Tag Archives: Tchaikovsky

Jewels, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, April 2017

On the back of the cast list is an ad for jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels, who though failing to bankroll Balanchine’s original production, are delighted to have their name associated with the eventual result: Emeralds to Fauré’s incidental music for Pelleas and Melisande; Rubies to Stravinsky’s Capriccio for piano and orchestra; and Diamonds to …

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Queen of Spades, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2015

The moment the orchestra plunged into Tchaikovsky’s overture they promised a superb reading of the score under the baton of Ed Gardner, and we were treated to a musical performance full of energy, tension and passion. One only regrets that this was Gardner’s last opera as music director for the ENO before taking over as …

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Swan Lake, with Osipova and Golding, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, February 2015

The performance on 21 February was the best I’ve seen so far in the present run, not least because Boris Gruzin in the orchestra pit gave a superb rendering of Tchaikovsky’s score. It was far better than the brash energy of the first night — given no doubt after insufficient rehearsal time, since Gruzin has …

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Onegin, with Nuñez and Soares, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, January 2015

For John Cranko’s 1960s take on Pushkin’s verse narrative the husband and wife partnership of Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares is about as perfect as it gets. The tearing up of one another’s letters — a Cranko innovation absent from Pushkin, where Onegin rejects her advances in a far gentler way — was effected with cool …

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, December 2014

The great charm of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s original story is the interplay between the real and imaginary worlds of Clara’s life, both inhabited by her beloved godfather Drosselmeyer. This production emphasises Drosselmeyer’s ambiguous role in his pursuit of a dancing butterfly in the Act II mirliton section, but the clever main idea is to …

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Eugene Onegin, Glyndebourne, May 2014

A revival of Graham Vick’s successful Onegin production opened the second night of the Glyndebourne season, with the London Philharmonic under the very capable baton of Israeli conductor Omer Meir Wellber playing with energy and passion. In the first two acts the Lensky of Edgaras Montvidas stole the show. Partly trained in the Royal Opera’s …

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Nutcracker, with Osipova and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 27 December 2013

Christmas feasting may have affected the orchestra, but certainly not the dancers in this 27th December performance. The party scene in Act I was full of joie de vivre, with Gary Avis as a magical Drosselmeyer. The élan of his conjuring tricks was matched by the liveliness of Valentino Zucchetti as his assistant, and the …

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 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 …

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Joseph Calleja sings Verdi, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, September 2013

Glorious singing from Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja in Prom 72 with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi under their chief conductor Xian Zhang. The theme of the concert was anguish and despair, well suiting Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony in the second half. Manfred, based on Byron’s poem of the same name, bears a burden of …

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Eugene Onegin, Grange Park Opera, June 2013

At the end, after Onegin has clung uselessly to Tatyana and she has pulled herself away and left the stage, we see Prince Gremin walk across the upper level holding a pistol. A fine dramatic effect, following many others in this beautifully honed production. The splitting of the set into an upper and lower level, …

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Eugene Onegin, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, February 2013

Artistic director Kasper Holten decided quite sensibly to take over the scheduled revival of an earlier production, and do something new. He was already endowed with some fine singers, so there were excellent performances here, including sympathetic conducting by Robin Ticciati. Simon Keenlyside sang strongly as Onegin though the production prevented him from giving a full portrayal …

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Onegin, with Reilly and Cojocaru, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2013

This performance on January 23 showed an interesting difference of interpretation from the previous evening with a cast led by Bonelli and Morera. In her Act III pas-de-deux with Prince Gremin, Alina Cojocaru expressed a wistful sadness as she floated almost semi-consciously across the stage, quite different from Laura Morera’s joyful serenity in the same duet. …

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Onegin, with Bonelli and Morera, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, January 2013

After John Cranko worked on the choreography for Tchaikovsky’s opera he wanted to turn the story into a ballet, which he later did in Stuttgart. Apparently he intended to use music from the opera, but the Stuttgart Ballet commissioned a score by Kurt-Heinz Stolze, using alternative music by Tchaikovsky. The resulting creation is rather different from the opera, …

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Sleeping Beauty with Rojo and Muntagirov, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, January 2013

Kenneth MacMillan’s production of Sleeping Beauty, with its glorious costumes by Nicholas Geogiardis, is a joy to watch, the sets by Peter Farmer reflecting a mistiness in the world beyond the action like some famous Renaissance paintings. The expression of the action is crystal clear in its use of mime, and for anyone unfamiliar with the conventions a helpful …

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The Nutcracker with Klimentová and Muntagirov, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, December 2012

The clever concept behind English National Ballet’s Nutcracker is not that the toy comes to life, but that in Clara’s mind he takes on the form of Drosselmeyer’s handsome nephew, seen in a blue uniform at the party in Act I. After the death of the Mouse King, which occurs in Act II of this production, the …

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Swan Lake, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, August 2012

The English National Ballet’s production of Swan Lake is hard to beat, and it was beautifully danced, so don’t miss it. Wonderful designs by Peter Farmer with clever lighting by Howard Harrison, give a misty otherworldiness to the background in Acts I and III. That other world is where Act II and IV take place, and the stage and …

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Yevgeny Onegin, Opera Holland Park, OHP, July 2012

This production by Daniel Slater updates the action by nearly 100 years to a time we all understand, making it clear that Onegin is living in the past. Such was arguably Pushkin’s intent in setting his novel in the period 1819–25 when reforms were very much in the air, and later crushed. Here we are …

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Eugene Onegin, English Touring Opera, ETO, Hackney Empire, March 2012

