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English National Ballet, Swan Lake, Autumn Tour 2014


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I have seen a lot of Swan Lakes in my time including two this year but I think this production was one of the best. There are some nice touches like the prologue where the young Odette in human form plucks the petals from a daisy minutes before being mugged by Rothbart. Indeed, we seemed to see quite a lot more of Rothbart than in most productions.

 

Tonight James Forbat  danced Siegfried for the first time and he delivered a very confident performance. It was aso te first time that I had seen Erina Takahashi and I was very impressed with her.  Rotherbart was danced by Arionel Vargas, the Queen by Tamarin Stott and the Tutor was Michael Coleman.

 

I was delighted by the divertissements - particularly the Neapolitan dance which finished with the exchange of kisses in the last steps just like Wayne Sleep used to dance it,

 

For me there was also the personal pleasure of seeing Sarah Kundi on stage once more,

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Was that at the Palace Theatre Manchester, Terpsichore ? Not seen a ballet there for years [sigh].

 

Yes I should have said. The reason my report is very brief and bereft of detail is that my companion and I went for a curry in Rusholme after the show and we did not get back to Holmfirth until after 01:00. My friend who lives in Bradford would have got home even later.

 

It is a fine theatre and it is a shame that plans for its renovation and conversion into a Northern base for the Royal Opera House came to nothing (see 

Royal Opera House shelves move north 28 Oct 2010 Independent). That would have been a wonderful boost for our city and region and I hope the plans may be revived.   My birthplace would certainly benefit from a resident world class ballet company as Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds have done. Maybe we can poach one from somewhere.

 

The only thing I don't like about the Palace are the heavy booking fees - especially if you pay by credit card over the internet - and I have had to take Janet McNulty's advice in investing in an ATG card which costs £30.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have seen a lot of Swan Lakes in my time including two this year but I think this production was one of the best. There are some nice touches like the prologue where the young Odette in human form plucks the petals from a daisy minutes before being mugged by Rothbart. Indeed, we seemed to see quite a lot more of Rothbart than in most productions.

 

Tonight James Forbat  danced Siegfried for the first time and he delivered a very confident performance. It was aso te first time that I had seen Erina Takahashi and I was very impressed with her.  Rotherbart was danced by Arionel Vargas, the Queen by Tamarin Stott and the Tutor was Michael Coleman.

 

I was delighted by the divertissements - particularly the Neapolitan dance which finished with the exchange of kisses in the last steps just like Wayne Sleep used to dance it,

 

For me there was also the personal pleasure of seeing Sarah Kundi on stage once more,

 

I'm looking forward to seeing this in Milton Keynes in a few weeks - pleased to hear ENB do the prologue!

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  • 4 weeks later...

My thoughts of the performance of 11/11. This was my first ENB Swan Lake and I was totally enthralled. The whole thing was wonderful. The first highlight for me was (as ever in a Swan Lake) the Act 1 Pas de Trois, loved it.

 

Then Alina Cojocaru appeared (seeing her was another first for me). She was everything I had hoped for from watching recordings and reading reviews. A real pocket-rocket of a ballerina who just seemed to float across the stage. Cojocaru’s emotional content built up through the performance and in the final act the emotions were just rolling off the stage. I must confess the emotions caught up with me and the final ascent skywards was a bit blurry…

 

The ENB production was excellent – though maybe a bit too much smoke! Having said that the smoke was used to great effect, with the swan maidens appearing up through and out of the woodland mists. (I did have a bit of chuckle at the look on the face of one of the oboe players as the smoke rolled into the orchestra pit and completely enveloped him).

 

As for the orchestra, I am not a great connoisseur of musical finesse but I found this one of the most beautiful pieces of playing I have heard. I don’t know why it was so special but the tones were so pure and the instruments blended so well together.

 

I can’t wait to see another ENB Swan Lake! Luckily I only have to wait until tomorrow – Tamara Rojo as Odette/Odile. Woop Woop!

 

(One slightly annoying note was that cast sheets were only available when buying a programme so I do not know who the dancers were apart from the two leads. The MK Theatre staff said it was the production company making that rule!)

Edited by Timmie
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What a great review - thank you! I'd be really surprised if the "cast sheet only with programme rule" came from ENB. I've heard this lots of time from theatre staff, and checked it with the ENB marketing department, who always insist that patrons can get cast sheets without having to buy programmes. I assume that the theatre gets a healthy cut from programmesales - hence their misinformation.

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We were at Milton Keynes yesterday and encountered the same cast sheet problem, asked to speak to the house manager and she sorted the problem out, so in future cast sheets are available on request at MK.

