ROHSylvia 1

Royal Opera House
Thursday, 23rd November 2017

Sylvia – 11/23/2017

A Marianela delight ASHTONishing us all
Sylvia: Marianela Nunez
Aminta: Vadim Muntagirov
Orion: Thiago Soares
Eros: Valentino Zucchetti
Diana: Itziar Mendizabal


She shines, she rocks, she slays – she’s Marianela, and she’s back at the Royal Opera House!
I saw the general rehearsal on Tuesday as well, but this was her official first show on ROH stage this season (kinda crazy how we survived without her?!), and I adored it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the rehearsals, during which she slightly fell in act II… and God, she fell so well I was not sure that it wasn’t done on purpose!! She managed it so well, as the true showstopper she is (I actually waited till yesterday to be sure it really happened).
And after a tough week of assessments and mad essays prep (I’m planning to put a Legilimens tag in my citations – I’m running out of references like ‘trust me, I once saw this in Voldemort’s thoughts’), the opening night came in all its delight.

What a stunning showstopper goddess

Pastoral beauty at its best – with a lovely ouverture and score that are gonna play again and again in my mind for the next days – the ballet featured a fantastic cast, with Marianela as the badass nymph of course, an amazing Vadim as Aminta and a great Thiago as Orion (the evil roles are his best ones, for real), alongside a glorious Royal out in full force dancing with bleeding heart.
Ashton’s faery scenes are lovely as in The Dream, and Vadim gave a fantastic entrance in act I, demonstrating the audience why he’s actually jokingly called ‘Vadream’ among the company’s ranks: his technique is wondrous, and his jumps made me asking myself if he was actually supposed to be a shepherd or a demi-god – he flew so well, he flew so high! Really, the distance between himself and the ground was unbelievable.
And there came the nymphs! Sylvia’s entourage was fierce and pulled out major girl power, as they – Yuhui Choes, Claire Calvert, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Mayara Magri, Tierney Heap, Hannah Grennell, Helen Crawford and Natalie Harrison – were all such proud huntresses shining with power and led by the one and only surely-not-human hunt queen Marianela.
She was clearly having such fun calling the shots with her bow and arrows, so fierce in her helmet, and let’s talk about her insane balances please! The world may crumble, but she would still be there, standing in arabesque with a smile on her face.
She was such a joy to watch I had tears in my eyes admiring her steely spinning and her bold, ferocious charisma.
Dancing in the moonlight alongside her fellow companions as they celebrate the success of their hunt, she then blames Eros, the god of Love (a good Valentino Zucchetti), who then pierces her to the heart making her falling in love with Aminta, whose body (shot by Sylvia) is found by a group of peasants and eventually brought back to life by a strange cloaked figure (Eros again). Guys, we really have to say it: Ashton truly had a thing with magic flowers, didn’t he?

In the meantime, Orion, the evil hunter inflamed by Sylvia, captures her and carries her off to his island cave. But finally, here’s a ballet featuring a brilliant badass heroine who does not need a rescue by a man! Pretending to seduce Orion by getting him drunk (and getting rid of his concubines and slaves in the same way), she showed us the captivating, bewitching side of her character with such amazing technique!
Thiago, then, is always a remarkable partner – his confident, safe pas de deux skills would be a blessing for every ballerina, and it was great to see how much he was into his character.
At the end of act II, Sylvia succeeds in escaping all by herself – girls run the world, you know.
Once eloped, helped by Eros (a bit unstable as he goes down the moving stairs, poor Valentino!) she heads to Diana’s temple, where Aminta is waiting for her.

Marianela – a tale of insane balances

The final act, set on the sea coast near the temple of Diana, features a festival in honor of the god Bacchus. Here Gina Storm-Jensen (Ceres), Nicol Edmonds (Jason), Mayara Magri (Persephone), William Bracewell (Pluto), Fumi Kaneko (Terpsichore) and Benjamin Ella (Apollo), along with Elizabeth Harrod and James Hay (as the Goats), gave fine interpretations of their roles surrounded by muses, attendants and trumpeters.
Sylvia arrives escorted by Eros and her attendants on a boat and she reunites with Aminta.
Vadim and Marianela’s pas de deux is dazzlingly delightful, so precisely articulate, so brilliant, and Marianela’s pizzicato variation… her épaulement, her footwork! My eyes are heart-shaped still!

Vadim and Marianela as Aminta and Sylvia in act III

Here comes Orion again: Sylvia takes refuge in Diana’s temple, where Orion tries to break in, but the goddess herself appears and kills him. That’s right people, after The Judas Tree and The Wind, Diana comes along and kills the almost-rapist. It was about time!
Itziar Mendizabal was imperious in the role, as she directs her hanger at the lovers (as Sylvia, as one of her nymphs, has promised to renounce love). Eros, impeccably danced by Valentino, eventually saves the day by reminding her that she herself was once inflamed with a simple shepherd, Endymion, so that she relents and give the lovers her blessing.
When at the stage door (where we loyal attendants were informed that dancers were having an opening night party), the fellow ones who came seeking for signatures were all in delight, amazed by Marianela and Vadim’s amazing artistry.
What else can I say? Yeah, I missed the Gatwick Express to get to the airport for waiting so long for Marianela, but she’s such an endless inspiration I would wait hours and hours for a single autograph, which I always cherish, not to mention her signed pointe shoes, a holy relic for real.
Oh, and I realised my next Marianela show would be Giselle’s opening night. In January. No way I can cope with this terrible situation right?


Programme signed by the one and only Marianela, an endless source of inspiration and the loveliest human being




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