Farewell mixed triple bill
Royal Opera House
Friday, 17th November 2017

The Illustrated ‘Farewell’ – The Wind – Untouchable – 11/17/2017  


Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae in Twyla Tharp’s The Illustrated ‘Farewell’
Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae
Mayara Magri, Joseph Sissens
Yasmine Naghdi, Mariko Sasaki, David Donnelly, Matthew Ball, Calvin Richardson
Letty Mason: Francesca Hayward
The Wind: Edward Watson
Lige Hightower: Tomas Mock
Writ Roddy: Matthew Ball

It’s been too long – two weeks at home gave me such Royal blues, and I was so happy to be back at ROH (with a £6 ticket for an amazing spot in the lower amphitheatre). I was longing to see this much anticipated triple bill’s closing night, including new work by Twyla Tharp (The Illustrated ‘Farewell’, with Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb as principals) and Arthur Pita (The Wind, featuring the second cast with Francesca Hayward), along with Hofesh Schechter’s Untouchable.

Steven and Sarah killing Farewell

Tharp’s piece was a true representation of her utter genius: I was beyond in love with every step, costume, tune – and it was so good to see Sarah back on stage after her injury! Alongside Steven they are such an astounding pair: in every pas de deux of theirs, I can see a strong chemical bond, and I loved to witness this one.

Expanding her 1973 classic As Time Goes By into The Illustrated ‘Farewell’, Tharp has been able to melt the movements of of Haydn’s Farewell symphony to her choreography, giving the audience a jubilant time as Steven and Sarah showed off their charismatic and virtuoso skills in deeply enjoyable combinations. The choreography is smart and brilliant on Haydn’s score, and features a number of remarkable lift, poses, jumps, turns and passing high-fives with only Steven and Sarah could have performed so outstandingly.

Joseph Sissens and Anna Rose O’Sullivan in The Illustrated ‘Farewell’

The second part of the ballet is opened by Mayara Magri, dancing a solo on a silent stage and proving to be one of the shining stars of future Royal. Her movements are almost liquid and captivating, and the following ensemble is nothing but amazing as well: Yasmine Naghdi and Mariko Sasaki (debuting replacing Tierney Heap last minute) join her partnered by David Donnelly, Matthew Ball and Calvin Richardson in complex yet exquisite sequences. Joseph Sissens, along with Anna Rose O’Sullivan, set himself as a shining star as well, and when he’s left on stage, Steven and Sarah appear dancing through an illuminated platform on the back of the stage: I deeply loved this part, as it’s been amazing to see these dances combined – this piece was such a delight to watch!


Cowboy scene

Arthur Pita’s The Wind is based on Dorothy Scarborough’s 1925 novel, and is a tour de force of striking images: the stage setting itself is amazing, with the three wind machines, ragged plastic flutters, barbed wire and the railway. The costumes are amazing as well, in their triumph of bonnets, hats and garments (and I reckon it must have been difficult to dance beside the wind machines providing air on stage).
The story shows Letty Mason, a young woman arriving in rural Texas, where she weds brusque Lige Hightower and is then brutally raped by predator Writ Roddy, whom she then kills. In the meantime, audience is constantly seeing the supernatural power of the prairie wind.


The amazing setting for The Wind

Frankie Hayward gave an amazing performance as Letty, especially in the final solo – I would have loved to see the first cast with Thiago Soares and Natalia Osipova as well. And what fantastic Edward Watson!!

I have to say, after the Judas Tree I feel like I can face everything, but I’m much more for happy-endings and happily ever afters (thankfully Nutcracker season is upon us). I was quite surprised to see lots of people leaving the Opera House after The Wind as well: I’m not a fan of Hofesh’s, but it is a good piece anyway.

His 2015 Untouchable is a bit too long, but it was good to see his usage of a young cast. I felt it maybe too similar to Crystal Pite’s Flight Patterns’ style.

The company in Hofesh Schechter’s Untouchable


Overall, this was one of the most exciting triple bills I’ve seen on ROH stage, as it featured such different ballets, but I cannot wait to see Sylvia (general rehearsals and opening night next week plus two more on the following one) and Nutcracker (rehearsals and opening night as well, streamed live in cinemas on December 5th).

Programme signed by: Arthur Pita, Kristen McNally, James Hay and Benjamin Ella


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