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English National Ballet Swan Lake Autumn/Winter 2022/2023


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How you managed those piccies Dawnstar I don’t know as the curtain calls were very abrupt last night even for the Coli! 
There was a young couple next to me on their very first visit to the Colisseum and they were a bit disappointed with the curtain calls though turned out they were very familiar with ROH as he said “oh I thought we’d be another 15 mins yet!” 
I agree with what you said above the three main leads were terrific last night. 

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12 hours ago, SimonJC said:

 

Thank you Henry and FionaE.

 

Noted about Katja's hair Henry - although FionaE thinks it was Francesca.

 

I have already emailed ENB and will now ask them about the further changes FionaE has raised. FionaE when you get back next week please could you kindly let me know what the notes on your sheet are - sounds like you can recognise all the girls better than me.

 

I will post whatever ENB says.

 

It was definitely Francesca Velicu in the Neapolitan on Sunday. 

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ENB has Tweeted: 'in this evening's performance at the London Coliseum at 7.30pm, Francesco Gabriele Frola replaces Ken Saruhashi as Prince Siegfried, and James Streeter replaces Junor Souza as Rothbart'.

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Goodness, Frola is in demand! Not surprising, though. I can’t remember when I last felt so emotionally invested in a performance of Swan Lake. In his solo in Act 1 I felt like he was taking us to the very depths of Siegfried’s soul…and Salenko’s tiny, frightened Odette brought me to tears. The whole company were outstanding- the pas de trois in Act 1 (Erik Woolhouse magnificent), the heartbreaking poetry of the swans, the divertissements in Act 3…all brought me joy. I wish I was going again!

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5 hours ago, LinMM said:

How you managed those piccies Dawnstar I don’t know as the curtain calls were very abrupt last night even for the Coli! 
There was a young couple next to me on their very first visit to the Colisseum and they were a bit disappointed with the curtain calls though turned out they were very familiar with ROH as he said “oh I thought we’d be another 15 mins yet!” 
I agree with what you said above the three main leads were terrific last night. 

 

I tried a suggestion from @Rob S & put my camera on a setting where it took multiple photos in a row rather than a single picture, which definitely helped with such a short curtain call. I'm used to ENB's curtain calls being much shorter than the ROH's but was surprised that the conductor didn't even come on.

 

1 hour ago, bridiem said:

ENB has Tweeted: 'in this evening's performance at the London Coliseum at 7.30pm, Francesco Gabriele Frola replaces Ken Saruhashi as Prince Siegfried, and James Streeter replaces Junor Souza as Rothbart'.

 

I don't know how he can do that performance 2 nights running!

 

45 minutes ago, CCL said:

I wish I was going again!

 

So do I!

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That reminds me: was it originally supposed to be Frola/Salenko last night?  I didn't think I'd been able to book for them, although I was very happy to be proved wrong :) 

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I hope she liked what people have said! I did tag her in when I tweeted some of my curtain call photos but haven't had any reaction. Many dancers seem to mostly use Instagram & only check Twitter occasionally, if they us it at all.

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Saw Frola yesterday evening live for the first time - he is just sublime. What an incredible soaring jeté he has! He managed that first act solo very seamlessly. (After seeing Aitor Arrieta last Saturday evening, I had the feeling that he may have struggled a little with that first solo - still a great performance of course.) 

