Royal Opera House, London – 14 June 2019
The Royal Ballet is wrapping its summer season up with a trio of delightful works by three of the greatest choreographers. Together they form a night entertainment that is full of surprise, and more importantly variety. The versatility of ballet is showcased, as are the spectacular dancers who fizzle with precision and energy at once.
The proceedings open with The Firebird which is strange but feisty. Combining Russian folklore with Stravinsky’s score and classical ballet, the result is a crackling piece of theatre which is exciting and superbly easy on the eyes. The Firebird herself, Yasmine Naghdi, really does flame across the stage as she vanquishes the sorcerer and creates moments of magic. Naghdi is nail-bitingly sharp in every step and her technical precision screams out. Alongside her musicality, gentleness and stage presence, her interpretation is powerful and inviting.
Christina Arestis is beautiful and graceful as the Tsarevna; and alongside Edward Watson’s persistent Tsarevich the pair make a lasting statement. Gary Avis is suitably gnarled as Kostcheï and brings both humour and menace to the theatrical character.
The Royal Ballet staple, A Month in the Country is the stand out of the trio, proving what a masterful choreographer Frederick Ashton was. Marianela Nuñez is divinely light as precise as Natalia who truly is The Nutcracker’s Clara, all grown up. Her delightful performance and flirtations throughout the piece are marvellous to watch and the grace she moves with is truly mesmerising.
Matthew Ball is handsome and powerful as Beliaev the tutor who has the ladies of the house fawning after his. The pax de deux’s Ball dances with both Francesca Hayward and Romany Pajdak are impeccably strong and emotive.
Chopin’s sumptuous melodies also add to the enthralling nature of this piece and one can’t help but find themselves wrapped up in the sweetness and warmth of it all.
The final treat of the series is Balanchine’s Symphony in C which rattles along to close the programme on a high. Anthony Dowell’s simplistic backdrop perfectly highlights the magic of ballet, with the dazzling white tutus creating a striking and magnificent contrast to the blue screen behind them. Each dance, both solo and in the corps de ballet gave stellar performances. Special mention must go to Fumi Kaneko who stepped in at the last minute to give an enchanting performance.
Together, these works create a triple bill that is a swoon worthy, explosion of exuberant dance.
photo credit: Tristram Kenton