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Motomum

Swan Lake - Birmingham Royal Ballet - on tour Spring 2020

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If anyone is in Hampshire and has a spare three hours, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake opened last night at The Mayflower theatre in Southampton.

 

I won’t attempt a review such as the ones I read on here, but suffice to say it was thoroughly enjoyable. It received a well deserved 4 stars in the Guardian today.

 

The ballet had a much darker feel to the productions I have seen previously. The sets and the costumes all adding to quite a sombre, somewhat oppressive atmosphere.

 

I didn’t love Prince Siegfried, Principal Tyrone Singleton, his Prince was a bit dreary, but his lightness and control in the grande allegro enchainments were lovely.

 

Celina Gittens Odette was gorgeous, her arms were delightful and her swan like quality was utterly believable. 

 

I thought I spied some Russian style arms and hands and indeed after reading the Guardian review I found out the production was from a 1981 revival by Peter Wright and Galina Samsova.

 

My 11 year old son and I were most impressed by the swans, and the gorgeous cygnets. All their lines and formations were wonderful. The swans being slowly revealed from underneath the mist at the beginning of Act 4 was an audience ‘oohh’ and ‘ah’ moment. 

 

Carlos Acosta was in the same row as us watching the ballet, causing quite a commotion at each interval.  Good to see him so visible as the new director of the company. 

 

 

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Thanks for the report back.  I've got to wait till Birmingham for my first performances.

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Thanks Motomum - I am looking forward to seeing this production. I have seen many Swan Lakes and the role of the Prince is the one that is so difficult. 

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I had booked for a double BRB Swan Lake yesterday travelling by train from London Waterloo/Clapham Junction.

My initial thoughts on learning of the train disruption was to write the excursion off but I had spent circa £100 non-refundable on travel and tickets. Plus this was my only opportunity to see this production.
Helpful railway staff the evening before travel suggested I allow an extra hour journey time and a margin for additional error. I packed a book, water and snacks. The journey time was about 2hrs 15mins instead of 1hr 15mins.

Both shows merited the additional travel time. Yes, there were a few odd flaws but these did not detract from my unquestionable joy in having made the trip. 
Splendid staging throughout, with the Act 4 opening taking the wider audience and also my breath away, sublime dancing at times from the principals and the corps deserves especial mention for its synchronicity, it’s characterisation of a flock of swans both at rest and in peril and it’s sheer beauty.  
Checking my return trains on the National Rail App ‘Live’ departures (NOT journey planner which had contradictory information) at the first evening interval I found that the last trains to London were now cancelled with the 22.00 (delayed until 22.22) the last to leave town. I saw the first 10 minutes of Act 4 (unmissable opening sequence as aforementioned) and then at 22.10 heavy-hearted headed to the station missing out on Odile and Siegried’s death dives and the corps delivering justice to Rothbart. (another highlight of this production).

The return train was further delayed and I wasn’t indoors until 1am. 
I slept well, a mission seemingly impossible having become mission accomplished.

 

 

Edited by prs59
To praise the Orchestra who breathed drama, conflict, emotion and passion into every note played.
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You deserve a medal prs59 - real commitment. It sounds like it was all worth it. 

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Yes indeed.  You have my deepest sympathy: I once left in good time for the 22.30 train (guaranteed to connect with plenty of South London trains at Clapham Junction), only to find that it had been cancelled and we had to take the last, (nearly) all-stations-stopping, slow train, which arrived at CJ after all my trains had left.  Fortunately I was able to convince SWT that they were supposed to arrange cabs, because nobody had rung ahead to arrange anything.  I think I got home about 2 am :( 

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@prs59 there were unfortunately no ‘death dives’ much to my son’s huge disappointment. There was more of a disappear behind the scenery kind of ending.

Dramatic it was not.

 

And Benno carrying the Prince was a sight to behold as the Prince was twice as long as Benno. It looked very odd indeed. Like a child carrying an adult!!

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50 minutes ago, Motomum said:

@prs59 there were unfortunately no ‘death dives’ much to my son’s huge disappointment. There was more of a disappear behind the scenery kind of ending.

Dramatic it was not.

 

And Benno carrying the Prince was a sight to behold as the Prince was twice as long as Benno. It looked very odd indeed. Like a child carrying an adult!!


At the matinee both Odile and the Prince dove headfirst into the ‘lake’ 

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So despite travel challenges we made it to yesterday’s matinee and were amply rewarded for our trouble. It was lovely to meet fellow forum member Lin and chat ballet. 
 

it was my first time seeing BRBs Swan Lake and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The orchestra was great as was the performance. Hirtata was a beautiful swan queen, best in the white acts. Ably supported by Morales. The swans were very impressive. The little cygnets so well coordinated. 