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I’ve just completed a survey about my Colisseum visit which they sent as hadn’t realised it was going to be entirely about the performance which was of course excellent but managed to reply with some comments of my own (rather than the tick boxes of the survey etc) because I wanted to have a rant about there no longer being a cloakroom 😡 Whose crazy idea was this?  I was sitting in the upper circle and unfortunately in the middle of a row so it was very difficult to exit over peoples coats and bags including shopping etc just if you might want to go to the loo …if everybody stayed in their seats!! Let’s just say I had a very uncomfortable last Act as felt disinclined to have to disturb everybody twice!! 
Also four adults and two very young children ( who had no seats so had to be on parents laps with one of the children ill) were allowed to come down to row C ( row behind us) right in the middle of the pas de trois in Act one right in the middle of Suzukis solo!!!   As it was dark of course this caused quite a kerfuffle when there was a Pause soon coming up between Acts one and two! 
Rant over! Up till the point of disturbance was very much enjoying the pas de trois danced by Precious Adams Emily Suzuki and Erik Woolhouse all really good though latter can be a little untidy at times but certainly plenty of zing! 
Francesca Velicu was lovely as lead Peasant projecting plenty of joy into the auditorium. 
Frola is just an exquisite classical dancer even when jumping really high he doesn’t lose line and makes it look completely effortless. This sort of role suited him as there is a touch of the introvert about Prince Siegfried and Frola has this containment about him which might not suit more exuberant roles. I thought he danced his solo “that solo” with considerable feeling but could have made even more of that yearning in the music by extending arms that much further at certain points but you did feel his vulnerability (I think in this particular respect he is similar to Muntagirov) 

He was definitely very suited to Iana Salenko who I think has similar qualities a pretty ideal partnership in fact. Iana let’s her technique do the expressing and in some parts as Odette reminded me of Makarova a supreme artist in this role though the latter did have that “Je ne sais quoi” which made her more unique. 
Although Iana’s dancing in Act 3 as Odile was technically superb ( as was Frola’s) and great to see such assurance  I didn’t feel she actually projected her guile hugely but I was up in the Upper Circle so for me inspite of the “fireworks” I thought she suited Odette slightly better. This often happens with dancers in Swan Lake that they suit Odette or Odile better. Talking of Makarova she was one of those equal in both roles her projection as Odile was phenomenal and I’ve still never seen her swan arms bettered as Odette she is the only dancer who has made me cry in Swan Lake for the sheer Beauty of her dancing ( sorry I can’t help being a bit of an old fogey sometimes)

Anyway all in all the two Principals were terrific on Wednesday. 
Of course the company of swans were all beautiful as well throughout and the final Act is still one of my favourites as it uses the music much more sensitively than for example the RB production does at the moment. It’s just so dramatic and stirring suiting the storyline absolutely. What a genius Tchaikovsky is too! 
And now for Von Rothbart …what a performance from Fabian Reimair! He was obviously entirely relishing this role and really brought it to life. Almost a touch of the Mothman about him a bit of wild madness attached to the evil magician great stuff!! 
I really wanted to show my appreciation more of the dancers at the end but the Coli don’t seem to allow curtain calls!!! It was embarrassing to see at one point Iana Salenko about to lead the dancers forward for a second time and the curtain came down rather abruptly and did not go up again 🙄

I was also practically pushed out of the doors at the end by one of the door people just as was trying to do up coat (after having to make a certain visit) and it was really cold outside. 
I loved ENB’s Swan Lake but won’t be going back to the Coli any time soon unless can get an end of row seat or they change their no cloakroom policy. 


 

 

 

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It was particularly bad where I was on the first night, as someone came in with several of those "ribbon boxes" which flowers seem to come in these days (presumably birthday or something) because there was nowhere to put them.  Fortunately the usher was helpful.

 

Far less helpful, on my second trip on Wednesday night, was having people allowed in late in the middle of, was it the pas de trois?  Not only allowed in late, but getting to their seats in the middle of rows towards the front of the tier, thereby blocking other people's view of the dancing.  They should at least have been made to wait until the dancing finished.

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2 hours ago, LinMM said:

I loved ENB’s Swan Lake but won’t be going back to the Coli any time soon unless can get an end of row seat or they change their no cloakroom policy.

 

I feel a bit like not returning to the Coliseum either but for a different reason. I was horrified to find that they're now selling popcorn. The woman next to me spent the first half of Act III eating a tub of it. As I really dislike the smell of popcorn I felt sick every time a waft of it came in my direction.

