Tuesday 21 April 2009


To the Coliseum on Friday to see David Bintley's new version of Sylvia. I have always found Delibes' score to be delightful, the horn melody for the first appearance of the nymphs is one of the great ballet music moments. And there are more. Though Delibes is content to give us bonnes bouches and neither develops nor digs as deep as Tchaikovsky.

I had not seen Bintley's original 1993 version of the ballet, so don't know how much it differs from the new version. Bintley prefaces the classical myth with a prologue (danced the the overture and scene one) set in an Italian villa with badly behaved count and countess, nanny, valet, children and sundry guests. The gardener is Eros, in retirement and he presents the story of Sylvia as an instructive moral tale for the Count and his family. At the end they reappear, suitably chastened and each with their correct partner. This works surprisingly well and for the opening gives us one of the longest sequences of classical ballet I've seen where the women are all wearing stilleto heels!

The main telling of the tale uses Delibes music slightly differently to Ashton, the role of Diana (the Countess) is far bigger, there are no peasants and in Act 3 there are a hilarious group of pirates along with Eros pretending to be a one legged pirate, complete with peg leg. The classical dance is lovely and serijavascript:void(0)ous, but Bintley keeps the comic moments moving so that the result is charming and entertaining.

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