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Royal Ballet: La Fille mal gardée, Spring 2015


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And what a perfect opening night it was. I can't imagine how it can be bettered from the point of view that all five of the main roles were performed to an equal level of excellence. I will try to write more tomorrow, but now I have to try to fall asleep with a huge smile across my face that just won't go away! :)

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Muntagirov offered a beautifully buoyant Colas in his role debut to Morera's stunningly precise and heart warming Lise - (she being a chip off the old(er) block of Tuckett's endearingly winsome Widow Simone's embrace) - leaving all (and sundry) within reach of a ray of Suffolk sun.  Even the delighted Shetland pony made repeated reverence to this ardently cordial Ashtonian soufflé which both unfolded and evaporated last night with an unimpeachable zeal that was - happily - never pious (as sometimes can be the case).

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Agree.I wasn't feeling very well but even so was enchanted.

As I left I was thinking - If the audience weren't  in love with Muntagirov/Morera  before, they are now. There was great  and warm applause.

I so nearly didn't go, but Muntagirov was well worth making the special  effort to see, he had such long lissom lines ,such elegant dancing yet, also had the natural comic touch in this role: one of those dancers who radiates charm. Morera was perfect. The corp were light of foot and seemed to be enjoying themselves greatly.

Gary Avis was a superb farmer. The clog dance was funny and not overdone by Will Tuckett.

 

More!

 as some people were calling out....

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So I did manage to get a few hours' sleep, and now here I am, at my desk at work and back to reality with a bump.  But it's not too bad;  I have three more Filles next week.  However, I just can't help feeling that we have already had the best!  As I said above, it is rare that we are presented with five interpretations of equal excellence, but those of us at the performance last night were truly blessed in this way. 

 

Last night's opening night could not have been a better tribute to Sir Frederick Ashton's gentle, bucolic masterpiece.  I say gentle, but the ballet is technically challenging, thanks in large part to Ashton's typically complex and intricate footwork.  Not many dancers can get this nowadays in the way Sir Fred would have wanted (the steps, coupled with the pliant backs and supple epaulement), so thank the ballet gods for the continuing presence of Laura Morera in the company.  For years she has been my preferred Ashton dancer;  she is technically tough and solid and almost never misses a beat or a step.  She is fleet of foot but strong of body, so she has that perfect blend of lightness and groundedness required for the choreography.  That aside, she is a cheeky Lise, but not in a little-girl way;  she knows what she wants and she knows how to get it....if only her mother weren't such a pain!  I do hope that Morera is cast in Two Pigeons next season.

 

Vadim Muntagirov gave yet another brilliant performance on a debut.  I was wondering whether he was going to, subconsciously, present himself as a prince playing at being a country boy as he is so naturally noble.  Not the case;  he was slightly gawky, slightly shy, but with a natural charm and almost self-deprecating humour.  No preening and cockiness for him;  he left the cockiness to our feathered friends.   His dancing was, as always, beautiful:  such lovely lines, high jumps, perfectly placed turns.  His partnering was superb, and he and Laura nailed every lift perfectly;  rarely have I seen the one-handed lift effected so confidently.  He and Morera danced so well together, and had such good chemistry that I really want to see them dance together again;  I am just imagining them in Manon....but I digress.   I would like to thank Vadim for sharing his 25th birthday with all of us;  he gave us a gift we won't forget.

 

Will Tuckett was a funny, moving and perfectly-nuanced Widow Simone.  This role can end up being pantomime parody, but Tuckett strikes just the right balance.  He made the audience laugh, and yet between trying to stop Lise from marrying Colas, and smacking her and clipping her round the ear, the love also shone through;  both he and Morera conveyed this so well;  for this ballet to work, the love and mutual respect of mother and daughter must be evident and believable;  and here it certainly was.  Tuckett's facial expressions have such a range and was one of the reasons that I was grinning all evening.  In roles such as this, less is more and I laughed much more than I have at the interpretations that are more camp and exaggerated.  I wanted to hug him at the end.  I might just add here that I am so disappointed that Gary Avis has been passed over once again as the Widow.  He is such a good character dancer and I would have loved to have seen him tackle the role this time around. 

 

Speaking of Avis, he too was excellent as Thomas;  the arrogance of a wealthy man thinking he can get what he wants, and behave how he wants, because he has more than everyone around him is the essence of Avis's interpretation.  Again, a balance is required between that side of his character, and the feeling of sorrow and protection for his son.  When he chases off the farm boys, and most particularly when the little flick of Alain's hair keeps popping back up as he strokes his head, Avis's face melts from icy anger to warm love, and resignation.   

