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I also find the Bolshoi production overlong and tedious, I saw the full length Nureyev version in 1965 but can't really remember much other than seeing Doreen Wells and Rudolf Nureyev! The re-constructed La Scala production is available on DVD, also very long and looks old-fashioned but it's meant to be!

 

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In the full Bolshoi and Paris Opera versions, there are too many female variations in Acts 1 and 3 for my taste. I sense that that is one of the problems with the RB Act 3 as well. Moreover, the pas de deux does not follow the traditional structure and, therefore, to my mind, loses its  impact.

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In case anyone is after a decent last minute ticket for tonight, I've just had to return my second row stalls seat to the box office for re-sale, as infuriatingly I've got a cold (praying I recover in time for Manon next Thursday), so presumably it'll be popping up on the ROH website in the next hour or two.

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I hope so. I've re-booked myself for 20th December matinee to get the same Engima Variations & Raymonda casting & going to try for a Friday Rush ticket next week for 2nd November matinee for the Concerto casting.

 

I tried phoning the box office first & was told that they only accept ticket returns via email. Has anyone else had this recently? I'm sure that last season I was able to return a ticket by phone. New policy?

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28 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

I tried phoning the box office first & was told that they only accept ticket returns via email. Has anyone else had this recently? I'm sure that last season I was able to return a ticket by phone. New policy?

 

In recent years I've always emailed - I was told I could do that some years ago (having previously only ever been able to return tickets in person or by post, so it was a big advance). I assume they want/need written evidence that you're not going to use the ticket. So as far as I know it's not a new policy.

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1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

I tried phoning the box office first & was told that they only accept ticket returns via email. Has anyone else had this recently? I'm sure that last season I was able to return a ticket by phone. New policy?

 

It's been valid for two or three years now, unfortunately.  There have been times when I've been out of wifi range and unable to get my money back on a ticket as a result - or alternatively have had to make a major detour to get within range  :(.  Presumably it (theoretically) doesn't apply to those who book in person or by phone - if you can get past the guard dogs at the box office.

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16 hours ago, jmhopton said:

The Bolshoi did it in their Coliseum season in 1999. For me, especially memorable as it's the only time I ever saw the fabulous Nina Anashavilli dance live and she did Raymonda. I don't know if they've ever done it since and I can see why. Even by ballet standards the plot is non existent and the hero, despite returning from the Crusades is totally boring (well to me anyway). The only interesting person is the villain who tries to kidnap Raymonda. He has a terrific variation with really exciting music but sadly is killed before the last act. At one time when ballet was new and exciting to us we put this variation, danced by the amazing Gediminas Taranda  on whenever anyone came round as we felt we had to share this awesome dancing with everyone. It perhaps accounted for the sudden drop in visitors! 

 

 

 

 

I still regard Nina's performance as the greatest individual full length I have ever seen.  It is not that Raymonda is a great ballet but she was transcendent in it.  I remember floating out of the Coliseum afterwards to hear Clement Crisp rhapsodising to a small gathering of similarly smitten balletomanes.

 

She was beautiful, musical and classical all at once.  Sheer heaven!

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I looked in my 2015 playbills from Sarasota. This is a tremendous work that’s chock-full of solo and Demi-solo opportunities! Here’s the sequence of numbers, as performed in Sarasota, which I’m guessing is followed in London; I’m looking forward to seeing tomorrow night.

 

1. Hungarian group with solo character couple

2. Classical group entree with solo couple (Brown and Graziano in Sarasota)

3. Female solo 1 elegant

4. Female solo 2 cute & brisk

5. Female solo 3 languid...my fave!

6. Female pas de 3

7. Male pas de 4 - the Uber-famous one

8. Female solo 4 - AT POB, the “Henriette”

9. Male solo, Jean de Brienne

10. Female solo 5 - Raymonda’s great solo with bourrees and LOUD claps

11. Coda for classical group

12. Final Coda for all (character and classical groups)

 

The great thing about this Nureyev version is how he uses some of the “tricks” from Soviet-era folk groups, such as the Moiseyev, ie, waves and waves of “the multitudes” moving forward...or quick circular group patterns (as Balanchine did at the end of Theme & Vars). Many of the soli are spiced up with more movement per measure, in True Nureyev fashion! 