 

I loved the way they advanced menacingly towards Von Rothbart, reminded me of the wilis in Giselle.

 

the audience was very enthusiastic and supportive. 
 
Carlos Acosta was in the audience- phew so handsome. The lady next to me was very excited to see him.

 

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Just got back late last night from travelling ...couldn’t access the Forum on Sunday for some reason ..  and travelling around too much yesterday and now have to dash to the dentist this morning! But will report back more later and just to say how lovely it was to meet Shade which made the whole trip to the Mayflower Theatre so much more enjoyable. And loved the performance and production of BRB. 

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Just caught up with a colleague - a newbie! - who went on Friday with his wife and they were bowled over by the whole thing.  Two more converts! 

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Anyone going to the Birmingham matinee on Thursday 20th? - would be good to meet up.

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I’m sure there will be a separate thread in due course but is anyone going to BRB’s evening of music and dance on the 14th?

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Yes, but I am going to the performance at the Warwick Arts Centre - the first time I believe they have had a second performance. I think it should offer a slightl larger performance space .

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So to Swan Lake at the Mayflower Saturday Mat. Swan Lake is a long ballet but I was never once bored as can occasionally happen in the first Act especially. 
The lead roles were Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales and I was particularly impressed with Momoko. She was beautiful as Odette with lovely arms and a certain warmth which made her very sympathetic in the role. I don’t recall ever seeing her dance before though she’s been with the Company a while.. mores the pity as she looks an interesting dancer and would certainly book to see her again. I liked Morales always engaging on stage and a very good performance from him but was reflecting in the interval that one of my fave Siegfrieds is Carlos Acosta in fact ... who was in the audience that afternoon....certainly looks like he’s giving the Company a good look over! 
The pas de trois was very enjoyable with Karla Doorbar Miki Mizutani and Max Maslen....who played Benno....

The colours in this production are very muted but in a pleasant way not too ‘muddy’ so stage may appear a little dark on occasions but I really liked most of the costumes ...the styles a very good match for this Story. 
Momoko wonderful in the second Act and the three main princesses danced by Maureya Lebowitz, Yu Kurihara and Karla Doorbar were all good particularly Yu I thought. Momoko was still pretty good as the Black Swan with some stunning fouettes but for me perhaps not quite strong enough in the cunning projection of the sourceress but she definitely shone as Odette. 
I really loved the ending in this production with both the leads having to leap into the icey waters of the Lake and joining as spirits forever after to overcome the evil Von Rothbart ( Rory Mackay). The final scene of Benno carrying Siegfrieds body from the lake to that wonderful soaring music was very poignant....doesn’t quite eclipse the old RB production where Odette and Siegfried float off in the Swan into the ever after and the practicalities of bodies left to the imagination...don’t think anything will beat that! 
But overall this is an excellent production .  and think I prefer to the new RB one.. but will see on a second viewing in April. 
So what good fortune to be in Southampton that  Saturday to catch this. It’s still on tour I believe so definitely well worth a trip to see. 
I also enjoyed watching class from the Stalls in the morning ....great to see Brandon Lawrence in particular in terrific form and I love it as towards the end they all seem to compete with each other to do highest jumps and most turns ...one girl in particular was just amazing even clapped by the Company on stage ....I haven’t got the programme with me at mo but recognise her picture from it so can find out later. 

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6 hours ago, LinMM said:

The lead roles were Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales and I was particularly impressed with Momoko. She was beautiful as Odette with lovely arms and a certain warmth which made her very sympathetic in the role. I don’t recall ever seeing her dance before though she’s been with the Company a while..

Oh LinMM, I'm jealous!  I saw her with Morales in Giselle and can't get the pair of them out of my mind.  She is my favourite female dancer based in England, at the moment.  So glad you enjoyed her too.

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On 04/02/2020 at 17:36, Odyssey said:

Yes, but I am going to the performance at the Warwick Arts Centre - the first time I believe they have had a second performance. I think it should offer a slightl larger performance space .

 

For the past couple of years they had a second night in Northampton.  It's a first (I believe) for Warwick.

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6 hours ago, LinMM said:

one of my fave Siegfrieds is Carlos Acosta in fact ... who was in the audience that afternoon....certainly looks like he’s giving the Company a good look over! 

 

I should hope so!  SDB attended every performance he could (which, certainly on tour, was most of them) as did various members of the ballet staff.

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Kevin O'Hare seems to be in the RB audience every night. Tamara Rojo is often in the ENB audience on tour.

