Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2013Posted on 18 December 2013
The high point of this first evening was the big pas-de-deux for Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares in Diamonds, in which she brought a fairy tale quality to this abstract yet sublimely romantic third section of Balanchine’s Jewels.
The music is from Tchaikovsky’s Third Symphony, his last composition before Swan Lake, and the ballerina exhibits an ethereal splendour like the swan queen, which attracts the man yet allows her to retain her distance. Soares was superb as the prince who gently tries to make her his own, and as soon as their pas-de-deux came to an end the enraptured audience burst into cheers and sustained applause. This partnership and their wonderful solo turns, aided by flawless dancing from the ensemble and soloists, brought magic to the evening, with the orchestra under Valery Ovsyanikov playing with renewed vigour after earlier weakness.
In the first part, Emeralds, Roberta Marquez showed lovely arm movements and a gentle wistfulness in her partnership with Edward Watson, and their slow pas-de-deux later on was exquisite. Laura Morera exhibited huge musicality in her dancing and partnership with Ryoichi Hirano, and Elizabeth Harrod, Akane Takada and Alexander Campbell danced with fine precision in the pas-de-trois. The green of Emeralds represents the foliage and underwater world of naiads as befits Fauré’s incidental music to Pelleas and Melisande, but under Ovsynikov’s direction this mellifluous music tended to be too soporific.
The red of Rubies in the middle section indicates a racier milieu, with Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb forming a wonderfully lively partnership as they come together and move apart, while Zenaida Yanowsky shone as the other woman, recovering well after slipping over at the start. McRae’s marvellously sharp precision and fast chaînés brought spontaneous applause, and the whole cast danced superbly. Pity that the piano work of Robert Clark lacked attack and never quite gelled with Ovsyanikov’s conducting of Stravinsky’s Capriccio for piano and orchestra.
Altogether a brilliant evening of dance to Balanchine’s choreography, which he had originally hoped Jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels would bankroll, though that was not to be.
Performances with various casts continue until January 7 — for details click here.