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 Post subject: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 2:54 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
THE ROYAL BALLET - USA TOUR 2004

ORANGE COUNTY: 5 – 10 JULY
NEW YORK: 13 – 17 JULY

The Royal Ballet is delighted to be returning once again to the USA.
This is the first international tour with Monica Mason as Director. The Company will visit
Orange Country Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California with Frederick Ashton’s
Cinderella and Peter Wright’s production of Giselle. The Royal Ballet will then travel to the
Metropolitan Opera House in New York where they will perform an Ashton Triple Bill
featuring Scénes de ballet a series of Ashton Divertissements, Marguerite and Armand and ending the
tour with the full length new production of Cinderella.

The last time The Royal Ballet visited Orange County was 1996 and New York in 1997, both to
great acclaim. The 85-strong company, includes principals; Leanne Benjamin, Darcey
Bussell, Alina Cojocaru, Mara Galeazzi, Marianela Nuñez, Tamara Rojo, Jaimie Tapper,
Miyako Yoshida, Federico Bonelli, Jonathan Cope, Johan Kobborg, Ivan Putrov,
Viacheslav Samodurov, Inaki Urlezaga, Principal Guest Artist Sylvie Guillem, and Guest
Artists, Anthony Dowell, Nicolas Le Riche and Wayne Sleep.

ORANGE COUNTY PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

The new production of Frederick Ashton's Cinderella with set designs by Toer van Schayk
and costume designs by Christine Haworth opened in December 2003 at the Royal Opera
House, Covent Garden and will have its USA debut at the Performing Arts Center. Prokofiev’s
score for this full-length work is wonderfully evocative of its mysterious and magical fantasy
world, encompassing the comedy and pantomime of the Ugly Sisters. Made for the Company
in 1948, Cinderella was the first full-length ballet by a British choreographer and a resounding
affirmation of Ashton's choreographic abilities. The timeless fairytale follows the down-trodden
Cinderella from her domestic imprisonment to freedom through the intervention of her Fairy Godmother. As with all fairytales, the road to happiness does not come without a set of rules
to complicate matters.

Peter Wright's production of Giselle, with designs by John Macfarlane and haunting score
from Adolphe Adam, was first performed by the Company in 1985. Love that transcends even
death provides the heart of this most famous and poignant of Romantic ballets. First
performed in Paris in 1841, Giselle tells of a gentle peasant girl who is driven to kill herself when
she discovers that her lover ‘Loys’ - in reality Count Albrecht - has deceived her. Joining the
ghostly ranks of betrayed women who rise from the dead to prey on the men who have
destroyed them, Giselle cannot seek vengeance. Instead, she protects her remorseful lover
when he visits her moonlit grave, defending him until dawn from the deathly touch of her
phantom sisters. The title role provides one of the most technical and emotional challenges for
a ballerina in the classical repertory.

CINDERELLA
Music Sergey Prokofiev
Choreography Frederick Ashton
Set Designs Toer van Schayk
Costume Designs Christine Haworth
Production Wendy Ellis Somes
Lighting Mark Jonathan
Cojocaru, Kobborg, Marriott, Howells 5 July
Benjamin, Samodurov, Soares, Matiakis 6 July
Rojo, Cope, Marriott, Mosley 7 July
Tapper, Urlezaga, Marriott, Mosley 8 July

GISELLE
Music Adolphe Adam
Choreography Marius Petipa after
Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Production Peter Wright
Designs John MacFarlane
Yoshida, Bonelli 9 July
Marquez, Putrov 10 (MAT) July
Cojocaru, Kobborg 10 July
Conductor to be announced

METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE, NEW YORK

Frederick Ashton described Scènes de ballet as ‘just an exercise in pure dancing’. This one-act
ballet, choreographed to Stravinsky’s score of the same title, is a complex and lively piece.
Choreographed with Euclidian geometry in mind, Ashton intended that this ballet could be
viewed from any angle and still ‘work’. Scènes de ballet is a homage to 19 th century classicism with
designs by André Beaurepaire.

