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Royal Ballet - Coppelia (Dec. 2019 - Jan. 2020)

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Thanks Mary from me to. My wife and I spent the interval wondering what was going on.

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I also think the cast sheet should tell us who the dolls are, we get that kind of detail with the Nutcracker 🤔

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Given my unfamiliarity with Coppélia, I bought a programme (for once) and so I was able to compare the longer synopsis there with the one on the cast sheet. I did wonder in advance if the 'wheat thing' would be understandable to those who didn't buy a programme, though as I watched I did think it might have become clear as it went on (just as the Giselle flower becomes clear, I think, even if you don't know what it means in advance) - but clearly not, here. It would only take an extra couple of lines in the cast sheet, so it would seem like a good idea to add it in. I did think that the programme (though very expensive, of course) is very good and I think well worth buying (for once...).

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Please could someone say who's been credited with the choreography and staging this time round?

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Choreography Ninette de Valois after Ivanov and Cecchetti

staging- Christopher Carr

 

re the wheat ear- I honestly don't think anyone could have been sure it was an ear of wheat- even if in front row stalls, ( my friend wondered if it was 'a dried locust') and even if it had been clear, why was it being thrown around and rattled??

It needed a note.

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24 minutes ago, bridiem said:

Given my unfamiliarity with Coppélia, I bought a programme (for once) and so I was able to compare the longer synopsis there with the one on the cast sheet. I did wonder in advance if the 'wheat thing' would be understandable to those who didn't buy a programme, though as I watched I did think it might have become clear as it went on (just as the Giselle flower becomes clear, I think, even if you don't know what it means in advance) - but clearly not, here. It would only take an extra couple of lines in the cast sheet, so it would seem like a good idea to add it in. I did think that the programme (though very expensive, of course) is very good and I think well worth buying (for once...).

I also bought a programme (I obviously don’t get them all the time with ballets I have seen a lot recently) and I must say it was really good value this time - articles by Judith Mackrell and Alastair Macaulay (both writers I enjoy reading) - and more. Agree with others about the performances, with Act II really special. The exaggerated mime was just great for me in row N of the amphitheatre since I had forgotten to bring my Opera glasses! 

Edited by AnneL
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I was in the front row last night.  I could tell that it was an ear of corn.

I also know the old wives' tale about testing love with an ear of corn, but I'm really of country stock turned metropolitan...

 

A small change has been made here.  It used to be that Swanhilde left the stage after the corn scene and then returned to do the next dance.  This didn't make sense as she turned from sad to happy in the blink of an eye, so the dropping of the corn and the resultant rattle has been added.

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13 hours ago, Rob S said:

What a fab opening act, some very humorous bits in it, particularly in the closing moments with the appearance of the ladder and the girls going in to the house. I just wish I wasn’t sat next to someone rummaging through a packet of Dairy Milk Caramel Nibbles through much of it. Then he had a drink. Then he had a look at his programme about two minutes before the end of the Act. 

Hope you pinched the caramels whilst he was asleep!  I really think they should ban eating anything during performances.  

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55 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

Hope you pinched the caramels whilst he was asleep!  I really think they should ban eating anything during performances.  

 

No, he finished them during the first interval

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1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

Hope you pinched the caramels whilst he was asleep!  I really think they should ban eating anything during performances.  

 

It is banned at ROH 

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1 hour ago, AnneL said:

I also bought a programme (I obviously don’t get them all the time with ballets I have seen a lot recently) and I must say it was really good value this time - articles by Judith Mackrell and Alastair Macaulay (both writers I enjoy reading) - and more. Agree with others about the performances, with Act II really special. The exaggerated mime was just great for me in row N of the amphitheatre since I had forgotten to bring my Opera glasses! 

 

ROH programmes are expensive but I think good value for money - decent articles, usually some lovely pictures as well (although I always want more) and printed on good paper and sturdily built. So a solid 30 odd pages of content. Compared to the £5 you may spend on a few bits of matte paper with a cast list and one article (short) if you’re lucky and some random photos you get for most plays (usually 10 pages of content if you’re lucky). 

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53 minutes ago, Lizbie1 said:

 

It is banned at ROH 

Well they don't enforce the ban.  I am often driven nuts by people rustling sweet papers.  I guess it's hard for the ushers to enforce this. 

