The Winter’s Tale
Royal Opera House
Thursday, 15th February 2018
The Winter’s Tale – 02/15/2018
Leontes: Thiago Soares
Hermione: Marianela Nunez
Perdita: Beatriz Stix-Brunell
Florizel: Vadim Muntagirov
Paulina: Itziar Mendizabal
Polixenes: William Bracewell
Father Shepherd: Thomas Whitehead
Brother Clown: Luca Acri
Young Shepherdess: Mayara Magri
I could barely contain my excitement for yesterday night, and I started smiling as soon as I entered the Amphitheatre (shout out to the super kind couple that offered me a seat upgrade by the way), and it’s been a completely different yet the greatest Winter’s Tale!
If you’re about to attend one of the upcoming shows and you’re seeing Marianela and Thiago’s Hermione and Leontes I strongly suggest waterproof mascara, if you don’t wanna get out of the House with panda eyes as I did.
It’s been an array of goosebumps, act after act, a rollercoaster of standout performances all round from a deluxe cast, but especially from Thiago and Nela, pulling out all the steps in such detailed story of pain, horror and reconciliation.
Indeed, they gave a fabulous dramatic depth to their characters and led the company through wonderful emotional arcs with tragic realness.
I didn’t think it could have been possible to like someone better than Edward Watson as Leontes, but that is a part heavenly crafted for Thiago – he’s is such an incredible actor!
When Hermione lays his hand on her baby bump, his face changes completely – and that hand actually seemed alive, depicting his jealousy and leading him throughout his psychological torments and painful struggles.
I love how Wheeldon uses hands in Winter’s Tale, from Leontes’, to Hermione’s theme and Paulina’s as well: they say it all and are a backbone pathway of such an intricate narrative choreography.
Kevin’s choice of casting such young dancers as Polixenes is interesting, as in the original cast Bonelli created the role, but William Bracewell did amazing, and the connection between him and Thiago in all their duos was brilliant, as well as with Nela.
And here we are to yet another heartbreaking performance by the queen herself!
Well she surely does know how to make a whole Opera House cry! Her trial solo was something else, and she knocked it out of the part as the most sublime Hermione ever.
Yes, Lauren was flawless in her created role on Tuesday night, but Marianela’s distress was so real.
Her dancing was incredibly powerful and emotionally striking: her sensitive Hermione is an ode to talent, culminating in her desperation at her son Mamillius’s death – she evoked all the pure pain of the moment, and the true physical and psychological ache depicted on her face was something poignant.
We are so blessed that she calls the ROH home, I’ve never seen such firecracker technique paired with such wondrous acting in anyone else. She’s an absolute goddess! And can I mention those fouettés?! Her talent is a literal gift from some higher entity there to us poor mortals down there and is second to none – oh, an just lo let you know, she has an amazing turnout even coming down the stairs (as if you needed another reason for her to be your idol).
Itziar Mendizabal as Paulina showed off a great depth of character, portraying a woman that is in some way subtle but there, and she even got to beat Leontes/Thiago.
Regal Reece Clarke as Antigonous – even saw the bear killing him (I did not see it on Tuesday’s opening night as I was in the Stalls Circle, even though in a quite central spot).
After act1’s devastating power, there thankfully is the colourful Bohemian trip to look forward to.
Act 2 itself is enough to blow minds away, but Vadim and Beatriz were wonderful as Florizel and Perdita – they really have a great chemistry alongside each other and their partnership is a winning one.
He was outstanding as always, but I can’t help but think that this role suits Steven better as Vadim is really controlled in his acting there.
Beside him, Beatriz was just wonderful: she gave such a fresh, open-hearted Perdita, and she shone bright in her starring role. It was delightful to see how she dashed neatly in her dazzling steps beneath the tree of vivid Bohemia.
This act’s choreography and routines are so involving and irresistible that it could be a ballet on its own, capped off by another impressive performance by an excellent, fast footed Mayara Magri (she deserves important roles, I’m really looking forward to see more of her in the future) as the Young Shepherdess. Good to see Luca Acri back on stage as well as Brother Clown (he has a good connection with Mayara), but Thomas Whitehead as Father Shepherd was not as convincing as Gary Avis in the same role.
The final act saw the most moving of pas de deux from Nela and Thiago. Highly compelling in his vibes of reconciliation and healing, it is a jewel in Royal’s crown.
Alongside each other they are always a thrill, and they were on top form to close down such a stunning sho with their duo: her delicate Hermione radiated talent, and his remorseful Leontes (acting peaks for both of them) was the perfect portrayal of the grief-stricken king.
But the one thing that actually broke the audience’s hearts is Thiago’s face when he turned towards the public after touching Mamillius’ statue – it was really clear how he was suffering, as if he had hoped he would have been alive too as Hermione.
This ballet is such a gem by Christopher Wheeldon: with its inventive choreography, the lightning an music to create different space/time dimensions, it sets Wheeldon almost at the same level as the greatest Shakespeare’s choreographers such as MacMillan and Ashton.
Great orchestra as well under Tom Seligman replacing Alondra De La Parra as well.
So if you don’t have plans for February 28th, go to your nearest cinema and see the live cinema relay for a stunning evening of ballet – and if you do have plans, well, you better cancel them because it is well-worth catching and not to be missed.
And here’s to the cool Stage Door bound (it’s always great to catch up with everyone after a show) – we were just a bunch of fellow balletomanes waiting for Nela, and we even got the privilege of taking the same tube.