Surely, it is the job of a Director to watch, appraise, and offer feedback on as many performances as possible?

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It's probably because Acosta has literally only just started in his role as Director of the Company so my comment was really that he's already getting 'stuck in' as it were! 

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Could I just flag up the Travelzoo offer someone, I think it was Pulcinella, has posted in the Tickets section for the Birmingham performances in the latter half of this month?  This is an excellent production, and some of the evening performances haven't sold terribly well thus far.  The company deserves better.  I'd grab one myself if I could get home that late ...

 

Edit: I see there are some cast changes - don't know whether they are recent or have been there for some time.

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I am really, really disappointed about this.  Brandon Lawrence and Delia Mathews were scheduled to dance this together  as they didn't get a performance in S'ton.  I have therefore spent a shedload of money that I couldn't really spare on nice tickets and train fares to Birmingham especially to see them since they haven't danced together much in the past year or two.  Now Delia is replaced by Celine Gittens, with no explanation at all, save 'change to previously announced casting'.  No apology, no explanation, nothing.  That is very poor.  They really need to sort their casting information/communication out at that company. 

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I don't think we should expect companies to apologize for cast changes. And also I think it would look like a slur on the replacement cast, "Terribly sorry, you have to see Celine Gittens"

As for explanations, surely we can assume cast changes are due to injury or illness without it having to be spelled out for us. "Delia has a temperature of 102."

 

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

I am really, really disappointed about this.  Brandon Lawrence and Delia Mathews were scheduled to dance this together  as they didn't get a performance in S'ton.  I have therefore spent a shedload of money that I couldn't really spare on nice tickets and train fares to Birmingham especially to see them since they haven't danced together much in the past year or two.  Now Delia is replaced by Celine Gittens, with no explanation at all, save 'change to previously announced casting'.  No apology, no explanation, nothing.  That is very poor.  They really need to sort their casting information/communication out at that company. 

 

I sympathize with you, as I had a similar situation when I saw BRB's Nutcracker in December, having likewise spent a lot on tickets & trains. The Sugar Plum Fairy, Prince & Drosselmeyer were all replaced with no explanation given. It wasn't even possible to assume illness/injury for all of them since Maureya Lebowitz, who should have been dancing the SPF, was on stage as a lead Snowflake & Flower.

Edited by Dawnstar
Amended spelling of Maureya Lebowitz's first name.

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37 minutes ago, toursenlair said:

I don't think we should expect companies to apologize for cast changes. And also I think it would look like a slur on the replacement cast, "Terribly sorry, you have to see Celine Gittens"

As for explanations, surely we can assume cast changes are due to injury or illness without it having to be spelled out for us. "Delia has a temperature of 102."

 

 

I don't think companies should apologise, on the basis that the casting of leading roles already announced should only be changed when it's absolutely necessary, which it obviously sometimes is. But I do think that a reason should be given, partly out of courtesy to those who have booked to see the original cast and partly because the implication otherwise is that dancers are simply interchangeable which is disrespectful to them as well as to audiences. And if the reason is injury or illness, that would normally be stated; if it's not stated, my assumption would be that those reasons don't apply.

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It occurs to me that there are occasions when a dancer or company might have good reason to draw a veil over the reason for a cast change. I don't think I, as an audience member, have a right to know what that reason is.

 

If the UK companies had a reputation for unnecessary cast changes I'd probably feel differently, but they don't so I'm content to trust their judgement. (I do agree however that they could be better at notifying people that there will be a cast change.)

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1 hour ago, toursenlair said:

I don't think we should expect companies to apologize for cast changes. And also I think it would look like a slur on the replacement cast, "Terribly sorry, you have to see Celine Gittens"

As for explanations, surely we can assume cast changes are due to injury or illness without it having to be spelled out for us. "Delia has a temperature of 102."

 

I don’t see the harm in an apology.  Whether companies want to admit it or not, many people pay to see certain dancers.  We all know this is a risk, and sometimes we are disappointed.  To apologise to the paying public is not a slur on the replacement dancer.  It’s just mitigating the disappointment for those who have been looking forward to seeing a particular dancer.   The ROH always gives some (if not much) notice of a cast change, with a reason and if you have bought online you get an email.  And they put it on social media.  I don’t see why BRB can’t do the same.  And I don’t need to know if Delia has a temperature.   I am just talking about how things are communicated.  

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Very sorry to hear of this cast change for you Sim, especially when travel arrangements have been made etc. Ms Lawrence is down to dance another performance I think though. There is no excuse for poor communication in this era and a lack of communication suggests a cavalier attitude to customers.

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