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1 hour ago, Jeannette said:

 

7. Male pas de 4 - the Uber-famous one

 

'

This is an acid test of a variation but I hadn't appreciated until recently that it sometimes goes awry because one or more of the line-up is having to  do their tours to the right when they are naturally left turners. So huge kudos to them.

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I thought the performance this evening got off to a partly shaky start, but then improved, and ended with a great flourish. I was very surprised at how ragged much of Concerto was; it's one of my desert island ballets and I was so looking forward to it, but a lot of the dancers really seemed to be struggling with the speed and the lines were often not as they should have been. Hayward was absolutely superb - like a tiny exotic butterfly flitting and turning, and apparently enjoying herself hugely; Corrales was very good when he could just turn or jump, and he has a strong stage presence, but he seemed to struggle with the precision needed to co-ordinate with Hayward or others and his arms and hands were a bit indisciplined. And I think of him as being not very tall, but for some reason he looked huge next to Hayward tonight. The second movement was perfectly well danced by Hamilton ably supported by Braendsrod, but it didn't move me as it normally does. Calvert led the third movement strongly, but I still felt the dancers were generally not comfortable. I don't really understand it since they're so technically gifted. Perhaps they haven't had quite enough rehearsal time on this piece. But what a wonderful ballet it is, to the most exciting music.

 

Enigma Variations was beautifully danced and performed, with Gary Avis a deeply touching Elgar and Christina Arestis a lovely Lady Elgar. I also particularly liked Edmonds and Kaneko in their very sweet hammock pas de deux, Campbell as a whirring, precise Troyte, and Calvert as the mysterious Lady Mary Lygon floating deliciously around the stage (and coping very well with a minor costume malfunction when one of her 'wings' got detached from her wrist). I see that the work might seem a bit obscure without a degree of background knowledge, but in the end I don't think that matters; the relationships and feelings portrayed are so human and so sympathetically drawn and brilliantly choreographed that the end result is profoundly moving.

 

I find Raymonda dazzling and I thought Cuthbertson and Bonelli were wonderful. What a stylish dancer he is, and she really turned on the exotic panache the role needs. The variations were danced by Kaneko, Hinkis, Calvert and Stix-Brunell, and I thought they did very well (though Hinkis had a bit of a stumble). The four men (Edmonds, Ella, Hay and Richardson) were also impressive and got a great response from the audience. The finale is so thrilling that it just fills me with joy. A real spectacle for the eye, the ear and the heart.

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This bill is shaping up interestingly for me.

 

After watching the first cast, I was quite in love with the second movement of Concerto by Clarke and Cuthbertson, and Raymonda gave me what is commonly referred to as a 'ballet happy' in my house. It starts with a smile and ends with a delirious grin, in this case caused by the the marvellous performance of Lamb (happy and serene) and Muntagirov.

 

Enigma variations left me wondering whether I would willingly watch it every time I'll see this triple. I liked a fair chunk of it, Morera lit up the stage and I thought Olivia Cowley managed to express the cast list description of her role to a T.

 

But why on earth is there a woman with a scarf attached to her back that could double as fairy wings appearing out of a sudden waft of dry ice? Is it a lost Edwardian Wili? And as lovely as it is to see Hayward, how long is the Dorabella solo?

 

The next performance provided an immediate answer to my last question: the solo feels endlessly long when not danced by Hayward and is somewhat unlikely to become my favourite bit of Ashton.