 

2 hours ago, alison said:

Far less helpful, on my second trip on Wednesday night, was having people allowed in late in the middle of, was it the pas de trois?  Not only allowed in late, but getting to their seats in the middle of rows towards the front of the tier, thereby blocking other people's view of the dancing.  They should at least have been made to wait until the dancing finished.

 

I was sat 2nd row stalls & had people come in late in both the row in front and the row behind. Although at least it was while the Queen was getting presented with all her flowers so one of the better moments to miss, but still rather annoyingly distracting.

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27 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

I feel a bit like not returning to the Coliseum either but for a different reason. I was horrified to find that they're now selling popcorn. The woman next to me spent the first half of Act III eating a tub of it. As I really dislike the smell of popcorn I felt sick every time a waft of it came in my direction.

 

Me too, on both counts.  I forgot to mention that.  Bad enough selling rattly sweets/nuts in tubs, but crunching popcorn in a venue which usually hosts opera?!   The Mayflower in Southampton used to do that, and I was so relieved when they stopped!

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36 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

 

I feel a bit like not returning to the Coliseum either but for a different reason. I was horrified to find that they're now selling popcorn. The woman next to me spent the first half of Act III eating a tub of it. As I really dislike the smell of popcorn I felt sick every time a waft of it came in my direction.

 

 

 

Apart from the noise it makes when being crunched the smell of popcorn makes me feel queasy.

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If someone had started eating popcorn next to me especially during Acts 2 and 4 I might have been sorely tempted to grabbing the tub off them and trampling it under foot( I’d like to say hurl it as far as I could but that might not be such a good idea) 

Probably get banned for life but still tempting!! 

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On 19/01/2023 at 02:44, Dawnstar said:

I thought Salenko & Frola were wonderful tonight. I think that was the most moved I've been by the end of an SL (not counting Bonelli's last & admittedly tonight was only my 9th live SL, all in the last year).

 

While Salenko certainly doesn't look her age, I thought her experience & artistic maturity definitely showed. It felt as though she knew exactly how she wanted to perform and did so, both technically and in terms of interpreting the two characters. That's not to imply her performance felt as though she was just going through the motions or anything like that, quite the reverse. It was nice to be able to relax as an audience member & not wonder if everything was going to happen as planned. The fouettes - a mix of singles, doubles & I think the odd triple - were some of the least-travelled I've seen.

 

I'm probably biased when it comes to Frola but this was the sixth full-length role I've seen him do, plus a 1-acter & 2 galas, and I have yet to see him give anything other than an excellent performance. I thought he was wonderful both in acting & technique. If ballet got marks like ice skating does then I'm sure some of his jumps would have got higher marks for an enhanced degree of difficulty. There was one jump he did in Act III (sorry, I can't remember the right name for it) where it's usually done with the arms down & landed on both feet but he did it with his arms raised & landed on one foot! (I also loved it in Act I where his Prince signalled to the Waltzers they could dance then when he sat down he picked up a book & had a look through it. If I was royal & had to sit through that sort of thing on doubtless every notable day in the calendar then I would certainly make sure to bring a book!)

 

I'm very glad I saw the 2 casts I've seen in the order I did because I felt the 2 lead performances were definitely a step up tonight compared to opening night. I can understand ENB wanted 2 of their own dancers reviewed, rather than a guest artist, but I do wonder if some of the middling reviews might have stumped up another star if they'd seen Salenko & Frola instead.

 

Aprart from the 2 leads, I thought the other roles probably were overall about the same level as opening night, as there were some dancers I preferred in one cast & some in the other, and of course some overlap. I was interested to spot James Streeter in the Act I Waltz. I know he's officially a First Soloist rather than a Character Artist but I've only seen him in character roles before so it was interesting to see him in a pure dance role.

 

The curtain calls were quite brief - not only no front of curtain calls again but no flowers & the conductor didn't come on - and I'm afraid I focused almost entirely on Salenko & Frola.