The Divertissements consists of five pas de deux from Ashton at his most virtuosic;
The Awakening (The Sleeping Beauty), Voices of Spring, Thaïs, Ondine Act III and Birthday Offering.
Completing the programme is Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand, an adaptation of
Dumas’ La Dame aux camélias, the story of the doomed, turbulent passion between a courtesan
and her young, idealistic lover. Ashton created this ballet for Fonteyn and Nureyev, but for
today’s audience it has become one of Sylvie Guillem’s signature roles with The Royal Ballet.

ASHTON MIXED BILL

SCÈNES DE BALLET
Music Igor Stravinsky
Choreography Frederick Ashton
Designs André Beaurepaire
Yoshida, Putrov 13, 15 July
Cojocaru, Kobborg 14 July

DIVERTISSEMENTS

Awakening pas de deux
Bussell, Urlezaga 13, 15 July
Tapper, Bonelli 14 July

Voices of Spring pas de deux
Cojocaru, Kobborg 13 July
Benjamin, Urlezaga 14 July
Galeazzi, Samodurov 15 July

Thaïs pas de deux
Benjamin, Soares 13 July
Galeazzi, Makhateli 14 July

Ondine pas de deux
Rojo, Cope 13, 15 July

Birthday Offering pas de deux
Bussell, Cope 14 July
Nuñez, Soares 15 July

MARGUERITE AND ARMAND
Music Franz Liszt
Orchestrated by Dudley Simpson
Choreography Frederick Ashton
Designs Cecil Beaton
Guillem, Le Riche 13, 14, 15 July
Conductor to be announced

***************************************

CINDERELLA
Music Sergey Prokofiev
Choreography Frederick Ashton
Set Designs Toer van Schayk
Costume Designs Christine Haworth
Production Wendy Ellis Somes
Lighting Mark Jonathan
Cojocaru, Kobborg, Dowell, Sleep 16 July
Benjamin, Samodurov, Marriot, Howells 17 (MAT) July
Rojo, Cope, Dowell, Sleep 17 July
Conductor to be announced

<small>[ 06 April 2004, 04:54 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 6:31 am 
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Posts: 407
Location: Where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
Shouldn't CD send a contingent from Northern California? Sure wish Carlos Acosta was on that casting sheet!

_________________
"Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation!" Eddie Izzard


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 10:53 am 
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Posts: 143
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Believe me, Toba - I plan on being at every single Orange County performance this July. Especially now that it's been confirmed the casting will change every night! :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2004 11:47 am 
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Posts: 17498
Location: SF Bay Area
I was hoping to attend only opening night but it looks like I may have to plan more time in SoCal...


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 12:03 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Any updated news on casting for Orange County? (There are apparently changes to the Lincoln Center casting arriving daily.)


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2004 9:59 pm 
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Posts: 943
Location: Santa Barbara, CA USA
Francis, the only casting list I see is a press release at OCPAC's website from early May, but the following LA Times feature on Cojocaru and Kobborg seem to imply they'll still be dancing their scheduled performances:

Quote:
Vaulting from the ranks
Allen Robertson, LA Times

Stories of young hopefuls who go on for an ailing star and are catapulted into overnight celebrity are usually wish-fulfillment fantasies. But in the case of ballerina Alina Cojocaru, it is hard not to view her meteoric career as a fairy tale come true.
more (requires paid subscription)


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2004 12:30 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Thank you. I'm continuing to contemplate whether it is worthwhile to add Saturday evening in order to see her in Giselle....


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2004 1:05 pm 
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Posts: 19975
Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Cojocaru and Kobborg in "Giselle" are special. One leading UK ballet people told me that she is the best ballerina the Royal has had for 20 years and "Giselle" suits her down to the ground.

However, I see that the Saturday matinee is with Roberta Marquez and Ivan Putrov. Marquez guested at the Royal earlier this year and was so impressive that they recruited her as a Principal and Putrov is also excellent. I was delighted with their "Giselle" earlier this year. If you can face two performances in a day, I would say go for it.

