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Swan Lake - Birmingham Royal Ballet - on tour Spring 2020

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Thanks Shade, that’s what I was trying to say. I will still go and enjoy it as I like Celine Gittens very much, especially her partnership with Brandon Lawrence. 

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3 hours ago, Sim said:

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. 

 

Both ballerinas are (or were, when I looked yesterday) still shown as dancing, which is what was so odd.  Not that I expect to be told the ins and outs of these things, and injuries, illness and indisposition obviously happen, but the courtesy of a notification would have been nice, rather than having it hidden away in the casting information.  Sim, presumably you can't get to the Tuesday "relaxed" matinee?  I think they were still shown as dancing that one.

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I agree some communication is just being polite to paying customers. 

The other night when I went to see Onegin Kevin O Hare himself came out before the performance to tell us about the cast change even though it had also been sent out by email.

We all appreciate dancers can be injured at the very last minute so it's not always possible to give much notice but I see no harm at all in saying something like Unfortunately X has sustained an injury ( or X is unwell) and cannot dance this evening ets etc.

O Hare in his announcement was very complimentary about Nunez agreeing to dance the performance and that she and Bolle  had danced to acclaim etc in this ballet.....so definitely no insult to replacement dancers. 

It may not always be possible for the Director him/herself to be able to announce this but these are nice touches by the Royal Ballet and I think especially in very last minute replacements there could be somebody else designated to do this if the Director can't etc. 

Companies do need to appreciate that of course we love all the dancers but we do have our favourites and may be prepared to spend more money to see them and luckily there is usually quite a large number of dancers who are favourites!! 

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5 hours 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. 


At tonight’s gala, the pas de deux from Far From the Madding Crowd due to be danced by Tyrone & Delia was substituted with a pdd from Cinderella rehearsed with only 2 days notice and danced by Tyrone & either Miki or Momoko due to Delia being injured. Hope this sheds some light on the cast changes. 

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At the ROH, in the old days before computers, social media and any kind of advance information, you didn’t know about a cast change until just before curtain-up, when the announcement quaintly said “so-and-so is indisposed...”.  I guess that covered every reason!  

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6 minutes ago, Sim said:

At the ROH, in the old days before computers, social media and any kind of advance information, you didn’t know about a cast change until just before curtain-up, when the announcement quaintly said “so-and-so is indisposed...”.  I guess that covered every reason!  

 

Yes, I well remember the occasion when someone came out front of curtain to announce that Sibley and Dowell (I think) would not be dancing "EEEEEEEEEEr moan, sigh!" and their places would be taken by Rudolf Nureyev and......... (name drowned in cheers and clapping).

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20 hours ago, capybara said:

 

Yes, I well remember the occasion when someone came out front of curtain to announce that Sibley and Dowell (I think) would not be dancing "EEEEEEEEEEr moan, sigh!" and their places would be taken by Rudolf Nureyev and......... (name drowned in cheers and clapping).


Those were the days, Capybara!

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Four hours’ driving there and three on the way back was a small price to pay to experience BRB’s exquisite ‘Swan Lake’ on their home stage on Friday.  Momoko Hirata and César Morales were every bit as captivating, technically excellent and emotionally eloquent as they had been during their haunting performance in Giselle last autumn.  I have never seen a dancing swan ‘fly’ so convincingly as Hirata, thanks in no small part to Morales’ outstanding partnering – she appeared utterly weightless. At one point my partner was laughing in silent disbelief.  At the interval he explained it was because he had become  convinced that if Siegfried let go of Odette during one of those magnificent high lifts, she would simply go on floating up to the rafters.  She was more like a single feather than a whole bird; her feet touched the floor soundlessly.  As the white swan she was heartbreaking, delicate, yearning; as the black swan she hardened to become flirtatious and exhibitionist.  Her 32 fouettés seemed effortless, although she did travel a lot – the only fault I could find with her the whole evening.  Morales was the epitome of a poet-prince, brooding, wistful, distracted – and then passionate.  The way he held his swan maiden gave an impression of genuine tenderness between them.  The word ‘chemistry’ is often used; here I would say it was something deeper, something beyond desire - true souls meeting and bonding.
 