 

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Just had to add this as a separate comment- thank you for getting the seat (expense and all) that you did to take these lovely photos, Dawnstar- you’ve captured Iana’s beaming smile and delight, and a happy Gabriele wonderfully, receiving the warm and enthusiastic response from the audience. The camera on my phone didn’t work as there was an annoying chap in front of us bobbing left and right (after spending much of the performance snapping photos or filming videos and deliberately ignoring instructions to turn it off) during the curtain calls. Even if mine had worked, I was seated quite far away and wouldn’t have managed to get such excellent close ups, so thank you- it’s great to have these as a reminder of their magnificent performances. 

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5 hours ago, LinMM said:

I’ve just completed a survey about my Colisseum visit which they sent as hadn’t realised it was going to be entirely about the performance which was of course excellent but managed to reply with some comments of my own (rather than the tick boxes of the survey etc) because I wanted to have a rant about there no longer being a cloakroom 😡 ...
Also four adults and two very young children ( who had no seats so had to be on parents laps with one of the children ill) were allowed to come down to row C ( row behind us) right in the middle of the pas de trois in Act one right in the middle of Suzukis solo!!!   As it was dark of course this caused quite a kerfuffle when there was a Pause soon coming up between Acts one and two! 
Rant over!

 

Extremely justified rants, LinMM. Ditto Alison, Dawnstar and Emeralds. And very surprised at the ushers allowing latecomers to disrupt others and to take photos and videos. Back in the day, they were absolute terrors at the slightest glimpse of a mobile phone, let alone photography, and very careful that latecomers, when allowed into the auditorium, should not disrupt others.

 

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2 hours ago, alison said:

Me too, on both counts.  I forgot to mention that.  Bad enough selling rattly sweets/nuts in tubs, but crunching popcorn in a venue which usually hosts opera?!   The Mayflower in Southampton used to do that, and I was so relieved when they stopped!

 

I couldn't really hear the popcorn eating, fortunately. It was the smell that was the problem for me.

 

2 hours ago, Emeralds said:

Just had to add this as a separate comment- thank you for getting the seat (expense and all) that you did to take these lovely photos, Dawnstar

 

That's very kind of you but actually, ironically, my seat on Wednesday was cheaper than my one for opening night as Wednesday's was £50 through the OLT offer & last week's something like £72 with the 15% off multibuy discount. I feel it should have been the other way around as on Wednesday I both had a better seat & considered it to be a better performance!

 

1 minute ago, Sim said:

When I went on opening night the girl to my right drank beer all night, and the one just behind me, wine. It smelled like a pub. 😫

 

Oh yes, I'd already had to put up with the woman on my other side drinking red wine (something else I'm not keen on the smell of) in Act I.

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I keep on meaning to ask this & keep on forgetting. There was one thing I noticed in Salenko's Act II mime that was different to what Hawes & all the RB Odette's I've seen did: when she mimed tears she did it with only one finger on each hand extended rather than all fingers. Does anyone know why? Is it a company choice, i.e. Berlin Staatsballett do it that way? Is it known which is the original option?

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28 minutes ago, Sim said:

When I went on opening night the girl to my right drank beer all night, and the one just behind me, wine. It smelled like a pub. 😫

 

Had a similar experience. I really wish they wouldn't allow drinking in the auditorium (apart from water bottles of course). It just seems so unnecessary 

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25 minutes ago, Sim said:

When I went on opening night the girl to my right drank beer all night, and the one just behind me, wine. It smelled like a pub. 😫

OMG I pray that these habits never hop over to us. There have already been complaints that it's not allowed to bring your glas of wine to your seat, but so far, the opera houses resist!!! 🙏🙏🙏

Also, when I participated in the talks about future of ballet (organized by Staatsballett Berlin), they spoke about allowing this in order to attract more people to go to the ballet. I was very appalled and said that an Opera House is NOT a soccer stadium and that I wish that people accept these differences, rather than bowing to the mob. Sorry strong words but I was like....🙈🙈🙈

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26 minutes ago, Dawnstar said:

I keep on meaning to ask this & keep on forgetting. There was one thing I noticed in Salenko's Act II mime that was different to what Hawes & all the RB Odette's I've seen did: when she mimed tears she did it with only one finger on each hand extended rather than all fingers. Does anyone know why? Is it a company choice, i.e. Berlin Staatsballett do it that way? Is it known which is the original option?

