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So, first night......or later in the run?


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I know many BF members will see multiple performances by different casts but, given the 'magic' of a first night, do you try and see that first night of a run, or do you go later in the run, on the basis that the dancers will have relaxed in the roles and that additional corrections or tweaks will have been made by the director, ballet master/mistress and stage and lighting teams. 

 

Just something I wondered. 

 

(This may have been covered previously, in which case I apologise)
(Mods, I’m afraid I couldn’t work out how to put the title in bold - if you’d do the honours)

Edited by RobR
Grammar
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I realise this doesn't exactly answer your question, but I'm wondering if many people actually have the luxery of choosing performances based on that criterion? I imagine that is only really available to ROH attendees who live in London & have the sort of lifestyle where they can go to the theatre any evening they choose. Given in most runs each cast only does 2 or 3 performances then I usually look at the dates for a cast & go: 1) Do any of them clash or are likely to clash with anything else I have booked? 2) Is there a Friday or Saturday, so I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn the next day if I'm working? By the time I've considered those two items I'm generally down to only one possible date per cast. In the unlikely event there's more than one Friday/Saturday performance I'm available for then it's down to best ticket availability when booking opens. That doesn't really leave room for considering if it's the cast's first, second or third performance! Though I think theoretically if I had the choice I'd probably opt for a later performance to see a cast "bedded in".

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Thanks Dawnstar,

I’m afraid it was a Londoncentric approach, given that I live in London, but I can confirm that many of the 'usual suspects' I see frequently (care taken not to split that particular infinitive) at the ROH regularly travel from far further afield. 

Edited by RobR
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Exactly what I think Dawnstar. Living a considerable distance from London my first thought is 'are any of the cast/s I want to see doing a matinee?' to save an overnight stay. The second thought is 'Are any of them dancing Friday/Saturday' as if I need to stay over (and I always do for an evening performance as there are no trains home) then weekend is easier for travel and sometimes marginally cheaper for London hotels. The third consideration is 'are any of the casts I want to see doing a Friday evening/Saturday matinee' or any other combination then I can see 2 casts for the price of one evening overnight. For me this worked out splendidly for Coppelia as I was able to see the 4 casts I wanted to see on 2 consecutive Saturdays; Dec 28th and Jan 4th. If after all these considerations there was a choice like Dawnstar I would probably go for a later performance.

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I'm similar as no longer live in London ...when I used to go frequently and see different casts etc ...but in those days standing tickets were much easier to get hold of too making it a lot cheaper. Stalls Circle standing was my preferred choice for many years.

 

These days because I do have some activities in London mostly music or ballet based I tend to organise performances around these which are mid week. So I look to see a cast I want which is performing on either Tuesday/ Wednesday OR Wednesday/ Thursday 

Saturday matinees are also on the cards as my partner not keen on me being away on Friday/ Saturday nights so we can do things locally we like doing ( The Lamb in Lewes is a great place on Friday/ Saturday nights!) 

 

As I don't go as often then I spend a bit more on seats than I used to but if I can see a second cast in a run then I will try to get a returned standing....and Thankyou Forum as often got from here!!

 

Talking about spending more on seats I daren't say how much today I've just paid for just three tickets!! All on a Wednesday night...though there's one Saturday standing I might be after to see another cast down the line. 

I guess I've missed so much since August including all my Bolshoi tickets ( all re allocated to friends) that I decided to treat myself in the Spring but won't be able to keep this up! 

 

As as regards First nights versus later in the run.....a difficult one. I've been to a few first nights ( completely new ballet first nights) and they are hugely enjoyable no doubt about that....especially if the work lives up to expectations ....but very often I'm looking as to who is the first night cast these days and which night it actually is sometimes I can convince myself that it will be better when they are more used to the work when I can't get there on the first night ....but then you can always see it later on or in another run for that.

 

Id really love to be there for the new Marston first night coming up .....and would if I still lived in London....but can't justify travelling up more than once a week to London if I have other commitments there other than going to the ROH. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm fortunate (in this way at least) to live in London, so I only have to consider other commitments. I would always go to a world première if possible - there's a great thrill in knowing that a work is being performed for the very first time. If it's an existing work, I would always choose to see the début of a dancer I like if possible - again it's really exciting seeing someone take on a big new role for the first time. If it's not a début, it's just a question of which of their performances fits in with other things I'm doing - I wouldn't deliberately wait for a later performance in the run.

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It depends what your motives are for choosing. If you want to be the first to see a new ballet, then go for the first night. If you want to see the best performance, then later in the run is usually better. I think that for most couples dancing principal roles too - they seem to warm up 2nd time round: perhaps slightly less nerves and more confident, having done it once.  This isn't normally my first option in terms of which performances I book for though - I go for the couples I want to see dance, plus how it fits in with my personal and work diary.  Sometimes my personal and work diary gives way to ballet!

