Obsidian triple bill
Royal Opera House
Tuesday, 8th April 2018
Obsidian Tear – Marguerite and Armand – Elite Syncopations – 05/08/2018
OBSIDIAN TEAR: Matthew Ball, Calvin Richardson, Luca Acri, William Bracewell, Alexander Campbell, Tristan Dyer, Ryoichi Hirano, Paul Kay, and Tomas Mock
MARGUERITE AND ARMAND:
Marguerite: Marianela Nunez
Armand: Vadim Muntagirov
His father: Christopher Saunders
Bethena (Concert Waltz): Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Nicol Edmonds
Cascades: Yuhui Choe, Melissa Hamilton, Itziar Mendizabal
Hot House Rag: William Bracewell, Tristan Dyer, Marcelino Sambé, Paul Kay
Calliope Rag: Itziar Mendizabal
Golden Hours: Yuhui Choe, Tristan Dyer
Stoptime Rag: Beatriz Stix-Brunell
Alaskan Rag: Melissa Hamilton, Paul Kay
Friday Night: Marcelino Sambé
Sunflower Slow Drag, Elite Syncopations, Ragtime Nightingale, Cataract Rag: the Company
Back in London after a week at home and struggling with a dissertation proposal, I definitely had to cheer me up, so… my last triple bill this season, yet for sure the most exciting one as I’ve been waiting so long to see Marianela’s Marguerite – drama really came in spades!
She created emotions even moving a single finger, she crafted art, she was unbelievably subtlety and graceful. So far I’ve seen Zenaida, Alessandra and Lauren in this dramatic role, but Nela… ok, I’m (definitely and undoubtably) biased, but SHE’S BEEN A STAR! Slaying through feverish flashbacks till her deathbed, she gave such a harrowing Marguerite – I tried not to wipe all the way through the ballet, and I obviously failed.
Nela was radiant as the posh courtesan surrounded by her admirers – Harry Churches, Reece Clarke, David Donnelly, Nicol Edmonds, Tomas Mock, Kevin Emerton, Fernando Montano and Erico Montes.
And can we please talk about that incredible turnout when she painfully coughed? How is that even possible? Her woe was clearly evident through her bourrés.
Smashing yet another superb performance, Nela was awe-inspiring at any turn through the section of Ashton’s short ballet: her agonising coughs inflicted such pain into the audience, and she was just extraordinary all round, for as per usual, she paired wonderful dancing with fantastic acting getting the audience living every emotion, from love, to despair, to pain and tears. Yeah, she eventually tore me to pieces, to be fair.
In the Meeting, her endearing allure made her sparkle in her red frock, and it felt incredibly real to watch her Marguerite fall in love with Vadim’s Armand.
In the Country section, her brio came out in the girlish vibes of the lighthearted moment, as she lives her love story in Armand’s country estate. Then his father – Christopher Saunders – comes along, and the plight of having to leave her lover was true in every movement, in every gaze and in every shade of her face.
In the Insult, she stunned in her amazing black dress and jewels, and her psychological suffering was shouted out to the world in her anguished look at her former lover’s rage.
And eventually, in the last section she showed off her customary greatness which crowns every performance of hers with a touching interpretation. Her torturous last steps in Armand’s arms.
Extraordinary, excellent, splendid, what else? Just heartbreakingly glorious every step of the way.
Vadim then was such an elegant and neat Armand, so stately and princely in the Ashtonian speed, and so lyrically amazing in the quicksilver choreography. His fleet, solid technique made him fly, astonishing the audience – he maybe needs more ardency (as Bonelli, he’s been the Armand) but with Nela they have such a great chemistry with each other and they were pitch perfect as the two lovers. I could watch them holding arabesques for a whole ballet: if Kevin ever decided to create such a production, I’m ready to bet there would still be an audience for that, and I would be the first one booking to attend.
I’m so very looking forward to seeing Vadim and Nela together again next week in the world premiere of Liam Scarlett’s new Swan Lake (fingers crossed: I’m not the greatest fan of remakes). I really want to see it – I mean, all of them, as I booked a lot of shows, and when I say a lot I mean four Nela/Vadim, one Lauren/Federico and one which was meant to star Steven and Akane, (William Bracewell will actually replace Steven as he’s still injured – so sad, I was so excited for his comeback to the stage). I’m probably going to take advantage of some Friday Rush tickets as well.