Both variants of the mime are accepted and used, as long as it’s very clear what they mean, and Salenko was, I felt. I believe all the fingers is the more conventional version. 

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58 minutes ago, Scheherezade said:

 

Extremely justified rants, LinMM. Ditto Alison, Dawnstar and Emeralds. And very surprised at the ushers allowing latecomers to disrupt others and to take photos and videos. Back in the day, they were absolute terrors at the slightest glimpse of a mobile phone, let alone photography, and very careful that latecomers, when allowed into the auditorium, should not disrupt others.

 

Don’t be shocked, Scheherazade, but that wasn’t my actual rant, just a preliminary “aside”.  I thought I’d let everyone else share their stories first....plus, I was busy at the time. 😁 The real rant is still to follow.....lol.

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2 hours ago, LinMM said:

If someone had started eating popcorn next to me especially during Acts 2 and 4 I might have been sorely tempted to grabbing the tub off them and trampling it under foot( I’d like to say hurl it as far as I could but that might not be such a good idea) 

Probably get banned for life but still tempting!! 

 

Talking of trampling underfoot, I wonder how much of the profits on popocorn sales will have to go on extra carpet cleaning costs!

 

28 minutes ago, Scheherezade said:

Back in the day, they were absolute terrors at the slightest glimpse of a mobile phone, let alone photography

 

I have made sure to check in the past that curtain call photos are allowed.

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Wed 18 January (evening) cast:

Odette/Odile- Iana Salenko 

Siegfried-Francesco Gabriele Frola

Rothbart- Fabian Reimair

Act 1 Pas de trois- Precious Adams, Emily Suzuki, Erik Woolhouse

Four Cygnets- Alice Bellini, Ivana Bueno, Katja Khaniukova, Francesca Velicu

Lead Swans- Act 2 & 4: Georgia Bould, Jung ah Choi, Act 4 only: Isabelle Brouwers, Eireen Evrard

Lead Peasants: Francesca Velicu, Rhys Antoni Yeomans

Neapolitan Dance: Haruhi Otani, Victor Prigent

The Queen: Jane Haworth

Tutor: William Simmons 

 

My impressions of this performance won’t be too different from what has already been said. Salenko and Frola led a performance that truly ranked among one of the greats. There was no weak link among the four acts- the dancing was masterful, assured and polished:  everyone had brought their A game to this performance.

 

Often, in Swan Lake, Act 1 can feel a bit like just  an “intro”, not quite the main event. Not this performance. It was a joy to see Ashton’s gorgeous choreography for the Act 1 Waltz again, and in other parts of the ballet such as the Neapolitan Dance. The corps de ballet are 100% committed in the dancing and acting, and even in the peasants’ polonaise, they zip through Deane’s more rustic and informal choreography with vigour and precision. Adams, Woolhouse and Suzuki performed the pas de trois with great flair and character, Suzuki particularly imbuing her solo with poetry and musicality. The last two ballerinas I saw who had this quality were ENB’s own star Trnidad Sevillano and Mariinsky star Altynai Asylmuratova. Frola was born to dance Siegfried. While there is no doubting his technical mastery, the Act 1 solo Ashton created for Anthony Dowell seems particularly suited to Frola, the arabesques, changes of position which can be challenging for some, he uses to show Siegfried’s emotional turmoil, and the last series of pirouettes as he sinks onto one knee, isn’t just a display of virtuosity but an expression of his longing for freedom from burdensome duty in the most elegant and poetic of movements. I could actually have left the show there and then, and been perfectly blissful and happy at the poetry and beauty just seen.