Edited by JennyTaylor
typo
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As a Londoner, and long retired i have the luxury of choice, only hindered by a short purse! But if possible, I do like to go to a First Night, followed by seeing another cast later on. I find it's good to be able to make up my mind about a work within much prior knowledge, although the Insights that we have now are useful.

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If opening night happens to be a cast I want to see then I do try and book for it, I saw Manon on the opening night of the season because Sarah Lamb was in it...I'm also seeing the last night as Yuhui is in it...I'm going to see the opening night of Coppelia....and the last, with a few in between....come to think of it I saw the last night of Don Q and Romeo & Juliet too. I've not given much thought to letting a cast bed in although have ended up with three Swan Lakes with Sarah Lamb in it so maybe I can study that aspect :D   I'm also a bit picky about where I can sit so that is a major factor in which performance of my favoured cast I see.

Edited by Rob S
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Living hundreds of miles from London, I am essentially dependent on 'cinema live' to see  any productions. In fact, just back from Don Pasquale tonight! Reading the discussions on this forum, make me long to see every production, and more than one cast. I am not sure about the economics of such a suggestion. Would it be unfeasibly expensive to show more  performances in the cinema? Would it have an impact on live audiences?

Getting back to the original question, I would tend to go for a later performance to avoid first night hiccoughs. I also think having read reviews etc, you are more likely to notice points of interest that have been raised by earlier audience members (if that makes sense).

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1 hour ago, bridiem said:

I'm fortunate (in this way at least) to live in London, so I only have to consider other commitments. I would always go to a world première if possible - there's a great thrill in knowing that a work is being performed for the very first time. If it's an existing work, I would always choose to see the début of a dancer I like if possible - again it's really exciting seeing someone take on a big new role for the first time. If it's not a début, it's just a question of which of their performances fits in with other things I'm doing - I wouldn't deliberately wait for a later performance in the run.

 

I agree with the idea it’s nice to be there for premieres (for example the Dante next year I expect first night to sell very well!). As for debuts, I think it’s nice to perhaps give some support to a favoured dancer in this way but actually I think it may be better to wait till later in the run for them to have developed into the role a little more. I can’t remember who said it (so perhaps useless info!) but I think it was a royal ballet principal when they were interviewed saying they didn’t really understand why people want to see debuts as usually they are better/more confident in the role second/third time around etc. 

 

I generally go with my schedule and also casts I want to see. If possible I don’t want to do (for example) two nights of ballet in a row, but then nothing for 2-3 weeks so I try to spread out a roughly even spacing between each one and don’t really look at debuts/first nights. But I am hoping to go and see Dante on the first night, and I am somewhat excited about seeing the first night of Coppelia as it’s been a while since that was on the ROH stage so I think the atmosphere will be great. 

 

The other thing about first nights is that is often the night that press come to review - so sometimes it can be interesting reading the reviews of the professionals and see how they compare to your own experience as you were actually there. Because I tend to find casting really influences me, whilst I still like to read reviews from interest if it is a different cast to one I’m seeing it isn’t really relevant to me. But I also see the reviews on here of peoples’ experiences of performances I attend anyway so I always have something to reflect on! 

 

I do find that the first nights I have attended seem to be mainly regulars due to the atmosphere which can be quite nice. Overall I don’t particularly go out of my way to go to first nights (and certainly wouldn’t if it wasn’t a cast I thought I’d like) but I try to fit the odd one in every now and again when it’s convenient and works out well, and generally find it’s worth it for the atmosphere/buzz. 

 

It’s interesting that ‘first nights’ have that sense about them, but the last performance don’t seem to (or at least don’t seem to attract people specifically attending for the last performance if you see what I mean?). 

Edited by JNC
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I used to be fairly largely a "wait until she/he's bedded into the role a bit" person (assuming a dancer gets more than one bite at the cherry in a run) - indeed, back in 2007 I booked for Ed Watson's third Mayerling show, to give him some time to get into the role.  But then along came that legendary Mayerling masterclass in the Linbury - and I changed my mind and decided I needed to be at his debut too!  (But then of course if I'd stuck with my "later in the run" policy I'd have missed that outstanding first night of Mayerling back in April a few years ago, so perhaps it's just as well that I can be flexible).  On the other hand, though, going to a performance early in the run can leave you with the option of a repeat performance if it was a really good one and circumstances permit ...

 

However, that was then, this is now.  Nowadays, with the reduction of available tickets, I'm far more likely to go to whatever I can get a ticket for, regardless of other considerations.

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1 hour ago, JNC said:

...... I think it was a royal ballet principal when they were interviewed saying they didn’t really understand why people want to see debuts as usually they are better/more confident in the role second/third time around etc. 

 

....... and also casts I want to see......

 

........ so sometimes it can be interesting reading the reviews of the professionals and see how they compare to your own experience as you were actually there. Because I tend to find casting really influences me, whilst I still like to read reviews from interest if it is a different cast to one I’m seeing it isn’t really relevant to me. But I also see the reviews on here of peoples’ experiences of performances I attend anyway so I always have something to reflect on .....