The staging was really beautiful – the only thing I’d wish were different is that against the dark background, Morales’ dark costume didn’t show off his superb entrechats etc to full advantage.  With a couple of exceptions, the 40 year old costumes looked gorgeous.  The corps had a few ragged moments and were a little noisy, but were generally very lovely; I particularly enjoyed the four little swans who were well-drilled, harmonious and thankfully all the same height – I hate it when they don’t match.  The orchestra sounded rich and the overall experience was a complete delight from beginning to end.
 

My only regret is that I wasn’t organised enough to order flowers – they both deserved them! – and there were none at the final curtain call.  I tried to take photos but an official prevented me, even though it was right at the end of the applause.


I urge anyone who can to seize the opportunity to watch the Morales/Hirata partnership in any roles at all to see them while they are still dancing together; Morales is 41 and although he looks youthful and dances almost flawlessly, he can’t go on forever.

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Lovely review! 
It seems as though nowhere can you see curtain calls like the ROH. 
A shame you weren’t allowed to take a piccie if the dancing had ended... perhaps when they are of the standard of some people on this Forum say ...they are worried you might be going to try to sell them on!!😉 

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19 minutes ago, LinMM said:

Lovely review! 
It seems as though nowhere can you see curtain calls like the ROH. 
A shame you weren’t allowed to take a piccie if the dancing had ended... perhaps when they are of the standard of some people on this Forum say ...they are worried you might be going to try to sell them on!!😉 

 

The Hippodrome is always very strict on people taking photographs at curtain calls.  I can remember seeing an usher telling off the parent of a (now-ex) dancer for trying to take photos of her curtain calls on a special occasion.

 

The other British companies only seem to have flowers presented on stage for major debuts (although that does not mean that dancers have not had flowers delivered to their dressing rooms).

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I was fortunate indeed to see the two performances yesterday.

 

I love SPW/Galina Samsova's production of Swan Lake, the set and costumes (black and gold) are very much to my taste.  The prologue of Siegfried's father's funeral procession really sets the scene for Prince Siegfried's melancholy.  The BRB Sinfonia sounded wonderful at both performances.

 

The matinee saw the debuts of Miki Mizutani and Lachlan Monaghan and they were really rather special indeed!  Lachlan brought out all the melancholy of Prince Siegfried not really enjoying the party organised for him by his friend Benno (a lovely portrayal by of a caring friend worried about his Prince by Tzu-Chao Chou).  Even when tempted by the courtesans you could see he was putting a brave face on.  Then, of course, The Queen told him he had to get married and that really made his day (not)!

 

Anyway the party ended and he saw the swans in the distance...  Pause into Act 2.

 

Oh wow - from Miki's first entrance I knew I was in for something special.  She was absolutely sublime, so delicate and fragile but so strong in her dancing!!  Miki's arms and back are just beautiful.  Her adagio with Lachlan was just divine.  Her exit at the end of the act sent shivers down my spine and a number of people around me gasped in delight.

 

There was a nice contrast with the black act.  She came over as a strong and determined woman who completely bowled over Siegfried and made him believe she was his Odette.  The gpdd was graced with dazzling dancing from both dancers.  Lachlan is such a beautifully precise dancer who still manages to bring excitement to the role and Miki is a total delight.  Their rapport on stage was terrific throughout.

 

I love the way the swans surge around the stage and do those threatening wedges in Act 4 and the tragedy of the act was heartfelt indeed.  Valentin Olovyannikov was great as Rothbart.

 

The swans were exemplary throughout.  The way the swans rise from the mist in Act 4 never ceases to thrill me.  So all in all it was a wonderful and enjoyable performance.

 

In the evening we saw Yaoqian Shang and Mathias Dingman in the leading roles with Aitor Galende as Benno and Rory Mackay as Rothbart.  It was another super performance.  Mathias Dingman really is on fire at the moment and his acting was heartfelt indeed.  Yaoqian is just gorgeous.  Again, they had a great on-stage rapport.  I must say that I thought their act 4 was one of the most heart-breaking I have ever seen!