Of the "Cinderella" casts, all look good, but my preferences would be for the Cojocaru, Benjamin and Rojo casts. Benjamin is, perhaps, less well known than her colleagues, but is a superb dancer. I saw her last weekend and in a rather dull new neo-classical piece, her speed and precision were breathtaking.

<small>[ 06 July 2004, 05:18 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Sat Jul 03, 2004 9:44 am 
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Posts: 3373
Location: Canada
Greetings!

Another tidbit relating to the Royal Ballet performances in the US...
For anyone interested in seeing Tim Matiakis, this is probably your last chance to see him with Royal Ballet. As of 2004-05 he will be joining the Royal Danish Ballet as a soloist.

Kate


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 11:09 pm 
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Posts: 457
Location: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Hello, CD friends,

Just a few unorganized notes from opening night of the Royal Ballet’s run in Orange County…

Unlike opening night when the Royal Ballet last was here, the evening began with Prokofiev’s overture and the curtain rising to reveal the ballet. In 1997, British and American flags were onstage and the orchestra played first the American than the British national anthems. Then, the ballet began (the Dowell/Georgiadis “Sleeping Beauty”) .

Seats looked well filled and I came across many more folks than the average performance (folks from work, etc). Art doesn’t count since I see him at shows all the time.

The step-sisters practically stole the first act with their mugging and shenanigans (they hammed – they did Punch-N-Judy – they even did the Charleston). They were danced by Alastair Marriott and Jonathan Howells.

I liked the use of actual violinists for the Fiddlers’ role in Act I.

Alina Cojocaru seemed an especially girl next door type of Cinderella. Neither the girl waiting “to be discovered” nor incipient proletariat revolutionary. Johan Kobborg was charming as the Prince but seemed to take a little time to hit his stride in the virtuosity department. You can’t help feeling sorry for him as the Prince’s role is thankless (he doesn’t even appear until the ballet is just about half over!). For a male dancer, the part to have is Jester. Jose Martin practically burned the floor. Of the four seasons fairies, Marianela Nunez stood out the most.

The intermissions seemed to be excessive (two, each half an hour). Maybe it was due to equipment difficulties (the starry sky backdrop of Act I failed to fully rise at the correct time though it was eventually hauled from sight).

The casting included:

Cinderella—Alina Cojocaru, Prince—Johan Kobborg, Step-sisters—Alastair Marriott and Jonathan Howells, Cinderella’s father—William Tuckett, Fairy Godmother—Isabel McMeekan, Jester—Jose Martin.

Four Seasons Fairies: Spring—Christina Elida Salerno, Summer—Lauren Cuthbertson, Autumn—Laura Morera, Winter—Marianela Nunez. Prince’s friends: Martin Harvey, David Makhateli, Yohei Sasaki, Edward Watson.

Napoleon and Wellington—Giacomo Ciriaci and David Pickering.

Boris Gruzin conducted members of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra.

This is well worth the effort to see!


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2004 11:21 pm 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Jeff and Art, we'll need all your notes before Thursday. I hope you will both be prepared to present a lecture to the CriticalDance contingent descending upon Orange County.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 6:34 am 
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Thanks Jeff - good to hear that the Royal opened in style in Orange County.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:46 am 
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Location: So. California
Sounds like a great evening! (except for those long intermissions :( ) We have tkts. for Wednesday eve. with Rojo as well as Saturday's Giselle with Cojocaru. Looking forward to seeing both these ballerinas for the first time.

Is this Cinderella similar to the Ben Stevenson's version?


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:05 am 
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Posts: 143
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Ok - my thoughts:

Simply stunning.

