Royal Ballet Triple: Birthday Offering/ A Month in the Country/ Les Noces, Covent Garden, July 2012Posted on 4 July 2012
A second view, with a different cast — see my opening night review for more details.
As before, Tom Seligman conducted Birthday Offering with Barry Wordsworth taking the other two ballets, and things got off to a fine start as Seligman produced swelling sounds from the orchestra to Glazunov’s Concert Waltz No. 1. Later the music interleaves excerpts from Glazunov’s Seasons, and this Ashton ballet is a delightful collection of interchanging couples, variations for the ballerinas and a major pas-de-deux beautifully performed by Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares. The variations all came over well, and I particularly liked Yuhui Choe in the first one, and Hikaru Kobayashi in the elegantly slow fifth one. Last time, Sarah Lamb danced the third one but this time the sixth, showing lovely arm movements, and the very difficult seventh variation was performed by Nuñez herself. The supporting men were as before, except of course Soares as the principal this time. One odd feature of the floral bouquets at the end was that Nuñez received three or four — I lost count — whereas on opening night the Company could not produce a single bouquet for Rojo. Extraordinary.
A Month in the Country was well enough danced but not as compelling as opening night, with the cast seeming less comfortable with one another. However, Alina Cojocaru stood out as the mother, the superb lightness of her dancing giving an ethereal feel to this woman who suddenly finds yearnings for which she has hitherto found no outlet. And the pas-de-quatre, with Iohna Loots as Vera, Cojocaru as the mother, Paul Kay as Kolya, and Federico Bonelli as the tutor was performed with a lovely air of spontaneity.
Although I found Month less gripping than opening night, Les Noces was just as superb as before. The strange rhythmic intensity of this ballet sweeps us into a distant world of carefully planned transformation from spinsterhood to marriage. Bronislava Nijinska’s choreography was ten years after that of Nijinsky for the Rite of Spring, but is reminiscent of it, and although the chosen maiden is now merely moving into the married state, the community ritual is everything. The music is Stravinsky, as it is for Rite, and the chosen maiden was well portrayed by Kristin McNally, with Valeri Hristov a strong presence as the bridegroom. This great ballet is a perfect reason for coming to this mixed bill, and tickets can still be had for as little as four pounds — don’t miss it.
Performances continue only until July 7 — for details click here.