There was no one else - as it happens - in the queue at that time which - in my experience - is unusual - especially for something as popular as Giselle.  Perhaps they knew.

 

I walked over into the centre of the lobby disappointed.  I stared at the cast list as I finished by Boot's sushi - which was both lunch and dinner as I had to work that day.  I then went back to the Box Office - at a different counter - and asked if there might be a side stool at £15 I could buy.  There was one as it turned out.  From that position I could see a goodly variety of small segments of empty red on every level.  Happily I - and indeed the people in the two stools beside me - found ourselves in more central locations - nay, seats - from the get go.  

 

My only fear (and I realise things may be different in Birmingham - I don't know) is that BRB may be pricing themselves out of some markets which might - just might - potentially fill some of those empty spaces.  At least I knew to go back and ask again.  I fear many may not.  Certainly this fine Company deserves capacity audiences wherever they may be performing.  

 

There is no question but that the Giselle was MUCH more full than the BRB triple bill had been when I saw it on the Thursday matinee.  At that performance - and I again had one of those soon-to-be-historic £8 Senior Specials - the ENTIRE Second Ring - surely one of the largest seated sections in that theatre - was entirely closed off and the remainder was not I think what you would - or possibly could - call full.  That said it was more populated than it had been for some performances of San Francisco Ballet.  That had been heartbreaking.  I began to wonder how long it would be before the declining number of performances by ballet companies were to be cut further at this venue and - if so few people continued to vote with their feet - or perhaps more aptly - seats - how we might just not have it at all.  That would be a sorrowful loss.  

Perhaps it is just me.  Perhaps it will come to a point where I simply won't be able to afford BRB.  That I feel would be a shame - but I do understand.   Certainly I will always appreciate my good fortune in having been able to follow BRB - and before them, the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet - both copiously in London and abroad.  It has been a thrilling adventure.  One for which I am most grateful and shall remain forever so. 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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It is my personal view, and gripe, that BRB are indeed pricing themselves out of the market, especially at the top end.  Added to that we have the eternal blister, the lack of notice of casting.

 

Two top price seats for Swan Lake will be well over £100, nearly £140 for the Saturday evening, with no indication who will be dancing.  These prices may be low by the Opera House rates but at least there is a reasonable guide as to whom you hope to see.

 

I am no longer able to take out a subscription but that doesn't bother me as when I had the first nights I seem to always get the same ballerina in all the leading roles.  It will be very interesting to see of any of this changes under the incoming regime.

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45 minutes ago, Two Pigeons said:

Two top price seats for Swan Lake will be well over £100, nearly £140 for the Saturday evening, with no indication who will be dancing.  These prices may be low by the Opera House rates but at least there is a reasonable guide as to whom you hope to see.

 

Top price at ROH for Swan Lake (all publicly available dates) is £145 - so not much in it.

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