 

This is a ballet full of balances (and I'm not only referring to the technical kind).  Each character has to find the right balance for the ballet to really work.  Paul Kay as Alain did just that (as did all the others).  Again, for this role not to be reduced to a cod representation of a 'simpleton' , the dancer must present Alain as a bit simple, but also well-meaning, vulnerable, a boy who actually has feelings (although those around him may not  be aware of it) and understands completely what is happening to him at the end of the ballet.  We must feel very sorry for him when he realises he isn't getting married, but then we must feel thrilled for him that he has been reunited with his faithful brolly;  who needs a girl as long as he can have his trusted red umbrella?  Kay was the Alain I have just described, and his performance contributed greatly to last night's success.

 

The ROH audience was hugely appreciative throughout the ballet, with loud applause and much laughter from start to finish.  I had taken a friend who was feeling depressed about having just turned 60.  She had never seen the ballet before and when it was over she said "sixty, shmixty, who cares as long as there is art like this in the world?"  I couldn't agree more.

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The pony deserves a special mention as the first in all my decades of watching the ballet to actually join in by tapping its hoof in time to the music.

 

Wasn't sure how a premiere danseur such as Muntagirov would fare as the role was specifically created as demi-caractère, but he was completely at home as Colas and there appeared to be a natural rapport with Morera.  A special word for Paul Kaye who brought some wonderful personal touches to Alain, after all those years of pale imitations of Alexander Grant watching Mr Kaye was a refreshing experience.  Very enjoyable evening.

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So glad a new "Alain" has been found!! As so far have never seen Alexander Grant bettered.

 

I'm already going to this on May 5th with the main roles a differently cast of course......but reading these reviews makes me want to rush off and get another ticket......though I don't think Morera is cast with Muntagirov again??

 

I hope the other roles will be the same on the 5th but thanks everyone for your lovely reviews.

 

 

Incidentally was on a no.11 bus on Wednesday afternoon and saw a white pony being lead along Whitehall causing a bit of a stir as passers by wanted to chat to the man leading him along. It did look suspiciously like the one on the ROH website ......perhaps just out of rehearsal? Or just a coincidence!

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So glad a new "Alain" has been found!! As so far have never seen Alexander Grant bettered.

 

I'm already going to this on May 5th with the main roles a differently cast of course......but reading these reviews makes me want to rush off and get another ticket......though I don't think Morera is cast with Muntagirov again??

 

I hope the other roles will be the same on the 5th but thanks everyone for your lovely reviews.

 

 

Incidentally was on a no.11 bus on Wednesday afternoon and saw a white pony being lead along Whitehall causing a bit of a stir as passers by wanted to chat to the man leading him along. It did look suspiciously like the one on the ROH website ......perhaps just out of rehearsal? Or just a coincidence!

 

I think Morera and Muntagirov have another performance next Friday. There were 25 tickets last time I looked, mostly scattered around the amphi. Sim's review makes me want to rush out and buy a ticket too, but they are a little pricey for such a long way back and I'm going the following Sunday anyway.

 

Whitehall is a long way for little pony legs - maybe it was out for walkies :-)

Edited by Sunrise
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Are there any photos of this cast?

 

Anyway, the Telegraph and The Stage finally just got their (good) reviews in. There's one photo of the first cast in The Stage and more lovely photos here.  :-)  I was expecting Muntagirov to tower over Morera for some reason but they look very well matched.

Edited by Sunrise
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Lovely night, I have never seen Laura Morera look so soft and gentle (always thought of her as a stronger dramatic dancer) and Vadim Muntagirov danced Colas in the same manner, no hint of showing off, just a charming young man, they made a wonderful partnership, at the end I felt very emotional!  Beautifully controlled balances by Laura Morera, 2 full turns very slowly, no worries. Paul Kay and Will Tuckett seem to live the roles of Alain and Simone, Paul Kay gets exactly the right balance. And of course the pony danced perfectly, it really was pas de cheval wasn't it   :)

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I gather that the General Rehearsal yesterday got the McRae/Osipova cast - just as a matter of interest, who is dancing the other roles in this cast?

Full list:  Nunez/Acosta, Marquez/Campbell (who is replacing Zucchetti), Choe/Campbell, Osipova/McRae and Morera/Muntagirov.  It hasn't been announced who is replacing Zucchetti on May 2nd, so there may be a Marquez/someone else pairing as well.

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I was intending posting some enthusiastic lines about last night's performance of Fille and it is lovely to find that what I wanted to say has already been said several times over.