 

Yonah Acosta's debut in SL was most impressive and he turns out to have a romantic streak, his head-over-heels reaction to Odette was very much that of a young man falling deeply in love.  His solos were excellent with perfect turns and good elevation.  He had a touching rapport with Takahashi and his sympathetic partnering was near perfect.  It was a very enjoyable evening all round.

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(One slightly annoying note was that cast sheets were only available when buying a programme so I do not know who the dancers were apart from the two leads. The MK Theatre staff said it was the production company making that rule!)

Well, I've never been to an ENB performance (except those promoted by Raymond Gubbay) where cast sheets weren't freely available. Apart from anything else, isn't this the time of year when they usually ask for audience votes for favourite dancers on the back of them? 

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It's nice to read praise for the orchestra. The ENB orchestra invariably plays very well but I understand that the acoustics are particularly good at the MK theatre as well.

 

I did wonder if I was in an acoustic sweet-spot. Tonight we are in completely different seats, way up in the upper circle to get the best view of the corps, so it will be interesting to compare.

 

And hopefully I'll get a cast sheet  :)

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I did wonder if I was in an acoustic sweet-spot. Tonight we are in completely different seats, way up in the upper circle to get the best view of the corps, so it will be interesting to compare.

 

And hopefully I'll get a cast sheet  :)

 

If there is a problem with cast sheets, do what we did and ask to see the house manager who is an exceptionally nice and helpful young woman.

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The cast sheet issue in MK is not unusual. Often, at ENB performances, theatres have the wrong sheets out (usually from the day before) so it is important to check and to request that they find the correct ones. After all, the audience could be registering votes for the wrong person in People's Choice.

 

Good to read such a positive report of Yonah Acosta's Siegfried. It makes one wonder why the Company chose to bring in a guest from Dutch National to dance with Erina Takahashi in London.

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I wonder if ENB is ever going to post who is dancing some of the other roles in the ballet, as they did with Romeo and Juliet (where they posted who would be playing Mercutio, Tybalt &c. as well as Romeo and Juliet).  I'd be interested to find out who's dancing what.

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After Tuesday’s performance viewed from the second row from the front in the stalls, the front row upper circle experience was very different on Saturday.

 

On Tuesday I was able to better follow the performances of individual dancers but I didn’t really appreciate what I was missing in terms of spectacle. On Saturday from high up I got a much better view of the Swan Lake performance. For instance on Tuesday the Pas de Douze was entertaining enough but it sort of passed me by. On Saturday it was superb to watch the amazing choreography with all 12 dancers perfectly in time. The Pas de Trois worked from any angle! I was very impressed by Laurretta Summerscales who danced the Pas de Trois in the evening after an unscheduled matinee as Odette/Odile.

 

Tamara Rojo didn’t do too much for me in the first white act, I think I was enjoying the performance of the corps too much, but in the Black Swan Pas de Deux she showed her full capability. Miss Rojo is definitely more of an Odile than an Odette! I enjoyed this even more after having watched (yet again) her walk-through of the Pas de Deux in the ‘Good Swan Bad Swan’ documentary the night before. That whole master class programme took my enjoyment to another level (Sleeping Beauty next please Tamara!).

 

The final act was fantastic, Tamara really did get too me at this point, her interaction with the Swan Maidens, in both mime and in dance, made me moist eyed from the sheer beauty of the dancing and the deep sorrow of the characterisation. I was full of happiness and sadness at the same time.

 

As a performance of Swan Lake I would say ENB’s is pretty hard to beat.

 

And I did get a cast sheet. The very helpful house manager tried to find me one for Tuesday as well but couldn’t. It looks like most of the named performers were the same so I should be able to work out the differences from the reviews.

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Saw ENB on Tuesday and Wednesday - all very good.

 

Tuesday was Alina Cojacaru with Alejandro Virelles

Wednesday Tamara Rojo and Junor Souza

 

2 very different Odette/Odiles but both fabulous in their own ways.  Wonderful fouettes from both Alina and Tamara and a total joy to see them both dancing at my local.  Alina has the most amazing arms in her Odette and Tamara's acting was top notch.

Alejandro Virelles did nothing for me as the Prince but Junor Souza was just great.  I loved how he was such a senstitive Prince and his Act 1 solo was rock solid unlike Virelles who was not as steady.  

The corps de ballet were all very good with lovely Act 1 pas de trois both nights and the national dances in Act 3 were lovely too -pity the costumes are such a dull palette - the Spanish dresses should have their green tulle skirts replaced with red!  The Neapolitan dance was fabulous!

