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Debuts to Final Shows


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Does anyone have any notable stories of seeing a dancer's debut in a role and then seeing them perform the same role as their final performance? And how did the interpretations change?

 

 

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Fascinating question, TTP.  I will get my feeble memory into gear and see if I can remember anything.  I can think of a couple who chose to end their careers with a piece by the same choreographer as the one they debuted with, but just a different one from the debut.

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Well, I certainly saw David Wall in the first performance of Mayerling and in his farewell in the same role - but I expect lots of other people did, too.

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35 minutes ago, Jane S said:

Well, I certainly saw David Wall in the first performance of Mayerling and in his farewell in the same role - but I expect lots of other people did, too.

 

I didn't see his first performance - that was in my first season of ballet-going, and I didn't yet understand the importance of premières/débuts (and could only afford to book for one performance of any work at that stage) so I didn't book for the world première of Mayerling because I preferred to see Collier as Mary Vetsera a few evenings later. What a nit! 🙃 (Though the Eagling/Collier cast was terrific.) I did see his farewell performance in 1984, which was magnificent - I remember thinking that no-one else would ever match him. (In fact, there have been some brilliant Rudolfs since then but certainly no-one has surpassed him.) But I can't now remember who was Mary Vetsera that night - could you enlighten me?

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58 minutes ago, Jane S said:

Well, I certainly saw David Wall in the first performance of Mayerling and in his farewell in the same role - but I expect lots of other people did, too.

Sadly I didn't see either.  Lucky you, Jane.  As to TTP's question...did you notice a difference in interpretation of the role between his first and last performances of it?

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17 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

But I can't now remember who was Mary Vetsera that night - could you enlighten me?

 

It was Collier!

 

9 minutes ago, Sim said:

Sadly I didn't see either.  Lucky you, Jane.  As to TTP's question...did you notice a difference in interpretation of the role between his first and last performances of it?

 

As far as I remember his original interpretation was so deep and revealing that all he could do was make it even more so! ( I found inside my programme  Clement Crisp's review of the evening and I hope it's included in the new book - one of the warmest and most appreciative pieces he ever wrote!)

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4 minutes ago, Jane S said:

It was Collier!

 

As far as I remember his original interpretation was so deep and revealing that all he could do was make it even more so! ( I found inside my programme  Clement Crisp's review of the evening and I hope it's included in the new book - one of the warmest and most appreciative pieces he ever wrote!)

 

Thanks, Jane S! I thought it might have been since it would have been too late to have been Lynn Seymour. I hope Clement Crisp's review will be in the book too.

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I imagine Crisp's review would be on the MacMillan website, anyway.  I haven't looked at it much recently.

 

TTP, did you mean literally the dancer's farewell performance, or merely their last performance in the role?  If it's the former, I can't imagine that there would be that many choices.

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Zenaida Yanowsky’s debut in Marguerite and Armand (with Bonelli???) and her farewell with Bolle. 
Both heartbreakingly beautiful, but the physical match was better with Bolle not least because the vulnerability of her character could register more.

The problem with farewells is that, because one’s own emotions are heightened, the interpretations are inevitably viewed in a different way - and sometimes through very moist eyes.

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I loved watching Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao from the moment they joined BRB in 1995.

 

I saw their debuts as Romeo and Juliet in Sunderland in the early 2000s and their final performance of same, which was their valedictory performance on retirement from BRB in 2018, which was incredibly emotional.

 

They both deepened their interpretations over the years but I think the most marked deepening of interpretation came from Chi.  Nao has always had an acting ability but Chi was so solemn when he first joined the company that it was a particular joy to watch him develop as an actor.  

 

Although they were often partnered together one of the most amazing performances I saw Chi give as Romeo was with Ambra Vallo at Sadler's Wells.  Nao and Robert Parker were another fabulous occasional partnership that I would like to have seen more of.

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18 hours ago, Jane S said:

 

It was Collier!

 

 

As far as I remember his original interpretation was so deep and revealing that all he could do was make it even more so! ( I found inside my programme  Clement Crisp's review of the evening and I hope it's included in the new book - one of the warmest and most appreciative pieces he ever wrote!)


According to ROH collections ... the premiere of Mayerling was 14 February 1978 with David Wall, and Lynn Seymour as Mary Vetsera

 

http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/performance.aspx?performance=11760&row=0&searchtype=workprodperf&title=Mayerling

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1 hour ago, FionaE said:

According to ROH collections ... the premiere of Mayerling was 14 February 1978 with David Wall, and Lynn Seymour as Mary Vetsera

 

http://www.rohcollections.org.uk/performance.aspx?performance=11760&row=0&searchtype=workprodperf&title=Mayerling

 

Jane's post was in reply to my question about David Wall's farewell performance in 1984, in which Lesley Collier was Mary Vetsera.