 

But we can’t leave without seeing our Swan Princess (seen earlier as a free human princess being captured and changed into a swan in Deane’s additional prologue) with her swans, of course. Salenko’s beautiful lines and elegant movements are a masterclass in classical ballet technique. Ballerinas often portray Odette either as frightened young enchanted swan princess who then falls in love with her prince, or a tragic sad bewitched maiden who knows that despite finding true love, tragedy is not far around the corner. Salenko’s Odette is more tragic regal princess than a bewitched. young woman whose new found love brings hope, and it’s a reading that works well here. The pas de deux with Frola is beautifully danced- his Siegfried is very much deeply in love; his love has freed him from his turmoil and burden -he just doesn’t know how much more turmoil is about to come, but you sense she does. Her flock of swans are disciplined but elegant, dancing with grace and precision in their corps lines, the cygnet quartet of Bellini, Bueno, Khaniukova and Velicu charming, neat and precise in their well known pas de quatre.

 

Deane’s Act 3 is a well paced act (some productions drag on a bit during the czardas and mazurka) that zips along quickly. We’re introduced to the princesses the Queen has invited as prospective brides for Siegfried, and the Spanish, Neapolitan, czardas and mazurka all breeze past quickly, with Deane adding in occasional leaps or patterns for the dancers to weave in and out of to prevent anyone getting bored. New soloist Lorenzo Trossello and Erik Woolhouse gave energetic accounts of the Spanish dance with their partners Alice Bellini and Precious Adams, and fleet footed Victor Prigent and expressive Haruhi Otani dazzled in the Neapolitan Dance. From where I was up in the Upper Circle, I thought Salenko brought the fireworks as Odile- this sorcerer’s daughter has mapped out her strategy with her devious dad: poor Siegfried doesn’t stand a chance. We, like him, are equally dazzled by each masterful developpe, the swan arms referencing Odette, the dazzling fouettes (singles, doubles and triples), flying leaps and rock solid turns, each pirouette in command of the music -and us. Frola’s equally dazzling leaps and spins reveals his giddy infatuation. 

 

Act 4 can sometimes drag on in some productions (especially those that use Drigo’s arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s Valse bluette instead of his original Swan Lake) but not this one. Keeping the Tchaikovsky music similar to that used in the 1977 Ashton production for the Royal Ballet which has a faster tempo and sounds more dramatic, this production has Odette relaying events of Rothbart s trickery and Siegfried’s resulting betrayal and her wish to die. Deane keeps the choreography neat but eloquent, moving the story along. Salenko is elegant as the doomed Odette, the ensemble (some of whom have danced solos in acts 1, 2 or 3 as well) impressive in their synchronicity and strength. Frola is moving as the contrite Siegfried, sinking to his knees to beg her forgiveness. The ending, reminiscent of the 1977 and 1987 Royal Ballet productions where Odette jumps off a cliff into the lake, thereby breaking Rothbart’s spell to free her fellow maidens, closely followed by Siegfried doing the same, ending with them both united in the heavens, after Rothbart, powerfully portrayed by Fabian Reimair, has died in his angry but futile attempt to hang on to his power. The triumph in death ending fits the music and the production. 

 

If one only ever got to see one Swan Lake this year, one could do a lot worse than see Salenko, Frola, Reimair and this cast. I know from others’ reports that the other casts have been outstanding in their own way (and goodness knows how Frola managed to do it all again the following night with Fernanda Oliveira, replacing an injured Ken Saruhashi) but I was very thrilled and grateful to have been able to see Salenko and Frola’s glorious virtuosity and artistry. 

 

 

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Well Dawnstar maybe that’s it that’s why they had to close the cloakroom down as since they’ve been selling popcorn they’ve had a big carpet cleaning bill 😳….So now snatching and trampling a carton of popcorn feels like even sweeter revenge. 
 

Enjoyed your review Emeralds and agree with what you said.  
 

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17 hours ago, Scheherezade said:

 

Please don't wait too long before sharing the details.

Thanks. Scheherazade.....hope you won’t regret saying that after I finish though! 

 

It seems that there have been completely new rules (and new food products) installed since switching over from the Nutcracker run (and the ENO 2021-22 season) on 8 Jan to beginning the Swan Lake run on 12 Jan. Was this the Coliseum or a theme park? Hard to tell at the Swan Lake performance we were at. 

