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Ian Macmillan

Royal Ballet, Kenneth MacMillan Triple Bill, November 2012

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Having monitored reaction on Twitter, I imagine we'll need a thread for this Bill - anyone likely to beat the Arts Desk with a first review?

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Nope, need a bit of time to mull it over (actually, does The Arts Desk tend to publish on Sundays?). What's so marvellous (or not) about the Twitter reaction?

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I will write more tomorrow, but I thought this was a super evening. How wonderful to see Las Hermanas finally. Requiem moved me to tears. Can't wait to see it all again.

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I saw this programme last night (well, the first two ballets; I didn't stay for Requiem). This programme clearly shows the incredible diversity of MacMillan's work. I really enjoyed Concerto and Las Hermanas. The latter felt strangely dated in a way that, say, Romeo and Juliet does not. I don't know what era it's set in. The characterisation by all the dancers was excellent. Laura Morera (the jealous sister) was scarily bitter and twisted. There was some strange/exaggerated mime/movement. I don't know whether this was the expressionist bit referred to in the programme which is well worth buying if you don't know much about MacMillan. I don't want to say too much about this ballet because it will spoil it for those who have yet to go. Someone came on at the end. Was it Ray Barra?

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I saw it last year and didn't feel the need to see it again so soon. I couldn't face another 30 minute interval either. The long intervals at the ROH are really becoming irritating to me.

 

I meant to add that several dancers who I've never been particularly keen on really impressed me last night. In particular, Sarah Lamb (who I've never taken to, perhaps because I've only seen her in more modern choreography, which she's certainly very good in) was absolutely beautiful in the middle pdd in Concerto. I did feel though that Itziar perhaps didn't have quite enough stage presence for the solo.

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Alison: I've rather become accustomed to an overnight review for RB openings on Arts Desk, noticeable because it so rarely happens elsewhere these days ..... but not this time, I've found! I imagine that a number of the broadsheets will have something by tomorrow and Mr Crisp, when his review appears, will expound at as much length as his editor permits on MacMillan's work. The reaction last night on Twitter appeared uniformly enthusiastic - Sim's post, above, largely repeats what she had sent in textspeak as she approached 140 characters, for example! And I see that Bruce has just pronounced favourably, whilst Ms Charlotte Higgins (aka chiggi to her friends) has introduced a dull note re MacMillan's "ruddy Requiem." And, so saying, I think that breakfast calls .....

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I have only seen the Rehearsal and will not therefore comment on individual performances. But I thought it was a very well-balanced programme which, especially fittingly twenty years after his death, celebrated Kenneth MacMillan's genius wonderfully.

 

It is good to see Las Hermanas (again!) and to experience its stylistic quirks. I agree about the ever-lengthening intervals but I could never miss out on Requiem which, as someone else has said here, is heart-rending.

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I won't disagree about 30 minute intervals but I adore Requiem; it is so beautiful and moving. One of the most moving performances I have seen was when Stuttgart Ballet performed a double bill of Song of the Earth and Requiem at the Hippodrome in Birmingham just after SKM had died. The performances were from the soul and absolutely heartbreaking. I can't get to London for this programme but I would have if the opportunity had presented itself.

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re the intervals. The 30mins required in this instance, as they have to relay the floor (with a 'carpet') and fix up the scenery for Hermanas, then take all that away and relay the floor again for Requiem. And for the sake of the dancers feet, they do have to get that right.

 

oh - and Requiem is just sublime, well worth enduring Las Hermanas for! ;-)

Edited by zxDaveM

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A few thoughts on last night's opening of the MacMillan triple at the Royal Opera House:

 

The first of the three ballets, Concerto, opened with a joyous blast of sunshine from Yuhui Choe and Steven McRae. They were in perfect time with each other, no mean feat in the difficult opening sequence, and perfectly matched technically. In recent years Marianela Nunez and Rupert Pennefather seem to have made the second movement their own, justifiably so. However, last night showed that they have real competition in Sarah Lamb and Ryoichi Hirano (rapidly becoming one of the best partners in the company; tall, elegant and assured). Their pas de deux was beautifully and emotionally danced, and I had the same feeling that I always have watching Nela and Rupert in this....that I just want it to go on and on. However, it can't, so bring on the final movement with Itziar Mendizabal making a very good stab at MacMillan's very difficult, attacking footwork.

