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English National Ballet Swan Lake Autumn/Winter 2022/2023


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I have always liked this production and what a terrific opening night!
A gorgeous, heartbreaking Odette from Emma Hawes, with a notably heartbroken Siegfried from Aitor Arrieta, a very controlling Von Rothbart, danced with relish by James Streeter as puppet-master to Hawes’ Odile and some lovely formations from a corps of swans who projected real emotion into what can sometimes seem a somewhat formulaic brief.
Loved all the soloists: Francesca Velicu was particularly noticeable, bringing real characterisation to her early role as lead peasant; a neat and musical pas de trios; pacy national dances - the Spanish dance given some real zing by Emily Suzuki, Eireen Eveard, Fernando Carratala Coloma and Daniel McCormick (looking uncannily like brothers from where I was sitting).  
And up in the balcony - and deservedly - a very appreciative audience indeed!

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I love the original RB ending where they both die and then while that fab section of end music is playing they would cross the stage sitting in a Swan off to the “afterlife” together. 
I must say I can’t see the point of a production where the spell is not resolved on some level if Odette and Siegfried are going to die you have to have the other swans released from the spell or Von Rothbert wins so a bit of a bleak scenario! 

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Everything was fabulous last night.

 

I absolutely love this production and it has the best ending - off they go to heaven together as they should ! 

 

With all the departures in the principal ranks recently it fell to relatively newly promoted Emma Hawes and Aitor Arrieta to take the opening night of this London run and I thought they did so with a quiet confidence and great conviction. They are both tall dancers, Emma Hawes has particularly beautiful long arms and legs and she used them to stunning effect. Aitor Arrieta's partnering was sensitive and secure and I felt they established a real emotional connection. 

 

The entire company was on fine form. The peasant corps in Act 1 danced with exceptional enthusiasm, and the swan maidens with great beauty.  I can't single out anyone, everyone on that stage danced with huge commitment which is no mean feat after such a long run of Nutcrackers. 

 

It was all helped immeasurably by the speed of the music - no turgid tempi here, everything absolutely flew along and for my money was far better for it. 

 

Very happy to see the Coliseum packed to the rafters, the company deserves to have sold out this run. 

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I saw the working stage rehearsal of this on Wednesday evening (with the opening night cast) so I won't comment on the performances (except to say that they were excellent!); but what I will say is that I found myself literally holding my breath as the ending approached, because the choreography, the drama and the music were so unified that time stopped. Brilliant. (And very different from my reactions to the ending of the current RB production...).

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57 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 I found myself literally holding my breath as the ending approached, because the choreography, the drama and the music were so unified that time stopped. Brilliant. (And very different from my reactions to the ending of the current RB production...).

 

I couldn't agree more ! 

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2 hours ago, bridiem said:

I saw the working stage rehearsal of this on Wednesday evening (with the opening night cast) so I won't comment on the performances (except to say that they were excellent!); but what I will say is that I found myself literally holding my breath as the ending approached, because the choreography, the drama and the music were so unified that time stopped. Brilliant. (And very different from my reactions to the ending of the current RB production...).


Also completely agree. Seeing same cast tomorrow night and not sure how they could even better the performance.

 

One thing I will say about the rehearsal is that the atmosphere was electric. Lots of students in, company staff and I think a few dancers. I had brought ballet newbies to the performance (a brilliant way for people to first experience ballet) and the audience response to the Neapolitan the Act 3 pdd mirrored the enthusiasm usually reserved for Emerging Dancer and really added to the experience.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Blossom said:


Also completely agree. Seeing same cast tomorrow night and not sure how they could even better the performance.

 

One thing I will say about the rehearsal is that the atmosphere was electric. Lots of students in, company staff and I think a few dancers. I had brought ballet newbies to the performance (a brilliant way for people to first experience ballet) and the audience response to the Neapolitan the Act 3 pdd mirrored the enthusiasm usually reserved for Emerging Dancer and really added to the experience.

 

 

 

the principals remained the same last night as they had been at the working dress rehearsal. some of the other roles were swapped about.  i don't have both cast lists, but e.g. Noam Durand danced the Pas de Trois at the dress and last night it was Erik Woolhouse.

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I can only echo what everyone else has been saying.  I love this production, especially the white acts and the final apotheosis.  I was in Row A of the Balcony and the swan patterns were perfection:  beautiful straight lines, synchronised fluid movement, full of beauty and emotion.  Just what a corps de ballet is meant to be.  