 

What appears to be allowed now:

1) Talking loudly during the show 

2) Walking into the auditorium and in front of audience members any time you want even if late

3) Walking in front of audience members while dancing is taking place

4) Taking photos, filming, turning screens and anything with lights on while the dancing is taking place

5) Eating during the show

6) Eating noisy items during the show like popcorn - sold by Coliseum!

7) Drinking fizzy, noisy and pungent drinks like beer and soda in the auditorium 

8 ) Slurping any drinks in the auditorium (other than quiet sipping of water for dry/painful  throats)

 

What apparently isn’t allowed though:

1) Eating a (noiseless, non pungent) snack  or a sandwich (bought outside if you’re allergic to ingredients in food items sold in the Coliseum) anywhere in the theatre building even if it’s not in the auditorium not because you might disrupt the show, but because it wasn’t sold by the Coliseum! 

 

But those aren’t even the  most annoying things.

 

The prize for Worst Coliseum Fail goes to the set changeover chaos between Act 1 and 2 which is an old problem they’ve had from previous seasons of Swan Lake but even worse now. (Capybara, Alison and a few other members have mentioned this although it’s now moved to the Audience Behaviour thread).

 

For this production, the scenery change takes several minutes (between 5 to 10 minutes I think, although I didn’t time it with a watch). The audience is left in darkness while this goes on, which is quite unsettling for all (even if people claim it isn’t). You can tell it’s unsettling because they start chatting, both to relieve boredom, and subconsciously, to cope with the darkness. The orchestra and conductor remain in the pit and some musicians start tuning up or practising while this is going on. Other audience members turn on their phones to read, get some illumination or get out of their seats to take pictures (a bit odd as the photos don’t look great when it’s so dark). There’s a voiceover to say it’s a short pause and “please stay in your seats “.

 

There’s another voiceover later on that says “thank you for waiting, the show is about to start”, but it doesn’t start. It takes about another 2 minutes to start again, during which time, the audience has gotten bored or anxious and started chattering loudly.

 

Then the show starts out of the blue. As regulars will know, the music which begins Act 2 is the quiet soulful iconic Swan Lake theme tune- one of the most beautiful pieces of music in the score and indeed the world. In the upper tiers, it is  completely drowned out by the cacophony of chatter. Even a few “shhhs” from audience members who have noticed that the show has restarted are futile as the audience can’t hear the music and are baffled by the shushing.....and continue nattering loudly. Eventually all the music is lost amid the yakking -  even when the curtain goes up, 90% of the audience (the ones yakking or still reading their phones)  have no idea that they missed one of the best bits of the show they paid for.

 

It’s not until after Rothbart has come on and danced across the stage that people finally quieten down, turn off devices (apart from a few troublemakers who continue to film and snap pictures during the show) and start watching. My friend who was with me recalled that this happened at the last run too as did I. Why haven’t ENB/Deane/every artistic director fixed this problem now and during the last few runs of the ballet?

 

It’s easy enough to fix.  

 

Treat the audience like intelligent people, not caged animals.  Turn the house lights back on but use the voiceover and put up signs (or use the surtitle equipment) to say “please stay in your seats (there is no time to go to the restroom and back)”. Ushers can man the doors and ask people to return to their seats if they get out, warning them they won’t be let back in if they come back too late (although they would have to obey this rule for latecomers too). By the way, there is a tv monitor for latecomers in the basement unless someone broke it - they sent us there for the whole of Act 1 Nutcracker one year when two of my trains were cancelled (I expected not to be able to get in; I didn’t want to disrupt the show either.) But don’t treat the audience like caged animals.

 

Once the scenery change is complete, dim the house lights back to darkness and tell the audience the show is about to start-and literally do let the orchestra start immediately, don’t dawdle like on Wednesday. In other words, do exactly what you do when any performance is about to start! It isn’t rocket science. They could actually get the conductor to walk back out again, as the conductor’s walk in is often a visible and effective cue to audiences, signalling that the show will begin in 3-5 seconds. 