 

Las Hermanas, based on Frederico Garcia Llorca's dismal play The House of Bernarda Alba, is a long-awaited revival, and well worth the wait. One facet of MacMillan's genius is his ability to tell a clear story, be it in one act or three. Here, he has to distill a long play about repressed sexuality, jealousy and tragedy into 26 minutes, and to me succeeds admirably. I know the play well, but for anyone who doesn't, the storytelling is very clear. A virile, highly-sexed man is welcomed into the house of a domineering, controlling, bitter mother, ostensibly to marry the oldest daughter. Like Rudolf and his wife in Mayerling, the man is not attracted to the daughter and lets her know in a humiliating way that this is so. He is, however, attracted to the youngest daughter; the feelings are reciprocated with tragic results after a bitter, twisted sister reveals the deception. All three of the sister roles were interpreted with passion by Zenaida Yanowski (oldest), Melissa Hamilton (youngest, and wearing a dark wig which was strange at first but I really liked it) and Laura Morera (jealous). They imparted a sense of place, a sense of darkness, a sense of heat and most importantly, the results of repressing natural human emotions and desires. There were some quirky bits of choreography here, but I really enjoyed seeing something different. Ray Barra, who had danced The Man in the first outing of this piece for Stuttgart Ballet, has staged this for the Royal and has done an excellent job.

 

And so to Requiem, MacMillan's glorious and uplifting tribute to his friend John Cranko, who had died young a couple of years before the piece was made. The music is one of my favourite pieces of any kind, and here was sung beautifully by the Royal Opera Chorus, with lovely solos from soprano Laura Wright and baritone George Humphreys. I was saying to a friend afterwards that if we could be sure that this is what it is like at the end of life, and what lies ahead, none of us would fear death, or regret life. Leanne Benjamin(amazingly now in her late 40s), as the angel, soared and comforted. Marianela Nunez also stood out with her heart-rending solos. Excellent performance from Carlos Acosta, too....he really feels it, as does everyone on stage, and so does the audience. Perhaps it is because I used In Paradisum at the funerals of my mother and brother, perhaps it was the glory of the music and how it was sung, perhaps it was the beauty of the dancing.....but I found myself in tears at the end, just quietly rolling down my cheeks. But somehow, they weren't sad.

 

It is a sobering thought to today's choreographers that this triple bill was so incredibly diverse, but all created by one man. Last week's triple (Viscera/Infra/Fool's Paradise) was by three different choreographers but was very 'samish' in structure and intent. I don't use the word 'genius' lightly, but this triple bill, for me, is an excellent illustration of just what that word means.

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Apologies if this has been posted elsewhere but I just found an article on Las Hermanas which includes video of a brief interview with Kenneth Macmillan with extracts from Las Hermanas (presumably from the performance filmed for TV in the sixties)

 

http://www.kennethma...s-hermanas.html

 

ICA has been gradually issuing these BBC performances on DVD. Let's hope that they are eventually able to bring out a DVD containing the ballet in its entirety. It's certainly fascinating to compare what we can see here of the filmed production to the current production at the ROH.

Edited by Bluebird

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Here are some photos for the Friday rehearsal (with the opening night cast). Have concentrated a little bit on Las Hermanas, as its relatively new (to most of us anyway).

 

8196757118_8d4cd6d3d4_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Concerto (Yuhui Choe)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

8195659031_b3219929dc_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Las Hermanas (Zenaida Yanowsky)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

8195654285_fff4d72c1c_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Requiem (Leanne Benjamin)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

See more...

 

Set on Flickr - Royal Ballet's MacMillan triple bill

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind Permission of the Royal Opera House

Edited by zxDaveM
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Lovely photographs as usual, Dave. I didn't comment on Steven and Yuhui in Concerto earlier. Needless to say, they were great. Yuhui is so versatile. She seems to be able to do every type of choreography. Is she good in dramatic roles? I've never seen her in a narrative ballet. It was amazing how haggard Zenaida and Laura were made to look in Las Hermanas, in keeping with their roles.

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First time I have seen Las Hermanas and it didn't disappoint.Melissa,Zenaida,Laura and Thiago outstanding in their respective roles.