Apart from the principals the stars of the show were the swans were amazing and I think second only to The Mariinsky this last summer.  The swans kept their lines perfectly and were so together it was wonderful.  In Act 4 when the curtain went up and the stage was filled with dry ice, as the swans stood up to pirouette the dry ice "stuck" to their tutus and as they started to spin around the dry ice floated off making a lovely (if unintended?) ethereal effect!

The orchestra played well but it sounded a bit off the first night but last night sounded much more mellow, maybe it was the acoustics from my seat were better a few seats along from the night before.  

I have to criticise the audience the first night as the noise from sweet wrappers was horrendous and as the oboe started the overture it was drowned out WHY can't people wait an hour for the interval.  Thankfully the theatre was less full on Wednesday and it was far more peaceful and enjoyable.  Dear me!

Anyway ENB are on top form GO SEE!

Edited by Don Q Fan
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I was at the performance on Wednesday in Liverpool, led by Tamara Rojo and Junor Souza.

 

Derek Deane's production is a great traditional Swan Lake with great costumes and sets (I differ from DQF in that I love the autumnal colours of the costumes in Acts 1 and 3).  I agree with DQF that the company is on splendid form and the swans were superb.

 

I loved Junor Souza from his first appearance on stage - he's princely and a sensitive partner and his dancing was enthralling to watch.  I thought James Streeter exuded menace as Von Rothbart.

 

I wasn't so sure about Tamara Rojo at first in Act 2 - she was a bit too steely for my taste as Odette, however in the last couple of minutes as Von Rothbart is reeling her back in, she was so desperate to remain with Seigfried that she just broke my heart and absolutely convinced me she was Odette.  It was just stunning to watch.  Of course, she was superbly convincing as Odile!  And then onto Act 4 when I was completely blown away by the tragedy of her performance - what a tragedienne!  She and Junor Souza were magical together.

 

The orchestra, under the baton of Gavin Sutherland, was magnificent throughout.

 

Altogether it was a splendid performance, made even better by catching up with DQF in the intervals!

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I  saw (at Milton Keynes) the same two casts as you Don Q Fan and like you could not help but make comparisons with the Mariinsky from the Summer. As a spectacle I think the Mariinsky just, and only just, edged it over the ENB. As a complete performance though, with the story telling and the feeling of involvement in the story, then ENB were tops for me.

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I took advantage of my airmiles to travel to Liverpool for Ksenia Ovsyanick’s long-awaited debut as Odette-Odile at the matinee performance on 19 November. Due to the sudden retirement of Zdenek Konvalina, the performance also saw the debut of Ken Saruhashi as Siegfried, his first major role for ENB.  I admired him when he was a student at ENBS and he did not disappoint on Thursday.  He is a long-legged and elegant dancer with a beautifully clean technique which served him extremely well in the Ashton solo at the end of Act I which had a wonderful, yearning quality. At the opening of Act III, he had so clearly been spellbound by Odette that he made it obvious he was only dancing with the very beautiful prospective fiancées out of duty. In fact, he and Ovsyanick were perfectly suited not only for the beauty and musicality of their dancing but also for their intelligent and well-thought-out characterisations of these regal beings.

 

All the superlatives apply to the polished and totally assured Ovsyanick.  As Odette, she was as light as swansdown with exquisitely eloquent bourrées and fluid ports de bras, and her initial series of half-turns in attitude spoke volumes about her soulful longing to be released from Rothbart’s spell.  Her Act II solo was breathtaking in its grace and simplicity of execution. After a glitch at the beginning, due to bits of their costumes becoming entangled (from which they both recovered with remarkable composure),  the Act II pas de deux was a miracle of delicacy and contrasted beautifully with the glamour and electricity of the Act III pas de deux which was controlled by the very commanding Rothbart of Shevelle Dynott.  Act IV was especially poignant, with every fibre of Ovsyanick’s body signifying her broken heart at Siegfried’s unwitting betrayal yet managing to summon up supreme dignity to forgive him, and the way Saruhashi laid his head upon her hand as she did so was a moment of pure magic.  The Liverpool audience was very privileged to see a star in the making and another whose stardom has been evident to audiences since her first unforgettable performance of Giselle in 2010.

 

Whilst the precision of the corps de ballet of swans did not quite reach the heights of previous years (some of the new recruits have not yet completely absorbed the ENB style), there was much to admire and enjoy at this performance, including an immaculate Cygnets’ dance from company stalwarts Crystal Costa, Desirée Ballantyne, Senri Kou and Anjuli Hudson. Hudson also sparkled in her debut in the Act I pas de trois, particularly her beautiful footwork in the first solo.