 

I had never seen Emma Hawes dance before, and I was mighty impressed by her.  Her lovely long arms and legs made for a gorgeous classical line all the way through, and I felt that she really understood Odette; her mime was clear and emotional, and her heartbreak there for all to see...and feel.  Her Odile was getting much enjoyment from controlling and teasing Siegfried.  It was very sensual and one could understand how Siegfried could be totally duped and bewitched by her.  Her fouettes were executed with aplomb and confidence.  I will definitely be seeking out her performances in future.  

 

Aitor Arrieta was a warm Siegfried, vulnerable and burdened with the duties ahead, both personal and inherited.  His escape into Odette was believable, and when he comes to beg her forgiveness in Act 4, the way he slumped to his knees, leaning slightly off balance, head bowed so low, brought a tear to my eye.  You could see and feel the weight of doom on his young, naive shoulders, and you could see that he knew that any chance of eternal happiness was ruined...unless he joined Odette.  He does, and the final few minutes of this glorious production made me want to smile and cry at the same time.  I think I probably did.  

 

James Streeter's Rothbart is a brilliant, almost camp display of running around and flapping his marvellous wings.  There were a couple of times I thought he was going to take off!  Loved it.

 

The whole company looked on cracking form.  I haven't seen them for a while as I skipped their Nutcracker.  I too will single out Francesca Velicu, who had a very busy night:  she was the lead peasant, a cygnet, a princess, and a corps swan.  I love watching her as she puts everything into her roles, no matter how big or small; even in the background she keeps in character.  I look forward to the day when she will dance the Swan Queen.

 

My only slight niggles:  I wish that the Queen's mime were more detailed when she is telling Siegfried he needs to marry.  It all seems to happen too quickly.  The other thing is that would the Queen really ask a stranger (Rothbart) to occupy her late husband's empty throne, as her equal, as soon as he arrives at the party? Anyway, just me being pedantic. I actually really enjoyed watching Streeter watch the show!!  :)

 

Daniel Parkinson conducted the music at a fast pace, which made some of the bits that can drag for me move along at welcome speed.  As Anna said above, I am thrilled that the run has sold out.  The audience was hugely appreciative of a beautiful and moving performance, and a huge bravo to all of those involved, both onstage and off. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Sim said:

My only slight niggles:  I wish that the Queen's mime were more detailed when she is telling Siegfried he needs to marry.  It all seems to happen too quickly.  The other thing is that would the Queen really ask a stranger (Rothbart) to occupy her late husband's empty throne, as her equal, as soon as he arrives at the party? Anyway, just me being pedantic. I actually really enjoyed watching Streeter watch the show!!  :)

 

I agree with that. The Queen seemed to spend most of her Act I stage time receiving bouquets & the mime telling Siegfried he had to marry seemed almost like an afterthought. From where I was sitting I could only partially see the Queen & Von Rothbart in Act III so I couldn't tell that he was sitting on a throne but I was surprised that he was instantly accepted as a father of a possible bride when not only is he fairly unusual-looking but the two creatures in his retinue are extremely odd-looking!

 

7 hours ago, PeterS said:

the principals remained the same last night as they had been at the working dress rehearsal. some of the other roles were swapped about.  i don't have both cast lists, but e.g. Noam Durand danced the Pas de Trois at the dress and last night it was Erik Woolhouse.

 

I was very impressed by Woolhouse in the pas de trois last night. In his solo there was one jump that I don't know the name of where the legs are beaten together in mid-air (not an entrechat because that's straight up & for this jump the legs are at an angle). Anyway, whatever it is called I thought his was one of the best I've seen with enough air time to make the beats really distinct. I also though his manege interesting with 2 jetes then a series of turns with the feet together (again there's probably a name for it) then another 2 jetes then more turns, etc. rather than the usual just jetes. I was also very impressed with Katja Khaniukova in the pas de trois. She made the choreography looks so easy, not in a showing off way but in a serene, unflurried way. In fact I thought both Woolhouse & Khaniukova looked as though, at least from a technical point of view, they could easily have danced the lead roles. I also thought Durand & Velicu were very good as the lead peasant couple.

 

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I think you might mean a cabriole Dawnstar from your description …fiendishly difficult to really do well. 
You will see it in the Bluebird variation in Sleeping Beauty. 

