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from the Royal Opera House Season Launch Press Conference
by Petra Tschiene
Although the ROH's new season press
releases always offer very detailed information, I found it especially
interesting to get the first impression directly from the source -- in
this case, from Tony Hall, Antonio Pappano, Monica Mason and Deborah Bull.
Here are the most interesting points
that were made that are not in the press release.
When Tony Hall announced the price
cuts for the Ballet ticket price band and explained that a considerable
part of the regular ballet audience was very loyal, often seeing several
casts in the same production, I breathed a silent sigh of relief on behalf
of the very same people. At last they got the message.
The Royal Ballet will have 121 performances in the 2004/05 season, which
is about 20 fewer than the Royal Opera, in order to facilitate a change
in the performance rhythm. Beginning with the 2005/06 season, the ballet
will start their performance season three weeks earlier than usual, which
will do away with the long stretch of opera only performances in September
and October. In order to make this feasible, the ballet company will have
to start their summer earlier next year.
In reply to a question, Tony Hall
also mentioned that there would be a new deal with the BBC to get opera
and ballet on TV again, and that the Piazza screenings would also return,
although no further details could be given yet.
Monica Mason said that she was especially pleased that the company was
in the good shape it is currently in because the Ashton tributes ahead
would present the dancers with a challenging season. There would be six
full-length ballets as well as six mixed bills with only one 19th century
classic which was unique. In addition to the four full-length Ashton works,
she had included nine of his one-act pieces. She admitted that she had
not been able to include all of his works she would like to have shown
but that it was not possible to have an Ashton only season after all.
We can look forward to two new commissions by Christopher Wheeldon and
Christopher Bruce. The former Artistic Director of the Rambert Dance Company
had been asked to work with the RB before but had felt unable to give
his full attention to such a project while still in his former position
In a very diplomatic reply to a question, Monica Mason stated that she
would eventually like to appoint a Musical Director for the RB, but that
there would be no appointment for appointments' sake. The Orchestra did
not like to be experimented on; they were used to being lead by very distinct
conductors, and therefore somebody would have to be found that the musicians
felt comfortable with.
Earlier during the press conference,
Antonio Pappano had briefly but enthusiastically talked about his own
experience of conducting for the company. He admitted to having been amazed
by the level of energy that had passed back and forth between him and
the dancers, which enhanced the performance for the audience.
Talking about the new RB joiners as of next season, Monica Mason stated
that she did not believe in feuds lasting forever, in reference to Gary
Avis's rejoining the company after a five-year absence he spent dancing
with K-Ballet and more recently with English National Ballet. She also
mentioned that Jane Burn's decision to leave earlier this season had caused
a gap in the ranks of the First Soloists, which Sarah Lamb from Boston
Ballet would fill. Lastly, she expressed excitement at the prospect of
fully integrating Principal Roberta Marquez, who has already guested frequently
with the RB.
A fair amount of the ballet-related part of the question-and-answer session
revolved around the issue of whether there would be more Ashton revivals
in the future as well as specific suggestions of earlier short works which
would be deserving of audience attention. It transpired that the plans
for educational events like master classes and insight programmes have
not been finalised yet, but Monica Mason promised that there definitely
would be opportunities to learn about Ashton's work and his significance
as a choreographer.
Deborah Bull talked in great detail about the upcoming as well as the
currently running season of ROH Too which will start its 3rd year this
autumn. Since it would be impossible to do justice to all the exiting
programmes here, I can only recommend for people to keep a close eye on
the goings on in the Linbury Studio Theatre and the Clore Studio Upstairs.
Edited by Lori Ibay
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