 

My friend was so annoyed by all this that he didn’t want to go back despite having tickets for two more shows and Swan Lake being a favourite work of his. And it is really rare for me to “abandon” any show, let alone Swan Lake! I could deal with the eating, drinking, walking in and out, on its own. Heck, I could even deal with the flashing smart watches, twitter addicts and wannabe smartphone paparazzi on their own. I could deal with the scene change incompetence if it was the only fail. 

 

But everything as a whole, with the ballet struggling to be seen amid the theme park and noisy pub environment - actively caused by the poor stage stage management, no. Not when we have to travel in below zero temperatures to get there and back, defrosting the car in a deserted station car park as well. And many fellow forum members travel much further and spend on accommodation as well just to support the company. 

 

It took a few days of processing (hence my late review) not to remember the show forever as “the night ENB turned into a chaotic pub and theme park” rather than “the night when Frola, Salenko and the company produced great magic on stage”. How have standards dropped so precipitously between Nutcracker and Swan Lake? 

 

ENB & Coliseum owners English National Opera might not care what I think or do this week since the shows are 98-100% sold out. But with the Arts Council already cutting their funding and threatening closure, they cannot afford to alienate their regular supporters like us. 

Edited by Emeralds
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If last night is anything to go by, ENB has a new rising star in its galaxy, in the person of recent recruit Junior Soloist Lorenzo Trossello. (ex Northern Ballet where he impressed me in Casanova at Sadlers Wells 2022 ) and also stood out in Raymonda in Southampton in December.  Last night, Lorenzo was every inch the happy then troubled then happy then distraught and despairing Prince that Siegfried has to be on his journey through Swan Lake.  His dancing was impressive especially his early solos and when partnering the wonderful Erina Takahashi.  His final sequence perhaps wasn't as 100% precise as others more senior in the ENB ranks, who have danced this week, but this did nothing to detract from the charisma of his stage presence. That said, all the steps were there and thrilling to watch.  First Artist Noam Durand also stood out in the Pas de Trois. A wonderful company & orchestra on top form who were rightly acclaimed by the audience. 

I noticed that Precious Adams, a wonderful dancer, wore skin toned shoes & tights when she was a peasant, and white shoes and tights when she was acting and dancing as a swan.  This choice makes sense to me.

 

Offstage however was a different story! It felt last night that i had unwittingly stumbled into a 'Relaxed' performance rather then a regular one.  I suspect that the audience at the previous day's Schools Matinee were more well behaved. 

Late arrivals were allowed in haphazardly without supervision or timed to coincide with a pause in the action and, during the performance, patrons came and went (to the toilets, bar etc) on a seemingly ad hoc and unchallenged basis. A woman actually worked her way out from the centre of a row a few in front of me during the black swan sequence finale. Her loss, but also blocking the view of everyone else.

So, at the interval I asked if the Coliseum had changed it's policy in respect of the above and was told that management have, depending on Company guidelines (in this case the ENB), adopted a more tolerant and relaxed attitude to these random comings and goings.   I said how disruptive it is for everyone else and was told that my feedback would be reported.  (I'm not holding my breath). I was also told that, during the wonderful orchestral overtures before each Act, talking, phones etc were permitted and that only when the curtain was raised "on the action" would patrons be asked to desist.  As a result the start of each act saw ushers running up and down the aisles, again very disruptive when this could have been accomplished a few minutes earlier with a better result.

 

Anarchy rules ok?

Edited by PeterS
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I think it's really poor that those of us who want to get lost in the performance are made to listen to people eating popcorn and sweets, smelling their alcohol,  getting impeded and distracted by their movements and chatting during the music...if ENB/Coliseum management think that it's ok to show such disrespect to their dancers and musicians (and their loyal audience), then that is disappointing and incomprehensible to me.  They all work so hard...for people to be treating their performances like a show at the local Odeon is not on.  Not for me, anyway.  

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