Obsidian triple bill
Royal Opera House
Wednesday, 25th April 2018
Obsidian Tear – Marguerite and Armand – Elite Syncopations – 04/25/2018
OBSIDIAN TEAR: Benjamin Ella, Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød, Reece Clarke, David Donnelly, Nicol Edmonds, Kevin Emerton, James Hay, Fernando Montano, Marcelino Sambé
MARGUERITE AND ARMAND:
Marguerite: Lauren Cuthbertson
Armand: Matthew Ball
His father: Gary Avis
Bethena (Concert Waltz): Akane Takada, Nehemiah Kish
Cascades: Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Tierney Heap, Claire Calvert
Hot House Rag: Luca Acri, Fernando Montano, Marcelino Sambé, David Yudes
Calliope Rag: Claire Calvert
Golden Hours: Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Luca Acti
Stoptime Rag: Akane Takada
Alaskan Rag: Tierney Heap, David Yudes
Friday Night: Marcelino Sambé
Sunflower Slow Drag, Elite Syncopations, Ragtime Nightingale, Cataract Rag: the Company
What a boost to start this week! The Great Kate Wait has been eternal on Monday (and I froze for three hours waiting for the Cambridges at St Mary’s Hospital), but we have the royal baby, a little prince, even though we still don’t have a name and I’m dying to know it – hope Kensington Palace will announce it later today (my guess is on Prince Arthur, but I’d love it to be Albert), but they’re now sharing infos about the Royal Wedding and Prince William being asked to be Prince Harry’s Best Man (what a news, I guess no one saw coming – highly sarcastic, yeah). And why London? Why? Spring suddenly disappeared after the weekend, bringing us back to our typical gloomy weather and it was terrible to face the wind to get to a surprisingly empty Royal Opera House – judging from the very many empty seats and to the kind of lonely stage door after the show, London’s balletomanes were not so excited at this triple bill.
As for the first time, Obsidian Tear did not get me and fell flat, even though excellently performed by Ben Ella and Lukas Bjørneboe Brændsrød taking the lead – even though I still cannot understand this match: the former is so tiny and small and the latter is so tall! Ben actually struggled during lifts. Albeit this, Lukas was great as the red dressed dancer and his solos were great, as were Reece Clarke, David Donnelly, and Marcelino Sambé – no one twirls like him! But still, I can’t help but think that comparing Wayne to Ashton and MacMillan is oddly pretentious: yes, he did and does a lot for the Company – and the programme aimed to bring to the stage three creations by the Royal Ballet’s defining choreographers in order to showcase their dancers’ wide talent – but how can you put him on the same level of two legends like them? Not only they created a number of masterpieces still performed and in rep worldwide nowadays, they’ve been Artistic Directors of the Royal Ballet as well.
Moving on to Marguerite and Armand, it’s been so emotional! It’s great how Royal can actually make me enjoy so much a ballet I’m not a fan of, and this happens many times! Lauren was lovely and vulnerable as Marguerite, portraying perfectly her girlish love for Armand, and eventually her deadly struggle. I had never seen her alongside Matthew before, as in the last month she’s always been performing with Reece (and I love them together), but they made a great partnership. I watched a glimpse of the live rehearsal on Facebook on Tuesday – to keep me up in the middle of a super boring lecture – and they were amazing in the extract from the white section.
She was a total delight, the personification of elegance and grace, so real in her delicacy and struggles: her gaze when she first sees Armand during the Meeting section, even her hand which was like suspended in the air, moving slowly as Marguerite seems astonished. And then the depiction of her distress in the Country section: the pain was so real on her face when Armand’s father – a dashing Gary Avis, as always so great in his brilliant acting, he absolutely is the best Principal Character – forces her to end the relationship with his son.
And Matty was so good, so firm in his stately arabesques and great balances. His interpretation was a real treat, and that angry look on his face in the Insult scene! He made it all so poignant, just amazing – and bonus points for his Romeo-like entrance in the last section, worryingly dashing at Marguerite’s bedside with his cape. I really hope there’s gonna be a promotion in store for next Season – he truly deserves it! As Lauren stunned in her final moment of life, Matty was the finest definition of anguish, suffering while supporting his dying love.
They really don’t need to pack evenings like that when half an hour of Lauren delight would make you happy and inspired enough for the entire week: from the Prologue, through the Meeting, the Country, the Insult, to the Death of the Lady of Camellias it’s been such a moving performance, and at the moment when Marguerite dies and Armand’s anguishing in his grief a toddler actually cried in the Upper Slips.
Closing the night, Akane sporting her starred and striped costume was in her best self as Bethena in Elite Syncopations. Her rag-waltz was engaging and raised spirits – not really sure if I actually wanted my soul to be uplifted after Lauren and Matty’s masterpiece by the way (I still don’t really get this programme).
So she was dazzling, but Nehemiah Kish seemed to be dulling her sparkle. Despite looking dapper in his principal role, he did not show off more stage presence than the wooden chairs placed around the stage for the other dancers.
I loved Claire Calvert’s witty and showgirlish Calliope Rag, adding a splash of colour to the night, and elegant Tierney Heap did good in the Alaskan Rag. Along with Meaghan Grace Hinkis they were cool as the Cascade trio, in which personalities always shine.
I enjoyed Marcelino’s Friday Night spectacular solo as well: he was amazing shot through his stage with rhythm and charisma. Delightful Meaghan as well, debuting alongside Luca Acri as the Sweetheart Couple in the Golden Hours rag.
Even though Elite is not my favourite kind of MacMillan – it always seems a bit uncharacteristic of him with all that light-heartedness – it’s fun to see the dancers letting their hair down. As they were out in full verve, it’s been a good entertainment to close the show on a note of jolliness.