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3 hours ago, Mary said:

For many it will have been the first time-and it was very welcome that the cast list featured a short synopsis. However, it would have been very helpful to note the significance of some of the dances,  which, without any explanation, might well seem entirely random, as Candleque says;  especially Aurora, Prayer ( beautifully danced by Itziar Mendizibal with great soulfulness), and the wheat-ear scene, at which point I could sense much puzzlement in the audience about what on earth was going on.  It is important to know that here Swanilda is testing whether Franz loves her by shaking an ear of wheat to see whether it rattles ( a comic version of Giselle and the marguerite, He loves me,  he loves me not...) A few extra lines in the Notes really were needed.

 

 

2 hours ago, Mary said:

re the wheat ear- I honestly don't think anyone could have been sure it was an ear of wheat- even if in front row stalls, ( my friend wondered if it was 'a dried locust') and even if it had been clear, why was it being thrown around and rattled??

It needed a note.

 

Although they no longer state it as such, it seems to me that the "synopsis" on the cast sheet is the bare bones, and that there's a more detailed one in the programme.  Can anyone confirm?

 

From my place (not so far away) I actually wondered whether the wheat ear was Aurora's dried-up spindle somehow.  (Don't blame me, if they will insist on calling "Dawn" "Aurora" is it any wonder I might get confused, especially when Coppelia and Sleeping Beauty are on simultaneously?!)

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I really, really enjoyed Coppelia last night.   The Hayward/Campbell partnership is always a joy to behold.  They are such sunny characters, and this translated to their characterisations of Swanhilda and Franz.  I loved Hayward's feisty, funny and knowing young girl.  There were certain instances that showed that a strong classical technique is not necessarily her forte, but it didn't matter as she was just so wonderful in this role, and showed a real penchant for comedy.  Campbell was a funny, flirtatious young lad-about-the village who simply doesn't understand why his flirting with another girl should bother Swanhilda.  Technically he is in great form and got good and well deserved appreciation from the audience.

 

As others have mentioned, Gary Avis was, as one would expect, brilliant as Coppelius.  I couldn't help thinking of my late friend Kevin Richmond, who had made this role his own at ENB.  Kevin somehow managed to make me cry as well as laugh as Coppelius, and no-one else has ever made me do that.  Same last night, only laughs,  but Avis plays him as a more comedic character.  It worked. 

 

I love the 'old fashioned' set and costumes.  The colours are gorgeous, and all three acts took me places that I would like to be.  The girls' costumes in Act 3 are stunning, with hues of dark blue and pastel.  Both Fumi Kaneko and Itziar Mendizabal (a late substitute for Melissa Hamilton) were beautiful as Aurora (I agree I would prefer this to be 'Dawn') and Prayer. 

 

Luckily I have known this ballet for decades so I understand about the ear of corn (not having bought a programme, is it now wheat?  Used to be corn when I was young!) and what the dances are for, but it wouldn't go amiss if an extra couple of lines were added to the synopsis on the cast sheet to explain this.  It's great that they now do synopses on the cast sheets, but they are often a bit perfunctory.  Much better than nothing, though! 

 

I think this is a great substitute for The Nutcracker, and it should enhance anyone's Christmas season if they are lucky enough to see it.  I am lucky enough to be seeing several casts and am looking forward to all of them. 

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5 minutes ago, Sim said:

 

 

Luckily I have known this ballet for decades so I understand about the ear of corn (not having bought a programme, is it now wheat?  Used to be corn when I was young!) and what the dances are for, but it wouldn't go amiss if an extra couple of lines were added to the synopsis on the cast sheet to explain this.  

 

Particularly as the wheat ear thing went on for a while

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1 hour ago, JNC said:

 

ROH programmes are expensive but I think good value for money - decent articles, usually some lovely pictures as well (although I always want more) and printed on good paper and sturdily built. So a solid 30 odd pages of content. Compared to the £5 you may spend on a few bits of matte paper with a cast list and one article (short) if you’re lucky and some random photos you get for most plays (usually 10 pages of content if you’re lucky). 

I do agree, although I was a bit put off last year when I bought a Mayerling programme and found it contained a reprint of the article in my 1979 programme of the same ballet! But this time, like last night’s performance itself, the programme  was right up my street. For example there is an article about Ninette de Valois, one of my greatest heroes. 