 

Friday night, Cambell delivered a blistering Troyt, sharp, perfectly in character, creating a frisson of excitement early on in the piece. But the real eye opener for me were Christina Arestis and Gary Avis embuing the Elgars with such a depth of feeling that I welled up at some point. I thought Arestis was superb, the way she embodied concern though dancing alone, and then amplified it through her expressive eyes is likely to remain lodged in my brain. So, I guess I will faithfully attend all booked performances of Enigma and simply ignore the lost Wili.

 

Hayward and Corrales made the first movement of Concerto zing, and I was already sold on the 2nd movement - and thought Hamilton looked rather good in it - but unless I experience another eureka moment in this run, I'd happily forgo the 3rd movement.

 

Sadly I didn't get a repeat of my ballet happy from Raymonda. I really liked Cuthbertson imperial/regal take on the role,  and there were lovely moments with both her and Bonelli, but without the complete magic woven by Lamb and Muntagirov, the wheels came off a bit and I noticed a lot of the more raggedy bits of dancing in places. Hopefully this will improve during the run, I like to think the RB can field more than 5 men capable of forming a straight line. 

 

 

Edited by Coated
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I really enjoyed Friday's performance; just as well, as due to a muddle with dates I am seeing it twice more. Concerto was, I thought much better danced by BRB a couple of years ago in the Macmillan celebrations, although I loved Francesca Hayward. Not sure about Corrales - he seems to do all the right things but there's something missing. Enigma, which I hadn't seen for years, I enjoyed as much,as ever, although, and this is a purely personal reaction, the original,cast was very much in my mind. But this cast was excellent, particularly Alex Campbell, and of course Gary Avis. I don't think anyone will ever dance Elgar like Derek Rencher, who also looked uncannily like Elgar! Coated might find it interesting to read David Nice's article in the red programme,which explains the lady in the floaty outfit! And so to Raymonda, which I thought started a bit roughly but which improved greatly with the arrival of Cuthbertson and Bonelli. I thought they were both on great form, both their solos were gorgeous and the whole thing ended on a high note.

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bridiem and coated have expressed much of what I felt, and enjoyed, about the first two performances of this Triple.

In Concerto I especially liked O'Sullivan with Sambe; Hayward was superb too last night, but probably not quite so well partnered  by Corrales. Both slow movements (Cuthbertson/Clarke, and Hamilton/Braendsrod) were beautiful. I didn't really notice anything particularly ragged with the overall speed and lines  but then I have not seen this before and  probably don't yet appreciate all the nuances. The simple staging, and contrast in the costumes, works really well and shows off the dancers to perfection. 

Raymonda, in the main, was certainly dazzling and wonderful when the whole cast were in unison and moving back and forth in waves at the end, and Cuthbertson and Bonelli really stood out last night. Nicol Edmonds was particularly impressive on Tuesday as lead Hungarian. The  pas de quatre danced by the four gentlemen was brilliant on both nights. 

Enigma Variations seems an apt name.... it is a puzzle for me quite how this is all supposed to hang together. The concept of Elgar waiting for news of his work being accepted, seems rather thin, and I wonder if it really justifies all that wistfully staring into space. I didn't  understand the relationship portrayed between Elgar, his wife, and Jaeger, and  I felt their dancing together in the Nimrod variation wasn't a sufficiently notable piece of choreography for this famous and beautiful piece of music. The "Lady Mary" character seems to be a ghostly vision, but nevertheless materialises sufficiently to join everyone else at the end. There were some great individual vignettes to enjoy (Hayward's Dorabella, Campbell's Troyte, Acri's Sinclair, and Ella's Baker) but as a whole, I am rather struggling with this work. 

Just a word in praise of Claire Calvert - she stood out for me in all three performances last night, very strong, controlled and expressive, I thought. 

 

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13 minutes ago, Sim said:

Gary Avis mentioned on social media that he was honoured to be making his Enigma debut in Derek Rencher’s tweed jacket.  Avis is a very worthy custodian of this garment!