 

Birmingham Royal Ballet is on excellent form at the moment and I hope Carlos Acosta cherishes all these wonderful dancers!

 

Onwards and upwards to The Lowry next week...

 

 

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Totally agree, Janet, Miki’s  arms and back were absolutely beautiful.

I felt that this was very much her own take on the role of Odette.

Am there again tomorrow to see her second performance. 
She has now done all the big classics to great acclaim. Seems only a short time ago

that she was wowing us with that flea in Penguin Cafe.

superlatives for Lachlan as well

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I hadn't registered it was a double debut yesterday afternoon - surprisingly late in a two-week run - and certainly wouldn't have thought so from the standard of the dancing!  In that case, I was extremely impressed by Monaghan's characterisation in particular: I felt far more involved in his Siegfried's predicament than that of many other, more experienced, Siegfrieds.  I thought Mizutani was very good as well - and both dancers were very clear in their mime.  Unfortunately, there was quite a lot of disturbance behind me during the performance, and I think that was a bit of a distraction which probably detracted from my appreciation of the performance as a whole.

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BRB opened at The Lowry tonight with a dazzling performance from Momoko Hirata and Cesar Morales.

 

The swans were exemplary throughout and all the cast were engaged in the production.

 

Cesar is a supremely elegant dancer and he gave a beautifully nuanced performance as Siegfried.  Momoko is a force of nature!  She looked so fragile and frightened in act 2, gradually opening up as she realised Siegfried loved her.  She was a total vamp in act 3 and then superbly tragic in act 4.  The gpdd in act 3 was incredibly exciting, edge of the seat stuff.

 

At lot of people in the stalls stood during the curtain calls and it was a deserved standing ovation for such an outstanding performance.

 

I'm looking forward to the rest of the week now. 

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I can’t wait to hear about Saturday night!  

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Don't tell me: that being a certain Mr. B... L... and somebody? :)  (If so, then nor can I!)

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Yes...Mr BL and the lovely Yijing Zhang making an unscheduled debut as Odette/Odile.  What a wonderful opportunity for her!

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Posted (edited)

I was at Salford Quays on Saturday to see both matinee (Samara Downs and Yasuo Atsuji) and evening (Yijing Zhang and Brand and Brandon Lawrence).

 

First thing to say the costumes and set design of this production are just amazing, and they get more impressive the more times I see it. The sheer splendour you can just gape at, never mind the dancing. It's more than just over-the-top opulence though, the design also has a darkness to it that gives a brooding tragic atmosphere and is a really perfect setting for the story. 

 

I had not seen either leads in these roles before. And not having seen Downs dance much before I wondered how she would deliver but I must say she was absolutely superb, she had the 'principal presence', and to my mind made a convincing individual interpretation. There was a sharpness to her wing beats in Act II which emphasised the wild, nervous nature of the swan. Both black and white pdd were sensational. In Act III she delivered a cracking solo and really went for it in the fouettes, and almost came a cropper but I loved her throwing caution to the wind, it made the atmosphere very exciting.  

 

I must admit I was dreadfully disappointed when I heard Delia Mathews would not be dancing Sat eve, it came as a shock to me. I was checking the BRB twitter because I knew she had recently been injured but I only found out about her replacement when I picked up a cast sheet in the evening. (Unless I am mistaken English National Ballet usually announce cast changes on their twitter, so naively I expected BRB to do the same). However, when I found out it was a debut by Zhang my disappointment was replaced by intrigue. And again, I was impressed by her stage presence, which was there immediately when she appeared, and the pdd (black and white) were really top quality. For the solo work I felt there was an element of playing it safe (perhaps understandable), but I must say her fouettes had a  beautiful style to them.  

 

I am usually guilty of neglecting to pay attention to the male leads in Swan Lake. Both Atsuji and Lawrence are stunning dancers, Atsuji particularly aristocratic in bearing while Lawrence has such powerful presence, even when standing still! My favourite part from the Prince's dancing is the melancholy Act I solo and both dancers gave beautiful interpretations of it. 