I can confirm the synopsis in the programme is more detailed and explains the wheat ear part. 

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56 minutes ago, AnneL said:

I do agree, although I was a bit put off last year when I bought a Mayerling programme and found it contained a reprint of the article in my 1979 programme of the same ballet! But this time, like last night’s performance itself, the programme  was right up my street. For example there is an article about Ninette de Valois, one of my greatest heroes. 

I can confirm the synopsis in the programme is more detailed and explains the wheat ear part. 

 

Similarly this year’s Manon programme was exactly the same (bar one article and a few pictures) to the 2017 one which was disappointing. 

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1 minute ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

 

Aren't they the same thing in Britain?

 

Colloquially wheat is a type of corn, which is a generic word for grain - at least among the farmers I grew up knowing.

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19 minutes ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

 

Aren't they the same thing in Britain?

No idea.  I thought that wheat and corn were two different things, but I'm a city girl through and through so what do I know?!  :)   My hubby says I freak out if I have to go into a park...!  :)

 

 

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I always thought that corn was the  American word for maize and that wheat and maize were different plants.

 

Just googled the difference;

"They are both in the grass family and both are called cereal grains. Wheat plants flower and then form a seed head at the tip of the plant, while corn plants flower from one place lower on the stalk and the seeds (corn kernels) form within a sort of pod of leaves at that location."

 

Edited by Bluebird
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There used to be a distinction between US/UK usage I think, though that seems to be dying out as the UK increasingly adopts the US use of corn as specifically maize.

 

In the UK, corn used to mean wheat most commonly (hence corn laws and corn merchants) as well as maize, oats and barley - one elderly farmer I know always means wheat when he says corn (maize, oats and barley are always named distinctly by him).

 

I think maize was not much grown in the UK until relatively recently.

Edited by Lizbie1
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Have I dialled into the DEFRA website, or Farming Today by mistake?😄

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1 minute ago, Mary said:

Have I dialled into the DEFRA website, or Farming Today by mistake?😄

 

lol

 

All I can add is that a corn-on-the-cob (maize) doesn't 'rattle' when its dried out....

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27 minutes ago, Bluebird said:

I always thought that corn was the  American word for maize and that wheat and maize were different plants.

 

They are. "The corn is as high as an elephant's eye" Oklahoma! That corn is maize and they are singing in the USA.

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The Coppelia music is lovely, but impossibly catchy! I have been stuck with the "dancing dolls" ear worm  all day...

Just one of the joyous parts of this ballet was seeing Francesca's Swanilda, in Act 2,  transform back and forth between highly convincing doll and incredulous/amused  real girl wondering what on earth was going on between Dr Coppelius and the recumbent Franz.....

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6 hours ago, Mary said:

Choreography Ninette de Valois after Ivanov and Cecchetti

staging- Christopher Carr

 

 

 

Thank you - that's the same as it said last time and I thought it strange as the biography of Ivanov in the programme didn't mention Coppelia and the history of Coppelia didn't mention Ivanov - have they improved on that this time?

 

 

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2 hours ago, AnneL said:

I do agree, although I was a bit put off last year when I bought a Mayerling programme and found it contained a reprint of the article in my 1979 programme of the same ballet! But this time, like last night’s performance itself, the programme  was right up my street. For example there is an article about Ninette de Valois, one of my greatest heroes. 

I can confirm the synopsis in the programme is more detailed and explains the wheat ear part. 

 

Thank you, AnneL.   Although there are some parts of RB programmes which are "historical" and do stay put season after season, while others change.

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22 minutes ago, Jane S said:

Thank you - that's the same as it said last time and I thought it strange as the biography of Ivanov in the programme didn't mention Coppelia and the history of Coppelia didn't mention Ivanov - have they improved on that this time?

 

The programme is rather confusing, in fact... In the article 'Coppélia' by Alastair Macaulay, he says 'Petipa's 1884 Russian version, revived in 1894 by his assistants Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti, became the basis of many Western stagings'. As far as I can see the article about Ivanov by Tim Scholl doesn't mention Coppélia (which I noticed last night and found rather odd). The article about Cecchetti (unattributed) says that in 1894 he staged 'a new version of Arthur Saint-Léon's Coppélia' (it mentions that he collaborated with Ivanov on other works, but doesn't mention Ivanov - or Petipa - in respect of Coppélia).

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