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3 minutes ago, LinMM said:

I think you might mean a cabriole Dawnstar from your description …fiendishly difficult to really do well. 
You will see it in the Bluebird variation in Sleeping Beauty. 

Yes, definitely a cabriole.  

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Thanks. I knew I've seen it elsewhere but didn't remember it was in SB (though perhaps in other ballets too? given most ballet jumps seem not to be unique to one ballet). Does anyone know if there's also a name for the turns?

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I imagine you are talking about Chainee turns if they were very fast. There’s another turn with feet together called a soutenus turn but this although can be performed fast has a slightly slower dynamic as you sort of step between each turn but if you are saying the turns were combined with Jetes I suspect it’s the former as the turns have no step in between so can look very dynamic combined with jetes. 

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@LinMM Thank you very much. I've tried looking up both & I think they were the chaine turns, though it's a bit difficult to tell as the videos that come up on Google are of female dancers & the turns look different done in point shoes to a man doing them.

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1 hour ago, Dawnstar said:

@LinMM Thank you very much. I've tried looking up both & I think they were the chaine turns, though it's a bit difficult to tell as the videos that come up on Google are of female dancers & the turns look different done in point shoes to a man doing them.


the prince’s solo in Sleeping Beauty Act 3 has a manége which is a combination of jetés and chaîné turns.  It sounds similar to what you have described. 

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Fantastic to hear how brilliant the first night performances were, from the corps to the leads, and how members have enjoyed it so much. Did anyone attend last night’s show with the last minute pairing of elegant Oliveira and forum favourite Frola? Am so looking forward to their performances later in the run (not scheduled to be dancing together). By the way, I noticed today that, as expected, a few returns for each of this weekend shows and the final performance have gone back on sale, so there’s hope for those who missed out on getting tickets. 

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I've just read The Times at home and there is a fairly negative review of Aitor Arrieta, also mentioning the general lack of top male principals in the Company, so I'm pleased to read Sim's more generous and believable posting above, I'm hoping nothing stops me from going on Tuesday to see this cast!

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5 minutes ago, Beryl H said:

I've just read The Times at home and there is a fairly negative review of Aitor Arrieta, also mentioning the general lack of top male principals in the Company, so I'm pleased to read Sim's more generous and believable posting above, I'm hoping nothing stops me from going on Tuesday to see this cast!

 

There are a number of reviews included in Today's Links:

 

 

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Beryl H were you thinking about the weather! 
Im due up next Wednesday to see Swan Lake…. but I see Tuesday could be sleeting or snowing so hope it’s not going to be a repeat of what happened before Xmas and I had to cancel my original Nutcracker because of the snow!! 
Fingers crossed it will

end up just being rain this time. 

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4 hours ago, Beryl H said:

I've just read The Times at home and there is a fairly negative review of Aitor Arrieta, also mentioning the general lack of top male principals in the Company, so I'm pleased to read Sim's more generous and believable posting above, I'm hoping nothing stops me from going on Tuesday to see this cast!

I was paywall blocked from reading the full article after the first lines (used up my quota of articles) but Debra Craine of the Times was pretty much an outlier with her 3 stars out of five, and her comment that they need more principal men (stating the obvious when three veteran principal danseurs have relocated to other continents!)  doesn’t seem relevant to assessing a first night show - we only need one Siegfried per night and not three. It just comes down to whether one prefers Aitor’s less-is-more approach where he lets his elegant classicism do the talking and focuses on presenting his ballerina, or not. In that sense, Isaac Hernandez, one of ENB’s three relocated former danseurs, was also the same- Isaac was even more reticent an actor in Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty than Aitor. 

 

The other reviews (from the list Janet meticulously compiled for the Dance Links page) were more enthusiastic and keen on Aitor and Emma’s elegant style and gave the company four stars. (The Guardian seems to be waiting till tomorrow or Monday to publish their review.) The Evening Standard critic did a quirky compare and contrast type essay where he attempted to find as many similarities with Prince Harry’s situation as he could, which was funny if you like that sort of thing, but yes, he enjoyed the performances and the production too. Hope you can make it safely and uneventfully to the Coliseum and back, Beryl H! 

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No sleet or snow predicted for the London/Charing Cross area of the Coliseum, although 0 degrees would necessitate wearing shoes with a good grip/tread to avoid slipping on ice while walking to the station/home. Hope it’s not too severe weather where you are, Beryl H. Would you stay overnight in London if it snows heavily? Sleet is less worrying.