 

I found myself quite emotional at the point of high drama particularly in Downs/Atsuji performance; this doesn't always happen to me, so something special was going on I'd say. These performances of Swan Lake gave all I could ask for, and yet again I find myself grateful to be able to see such high quality work from a touring company. I'll keep going to see them in Salford, Birmingham, Sunderland, Bristol whenever I get the chance and can fit it around my day job. I'll even go to Plymouth! I kind of wish I'd gone to see Celine Gittens/Tyrone Singleton on Friday eve too. 

 

Lovely to see you again Janet and hope you got back home OK after the usual night motorway closures. 

Edited by northstar
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A lovely review Northstar. You capture exactly my feelings about this production which I have loved since at first saw it in its first season with the wonderful Samsova dancing. I think there are clear traces of her Russian influence in the production which she worked on with Sir Peter Wright.  I saw Samara Downs and Yasuo Atsuji in Birmingham at the start of the run and was impressed by Downs. I echo the attack she showed in act 3. I found Atsuji, a little less convincing, needing to project the character a little more, but a very light and elegant dancer.  I imagine their partnership has developed during this run. I also agree with your sentiment regarding how fortunate we are to have such a quality company touring the country. I hope the tour continues to be well attended, but then Swan Lake rarely suffers from the lack of an audience. 

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I had the most wonderful week at The Lowry last week.

 

For me, SPW's productions of the Tchaikovsky "big three" for BRB reign supreme - he absolutely respects the heritage of the pieces with perhaps a couple of little tweaks to make them more coherent for a 21st century audience and the production values are superb.  I am not forgetting Galina Samsova's input to the BRB Swan Lake either.

 

I love the dark, gothic feel of the set - it makes the production look a million dollars.  Even after nearly 40 years the production still comes up as fresh as a daisy.  I find SPW's Act 4 incredibly powerful.  The wedge formations of the swans during the battle between Siegfried/Odette and Rothbart bring out the power of the swans (having had real-life swan incidents myself, I have seen at first hand the power of these magnificent birds).  The ending, where Benno finds Siegried's body as we see Siegfried and Odette rising to heaven never fails to bring a lump to my throat.

 

SDB has handed over a company with strength and depth throughout to Carlos Acosta and I hope Mr Acosta cherishes and further develops these wonderful dancers.  Over 6 performances BRB was able to field 6 Odette/Odiles and 6 Siegfrieds.

 

I have already reported back on Wednesday's magnificent opening performance.  The other 5 casts were equally compelling and each leading pairing brought something subtley different to their performances.  With the benefit of hindsight, Momoko's Act 3 was probably her strongest act (not that she wasn't brilliant throughout) - her gpdd with Cesar was thrilling, edge of the seat stuff.

 

On Thursday afternoon I was privileged to see another performance from Miki Mizutani and Lachlan Monaghan.  This was their third full performance and they have settled into the roles.  Having been bowled over by their debuts the previous week I got even more out of this performance.  Miki is just sublime full stop.  Lachlan must be one of the best actor/dancers in a company choc full of actor/dancers.  You could see his melancholy, his efforts to be cheerful for his friends, his despair when his Mother told him he had to get married and his joy at thinking Odile was Odette.  This all led to a heartbreaking finish in Act 4.  Miki was such a soft and fragile Odette, melting into her Prince.  Her Odile was beguiling and bewitching.  This was most definitely a performance for the memory banks.

 

Thursday evening was led by Yaoqian Shang and Mathias Dingman.  Shang is another delight and another Odette who melts into her Prince.  Some moments of their act 2 sent shivers running down my spine it was so sublime.  Mathias is a virtuoso dancer who acts with sincerity and was very believable as the tormented Siegfried.  Act 3 was full of fireworks!  I think their Act 4 together is the most heart-rending interpretation I have ever seen.  Obviously most of the audience agreed with me as they received a good standing ovation.