Having seen Onegin performed on a large stage by major opera companies, with glamorous ball scenes and spacious settings for the Larin country estate, I approached this smaller stage production with some trepidation. But it was a revelation. The simple sets provide the perfect atmosphere, and the performance gives a wonderful insight into Tchaikovsky’s representation of Pushkin’s drama. The solo …

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Nutcracker, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB at the O2, December 2011

Ballet under the big top of the O2 — can it work, or is the audience too far away to see the dancers clearly? Sitting behind the raked tiers of seats, the view was clear if distant, but a closer view was shown on a big screen above the stage. This was very cleverly done, …

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Sleeping Beauty with Cuthbertson and Polunin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, December 2011

This performance, broadcast by live cinema relay, had a super cast along with plenty of musical excitement from the conductor and the orchestra, right from the very beginning of the Prologue. As we start, at the christening of the baby princess, those wonderful fairy variations were danced by Yuhui Choe, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Fumi Kaneko, Iohna Loots, and Emma Maguire. Yuhui Choe in particular was wonderfully …

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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, December 2011

The original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann  interweaves the real and magical worlds, with Drosselmeyer’s toy Nutcracker based on his own nephew. Wayne Eagling’s production, based on a joint idea with Toer van Schayk, combines the two worlds in various clever ways and the nephew, who appears in the party scene of Act I, later interchanges with …

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Queen of Spades, Opera North, Barbican, November 2011

Three, Seven, Ace — that’s the secret the old Countess tells Herman in her brief return from beyond the grave. She did it beautifully, Josephine Barstow singing this role in an utterly compelling way. A perfect Countess, well backed up by Jonathan Summers as Tomsky, who gave a gripping Act I account of the Countess’s young life in …

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Eugene Onegin, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, November 2011

Altogether this is a wonderful new production by the ENO, and the visual effects were so good that the audience spontaneously applauded the ball scene as the curtain opened for Act III.

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Review of Sleeping Beauty, with Rojo and Bonelli, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2011

Colourful new costumes with Oliver Messel’s original designs updated by Peter Farmer, fine ensemble dancing and some excellent solos, what more could one want? Well … coordinating the conducting better with the dancing would help. During the first interval, a lady from the audience told me she thought only one of the fairy variations in the Prologue …

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Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, September 2011

All in all this is a wonderful evening’s entertainment with glorious choreography and dancing aided by delightful sets and costumes, and the House was deservedly full.

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Swan Lake, in concert, Prom 42, Royal Albert Hall, August 2011

With Valery Gergiev conducting, this was a sell-out. I remember his magnificent Sleeping Beauty at the Proms three years ago, and was looking forward immensely to Swan Lake, but in the end I was disappointed. It was a promising idea. The orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre have been in London to play for the Mariinsky Ballet at the Royal Opera House, so …

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Swan Lake, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, March 2011

With the recent success of the movie Black Swan, Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake is filling auditoriums, so tickets are getting scarce. In London at the moment both the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet have productions on stage, so there’s a choice. If you want to hear Tchaikovsky, then I’d go to the London Coliseum where Gavin Sutherland’s …

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Swan Lake, with Rojo and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, March 2011

Tamara Rojo is the quintessential Odette/Odile … Carlos Acosta as the prince was wonderful … his deft partnering allowed her to shine

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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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Nutcracker, English National Ballet, ENB at the London Coliseum, December 2010

In the Hoffmann original the Nutcracker is a magical version of Drosselmeyer’s nephew, a feature represented in Eagling’s production by having the two characters interchange on stage several times.

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La Valse/ Invitus Invitam/ Winter Dreams/ Theme and Variations, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2010

The high point of this lovely mixed bill was Theme and Variations, created by Balanchine in 1947 for Alicia Alonso and Igor Youskevitch. The following year Ms. Alonso founded the Cuban National Ballet, and now at almost 90 years old did us the honour of attending, and appearing on stage at the end flanked by Monica …

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Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2010

This was a second view of John Cranko’s wonderful ballet during the present run, this time with an entirely different cast of principals: Federico Bonelli and Laura Morera as Onegin and Tatiana, Sergei Polunin and Melissa Hamilton as Lensky and Olga, and Gary Avis as Prince Gremin. For my previous review of the first night …

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Onegin, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, September 2010

John Cranko’s choreography is a delight . . . creative, always appropriate to the drama, and this fine ballet is worth seeing again and again.

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Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Royal Ballet, BRB, London Coliseum, April 2010

This production has some wonderful moments, and I particularly liked the way Carabosse reappears in Act I as a shrouded old woman, apparently willing to be arrested after giving Aurora the spindle, yet suddenly throwing off her disguise and creating havoc.

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Review — The Tsarina’s Slippers, Royal Opera, November 2009

This sparkling production by Francesca Zambello has lovely set designs … includes serious ballet work, some electrifying Cossack dances and acrobatics …

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Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, October 2009

This lovely production by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton, using the old Oliver Messel designs with additions by Peter Farmer, is one of the company’s gems

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Review of Sleeping Beauty, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009

The corps de ballet danced superbly, Igor Kolb made a very fine prince, and Maxim Zuzin danced delightfully as the bluebird. All might have been well if Pavel Bubelnikov could have done a decent job conducting

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Swan Lake, American Ballet Theater, March 2009

Irina Dvorovenko was a lovely Odette-Odile, alternating well between a sublime white swan, and her seductive black counterpart in Act III.

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Sleeping Beauty, English National Ballet, London Coliseum, Dec 2008

Carping aside, Andre Portasio stood out as a magnificent Carabosse, but even he couldn’t overcome the plodding work of the conductor, and that is what killed this performance. The dancers tried their best, but there was no sustained applause, and it was a sadly dull evening.

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