Tag Archives: Christopher Saunders

Anastasia, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, October 2016

In 1971 when Kenneth MacMillan produced this three-act ballet — following an earlier creation in Berlin of what became the final act — there was still uncertainty about whether the main character had once been Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. Now there is none, but the ballet retains its grip …

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Romeo and Juliet, with McRae and Lamb, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2015

Things are looking up at the Royal Ballet with new music director Koen Kessels. From the first bars it was clear that a new hand was at work, and his conducting on the opening night of the Company’s new season put recent musical performances deservedly into the shadows. At the end of the first Act …

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La fille mal gardée, with McRae and Osipova, Royal Ballet, ROH, April 2015

Inspired by a mid-eighteenth century painting, Jean Dauberval first created this ballet in 1789, and it was premiered in Bordeaux two weeks before the storming of the Bastille. Two years later it was presented in London where the musicians wrote ribald comments on the pastiche score, though that all changed in 1828 when a student …

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Don Quixote, with Nuñez and Acosta, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2014

What joy to see Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nuñez in a beautifully rehearsed first cast for this year’s revival of Acosta’s new Don Q. Gone was the tension of the Gala opening last year, and from their first appearance in Act I he made a superb young Basilio, with Nuñez on fire as his beloved …

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Manon, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, September 2014

First seen in March 1974 this ballet has aged beautifully, and opening night of the current run fully recaptured the vivacity and despair of the story. Marianela Nuñez’s subtle development of Manon’s character, from the gentle grace of her first entrance in Act I to the femme dangereuse of Act II and eventually the victim …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Serenade/ Sweet Violets/ DGV, Covent Garden, May 2014

Liam Scarlett’s dark narrative ballet Sweet Violets was beautifully framed here by Balanchine’s Serenade and Wheeldon’s Danse à grande vitesse. The Balanchine work, his first in America, originated from a series of evening classes he gave in New York, the seventeen girls at the start being the number who attended the first class. Among sixteen …

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Romeo and Juliet, with Acosta and Osipova, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, November 2013

Having now joined the Royal Ballet as a Company member rather than a guest artist, Natalia Osipova’s performance of Juliet was much anticipated. Her technique and dramatic flair served her well, particularly in the final scene of Act III when her body crumpled like a rag doll in Carlos Acosta’s arms. It was a fine …

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Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 30 September 2013

The Royal Opera House knows how to put on a celebration, and on this Gala opening for Carlos Acosta’s new version of Don Quixote the House was decked with hundreds of red carnations. As the ballet ended scores of flowers were thrown down onto the stage, a fitting end to the final scene, in which …

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La Bayadère, with Acosta, Nuñez, Kobayashi, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, May 2013

This marvellous classical ballet by Petipa, in a three-act version by Makarova, provides scope for alternative portrayals of the main roles, and the ones given on May 14 by Acosta, Nuñez and Kobayashi gelled beautifully. Carlos Acosta as Solor came over as a decent fellow placed in an impossible position by Christopher Saunders as the …

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Ashton Mixed Bill, with Yanowsky and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2013

This review is for the cast on the second night, and what a treat it was again to have Emmanuel Plasson as maestro for this delightful mixed bill of short Aston pieces. As a serious conductor who is happy to perform ballet music he showed a sure touch with orchestra, instrumental soloists and dancers. Musically, Plasson is ideal for …

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Ashton Mixed Bill, with Rojo and Polunin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, February 2013

This was Tamara Rojo’s evening, ending with a lovely bouquet of flowers for her — making up for their lack of such tributes in her last days with the Company, after accepting the artistic directorship of the ENB. In Ashton’s take on The Lady of the Camellias, she was a captivating Marguerite, glamorous and consumptive, showing fine textures …

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The Nutcracker with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2012.

At the start of this Peter Wright production, we see Drosselmeyer in his workshop comparing his toy Nutcracker with a portrait on the wall of his lost nephew. Then at the very end, where some productions show Clara being put to bed by her mother, the Nutcracker prince finds his Uncle Drosselmeyer and they embrace. …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Polyphonia/ Sweet Violets/ Carbon Life, Covent Garden, April 2012

This was an entirely twenty-first century triple bill. The first work, Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia, set to ten piano pieces by Ligeti, was first shown in New York at the start of the century, January 2001. The large Covent Garden stage gave space to the spare minimalism of Wheeldon’s choreography, with darkness sometimes surrounding a spot for the dancers. …

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Romeo and Juliet, with Cuthbertson and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2012

This was the evening of a live cinema relay, though I was seated in the Royal Opera House itself. Kenneth MacMillan’s version of Romeo and Juliet with its wonderful choreography is what the Royal Ballet performs, and this jewel has been taken up by some other ballet companies such as American Ballet Theatre. There is no comparison with …

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Romeo and Juliet with Rojo and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2012

This was stunning. MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet is full of wonderful choreography, and on the opening night of the present run it was superbly danced by the whole company, with the lead roles gloriously performed by Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo. She was among the finest Juliets I have ever seen, so shy and playfully girlish when she first …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Asphodel Meadows, Enigma Variations, Gloria, Covent Garden, November 2011

The first and last items on this excellent programme are to music by Poulenc, and both these two ballets — though not the music — deal with death. In an announcement at the start of the evening, a request was made for no applause during Gloria. As a result the audience seemed hesitant about applauding the …

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Manon, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, November 2011

Manon is one of MacMillan’s most beloved full-length ballets, and the first night of the present run was performed with huge conviction. Rupert Pennefather — always an extremely talented dancer with a lovely line — seems transformed, his body language and facial expressions eloquently exhibiting the emotions and frustrations felt by Des Grieux. He showed a sense of attack …

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Royal Ballet Triple: Limen, Marguerite and Armand, Requiem, Covent Garden, October 2011

Having seen Limen two years ago, my main memory was of blue number lights at the rear of the stage in a confusing on-again-off-again pattern, along with dancers barely visible in a half-light, but that is only in the second part. The first half is better, and I like Kaija Saariaho’s music, I love the use of bright …

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Manon, with Benjamin and McRae, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, April 2011

The performances had a wonderful freshness, and Leanne Benjamin brought Manon beautifully to life, showing her complexity: frivolity and teasing, anguish, fecklessness and the desire for pretty clothes, jewellery and a good time.

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Swan Lake, with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2011

Marianela Nuñez was lovely as the white swan, and seductively assured as the black swan in Act III. Thiago Soares was excellent as her lover, …

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Les Sylphides, Sensorium, The Firebird, Royal Ballet, 21 May 2009, return visit

The cast seemed very much in tune with [Sensorium], and Melissa Hamilton was simply wonderful. It’s astonishing that she’s a mere 21 years old.

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