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I didn’t see their first performances in either role (although I did see Antoinette Sibley’s first London Giselle when much too young to remember anything beyond the sea of flowers at the end) but I do count amongst my most moving Royal Ballet experiences (I know there are other companies so this is strictly personal), Lesley Collier’s last Giselle and Antoinette Sibley’s last Manon. Capybara is absolutely correct in that heightened emotion affects the response, and I’d be hard pushed to remember specific details other than Mukhamedov looking as if his heart would break as Giselle left him and the sheer abandon of Sibley in the Bedroom pas de delux, but they still register in the memory as performances I feel privileged to have seen. 

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When I saw the original post the first performance which came to  mind was Michael O'Hare as Will Mossop in Hobson's Choice.  I was at the world premiere at the Opera House and the first performance in Birmingham a few months later.  In terms of last performances, I saw the final SWRB show in Liverpool - Janet will also remember that one - with the second cast of Marion Tait and Graham Lustig.  I always thought it very appropriate that Marion led the last SWRB show.

I was in Plymouth to see Karen Donovan's final performance as Maggie which included Stephen Wick's farewell as Albert Prosser.  He was a member of the Royal Ballet by then.

Michael's last performance was in Birmingham with the utterly beautiful Leticia Muller as Maggie.  That was a real night to remember.

If all of that wasn't enough I was at the last performance at the Hippodrome in June 2019, this time with my husband.  We enjoyed it so much we went to the very last showing a week later, appropriately enough, at Sadler's Wells theatre.  

Leticia Muller and Stephen Wicks amongst other cast members of the original premiere were in the audience.

So, 30 years, 1989 to 2019, lots and lots of wonderful memories.  The really sad thing is I feel the ballet is most unlikely to be given again.  If I have one regret over all that time it is that Iain Webb never got to dance Will.  I feel he would have been outstanding in the role.  I wonder if he has ever thought about presenting the show in Sarasota.

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I think I am remembering correctly that Bruce Sansom’s first Lescaut was also his last - and maybe his RB farewell show also.

Either way, it was one of those “have to be there” occasions.

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I saw Bruce Sansom's only Lescaut.  It was at the end of the season, when the graduating RBS students start to "walk on" in roles with the main company.  Early on in Act One, Bruce slung his jacket at a passing footman, who was making his debut on the ROH stage with the main company.  It was Ernst Meisner.

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I saw Nureyev's first (of only five with the RB) Des Grieux. Merle Park as Manon, Desmond Kelly as Lescaut, Lesley Collier as his mistress, David Drew as the Gaoler and Georgina Parkinson as his mistress (then a named role). Of course Derek Rencher as GM, and Wayne Sleep as the beggar chief.

 

Weirdly it was a one-off performance in July, separate from the first run in March 1974 and the second lot in November that year.

 

Do not know why Nureyev only danced the role five times - does anyone else here know?

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Sophoife said:

I saw Nureyev's first (of only five with the RB) Des Grieux. Merle Park as Manon, Desmond Kelly as Lescaut, Lesley Collier as his mistress, David Drew as the Gaoler and Georgina Parkinson as his mistress (then a named role). Of course Derek Rencher as GM, and Wayne Sleep as the beggar chief.

 

Weirdly it was a one-off performance in July, separate from the first run in March 1974 and the second lot in November that year.

 

Do not know why Nureyev only danced the role five times - does anyone else here know?

I never knew that Nureyev danced Des Grieux- interesting

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14 hours ago, Sophoife said:

David Drew as the Gaoler and Georgina Parkinson as his mistress (then a named role).

 

May I ask what has happened to that role? I've only seen Manon in the latest runs by both the RB & ENB and in neither production can I recall any female character on stage in Act 3 who appeared to be in a relationship with the Gaoler. He just seemed to be unpleasantly interested in the newly-arrived female convicts, including Manon.

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4 hours ago, Jane S said:

I think the role only lasted one season - and wasn't there a dance for the soldiers at the beginning of Act 3, maybe cut at the same time?

I think a dance for the soldiers (lots of grand jetés) at the beginning of Act 3 was cut much later, after MacMillan's death.

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On 21/05/2021 at 19:19, capybara said:

I think I am remembering correctly that Bruce Sansom’s first Lescaut was also his last - and maybe his RB farewell show also.

 

 

Correct on both counts.  I can't remember his reason for doing it that way, but presume it's given in the Ballet Association write-up of his interview.  That must be a decade ago now, more or less.

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