ROHGiselle 2

Royal Opera House
Saturday, 20th January 2018


Giselle – 01/20/2018

Akane Takada and Benjamin Ella as Giselle and Albrecht in act 1


Giselle: Akane Takada
Albrecht: Benjamin Ella
Myrtha: Claire Calvert
Hilarion: Bennet Gartside
pd6: Mayara Magri, Fernando Montano, Isabella Gasparini, Nicol Edmonds, Camille Bracher, Tomas Mock
Moyna: Olivia Cowley
Zulme: Beatriz Stix-Brunell

It’s been an eat-n’-breath-ballet couple of days with Giselle’s general rehearsal followed by opening night on Friday and another show yesterday, and even though I had actually booked my second Giselle mainly (if not only) for Steven, I really enjoyed yesterday’s Akane and Ben’s loved up evening.

Benjamin Ella, standing in for a recovering Steven McRae, made a remarkable debut as Albrecht – elegant and precise in the steps of one of the most significant roles in male ballet.
I’m glad to have seen such a premiere, as he was outstandingly confident on stage, and he showed off great presence and fine technique – in particular in this amazingly performed act 2 solo.

Akane Takada flying in act 2

Akane Takada was graceful and ethereal throughout the whole ballet, even though I loved her better in the first act rather than in the second one (as I did for Frankie during the general rehearsal on Friday morning – that’s probably because it’s more suitable to them, being so young and fresh).
I remember attending an Insights evening at the Clore Studio before Giselle opened at the ROH in 2016 – Sir Peter Wright (bowing down, always and forever, to this king guys!) and Lesley Collier coached Akane for act 1 solo and mad scene – yesterday as then, she showed amazing technique and grace, but so far I’m still not entirely convinced by her interpretation as, yesterday as then, I got contradictory feelings about it. Nevertheless, I have to say she always dances gorgeous making her step seem effortless, and her innocent grace in the first act was great, as well as her technique in the last act.

Akane Takada and Benjamin Ella as Giselle and Albrecht in act 1

Both Ben and Akane worked great alongside each other and they were extremely convincing as the disguised prince and the sweet peasant girl in the first act – a bit less as the two doomed lovers in the second one. It’s not been the heartbreaking drama brought to the stage on Friday night by Marianela and Federico, but they were both precise and technically outstanding, acting will likely come with experience.
I loved the emotional connection between them, as they were both so engaged with each other, and their act 1 pas de deux was fresh and heartfelt, in all those blushing smiles and that chemistry – they really were a beautifully matched pair throughout the ballet, leading a superb cast throughout with a great corp de ballet on impressive form.

Mayara Magri and Fernando Montano as the lead couple in the peasant pas de six

Good pas de six in act 1, glowingly led by Mayara Magri and Fernando Montano alongside Isabella Gasparini, Camille Bracher, Tomas Mock and Nicol Edmonds (even though he messed up a bit the finale).
In act 2, Claire Calvert portrayed a commanding Myrtha, and I have to say I enjoyed her performance way more than I did during the rehearsals: her jumps were amazing, and she was imperious and majestic.
Amazing Olivia Cowley and Beatriz Stix-Brunell as Moyna and Zulme, and heartbreaking corps as the fierce Wilis, so unite and perfect in such outstanding synchronization. From the very beginning when they enter the stage with their floating veils on their faces to their disappearance at daylight, they pulled out a spellbinding performance through the magical dark setting of the last act.

Claire Calvert as Myrtha

It’s been a great night, despite the Italian couple sat beside me in the amphitheater – two bloody idiots complaining about dancers doing “every time the same easy steps”, and I was like “yeah, you’re right, ballet is easy, all they have to do is being perfect and looking effortless, folding in half and holding legs up to the ears, jumping five feet in the air and turning endlessly, all whilst interpreting a role, but yeah, easy”. They also said they couldn’t understand the story – I mean, read the damn libretto if you’re so dumb you don’t even get one of the simplest plots ever!

Programme signed by Akane Takada and Benjamin Ella


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