 

I had hoped to see Elena Glurdjidze in her second-last performance of “Swan Lake” with ENB in the evening but, due to the indisposition of her scheduled partner Arionel Vargas and with nobody to replace him, the performance was danced by Alina Cojocaru and Alejandro Virelles.  Cojocaru is an accomplished dancer but was rather wayward both choreographically and musically. Virelles is personable and an excellent partner but I would have liked more emotional depth from both dancers.  For me, the highlight of the evening was the always enchanting Adela Ramirez, bringing her devastating charm and ballerina sheen to the first solo in the Act I pas de trois and to the Act III Neapolitan Dance during which both she and Anton Lukovkin delightfully demonstrated the correct Ashton ports de bras, so often missing in performances today.  A special mention also for the very spirited Czardas led by Tamarin Stott and Juan Rodriguez with a perfect mixture of hauteur and panache.

 

At both performances, the orchestra put its heart and soul into Tchaikovsky’s glorious score but there was an extra shimmer to the strings in the evening under the baton of maestro Gavin Sutherland.  Just a shame the audiences marred the quiet moments with relentless sweet unwrapping, rustling of plastic bags and chatter!

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The second major ENB debut this week in Liverpool in Swan Lake took place this afternoon when Shiori Kase did her first Odette/Odile. Partnered by Yonah Acosta, she was assured technically and her dancing was expressive and beautifully phrased while her acting in both roles was convincing. It was difficult to believe that this was her debut. The performance also saw the first performance in the pas de trois of Senri Kou, always an impressive dancer, who some might feel has not always been given the opportunities she deserves.

Unfortunately it seems that the Artistic Director was not able to stay in Liverpool to see the two major debuts.

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I agree that the debuts from Ksenia Ovsyanick and Shiori Kase were simply wonderful this week and I would want to emphasize the Siegfried of Ken Saruhashi too. Performances of this quality from such young dancers point to a glorious future for ENB. What a pity that they will not be seen in London.

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I pre booked a £8 train ticket from London to Liverpool and the overnight coach back to see both Saturday shows and debuts, although Laurretta Summerscales had by then already done her first performance. I agree that Shiori Kase and Yonah Acosta were very assured and well suited to giving a very satisfying rendition of a production which to me tells the story better than most. The last act is certainly no let down. I doubt if Shiori could ever do real evil in Act III and was convincing as a more sly and deceitful swan.

 

Senri Kou did stand out in her first pas de trios stamping her personality on it. And praise for Shevelle Dynott as a terrifying Rothbart - he seemed so quiet an hour earlier as he passed through the Friends backstage tour just at the time we were with the costumes, confirming how heavy his was to dance with!. They have decided only to do his face with make up and not with any other add-ons. I think it works very well. Alejando Virelles seemed a bit tired but it was the last show of the tour.

 

Laurretta Summerscales in the evening was truly remarkable in one so young, for her solid technique including an arabesque on pointe as Odile with no wobbles for what seemed like ever and very natural acting and mime. She has the ability to command the stage and can't wait hopefully to catch a reprise in London. 

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I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I was trying to book seats for this on line, and had my credit card refused.  This was the action of the ENO, rather than my credit card provider, I believe.  I tried 3 times, and each time no explanation was given. 

 

Needless to say, my husband's card was accepted immediately.  :angry:

 

Anybody any idea why a card would be refused? 

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I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I was trying to book seats for this on line, and had my credit card refused.  This was the action of the ENO, rather than my credit card provider, I believe.  I tried 3 times, and each time no explanation was given. 

 

Needless to say, my husband's card was accepted immediately.  :angry:

 

Anybody any idea why a card would be refused? 

 

I had the same problem on the ENO website once before.  I have no idea why.  Their system seems erratic.  

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Sounds like the ideal situation to me!

:-)

 

Seriously, their website is not a very sophisticated one.

I have had several problems, -including recently their claim to have no trace of my existence whatsoever despite my having booked with them for many years- always sorted out when I ring up, I should say. This never happens to me with ROH.

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I don't know if anyone else has had this problem, but I was trying to book seats for this on line, and had my credit card refused.  This was the action of the ENO, rather than my credit card provider, I believe.  I tried 3 times, and each time no explanation was given.

This sounds familiar. I also had problems with the website when trying to book Sweeney Todd a few months ago. Can't remember what it was now, but something major - I had to ring the box office in the end to get a ticket.

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I sent an email to ENO, and they replied that:

 

The main reason credit cards are not authorised is that card details don’t match with the postcode the card is registered at or the name is different from the way it is entered on the account.

 

As they cannot possibly know what address my card is registered to, I assume that my ENO account has the details of my old credit card, replaced at least a year ago, as well as my old address.    As it does not appear that I am unable to edit my profile officially, it looks as though I am stuck with having to get my husband to buy everything for me!

 

Sound a rather inefficient way of going about things, from the Box Office point of view. 

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