Royal Ballet Triple: Firebird, In The Night, Raymonda Act III, Covent Garden, December 2012Posted on 22 December 2012
A triple bill ending with the third act of Raymonda is a fine complement to Nutcracker for the Christmas/ New Year period.
Raymonda has a wonderful finale with stunning costumes, and the sets drew audience applause when the curtain opened. With fifteen soloists including the principals, Zenaida Yanowsky and Nehemiah Kish on this occasion, it is jam-packed full of dancing. Among others, Hikaru Kobayashi and Yuhui Choe were excellent in their solos, Alexander Campbell was strikingly precise with his tours-en-l’air in the pas-de-quatre, and Ms Yanowsky, well partnered by Kish, showed star appeal. Glazunov’s music was well conducted by Barry Wordsworth, far better than Stravinsky’s Firebird, which opened the show.
Firebird is always worth seeing, and the corps de ballet danced beautifully both in this and Raymonda. The Firebird herself was danced with conviction by Itziar Mendizabal, weakening as the prince holds her wings and fulfilling her promise to help him after her release. Gary Avis gave a fine portrayal of Kostcheï the deathless, whom the prince vanquishes with her help by breaking the egg that contains his heart. The prince is triumphant, but Bennet Gartside didn’t show it. He represented Fokine’s choreography with great care, but lacked stage presence, assertiveness and outward tension. This was not helped by Barry Wordsworth’s conducting, which removes the tension and rounds the corners of Stravinsky’s score, hollowing out the soul of the music.
No such problems with the delightful middle ballet In the Night by Jerome Robbins to music by Chopin, beautifully played by Robert Clark. The choreography is for three couples, starting in this performance with Sarah Lamb and Federico Bonelli floating dreamily together on stage and showing a lovely line. The purity of the music and dancing was a relief after the drama of Firebird, but drama made its way into this 1970 Robbins ballet as Yanowsky and Kish came on for the second pas-de-deux, generating tension and showing a sure-footed ability in executing the upside-down lift. Finally it was Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru who sparkled in the third pas-de-deux, passionately athletic and full of energy. Wonderful fun.
The Company should do Jerome Robbins more often. While they have staged Firebird over 200 times, and the third act of Raymonda nearly 100, this was only their twentieth performance of In the Night.
Performances continue until January 11 — for details click here.