Royal Opera House
Thursday, 1st March 2018
Giselle – 03/01/2018
Giselle: Natalia Osipova
Albrecht: David Hallberg (act 1) – Matthew Ball (act 2)
Myrtha: Claire Calvert
Hilarion: Tomas Mock
pd6: Yuhui Choe, James Hay, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Calvin Richardson, Elizabeth Harrod, Joseph Sissens
Moyna: Elizabeth Harrod
Zulme: Beatriz Stix-Brunell
What a crazy night!
With Storm Emma is still threatening the city (at least uni is closed due to the snow daze) getting to the ROH was a nightmare (thank you tfl for being always so disappointing), but I was eagerly waiting for my last Giselle of the season starring Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg, at his Royal Ballet debut.
I mean, Hallberg and Osipova: saying ‘the perfect dancing partnership’ is still an understatement! I’ve never seen someone working so well alongside each other: Natalia is always on fire and quite stormy on stage, but Hallberg calmed her down as no one else ever did before.
The magic they produced together in the first act was something amazing, they had a really special connection in duos, and they looked perfect: he was so princely elegant and she was evidently thrilled, but with the interval lasting almost 45 minutes (even spotted Marianela in the orchestra stalls) it was clear something was going on behind the closed curtains. Indeed, Kevin headed to the stage announcing that Hallberg had suffered an injure at the beginning of act 1 – he pulled through but he was unable to dance in the second act.
I actually didn’t see it coming as Albrecht has no such big dancing parts in the first part of the ballet, perhaps it’s been the same foot injury that kept him off stage for a long time and forced him to surgeries to fix his torn ligament.
But the show must go on: saving the day, Matthew Ball (what a hero) came back to the theatre and stepped in as Albrecht, and even though I had waited to see Hallberg for so long and I was desperate about it, Matthew was superb.
His solo was fantastic – his light and fast technique is something sublime – and there’s a good chemistry between him and Natalia (and they had never even danced Giselle together before)! His acting skills, already proved several times in other ballets, just got better and better while his Albrecht flew through act 2 looking more and more desperate as Myrtha commanded him to dance to death.
I’m glad I’ve had the chance to see him in this role, as I was not in London when he debuted alongside Yasmine (whom I really wanted to see as well).
Coming to Giselle, Natalia’s felt absolutely a different one from all the other I had seen before (actually, the whole first act felt different – I wasn’t even sure it was Peter Wright’s at some moments).
Maybe that was because the cast seemed to be detached from her, or maybe because of the small changes in the choreography – as during the mad scene when she should have stepped over the sword but she kind of went side stage.
Even her hair do was different: while the others danced with an half up-do from the beginning of the performance, she started with a low bun (probably due to her shorter hair).
Her first act solo was great, but I loved her second act’s ethereal performance better: she was dramatic, dark and twisty, and her unstoppable energy was great in the petit allegro.
Undoubtably it was a different way of dancing Giselle, but it was electrifying as well.
Act 1’s pas de six was a lovely delight as per usual with Yuhui Choe and James Hay leading the way. Splendid performances by Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Elizabeth Harrod, Calvin Richardson and Joseph Sissens as well: their solos, duos and ensembles were technically wondrous and they all flew high to the audience’s joy.
In ghostly act 2 Claire was a great Queen of the Wilis, albeit a slightly stiff start she danced amazing, and Elizabeth and Beatriz did good as Moyna and Zulme. Actually, Elizabeth fell during her solo, but that may have pushed her to do even better, because her standings after it were flawless. Then, Beatriz was astonishing – commanding and shining at the same time, she was wonderful in her variation and throughout the whole act.
At the stage door everyone was very sad for David’s injury – I really hope he has a swift and speedy recovery, if not for his next Albrecht on March 9th, at least for his debut as Des Grieux in MacMillan’s Manon in April (alongside Natalia as well).
Huge credit to Matthew for being such a champion in this brilliant last minute performance and for his wonderful partnering skills.