Saturday 28 April 2007

Ballet Triple Bill

Last night we went to the new triple bill at the Royal Ballet. The opening work was Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins with new choreography by Will Tuckett. The singing role of Anna was performed by Martha Wainwright; she was miked and sang the Auden/Kalman translation. Her diction was pretty good so we could follow things clearly (no surtitles!). The dancing Anna was Zenaida Yanowsky.

Tuckett and his designer Lez Brotherston set the piece in the sixties (beehive hair do's for the women). Tuckett presents the story quite straightforwardly, creating an involving narrative. There were moments when his use of standard ballet language seemed a little at odds with the music. There were some fine, sexy performances from some of the men.

The quartet of singers stood on a walkway above the stage, viewing the proceedings and adding their comments. The singers were Roderick Earle, Paul Goodwin-Groen, Philip O'Brien, Christopher Steele. They sounded good but their diction was a little occluded at times, perhaps because of their placing. Either Goodwin-Groen was chosen partly for his extreme height, or he was on stilts, but Mother was by far the tallest person on stage!

This was followed by Glen Tetley's Pierrot Lunaire, with Linda Hurst performing the solo vocal line. This was the first time I'd seen the ballet and heard the music live. I found Tetley's dance work entertaining and involving and rather poignant, with superb performances from Alexander Zaitsev (Pierrot), Mara Galeazzi (Columbine) and Edward Watson (Brighella). The costumes, by Rouben Ter-Arutunian, included some superb ones for Columbine.

For some strange, but presumably logical reason, Martin Yates conducted the Seven Deadly Sins, and Richard Bernas conducted the remaining works. It cannot be easy doing concert works like the Schoenberg and the Ravel as ballet scores, but Bernas did very well.

Then finally, La Fin du Jour, MacMillan's ballet to Ravel's Piano Concerto in G (with beteran Royal Ballet pianist Philip Gammon giving a superb account of the solo role). MacMillan's quirkly 30's inspired ballet has some difficult choreography and in the first 2 movements the dancers, particularly the soloists, were unable to make light of it. Thus instead of the piece being free, light and jazzy, it had moments which were too careful and studied. Let us hope that this performance heralds its return to the repertoire so that the dancers can bed it in properly. The final, Fred and Ginger type dance seemed to fit the dancers better and had the requisite fun and lightness.

The final

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