I must have seen 10 or so ballet performances on my recent trip to New York, but none of them came close to the overall quality of last night’s performance. The Royal is really able to create a whole – that is, a fully formed and developed – and satisfying evening from start to finish. Everyone on stage is so invested in their roles; they know they are putting on a story and a show, not just a whole bunch of dancing strung together with a loose plot. Everyone seemed to believe in the story, and they play it through fully and naturally; each soloist was a bright and living character that was a joy to watch. And that, I feel, is something that has been missing from many story ballets that I have seen recently. Dancers have inconsistently maintained character, or they seemed to be thinking through the steps more than just dancing. The Royal seemed to be in another class. I’ve always been impressed watching them on video how deeply invested in their roles and in character everyone on stage seemed to be – and seeing them live did not disappoint.

Of course, the dancing was wonderful as well. Alina Cojocaru is a fantastic dancer. was delightfully girlish as Cinderella. Her dancing was wonderfully liquid and flowing; she’s a tiny dancer but she projects very well and has a very warm stage presence. Her variations and pas de deux in the Act II ballroom scene were sublime.
She plays Cinderella as the demure, pretty girl next door who doesn’t seem to notice how beautiful she is because her noisy sisters distract everyone’s attention. Her dancing in Act 1 was a bit noisy – her hard pointe shoes clonked around on the stage, and it seemed she was doing some excessive stomping; the problem lessened in later acts (perhaps someone told her how loud it was), but her shoes were still noticeably louder than others.

The Fairies and their variations at the end of Act I were the highlight of the evening. Isabel McMeekan, as the Fairy Godmother, carried herself with authority and poise, and dancing with a kind of melting lyricism that makes you wish she was your own personal Fairy Godmother. Christina Elida Salerno was marvelously musical as the Fairy Spring, Lauren Cuthbertson delightfully creamy and British as the Fairy Summer, Laura Morera a flamboyant (if slightly too wild) Fairy Autumn, and Marianela Nunez a beautiful Fairy Winter. Ashton’s brilliant waltz for the corps de ballet closes out Act I – another one of my favorite parts of the evening.

The only dancing disappointment of the evening was Johan Kobborg as the Prince; he seemed to be having an off night. His jumps were a bit clunky and was unsteady on several turns. His partnering of Cojocaru was sure and steady, however, and he managed to carry himself with a noble air despite the flubbed dancing. The Prince doesn’t get to do much in this production anyway, besides stand around and look nice – the travel-around-the-world sequence that Prokofiev wrote into the beginning of Act 3 does not appear in Ashton’s production, so the Prince gets next to nothing to do. This is very much Cinderella’s ballet.

There are also other flaws with this ballet: Ashton’s “Cinderella” is a bit deficient narratively, as it glosses over plot points to instead focus on individual moments. There is, for example, plenty of hamming from the Ugly Stepsisters - so much so that it nearly overtakes the ballet, distracting from the main story. Thank god Cojocaru was there to restore appropriate focus. And there is also quite a bit of dancing in the ballroom - almost too much. But important narrative points get glossed over, such as the Fairy Godmother’s transformation from Beggar Woman to pretty Fairy gets half a second in dim lighting, going by so fast one wonders what in the world just happened. Then, at the end of Act II, the Prince finds a sparkly slipper. The slipper is supposed to, of course, belong to Cinderella. But she has been wearing plain white pointe shoes for the entire act: who’s shoe is it then? The ballet seems to simply assume we know how the action got from point A to point B without much exposition. The lack of narrative cohesion is mostly forgiven, though, because of Ashton’s wonderful choreographic gems: the Seasonal Fairy variations, the Act I waltz for the ensemble, Cinderella’s Act II ballroom entrance, her variation and subsequent pas de deux.

It was still a great evening, though. Excellent for an opening night, despite the few technical flubs (which Jeff mentioned in his post). I was very, very excited as I walked out of the theater Monday night, with the kind of excitement that very rarely comes, when you know you’ve just seen something really good. I keep going back to the ballet hoping I’ll get that giddy feeling again, and last night, I got it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Royal Ballet - USA Tour 2004
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2004 10:20 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
My Father regularly quoted Maslow and his ideas about the role of peak experiences as a vital part of a satisfying life. Sounds as though this was a peak experience for you art.


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