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Yes, I've read Janet's reviews now and luckily they are all better than The Times, I imagine the two young dancers were very nervous about dancing the Press Night. Elegance and style are qualities that I like anyway so I think I will love them!

 

 

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I really like Aitor Arrieta a very classical dancer more so than Hernandez I think….but not seen him in the Siegfried role. 

Last time they said it would just be sleeting in Brighton area it had quite a bit of snow and the icy morning that followed disrupted the train service for most of the day!! It was strange though as some parts had hardly anything but other areas had a couple of inches. 
Unfortunately for the winter time the train route up to London goes through some areas (especially between Haywards Heath and Gatwick)  which always seem to get more snow if there is any! 

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7 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

No sleet or snow predicted for the London/Charing Cross area of the Coliseum, although 0 degrees would necessitate wearing shoes with a good grip/tread to avoid slipping on ice while walking to the station/home. Hope it’s not too severe weather where you are, Beryl H. Would you stay overnight in London if it snows heavily? Sleet is less worrying.

 

I've got all the right boots, gloves and hats for snow, but as usual the train situation is the problem, I wouldn't want to stay overnight, so let's hope it blows over.

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Will keep my fingers crossed for you Beryl H - and for all of us using the trains - on Tuesday and the rest of the week! I do have memories of returning home on the train from an ENB performance one January night years ago and thinking it felt rather cold....and it began snowing shortly afterwards, just after midnight!

 

As far as I can recall, we've not yet had a January ENB show at the Coliseum cancelled due to weather in the last ten years , hoping there isn’t a first, but as far as trains are concerned, I’ve experienced  disruptions all year round (even summer), strike or no strike, snow or no snow. So fingers crossed for everyone.

🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀

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57 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

It just comes down to whether one prefers Aitor’s less-is-more approach where he lets his elegant classicism do the talking and focuses on presenting his ballerina, or not.

 

Spot on  :) 

 

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13 hours ago, Emeralds said:

Fantastic to hear how brilliant the first night performances were, from the corps to the leads, and how members have enjoyed it so much. Did anyone attend last night’s show with the last minute pairing of elegant Oliveira and forum favourite Frola? Am so looking forward to their performances later in the run (not scheduled to be dancing together).

 

It doesn't look like it, does it. I imagine those of us who want to see Frola will have booked for one of his scheduled performances. There is this review, which doubtless will be in tomorrow's links. https://www.broadwayworld.com/westend/article/Review-SWAN-LAKE-London-Coliseum-20230114 (Moderators: please remove if I'm not allowed to post this in advance of its appearance in the links.)

 

53 minutes ago, Emeralds said:

Will keep my fingers crossed for you Beryl H - and for all of us using the trains - on Tuesday and the rest of the week! I do have memories of returning home on the train from an ENB performance one January night years ago and thinking it felt rather cold....and it began snowing shortly afterwards, just after midnight!

 

This reminds me of the time I exited the Coliseum after an ENO Rosenkavalier to find it had started snowing. I did manage to get home eventually but the train went very slowly & I did wonder a few times if it was going to make it to Cambridge. I think that was January 2012.

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3 hours ago, Dawnstar said:

 

It doesn't look like it, does it. I imagine those of us who want to see Frola will have booked for one of his scheduled performances. There is this review, which doubtless will be in tomorrow's links. https://www.broadwayworld.com/westend/article/Review-SWAN-LAKE-London-Coliseum-20230114 (Moderators: please remove if I'm not allowed to post this in advance of its appearance in the links.)

 

 

This reminds me of the time I exited the Coliseum after an ENO Rosenkavalier to find it had started snowing. I did manage to get home eventually but the train went very slowly & I did wonder a few times if it was going to make it to Cambridge. I think that was January 2012.

I nearly did- would have bought tickets for that show (even before the cast change if I had not been busy last night. The Broadway world reviewer was very lucky to get to see Oliveira and Frola- but I fear she may need to go to Specsavers or any optometrist soon, as she mistook the Queen for a father! 

 

Whoa, that was a close shave with the snow, Dawnstar! I think ENB audiences tend to be lucky in that somehow the early January performances seem to avoid snow. A lot of London snow falls late, between the last week of January and the end of March. By the time ENO took the theatre back to do Rosenkavalier, it would be closer to February and that’s when snow is more likely.

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Am I right in thinking that some years ago ENB actually had to cancel a performance of something because the temperature in the theatre was so low that it was dangerous to the dancers?

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