The Winter’s Tale
Royal Opera House
Tuesday, 13th March 2018
The Winter’s Tale – 03/13/2018
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
Last day of Spring Term and last Winter’s Tale duties before the break!
Talents abounded yesterday in the House as Marianela and Thiago took the stage as Hermione and Leontes alongside Beatriz and Vadim as Perdita and Florizel in a stunning performance.
The array of emotions of gripping act 1, delightful act 2 and tender act 3 was as always a winning whirlwind of feelings, and Royal are regular titans in terms emotional involvement.
If this combo of acting and superb technique doesn’t prove that this company is the best on this world, then nothing else will.
Wheeldon is a genius, no one can dispute that! I mean, how outstanding it is that the was able to convey so clearly such an intrigued and complex story of jealousy, tragic events and reconciliations, spanning so many different times and places? The choreography, the score, the visual effects, the settings, the costumes, all is so perfectly combined in order to provide the audience, as the story unfolded, with bunch of empathies which is a tough act to follow.
And obviously, Marianela is just the icing on the cake: just when you think that she can’t be more incredible, she goes and dances Hermione like her life depends on it. I cried, I cried really hard.
She was a vision as the Queen of Sicilia (and of turnouts), and her trial solo was something indescribably profound and simply wonderful.
Her dancing was absorbing and incredibly involving as she poignantly portrayed Hermione’s struggles during the trial in front of Leontes: her face when she touched her neck symbolising the emerald, her belly for her lost baby daughter, and her arm to say that she’s got royal blood running through her veins… she showed off such a clear narrative, following which she ‘dies’ breaking Leontes’ (and the public’s) heart.
But if her trial solo is something indescribably beautiful, the scene in her household (before Leontes has her arrested and she has the baby) is a masterpiece of hers: I’m sure the whole ROH was feeling all the feels as she tried in vain to reason with her husband. There Nela poignantly portrayed Hermione’s dignity in face of despair in such an emotional journey, in particular when she sees Mamillius looking at them and signals Paulina to take him away.
Such dramatic pitches of her are a gift from heaven, I’ve never seen anyone able to convey so much emotion. She really has a flair for dramatic roles, and her Hermione an absolute gem – she deserves a MBE for that, at least!
Her strength, grace, humility and charisma, these are just some of the things which make Nela such an idol in every way, and I always love how one can so clearly see her connection with whoever else is on stage. Even without mentioning her technical virtuosity and versatility, she’s amazing whatever she dances – she takes a role and makes it hers, adapting it to her wondrously refined technique by bringing a different character into every role that she performs.
King Thiago was amazing portraying the insane jealousy and torments of Leontes with his powerful acting skills.
He gave a standout performance as act 1’s main figure, sinisterly personifying Leontes’ illusions, suppositions and possessiveness. His struggles were visible in his paranoid routines and the rage on his face was simply true, especially when he sees the baby princess for the first time.
As for the last three times, Mamillius’ death was gruesome and heartbreaking, as was Hermione’s, and Thiago’s breakdown at his son and wife distressed deaths was great – indeed, as tragedy stroke, the audience held their breath whilst Leontes finally understood his mistakes.
He really has outdone himself, he’s so humble and when you see him dancing it’s a real treat.
William Bracewell’s chimerical dances as King Polixenes were great: he was noble in his dramatic role and authority with his fine technique. The pas de six of the Sicilian maids was brilliant as well, and Itziar Mendizabal was a strong, convincing Paulina as the head of Hermione’s household.
As from icy and dark Sicilia we moved to Bohemia’s colourful shores, shifting to sunny scenes and ecstatic routines for springtime celebrations beneath the giant tree adorned with amulets.
The exuberant dances by the shepherds are crowned by whirling duos by Luca Acri and Mayara Magri as Brother Clown and the Young Shepherdess: they got along pretty good alongside each other, and in particular, she dazzled whenever she appeared.
Among the corps, Anna Rose O’Sullivan stood out holding attention alongside David Yudes with their brio, while the folkloric dances went on and the shepherds had a jolly good time.
But the true jewel of the act is Beatriz’s radiant Perdita: practically perfect in every way, glowing and shining bright as the Sicilian princess adopted and raised by the shepherds, she was a literal ray of sunshine and a high point of the show.
Her lyrical pas de deux alongside Vadim were lovely, and she was just flawless as a gleaming young girl fallen in love with her prince – Wheeldon’s lustrous routines fits her amazing.
Vadim soared across the stage like the true prince he is, proving once more his fast and aerial technique. His virtuoso numbers were wondrous, and beside Beatriz they danced sumptuously in their shining duos. They were a pleasure to watch, and I actually liked them better than the Vadim-Sarah combo in the first cast, where he replaced injured Steven McRae (can’t wait to see Steven back on stage by the way).
Back in Sicilia after a sea journey running from Polixenes and his steward (achieved with ingenious stage devices), act 3 spins tales of reconciliation and healing.
Conflicts are put aside – as you know, Perdita has royal blood – Leontes and Polixenes are reunited and eventually, they all celebrate Perdita and Florizel’s lavish wedding.
The climax of the act comes with the revelation of Hermione’s being still alive (as she’s been kept hidden aided by Paulina for the last sixteen years) and her touching, heartrending pas de deux with a shocked Leontes (Nela was stunning even disguised as a statue, just so you know).
The everlasting chemistry between Marianela and Thiago burns in their moving routine, during which her lines seemed to be never ending (those arabesques were eternal!).
Their final duet was emotionally devastating, with Leontes so broken that he couldn’t do the ‘wedding motif’ with his hands, and Hermione supporting him in dancing through it.
Nela and Thiago are the best stage partnership ever, and their mesmerising connection and tender appeasement were just magical, crowning the happy ending as Perdita is reunited with them beneath Mamillius’ statue.
I’m quite heartbroken thinking that this has been my last Winter’s Tale: this marvelous ballet is such a glossy spectacle but with a great humane side. And obviously, the Royals are great in portraying such a tremendous story.
Heading to see the Bernstein Centenary general rehearsal right now before saying bye to London for a month!