Royal Opera House
Friday, 19th January 2018
Giselle – 01/19/2018
Giselle: Marianela Nunez
Albrecht: Federico Bonelli
Myrtha: Tierney Heap
Hilarion: Bennet Gartside
pd6: Yasmine Naghdi, Alexander Campbell, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Calvin Richardson, Elizabeth Harrod, Joseph Sissens
Moyna: Anna Rose O’Sullivan
Zulme: Beatriz Stix-Brunell
And here’s the start of Winter Season! Nutcracker has been wrapped up just last week, but yet another stunning Sir Peter Wright’s masterpiece takes the stage!
As for his Nutcracker, Sir Peter gives his Giselle a further level of emotions, with hundreds of shades of drama and superb acting, as well as pitch perfect ensembles and great designs (this Giselle’s peasant gown is much more credible than the blue ones in other production).
And who could have been the chosen lady for the opening night if not the living legend herself – this February celebrating her 20th anniversary with the Royal Ballet – Marianela Nunez.
Seriously, how can she be so stunning, please? How is it possible that, show after show, she glows every time more brightly? Her charisma is a gift from heaven, and along with her acting makes her Giselle so full of character from the dances with other peasants in act 1 to the doomed wilis in act 2, where she delights the audience with elegance and grace rarely witnessed.
The much deserved standing ovation at her entrance was followed by wonderful character portrayals all round, with everyone bringing their a-game on stage for a splendid opening night. The peasant scenes are so vibrant and credible, as everyone seems so engaged with each other, and I loved in particular the pas de six, performed by Yasmine Naghdi and Alexander Campbell as the lead couple along with Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Elizabeth Harrod, Calvin Richardson and Joseph Sissens. The routine itself is lovely and they all dance it beautifully (and shout out to Joseph Sissens for being so incredibly impeccable) – I also really enjoyed the pas de six in the morning general rehearsal, by Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Matthew Ball, Mayara Magri, David Donnelly, Chisato Katsura and Téo Dubreuil.
Great Berthe by the amazing Elizabeth McGorian as well, portraying a great superstitious and overprotective mother with superb acting, and exquisite Bathilde by Olivia Cowley, in a mix of snobby and posh ennui.
And here comes Marianela’s solo – I got the feeling she would have been balancing that first arabesque forever if it wasn’t for the music! She was simply amazing and so flawless, a delight to watch as she mastered technique and interpretation with outstanding results.
She animates the whole first act with captivating smiles and giggles, adding tons of new layers to the usual modest peasant girl: she’s vivid, she’s playful and full of dreams, and she’s a true gem in the arms of Federico Bonelli, replacing Vadim Muntagirov due to illness and as always so impeccable and elegant in all of his routines.
I actually have to say I was quite pleased to see the cast change notice a few days ago: Vadim is one of my favourite dancers, but Federico is Federico, and I was longing to see him alongside Nela.
He’s a regal Albrecht with his outstanding jumps and turns, and he shows off remarkable acting both in the first and second act. This Albrecht and Giselle are the epitome of perfection, both technically and emotionally speaking, and it’s amazing to see this unusual partnership (I remember seeing them together back in late 2016 for Anastasia’s Mathilde Kschessinska and cavalier) – a breathtakingly powerful and definitely winning partnership. I’d love to see more of them in the future.
And for the end of act 1, a great, great, great mad scene – so so compelling, so brilliant and heartbreaking! As the shock of discovering that Albrecht is actually a prince (this particular one is an added value, I have to say) and engaged to Bathilde is too much for Giselle, she loses her reason and she’s driven mad: my eyes were full of tears at Marianela’s involving acting. The way in her madness she relives her love for Loys (as Albrecht has led her to believe that he’s a villager named Loys)… no one could have done it like her! She’s so convincing, all trembling and desperate, and the whole theatre gasps when she sees Albrecht’s sword: her face gets an actual change, and when she seizes his sword, she kills herself, breaking our hearts dying from a broken one.
Act 2 seems like a painting: the design is something amazing as it opens to Giselle’s grave, which lies deep in the forest in unconsecrated ground as she committed suicide. The Wilis materialize in a beautifully ethereal atmosphere, led by an imperious Tierney Heap as Myrtha in lethal and sublime ensembles. Twenty-four shades of perfection graced the stage proving themselves as the backbone of the evening: they are impeccable, and simply melted with the music.
Tierney Heap is good, even though sometimes a bit too heavy during the jumps. She portrayed a majestic queen of the Wilis – as Claire Calvert did in the rehearsal. I got the feeling they needed a bit more elegance sometimes, but they did great even so.
And Federico and Marianela are even more fabulous, leading the company in a thrilling ad moving act. I had to wipe my eyes a thousand times, especially during the pas de deux, and during those moments where Marianela just seems to make time stand still, freezing the whole Royal Opera House holding breath. And when the Wilis seek out Albrecht and Giselle urges him to the safety of the cross, trying to sustain him whilst they dance, as Myrtha commands… their interpretation of the roles is pure art, and one can actually see all the feelings on Marianela’s face as Federico gets weaker and weaker, as well as his sorrow when, once in daylight, the Wilis’ power fades away and Giselle’s disappears.
Anna Rose O’Sullivan as Moyna stands out with her shining technique as the Wilis initiate Giselle into their rites, and great Beatriz Stix-Brunell as Zulme – Fumi Kaneko was amazing as well in the same role during the general rehearsal.
The curtain closes on a fabulous opening night full of astonishing performances all round, and the whole House is in awe as Marianela gives Federico a flower from one of the bouquets.
It’s been an absolutely sublime show, heartbreakingly awesome all around from the start to the end, and everyone at the stage door was amazed by the amount of talent on stage.
Now on to another round of Giselle tonight with Akane and Ben, and can’t wait to see Marianela dancing in Rome in a week time!