So obviously the jacket is something I've seen several times before! And full marks to Avis for his performance and for not trying to make himself look like Elgar.

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35 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

When the media say people suffer from Instagram envy, does that cover when you look at @Rob S's brilliant curtain call photos & despair of ever being able to take anything a fraction as good?!

 

I can't say I mind at all, given that he's kind enough to share them with us! (The only time I was sitting in the stalls and tried to take a photo, I was so excited that the result was a blur of unrecognisable dancers. :blink: )

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5 hours ago, Richard LH said:

 

Enigma Variations seems an apt name.... it is a puzzle for me quite how this is all supposed to hang together. The concept of Elgar waiting for news of his work being accepted, seems rather thin, and I wonder if it really justifies all that wistfully staring into space. I didn't  understand the relationship portrayed between Elgar, his wife, and Jaeger, and  I felt their dancing together in the Nimrod variation wasn't a sufficiently notable piece of choreography for this famous and beautiful piece of music. The "Lady Mary" character seems to be a ghostly vision, but nevertheless materialises sufficiently to join everyone else at the end. There were some great individual vignettes to enjoy (Hayward's Dorabella, Campbell's Troyte, Acri's Sinclair, and Ella's Baker) but as a whole, I am rather struggling with this work. 

Just a word in praise of Claire Calvert - she stood out for me in all three performances last night, very strong, controlled and expressive, I thought. 

 

 

 

The first time I saw Enigma Variations, having read so much about it, I was really disappointed and wondered what all the fuss was about.  The second time I saw it the following day something really clicked.

 

I believe Enigma Variations is an absolute masterpiece.  I think that one of the most wonderful things about it is the very fact that nothing happens.  I find Nimrod variation almost painfully moving.  That one little move when Elgar lifts his wife a couple of inches off the floor inevitably results in me having tears streaming down my cheeks.

 

I do hope you get to enjoy it more Richard LH.

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34 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

I believe Enigma Variations is an absolute masterpiece.  I think that one of the most wonderful things about it is the very fact that nothing happens.  I find Nimrod variation almost painfully moving.  That one little move when Elgar lifts his wife a couple of inches off the floor inevitably results in me having tears streaming down my cheeks.

 

 

That is exactly how I feel about it - and I can't now imagine Nimrod being set any better or more appropriately. 

 

The one thing I dread though is the butchered ending to the finale: I don't know if there's a story behind it, but I can't reconcile it with Ashton the supremely musical choreographer.

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25 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

The one thing I dread though is the butchered ending to the finale: I don't know if there's a story behind it, but I can't reconcile it with Ashton the supremely musical choreographer.

 

It's Elgar's own, original, ending isn't it? - which Ashton chose to use because he felt it was more in keeping with the mood of the rest of the ballet.

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I found the following of interest Lizbie1 although it doesn’t really give an explanation of why Ashton wanted the original version:

 

“Ashton used the whole of Elgar's published score, with the exception of the finale, for which he went back to the composer's original ending. When completing the score in 1898, Elgar had been persuaded by his publisher (portrayed as "Nimrod" of the variations) to add a further 96 bars to the ending. With the permission of the Elgar estate, Ashton used the shorter version, previously unheard by even the most dedicated Elgarians.”

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I find Elgar Variations very much like DAAG in the sense that when the theatrical focus is sufficiently heightened so as to ensure the communal embrace envelops each and every audience member the effect is  wholly piercing and cathartic.  Still, these are rare beasts - much as are the scores that lie at their hearts.  When the dramatic virtues are not eminently visible - and spontaneously pliable - such outings can slip into generalisation and I fear appear lunk-headed.  I have come to think their communal challenge is, in fact, part of their delight.  When they succeed they make you hear the rain even as the sun comes out.   They are I believe rainbow works.  That is something many of us are not, I think, like to forget any time soon.  

 

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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  • alison changed the title to RB Concerto / Enigma Variations / Raymonda Act III, 2019

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