A fascinating ballet in which the central character does not even dance. The excellent choreography is based on the original by the Marius Petipa but the neither the story nor the music by Minkus can compete with his great Tchaikovsky trilogy. I saw the matinee so did not get to see the new ‘superstars’ Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova. I cannot imagine they could have been much better than Denis Matvienko and Oksana Bondareva who expended an astonishing amount of energy, deserving the barrage of applause and carpets of flowers they received.
I was sitting in the last row but one of the stalls and took the picture above with my iPhone – it isn’t cropped and shows how big the Coliseum stage is but the Mikhailovsky is such a huge company they amazingly managed to make to make it look small and cramped! My only regret is that I did not see their Giselle this time as there was no matinee. I should be able to go out in the evenings again soon.
The ENB have very kindly given me some lovely pictures of the ballet to put on my blog, all photographed by Patrick Baldwin:
“Here come the fairies!” (click on any picture for full-size)
The bad fairy Carabosse (the brilliant James Streeter when I saw it) with ‘her’ retainers.
The Lilac Fairy (Lauretta Summerscales) defeats Carbosse
The handsome Prince Désiré wakes Aurora from her long sleep (Esteban Berlanga and the excellent Ksenia Ovsyanick)
The pictures were provided by the ENB (www.ballet.org.uk) and were taken by Patrick Baldwin. It is difficult to tell whether all artists were from the cast I saw up in the balcony but they look wonderful anyway.
There was plenty of booing at the end, not because it wasn’t good but because James Streeter was so excellently evil as the bad fairy Carabosse! There was a lot of fuss about Tamara Rojo dancing Princess Aurora (the beauty of the title) in the first performance of the season but I saw Ksenia Ovsyanick in the matinee on January 15th and felt she could not have been bettered. I hadn’t realised it was a special family-friendly performance so there were lots of children in the audience. Luckily, they only added to my delight, creating a real pantomime atmosphere. “Here come the fairies” said a child’s voice followed by an excited “More fairies!”
There have been a few events this year that do not fit into the conventional categories. I really enjoyed Like a Fish our of Water from Seven Sisters, a strange little tale told through an iPod touch with headphones while walking around Uxbridge lido watching short performances from members of the English National Ballet. As every year nowadays, there were fun happenings on the South Bank and Slow Food UK‘s family event at Massimo’s in February was lovely but it was telling that half the people there were Italian.
However, the most wonderful of all was the Musicircus at the Coliseum, celebrating what would have been John Cage’s 100th birthday. I thought this would be interesting but did not expect such perfect entertainment. From the hand-clapping sisters above (from the ENO’s Flickr set) to the brilliant musicianship of Sxip Shirey. Perhaps the favourite of all my favourites.