Thanks for this post which encapsulates at least three of the rather vague ideas in my mind when I started the thread.

 

I have noticed how dancers, at every level, relax into new roles although with some RB principals (and I’m thinking here, primarily, of Francesca Hayward) any differences are hardly discernible.

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8 hours ago, JNC said:

 As for debuts, I think it’s nice to perhaps give some support to a favoured dancer in this way but actually I think it may be better to wait till later in the run for them to have developed into the role a little more. I can’t remember who said it (so perhaps useless info!) but I think it was a royal ballet principal when they were interviewed saying they didn’t really understand why people want to see debuts as usually they are better/more confident in the role second/third time around etc. 

 

 

 

I guess Mr O’Hare agrees with that as, for example, Fumi Kaneko and Mayara Magri will debut as Odette in front of children 

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8 hours ago, JNC said:

 

I agree with the idea it’s nice to be there for premieres (for example the Dante next year I expect first night to sell very well!). As for debuts, I think it’s nice to perhaps give some support to a favoured dancer in this way but actually I think it may be better to wait till later in the run for them to have developed into the role a little more. I can’t remember who said it (so perhaps useless info!) but I think it was a royal ballet principal when they were interviewed saying they didn’t really understand why people want to see debuts as usually they are better/more confident in the role second/third time around etc. 

 

Well if you're interested in a particular dancer and following their career, you want to both support them and see how they deal with the opportunity/challenge. Almost as if they're a friend or family member!

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22 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

Well if you're interested in a particular dancer and following their career, you want to both support them and see how they deal with the opportunity/challenge. Almost as if they're a friend or family member!

 

I don’t disagree and I’m certainly not opposed to debuts. But I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way if I could catch them later in the same run at a time more convenient. 

 

For example I happened to see Corrales/Hayward’s partnership debut in Romeo and Juliet. To be honest I wish I saw them later in the run as they really seemed to develop over the performances.

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12 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

I realise this doesn't exactly answer your question, but I'm wondering if many people actually have the luxery of choosing performances based on that criterion? I imagine that is only really available to ROH attendees who live in London & have the sort of lifestyle where they can go to the theatre any evening they choose.

 

*I* live in London and have the sort of lifestyle where I can go to the theatre any evening I choose (other than Tuesday nights when I currently have ballet class) - and yet I still find myself having to pick from a small selection of available dates.  This is partly because the ROH announces its season later than pretty much every other opera house and concert hall in the country, and by the time the announcement is made - never mind by the time the ballet casting is announced - I already have tickets for all sorts of other things.  There were only 3 possible dates of the current run of Manon, which is one of my favourite ballets, and only 2 dates of the current mixed bill, which is fewer than the number of casts I would like to see.

 

6 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

When it comes to major debuts, I think bragging rights can come into it too: they certainly do in opera!

 

Hmmmm. I was at the first and second nights of ROH Otello 2018.  If I had only been at the latter, I would still consider I'd seen Jonas Kaufmann sing his "first Otello" - and it would have left a better impression if I had, as the second performance was far better than the first.  Last week I travelled round the UK to see a number of friends make major role debuts with regional opera companies; one was a genuine debut (first night) and the other was second or third night, but I don't really see that as being different.

 

One thing I do think carries bragging rights in opera is having seen an amazing unscheduled company debut by somebody who is now a big star but was largely unknown at the time. Like the time I saw 24-year-old Juan Diego Florez make his Royal Opera debut as a last minute replacement.

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2 minutes ago, capybara said:

 

I don't understand this, Lizbie1...........

 

Just that for some people, being able to say "I was there for X's first Aurora" is part of the pleasure of being at a debut. I don't mean that disapprovingly - it's a very normal, human impulse.

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3 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

Just that for some people, being able to say "I was there for X's first Aurora" is part of the pleasure of being at a debut. I don't mean that disapprovingly - it's a very normal, human impulse.

Yes there is certainly an extra frisson about being able report one's attendance at a  major debut, or the first night of a new production. I know I felt that about being able to say I had seen Scarlett's Swan Lake  on its opening night, and the wonderful cascade of flowers at the end. I suppose I would have hesitated to admit to this as  "bragging" ....I prefer to think of it as  sharing one's experience and excitement!   

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12 hours ago, JNC said:

It’s interesting that ‘first nights’ have that sense about them, but the last performance don’t seem to (or at least don’t seem to attract people specifically attending for the last performance if you see what I mean?). 

 

Is that because most productions only run for a short time and are likely to get another run in a couple of seasons' time so it's only "last performance for now" rather than "last performance ever/for the forseeable future"? Whereas a closing performance or final performance by a cast for a West End show will attract lots of fans & are special - I've cried through a few of them! - because it's unlikely that production/that cast will be seen again. Likewise I'm sure that when a principal dancer is giving their last performance then it would be a special atmosphere & lots of their fans would attend. In fact the second Nunez/Bolle Manon performance the week before last was like that as, although not official, the assumption seemed to be that it would likely be Bolle's last performance on the ROH stage.

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