 

What a cast (!) with each interpreter adding some lovely individual touches. Pure dance joy - just as Fille should be.

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Incidentally was on a no.11 bus on Wednesday afternoon and saw a white pony being lead along Whitehall causing a bit of a stir as passers by wanted to chat to the man leading him along. It did look suspiciously like the one on the ROH website ......perhaps just out of rehearsal? Or just a coincidence!

Unless Peregrine has changed where he lives, it probably was him being led along Whitehall, in his walk from Vauxhall City Farm to Covent Garden. I believe he has special permission to walk across the bridge over the Thames.

 

(And I thought his pawing the stage was him getting impatient for his sugarlump, or whatever it is he's given. He was more impatient in the evening than he was at the rehearsal earlier. He might start getting ideas about being given it on his first entrance, then more later.)

Edited by MargaretN7
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Well, Vadim proved last night that he can play comedy as well as tragic and princely roles. One word for him in this - adorable! What he has is charm (sadly lacking in most male dancers) - as a man behind me said, "He lights up the stage every time he appears." I couldn't put it better myself.

 

It goes without saying that his dancing was superb. However, I had never seen Laura Morera dance before and I really liked her. And I thought her and Vadim were lovely together, with some real rapport and chemistry. I would love too see them partnering each other in some other ballets as I think there is great potential for a strong partnership there. Their comic timing worked so well - kudos to both.

 

I was there by myself this time so found myself overhearing conversations around me a lot. It seems that Vadim won himself a lot of new fans last night from people who had never seen him before.

 

I really enjoyed Paul Kay and Will Tuckett as well. It's far too easy to allow Widow Simone to turn into a sort of caricature of a pantomime dame if not played well, but Tuckett didn't over-egg it and played the part to perfection.

 

I started smiling from the moment the ballet started and then didn't stop! I think I woke up still smiling - just such a delight of a ballet made even better by the main performances.

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I was there by myself this time so found myself overhearing conversations around me a lot. It seems that Vadim won himself a lot of new fans last night from people who had never seen him before.

 

 

 

I heard similar comments around me last night yet Muntagirov has been available to be seen dancing in London for nearly 6 years and this is the 10th RB bill in which he has featured very prominently over the last 15 months. Maybe there are ballet-goers who focus mainly on first nights but, even so, this is his fourth such showing since the autumn.

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I thought that most of Vadim's 'first night' partners (Sarah Lamb in Manon and Alice and Marianela Nunez in Symphonic Variations) did 'suit' him although I agree that he and Laura Morera worked very well indeed together. But the best partnership Vadim has had within the Royal Ballet to date is surely that with Francesca Hayward?

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I was thinking just now about Ashton paring away Symphonic Variations to the absolute essentials, and it suddenly struck me: is there a boring/extraneous minute in Fille? I can't think of one.

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I was lucky enough to be at the photo call for the RB's La Fille mal gardee - what a joy it is! Here are some photos, from the cast that we'll see in the cinema (if you can't make the show at the ROH)

16989939667_5a6baf4983_z.jpg
Natalia Osipova, Steven McRae
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

17195705382_1380ebef1b_z.jpg
Kristen McNally, Emma Maguire, Philip Mosley, Sian Murphy, Olivia Cowley
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

See more...
Set from DanceTabs: RB - La Fille mal gardee
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
By kind permission of the Royal Opera House

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Lovely photos of course, Dave. But while, recently, it seems that the first cast has had the photo call the day before the General Rehearsal, this time the rehearsal cast has been featured. Nothing against Osipova,  but was that being fair of the RB to Morera who was, after all, the first cast and so rarely gets that opportunity? [i am aware that there are first cast photos around as well but.............!]

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yes, the production photographer was in taking shots from the back of the Stalls Circle on opening night of Laura/Vadim. They'll be the ones you'll see in press reviews and on the ROH website.

For whatever reason (lack of rehearsal time for Vadim with his recent injury perhaps?) we weren't given their final rehearsal to photo this time round. We have been pretty lucky this last season or two, getting the opening night cast, but can't always happen and then we'll get the general (Friends) rehearsal. As these usually the same day as opening night of late, naturally they will be different casts (except for many of the corps of course, who are tough enough to do 2 shows a day - bless 'em!). The opening night cast did have their final rehearsal a day or two beforehand I believe - but as i say, for whatever reason they weren't ready for us to photograph them doing it. Maybe the repetiteurs didn't want us cluttering up their access in the Stalls, for example, if they needed to offer any corrections.

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