Yesterday afternoon’s performance took a while to get going. It may have been the last minute casting changes; perhaps the talking and coughing from the matinee audience, or it may have just been that I didn’t feel too good. At least I ought some cough sweets on the way there. I saw the matinee starring Laura Morera as Giselle and Federico Bonelli as Albrecht. He was substituting for Nehimiah Kish due to injury. They are both excellent dancers but perhaps had not had sufficient practice together to generate the magic to make the love scenes as convincing as they should be. Going. It was the arrival of another substitute, Hikaru Kobayashi in the Pas De Six that marked the moment it really got going for me and Morera and Bonelli then found that magic in the ghostly second act. Generally, this was a good production of Petipa’s classic but the cast sheet tells me it was their 560th performance and I couldn’t help feeling they are all getting a bit tired.
Carlos Acosta has tweaked the classic Petipa choreography and seeing it so soon after Mikhailovsky Ballet’s performance of the original gave me a good chance to spot the improvements he has made. A new prologue helps the story make a little more sense but the main change has been to loosen up the choreography, allowing a smoother more naturalistic feel. Minkus’s music has also been arranged and re-orchestrated by Martin Yates. It was a great improvement on the earlier performance, although I am not sure whether that was down to the new arrangement or the superb playing of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under Vasko Vassilev. Either way, there was more humour in the music where appropriate and more passion when required. I saw the matinee performance so didn’t see the star casting led by Acosta himself. Still, Alexander Campbell and Roberta Marquez were excellent as the leads, although the latter was almost outclassed by Laura Morera’s superb performance as the street dancer.