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Royal Ballet Flanders - Onegin, Autumn 2014


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I thought I'd start a thread for this as I'll be making the pilgrimage over to Ghent on 11th October to watch Nancy Osbaldeston performing as Olga. I'm making a bit of a holiday out of it, seeing Ghent for two days and Bruges for two. Very exciting!

 

If anyone is also thinking of making the trip (or is already in Belgium), let me know if you fancy meeting up for a Kwak! Otherwise, I'll be back in a couple of weeks with my thoughts. :)

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I'd be interested in hearing about your travel arrangements (Eurostar, hotel, restaurants, getting to the theatre etc) as I have been thinking about going to see the 'In Flanders Fields'  programme next year.

 

And, of course, I'm interested to hear about Nancy and the production.

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I'd be interested in hearing about your travel arrangements (Eurostar, hotel, restaurants, getting to the theatre etc)...

 

I'm flying EasyJet to Brussels from Gatwick, at the frighteningly early time of 7am, then getting the train straight to Ghent from there. It looks like the train is only about a tenner and takes about half an hour. Antwerp I think isn't a great deal further. I did look at Eurostar, but it was £131 return, whereas EasyJet was only £59. I know Eurostar can be done for only £60 (+£10 for travel anywhere in Belgium on arrival and departure days) but it seems the price starts ramping up sooner than the plane option, so I'd recommend booking dead early if you'd prefer Eurostar.

 

As I'm travelling solo, I'll be staying in a hostel as the more sociable option. I wonder how many people at the opera house will be going back to a dorm in the evening? ;) I'll report back my other experiences when I return. :)

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I'm looking forward to hearing your report B3!

 

I saw RBF in Antwerp rather a long time ago.  Coming from Up North it was easier for us to fly to Brussels and take the train to Antwerp.  It turned out to be very straightforward.  Antwerp is a very attractive and interesting city to wander around and the Rubenshuis is wonderful.  The theatre was lovely. We sat up top for one performance (hated it - I am a stalls person) and in the stalls for one performance (absolutely wonderful!).

 

Go for it Aileen!

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Depending on your location Aileen the Harwich to Hook of Holland over night ferry is very easy and comfortable. Only slight wobble when leaves port. Train tickets included from London to Harwich and then through to any Dutch station. We just then buy cheap ticket through to Antwerp, arriving in time for early coffee. 

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I have actually just got back from Antwerp watching the Genee. I got a good train + hotel deal with Eurostar to Brussels which includes free onwards travel to Antwerp and if I had booked well in advanced the entire trip (excluding ballet ticket) would have costs around £103! I ended up paying slightly more booking a month later. That was 2 nights stay!

 

As for the opera house in Antwerp its not massive but make sure you get a good view, the seat I booked (I had no idea) ended up being in a box right next to the stage - worse view ever!

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  • 3 weeks later...

The timing and location of my mini-holiday to Belgium were largely inspired by Nancy Osbaldeston's debut for Royal Ballet of Flanders. I'd always remarked that I'd make the pilgrimage, and decided I should put my money where my mouth was. It was my first time visiting Belgium, my first solo holiday, my first ballet abroad, my first time seeing Royal Ballet of Flanders, and my first Onegin. And they were all, without exception, great. :)

 

To see Nancy opening RBF's season as Olga, it made complete sense why she would make the jump across the sea. This is an opportunity that would probably have taken a lot longer to materialise in ENB, if only by sheer weight of numbers above her in the hierarchy. But she rose to the occasion magnificently. The last thing I saw Nancy in, discounting Romeo and Juliet, where I didn't get to see a huge amount of anyone, was in the excellent Vera at ENB's Choreographics and I wrote this at the time:

 

I can only presume, given the point of her career that she's at, that she's not even at the top of her game yet. Which is ridiculous. She has a glittering career ahead of her. Not just as a well loved soloist, but surely she's going right to the top.

 

Seeing Nancy take the stage in Ghent, I'm even more certain of this. She is even better now. She seems to have matured yet further over the summer and there's now a growing dramatic weight and maturity behind her ever-present immaculate musicality and effortless grace of movement. Chatting after the show with some fellow fans who'd also made the trip over, we all agreed that she'd make a terrific Swanilda in Coppélia. It would be a natural fit for Nancy, with her impish charm and her lightness of movement, but watching her as Olga I realised that Nancy's dramatic range is growing so quickly that I can't imagine a role that she wouldn't be able to make her own and excel in.  I waited by the stage door after the show to say hello afterwards, and she was as charming off stage as on it. Still my favourite dancer by a country mile.  :)

 

Onegin, as a ballet, is right up my street. It's full of PDDs (which are my favourites), it's dramatic, moving, romantic and all-in-all, jolly good fun. It's also, as far as I can tell, a piece where the four leads can take centre stage, with the corps taking up the bulk of the rest of the action. I've decided that this is the ballet I'll try and take ballet newbies along to if they ask me to introduce them to the art. It's a simple plot to follow, there aren't endless ballroom scenes, and the choreography (at least in Cranko's version, presented here) I found accessible and exciting. 

 

Aki Saito and Wim Vanlessen... What can I say? They are the strongest partnership I've ever seen. I think they've been working together for 20 years (although I'm open to correction on that) and it shows. Their PDDs were genuinely thrilling, not just because of their synchronicity, but also because of their evident complete trust in one another. I think I actually gasped at one point. Both are exceptional dancers, of the highest standard, and dramatically they lived and breathed the characters. Wim, especially, demonstrated expertly judged dramatic range in his appearance from the mirror, dancing the idealised version of the character in perfect juxtaposition to the cold arrogance of the man himself. I've no idea how close either dancer is to retirement, but I implore you to try and see this pairing before it's too late if you ever get even a hint of an opportunity. 