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I didn't comment on Steven and Yuhui in Concerto earlier. Needless to say, they were great. Yuhui is so versatile. She seems to be able to do every type of choreography. Is she good in dramatic roles? I've never seen her in a narrative ballet.

 

Yuhue has danced The Lesson, La Fille Mal Gardee, Nikiya in La Bayadere and Cinderella wonderfully, each time showing her acting skills to great advantage. She is beautiful currently in the second cast of Requiem.

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Yuhui is so versatile. She seems to be able to do every type of choreography. Is she good in dramatic roles? I've never seen her in a narrative ballet.

 

As yet, she's not done much in the way of dramatic ballets, so time will tell, I guess.

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Dave: The pictures are excellent, as ever. My special thanks for lots with Zenaida! Having read about the eldest sister role, I'd guessed it could have been made for her and it certainly looks as if that's the case, and I look forward to that view being confirmed on 30 November.

 

By the way, does anyone else think that her black wig gives Melissa Hamilton something of a Tamara Rojo look?

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Not very much in the way of reviews so far, which makes me wonder whether various of the critics are going to catch the second cast as well, but here are a couple of bits from the Evening Standard for those who can't wait for tomorrow's links:

 

Article on Ray Barra: http://www.standard....=internalSearch

 

Liz Hoggard's review: http://www.standard....=internalSearch

 

From my point of view, briefly: Concerto looked good, but still needs tightening up because it was rather messy at soloist level; I suspect that I missed some of the subtleties of Las Hermanas by being too high up in the amphitheatre, but have certainly seen sleazier performances than Soares' as the groom; *loved* Requiem, although it didn't quite get as far as making me cry. Having it in the rep twice in barely 12 months really seems to have paid off - the cast, especially the incredible Leanne Benjamin, really seem to have got deeper into the work than they managed even last autumn. I do so wish they'd record this, because the cast is fabulous and the complexities of the choreography are endlessly fascinating to me, but yet again it doesn't look as though that's going to happen.

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Here are some photos from the 'general' rehearsal (Friends rehearsal) featuring the 'other' casts.

 

8201111366_eb01352bb7_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Concerto (Meaghan Grace Hinkis)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

8201106558_8054fab61a_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Las Hermanas (Alina Cojocaru)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

8201104994_347685c3a4_z.jpg

Royal Ballet - Requiem (Helen Crawford)

© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

 

 

See more...

 

Set on Flickr - Royal Ballet's MacMillan triple bill - 'other' cast

Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

By kind Permission of the Royal Opera House

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Dave, quite right to call this set "other casts" and not second casts. Calvert in Concerto, Mendizabal in Hermanas and Choe in Requiem were superb.

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Very good debuts by all concerned in tonight's Requiem, I thought.

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I was there last night too and I thought the 'Hermanas' cast were superb. Interestingly, because I got my ticket at the last minute through this forum and because someone swiped my cast sheet before I had time to study it, I couldn't quite tell who was dancing what, and it wasn't until the interval that I discoverd that Alina had danced the tortured elder sister. To say the very least of it, I was blown away by her performance; she has the most expressive body of anybody on any stage anywhere, and she seems to have the fearlessness to lay her soul bare for all the world to see. An extraordinary artist. Mendiziabel was touching too as the jealous sister who came to realise too late how she had hurt her sister, and Tom Whitehead as the grubbily macho man of the piece managed to extract some sly wit from the role. Finally, it was good to see Genesia Rosato on stage again, and seemingly just as beautiful as ever.

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I was there last night too

 

 

I'm guessing you managed to find that seat Ann! Gave me lots of elbow room :-)

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I have a bit of a problem - as a virulently non-religious person, having Pie Jesu as a persistent ear-worm is somewhat troubling!

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'...>as a virulently non-religious person, having Pie Jesu as a persistent ear-worm is somewhat troubling!<...'

 

The Good Lord is trying to tell you something, Dave!

 

And yes, I did manage to find a seat - a particularly good one! I just asked nicely and tried to look even older than I am (I must have been looking particularly wretched last night...).

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Just in from tonight's performance - a thoroughly satisfying Triple Bill, all the more so in that it featured my two RB favourites, Zenaida Yanowsky and Edward Watson, but many congratulations to all involved, whether dancers, instrumental and vocal soloists, or the Opera Chorus. And all honour to the memory of Kenneth MacMillan and the legacy he bestowed in this anniversary year.

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