Teatro San Carlo
Sunday, 25th March 2018
Giselle – 03/25/2018
Giselle: Marianela Nunez
Albrecht: Vladislav Lantratov
Myrtha: Luisa Ieluzzi
Hilarion: Ertu Gjoni
It’s been a really ‘Giselled’ Winter Season back in London as it opened on January 19th and run until March 9th. After so many Royal Giselles, at the time I booked my ticket for Naples’ San Carlo a voice came up to my mind… did I even know how was a non-Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle? Well, the answer was no: I had obviously seen something years and years ago, before going to the bright side of the Royal Opera House. I actually saw Mary Skeaping’s Giselle by the ENB at the London Coliseum, but I don’t remember it very well (to be honest, I did enjoy act 2 but I can barely remember the first one).
I have to say it: I would have never decided to go if it wasn’t for Marianela dancing in the title role. Having missed her last performance at the end of February, I wanted to see her as Giselle one last time, and what better time than during Spring Break in Italy (even though going back to London would have been easier than reaching Naples from Venice).
Even before entering San Carlo I knew I would have questioned everything, from costumes to stage design to choreography. I mean, was there even a pas de six in the actual version? Sir Peter’s is the loveliest thing ever, but I had the fair feeling there would have been a lot of differences. So, with the continuous “Royal would have done it this way” stuck in my mind, I failed my goodwills as soon as I saw the opera house: the venue is amazing, but I spend my evenings inside that jewel box of a theatre that is the Royal Opera House, I couldn’t help but say ‘yeah, that was cute’.
* Me: I’m not a ballet snob (I’m just a purist)
Curtains up – peasants enter the stage
Also me: why the hell are peasants on stage now?! Where is Albrecht?! *
* Me: costumes are not that bad – but perhaps too school-showcase like
New peasants got on stage – one is wearing bright orange, another one is in fuchsia and the third one in a sort of ‘Xenophilius Lovegood yellow’ (yeah that is actually a real colour, just read Harry Potter an the Deathly Hallows)
Also me: kill me now. *
Hilarion (Ertu Gjoni) and Wilfred – Albrecht’s squire (at least that’s his name in Peter Wright’s production) – put together had less stage presence than the wooden bench, and Bertha was not credible at all, with no interpretation and her ankle-length dress showing white character shoes. In addition to this, she didn’t do a great job in untying Marianela’s hair in the mad scene.
In the first act the corp de ballet wasn’t bad, but they lacked enormously on the emotional point of view.
The act was all weirdly structured: Giselle doesn’t dance for the bunch of aristocrats arrived to the village (I spent most of the act asking myself where was her variation), and unfortunately non-Peter Wright Giselles don’t have a pas de six, but a peasant pas de deux: the bright pink peasant was paired with a Don Quixote-like cavalier for the duet: she had a poor technique, and during her variation (entirely made of bourrées, and not Lauren Cuthbertson’s heavenly made ones) she was quite stiff. He was much much better, and had a good elevation as well.
Vladislav Lantratov was a great Albrecht: he’s technically outstanding, even though I had the feeling he lacked on the emotional side. But I believe that’s how Bolshoi trains its dancers: they’re wondrous with their speedy routines but always give quite icy interpretations. I love that Royal, on the other side, train their dancers to give all they can give on both the technical and emotive level: their performances are felt, and the audience can feel it.
He did amazing in act 2, but he’s a bit of a show off, that’s what I actually felt: with no humility at all his performance came along with arrogance, such difference from Marianela’s self effacing Giselle.
And here’s to Queen Nela: she always masters such oneness! I’m happy to have been able to witness her lovely Giselle once more. I’ll definitely miss seeing her in this role.
Her act 1 was the most delightful thing ever, ended with a powerful mad scene that only her could so grippingly embrace. Her face, her eyes, her hands… all was so vibrant and real, making it incredibly heartbreaking. In the second act she seemed to bend time: she danced with all her incontestable greatness, giving such a pure Giselle throughout the whole ballet. I’ll really miss seeing her in this role.
I did not like the corps in act 2. At all. I mean, first of all Wilis have to be 24, not eighteen. Secondly, they should be ethereal, but commanding, and those were really poised and smiley – they are supposed to be ghosts of girl who died before their wedding day, forcing all men that come across their path to dance themselves to death, and they were like ‘oh Albrecht, so good to see you there.’ Third… those costumes! Those were clearly La Sylphide’s ones! Too much tulle, no veils covering their faces and those flower crowns on their heads?! Oh, and no wings too. They also were too scholastic and a bit shaky, I have to say that.
Costumes in general actually got me a bit baffled: in act 1 Albrecht wore a white ensemble with a brown gilet (not a prince nor a peasant) and in act 2 he was full of glitter… not so mainly after all. The best ones were Marianela’s (Royal’s), much more appropriated, exquisite in act 1 for a young peasant girl, and ethereal in act 2 for a ghostly maid. But with Lantratov’s coming from Bolshoi, Nela’s from London and the others picked up from God knows which productions, the ensemble was a bit implausible.
Going on to Myrtha, Luisa Ieluzzi was not impressive nor dominant at all: she wasn’t compelling in her role nor decisive, and she did not lead the Wilis through the act.
Act 1’s designs wasn’t too bad, but act 2’s had nothing of the stunning Macfarlane’s one: it’s dark and twisty, but not ethereal nor picturesque. And then, ok, Giselle is buried in the forest, outside hallowed ground as she takes her own life, but this doesn’t mean that Wilis have parties front by the cemetery gates… aren’t they supposed to inhabit the forest? It seemed like a sorority party outside outside the graveyard to welcome Giselle into the Wilis’ ranks…
At the super crowded stage door Nela was lovely as per usual, and by the way, ROH announcement for the 2018-19 season absolutely made my day last Tuesday: I can’t even believe so many of my favourite ballets are back in repertoire! I’m so very looking forward to seeing MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet and Mayerling (that’s the Kenneth I love), Don Quixote (yeah!) and La Bayadere (I can’t wait to see Nela as Gamzatti). I’m happy we’ll have Nutcracker back again for Christmas (I know many are tired of it but it’s such a wonderful tradition) and Liam’s Frankenstein (I only saw the cinema relay in 2016). I’m not very fond of the Two Pigeons, but I saw it in 2015 with Lauren and Vadim and it was nice. I hope Iana Salenko will be back in London to dance alongside Steven, she’s been really missed this year and I’d love to see her in DonQ or as Juliet (I’m madly in love with the Steven-Iana partnership, they’re wondrous together). It promises to be such a good season, I can’t wait to see what Kevin has in store for us!