 

The production itself was fantastic, too. If Onegin is typical of the way that RBF put on a show, then I definitely approve. The sets were simple and elegant, allowing the dancing and the drama to take the eye, rather than over-elaborate staging. The orchestra were note perfect as far as I could tell. My only small criticism is that the 'country men' at Tatiana's birthday were too caricatured. It felt slightly insulting to the audience's intelligence that they should be so over the top, and it detracted from the elegant, measured drama of the rest of the production. It could have been toned down a little bit and we'd have still got the idea.

 

Anyway, I had a terrific time watching Royal Ballet of Flanders. Not only that, though, I had a great time seeing a bit more of the world, discovering that I quite enjoyed travelling by myself, and I met loads of very lovely people along the way. Top notch ballet with a side of personal growth thrown in? I'd call that a successful trip. :)

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Great post. Nancy must be highly thought of if she was cast as Olga on opening night. It's nice to hear that some fellow fans were there as well. I also think that Nancy would make a great Swanilda. She was, of course, a pitch perfect Ballerina Doll in Petroushka last summer. She danced quite a few featured/soloist roles with ENB but, unfortunately, was never promoted to a soloist position (there are three types at ENB) and, as far as I am aware, was never given what you might term the second female role eg Gulnare in Le Corsaire. In going to Flanders she has gained a promotion and, it is to be hoped, the opportunity to dance more significant roles. Being cast as Olga is a good start. She would not have danced this with ENB because it is not/no longer in its repertoire and Tamara is unlikely to want to stage it given her history with Reid Anderson. I hope that you told her that she is much missed in the UK.

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 My only small criticism is that the 'country men' at Tatiana's birthday were too caricatured. It felt slightly insulting to the audience's intelligence that they should be so over the top, and it detracted from the elegant, measured drama of the rest of the production. It could have been toned down a little bit and we'd have still got the idea.

 

 

 

The elderly 'gentlemen' in Act 2 of Onegin are always played 'over the top', BBB. You should see them at the Royal Ballet!

 

What a lovely post - a real celebration of the charm and talent of Nancy. And, yes, quite something to be given the role of Olga as first cast so soon after joining the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

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The elderly 'gentlemen' in Act 2 of Onegin are always played 'over the top', BBB. You should see them at the Royal Ballet!

 

Ah, thanks for the heads-up! The perils of reviewing a first encounter of a ballet without a more knowledgeable Ballet Buddy in tow. :) I hope, then, that RBF won't take that criticism personally. Niets persoonlijks! ;)

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The elderly 'gentlemen' in Act 2 of Onegin are always played 'over the top', BBB. You should see them at the Royal Ballet!

 

And I suspect casting young dancers - especially in companies which don't have a wealth of older, character dancers to call on - doesn't help things.

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Thanks for that wonderful post, BBB.  Nancy is a loss to London but a great gain for Flanders.  I think it would be interesting for you to try to come and see the Royal Ballet dancing Onegin in a few months' time so you can compare and contrast the two.  I'd be very interested to know your thoughts!

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B3:  You'll no doubt be interested in this latest addition to the company website, and this should be the English-language version:

 

https://operaballet.be/en/the-house/blog/new-faces-at-ballet-flanders

 

That's great! Thanks for the link, Ian. Oh, how I would love to see Nancy in Elite Syncopations. :D

 

As an aside, the link also highlights a curiosity that intrigues the linguaphile in me, namely that the word ballerina has persisted (presumably from the Italian), whereas ballerino has fallen by the wayside in English in favour of 'ballet dancer'.

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B3:  I'm sure that Katherine Barber (toursenlair) will be able to help on the linguistic point - but can I ask if you bought a programme for the show you saw.  And if you did, and accepting that it will be in Flemish, is there any sign in a company listing there of a new AD having been appointed?  I've not heard of anyone, I must say, and I now seem to be unable to unearth any Company personnel details from what is now the Opera/Ballet website.  It was OK a couple of weeks ago, but I've drawn a blank today. 

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I did pick up a programme. My first that I can barely understand a word of, but I've got one for every ballet I've seen so I'm not going to let a piffling matter of comprehension get in the way. It has lovely pictures. ;)

 

I can't seem to see any reference to an AD for RBF. The only reference I can see is to Reid Anderson, listed alongside other staff's biographies, who from what I can make out is AD at Stuttgart Ballet? Is he RBF's temporary AD or something, then?

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks for that wonderful post, BBB.  Nancy is a loss to London but a great gain for Flanders.  I think it would be interesting for you to try to come and see the Royal Ballet dancing Onegin in a few months' time so you can compare and contrast the two.  I'd be very interested to know your thoughts!

 

Hi Sim. Just thought I'd drop by to say that I'll be seeing RB's Onegin on Wednesday next week and I'll happily report back with my thoughts. :) My first time seeing Marianela Nuñez dance too, so very excited about that, especially given the high regard in which she's held by many on this forum.

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Hi Sim. Just thought I'd drop by to say that I'll be seeing RB's Onegin on Wednesday next week and I'll happily report back with my thoughts. :) My first time seeing Marianela Nuñez dance too, so very excited about that, especially given the high regard in which she's held by many on this forum.

Great news BBB! I will be there too so let's say hello. You certainly have a treat in store (I'm referring to seeing Nela and Thiago in Onegin, not meeting me!).

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Great news BBB! I will be there too so let's say hello. You certainly have a treat in store (I'm referring to seeing Nela and Thiago in Onegin, not meeting me!).

 

Definitely! I'll look forward to it. I'll drop you a PM with my phone number and we'll arrange to meet up. :)

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