Le Corsaire, with Rojo and Golding, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, 11 January 2014Posted on 12 January 2014
Congratulations to artistic director Tamara Rojo for overseeing the ENB’s hugely entertaining production of Le Corsaire. Its central section is the pirates’ lair of Act II where Medora foils the assassination of her beloved Conrad by his Lieutenant Birbanto, following gloriously exuberant dancing by the lovers and Conrad’s slave Ali.
The thrilling choreography for Ali is liable to outshine that of the lovers, but Saturday night’s magical partnership of Matthew Golding and Tamara Rojo as Conrad and Medora was unbeatable. The huge panache that Golding brought to his solos and the musicality and flawless technique of Rojo were a joy to watch, their lovely pas-de-deux before the fateful scene with the poisoned rose beautifully complementing the romance and charm of the music at that point.
The eclectic music, so cleverly edited by Lars Payne and music director Gavin Sutherland, is one of the pleasures of this production, and Sutherland conducted with a very sure hand and a brilliant musical thump at the start of Act I. Under his direction the unified orchestral playing stands as a challenge to the sloppy musicality that has recently pervaded some ballet performances elsewhere, but I imagine Ms Rojo understands this and will ensure the music matches the choreography and dancing that the Company she has now joined is achieving.
The abundant talent in the ENB provides excellent dancers for roles such Ali, and on Saturday evening Vadim Muntagirov danced it with a sure-footed elegance that elicited huge applause. In Act I, Junor Souza exhibited great stage presence as the slave dealer Lankendem, and he and Laurretta Summerscales as Gulnare gave huge energy and precision to their solos in the market square. This part of the ballet has a feeling of Romeo and Juliet about it with the slave dealer’s men strutting the stage like Capulets as they push the pirates around. Fabian Reimair gave a fine dramatic portrayal of Birbanto, and the ensemble dancing of pirates, odalisques, and flowers in the Pasha’s dream from Act III, was terrific.
Varied casts show the strength and depth of this Company, and in the Saturday matinee there were several notable performances, including Shiori Kase repeating her lovely Gulnare from opening night, Yonah Acosta showing huge physical flair as Ali, Max Westwell as a suitably dramatic Birbanto, and Anton Lukovkin a witty delight as the Pasha’s assistant. Book for more than one performance and take family and friends to be charmed by the thrilling dancing that accompanies this sparkling mixture of joyous music.
Performances with various casts continue at the London Coliseum until January 19, and at the Palace Theatre, Manchester on February 11–15 — for details click here.
Wonderful review Mark. Sounds like the production is a terrific success for ENB. I am more excited than ever about seeing Le Corsaire on Thursday.