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Royal Ballet

Triple Bill: 'Seven Deadly Sins', 'Pierrot Lunaire', 'La Fin du Jour'

by Ana Abad-Carles

April 28, 2007 -- Royal Opera House, London, UK

As part of their season, the Royal Ballet presented another new work in this programme, alongside two revivals of works by Glen Tetley and Kenneth MacMillan.

Will Tuckett’s new ballet, Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins”, opened the evening with Zenaida Yanowsky leading the cast and Martha Wainwright as her singing “alter ego”. Together they set off on a journey of discovering lust and sexual abuse, which made the original title a bit misleading as, in fact, each song should be addressing a different Deadly Sin.

Though Tuckett has obviously put a lot of care into the production details, the truth is that choreographically he has produced the kind of work that sinks into oblivion once it has been seen. There is nothing new in the vocabulary or style he has chosen, and after ten minutes of seeing “sexual allusions”, I was about to start a campaign in order to find a choreographer who can come up with some movement for women that denotes sexuality that is not a grand plie in second position!

The best part of the ballet was Wainwright’s singing- and that should say enough about the ballet itself. Pity that these Royal Ballet-trained choreographers tend to lose themselves in expensive, very elaborate theatrical productions that have little choreographic substance.

Next in the programme came a revival of Glen Tetley’s “Pierrot Lunaire”. I saw the same cast that brought the ballet into the Royal Ballet’s repertoire last year – Ivan Putrov, Deirdre Chapman and Carlos Acosta – and suffice to say that, if anything, they were even better than last season. The piece still looks modern and the characterization of the three main figures is still a joy to watch. For me, this piece really made the evening a worthwhile event.

The last ballet was Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s “La Fin du Jour”. Thanks to Cassandra’s having clued me into the concept of the ballet beforehand, I found details and period subtleties missing from the performance featuring Natasha Oughtred, Sarah Lamb, Martin Harvey and Ricardo Cervera in the leading roles. The ballet looked simplistic and rather pointless, and having Robbins’s “In G Major” as a major choreographic reference did not help. The dancers looked at a loss in the period characterization and the only point that came across was that the costumes were great fun to watch and wear. Whether this performance did justice to the original I cannot tell, but if it did, I cannot say it is MacMillan at his greatest. If it did not, then more effort needs to be put into the revival of these pieces that used to make up the repertoire of the company years ago. The standards of the dance and the style displayed were far from outstanding.

Overall it was not a very satisfying evening at the Royal Opera House. It is good that the company is trying to create new work, but I feel they should really start looking out of their own ranks in order to do so. The success of "Chroma" points in this direction and there are more choreographers working at present that could continue the journey into the new century that the company started not so long ago.

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