I don’t have much to say about Wayne’s Obsidian Tear: good to have the chance to see the first cast performing in it, with Matthew Ball and Calvin Richardson in the lead roles – the opening duo actually felt different and way more engaging this time: Calvin moved fluidly and he had a good chemistry with Matty. Theirs was for sure a better match than last time’s (when Calvin was casted with Ben Ella).
But the real star was absolutely Matty: he was just great and ever perfect as per usual. His performance was fantastic and so compelling, and I felt so enthralled by his dancing! He’s really having such a stunning season so far, and he’s got Swan Lake coming up with Natalia as well (I have to grab a ticket for that cast too).
He dances and leads like a principal… so yeah, make him principal, thanks very much Kevin.
The rest of the cast – Luca Acri, William Bracewell, Alexander Campbell, Tristan Dyer, Ryoichi Hirano, Paul Kay, Tomas Mock and Calvin Richardson – was ok, but I preferred the other one, with Reece and Marcelino standing out.
Perhaps I was too excited for Nela’s Marguerite coming up to feel engaged by Obsidian Tear and to bear a 30 minute interval later on, and I’m sorry about that, but Obsidian Tear still couldn’t get me. It fell again too long, and there was no need to see it again.
And even at the third attendance, the dresses remained groundless and distractive, despite flying the flag for fashion ambassadors such as Vivienne Westwood, Assaf Reeb, Craig Green, Telfar, Christopher Shannon, Julius, Gareth Pugh and Hood By Air.
The solo violin was splendid though.
Ending the evening with a bit of frothy MacMillan fun, a flirtatious Bea took the lead in burlesqued Elite Syncopations, looking like a total delight alongside Nicol Edmonds.
Dancing beautifully on ragtime music by Scott Joplin, dressed to nines in bright and colourful outfits by Ian Spurling, she donned some dazzling vibes to the main role, and she’s probably been my favourite among the three principal ladies I’ve seen in the Obsidian Triple Bill (her, Sarah and Akane). She was a ray of light under the disco ball, slaying all the steps in buoyant charisma and smiling broadly. Bea proved such a neat and light technique and turned heads pairing it with her usual beaming smile and virtuous glamour.
Spry Nicol Edmonds partnered her well with smoothness, and they were a stylish and roaring couple together in the Bethena rag-waltz.
Itziar Mendizabal did technically good in the vivacious Calliope Rag, but as per usual I couldn’t see much charisma from her. Later on, Melissa Hamilton and Paul Kay were funny and sassy as the hilarious Tall and Short in the Alaskan Rag (Melissa’s feet though). Lovely and lithe Yuhui Choe (ever delightful) and Tristan Dyer (lighter than during the first triple bill) as the Sweetheart Couple in the Golden Hours. Cascade’s trio – performed by Yuhui, Itziar and Melissa – was full of brio and psychedelia, whilst the four boys of the Hot House Rag – William Bracewell (so great, and his jumps!), Tristan, Marcelino and Paul – were super and energetic in the routine, with Marcelino donning a full of pep Friday Night solo, stepping in to replace James Hay.
The triple bill ended in full swing with a riot of colours with the patterned lycra unitards – not my kind of costumes for ballet, I have to say – in a dippy, delightful romp gloriously led by Bea’s sprightly verve.
Good to have a splash of colour after a day working on my MacMillan dissertation proposal and nice to bump into Nela at the stage door. I left straight after her, but Bea regaled us a quick appearance still all dressed up to grab her family there.
Back to full length ballets next week with the last Manon and many Swan Lakes, it’s been good but I’ve got enough of mixed bills – this one has been hugely varied, maybe even a bit too much.
I’m off to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child part 1 and 2 now, how exciting! I already know I’ll be crying until the very end (yeah, get that HP pun) – embrace the magic!
P.S.: how sweet it is that William and Kate have decided to name their baby boy Louis? It’s a lovely name, and I’m so very glad that after such a long wait the we now have our own little Prince Louis Arthur Charles of Cambridge. Loved to be there at the Lindo Wing for his world debut on April 23rd.