 

Friday evening saw Celine Gittens and Tyrone Singleton giving a masterclass in how Swan Lake should be performed.  it was a thrilling performance from beginning to end.  Tyrone is the tortured, angst-ridden Siegfried to a tee - he is the ultimate Prince too.  Celine was just divine as the fragile Odette with incredibly beautiful arm and head movements.  In Act 3 her Odile was incredibly beguiling ... not only did she beguile Siegfried she used her gorgeous eyes to have the same effect on the audience.  

 

Saturday afternoon saw Samara Downs and Yasuo Atsuji wowing the audience.  Samara is proving to be one of the most versatile actors within the company - ranging from very bad characters through delightful soubrette and comedy to the tragedy of Swan Lake.  She gave a beautifully nuanced performance as Odette and played with Siegfried as a cat may toy with a mouse as Odile.  Just wow!  Yasuo Atsuji is an elegant dancer and intelligent actor who was very believable as the Prince.

 

The week concluded with the unexpected debut (due to the injury of another dancer) of Yijing Zhang with the always wonderful Brandon Lawrence as her Prince.  As a Friend of BRB I had watched their rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon and came away from that thinking that we were in for something special on Saturday evening.  Brandon was utterly magnificent.  Moving on from last year's incredible debut as Albrecht he proves to be a true tragedian.  He is also the most generous of partners and I am sure Yijing's beautiful performance was greatly helped by him.  Yijing has long been a favourite of mine - she has a serene and ethereal quality that makes her beautifully vulnerable as Odette.  Her Odile was such a contrast it almost came as a shock!  She was every inch the vamp and caught her Prince hook, line and sinker!  It was a privilege to have been in the audience on Saturday evening.

 

I should say that the swans were absolutely magnificent throughout the week.  The cygnets and the big swans thrilled at every performance.  In Act 3 we saw some terrific Princesses - I loved the little interplay between them as they were introduced to the Queen.  Alys Shee was particularly notable as the Hungarian Princess and I loved Rosanna Ely as the Polish Princess.  Beatrice Parma scintillated as the Neapolitan Princess.  The national dances were danced with panache throughout the week.  Jonathan Payn was my favourite Rothbart - I felt he had the most powerful and sinister stage presence of the three dancers I saw perform the role and his "purple run" curtain calls were hilariously scary!

 

I saw 4 Bennos during the week.  Tzu Chao Chou was a pocket rocket and also a caring friend worried about his Prince.  Aitor Galende and Haoliang Feng are newer members of the company and both gave effective performances.  Lachlan had a busy week dancing Benno as well as Siegfried, giving a nuanced performance with scintillating dancing.

 

So I hope I've given you just the tiniest flavour of what a wonderful week of performances I enjoyed at The Lowry.  I'm suffering from withdrawal symptoms already!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

SDB has handed over a company with strength and depth throughout to Carlos Acosta and I hope Mr Acosta cherishes and further develops these wonderful dancers.  Over 6 performances BRB was able to field 6 Odette/Odiles and 6 Siegfrieds.

 

 

On the few occasions I have managed to see them in the classics, I have always thought that  BRB are superior to the RB, both in terms of productions and the all over standard of dancing from the entire company.  

I hope fervently that Acosta doesn't feel the need to introduce more modern stuff at the expense of  pure classical ballet.  

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2 hours ago, Fonty said:

 

On the few occasions I have managed to see them in the classics, I have always thought that  BRB are superior to the RB, both in terms of productions and the all over standard of dancing from the entire company.  

I hope fervently that Acosta doesn't feel the need to introduce more modern stuff at the expense of  pure classical ballet.  

Hear, hear!  I agree wholeheartedly with both comments.

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2 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

Hear, hear!  I agree wholeheartedly with both comments.

 

 

Me too!

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On the few occasions I have managed to see them in the classics, I have always thought that  BRB are superior to the RB, both in terms of productions and the all over standard of dancing from the entire company.  

I hope fervently that Acosta doesn't feel the need to introduce more modern stuff at the expense of  pure classical ballet.

 

This is really great comment to read! I've never seen RB live, just cinema relays and YouTube/BBC TV recordings, but I've often felt when seeing BRB live (many many times) that it would be difficult to top them for quality. 

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