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“An Evening with The Royal Ballet”
Sergey Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet: “The Ballroom” & “Balcony pas de deux”
Johann Strauss II: Voices of Spring
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky: The Sleeping Beauty: “Rose Adage” – Swan Lake: “The Cygnets” & “Pas de trois and apotheosis” – The Nutcracker :“Pas de deux”
Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird: “Infernal Dance”
Ferdinand Hérold (arr. John Lanchberry): La Fille mal gardeé: “Pas de deux” & “Clog Dance”
Adolphe Adam: Giselle: “Pas de deux and Conclusion”
Léo Delibes: Sylvia: “Pas de deux” – Coppélia: “Coppélia comes to life”

Tamara Rojo (Juliet), Leanne Benjamin (Voices of Spring/The Firebird/Swanilda), Alina Cojocaru (Princess Aurora/Giselle), Marianela Nunez (Lise/Myrtha/Odette), Darcy Bussell (Sylvia), Miyako Yoshida (Sugar Plum Fairy), Carlos Acosta (Romeo/Voices of Spring/Colas/Franz), Johan Kobborg (Count Albrecht), Steven McRae (The Prince), Thiago Soares (Tybalt/Prince Siegfried), William Tuckett (Widow Simone), Bethany Keating/Iohna Loots/Emma Maguire/Romany Pajdak (The Cygnets), Luke Heydon (Dr. Coppélius), Roberto Bolle (Aminta), Christina Arestis/Deirdre Chapman/Lauren Cuthbertson/Cindy Jourdain/Sarah Lamb/Laura Morera/Vaness Palmer/Christina Elida Salerno (Lise’s Friends), Elizabeth McGorian (Lady Capulet/The Queen), Christopher Saunders (Lord Capulet/The King/Von Rothbart), Gary Avis (French Prince), Valeri Hristov (Indian Prince), Edward Watson (Spanish Prince), David Makhateli (Russian Prince), David Pickering (Paris), Christina Arestis (Rosaline), Boris Gruzin/Barry Wordsworth/Valery Ovsyanikov/Nicolae Moldoveanu/John Carewe/Anthony Twiner/Graham Bond (Conductor), Nicholas Georgladis/Natalia Gontcharova/Osbert Lancaster/John Macfarlane/Peter Farmer/Yolanda Sonnabend/Julia Trevelyan Oman (Set Designer), Oliver Messel/Christopher and Robin Ironside (Original Set Design), Monica Mason/Christopher Newton (Production, after Ninette de Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev), Anthony Dowell/Peter Wright (Production), John B. Read/Mark Jonathan/Clare O’Donoghue/Mark Henderson (Lighting Designer), Jennifer Tipton (Original Lighting), Kenneth MacMillan/Frederick Ashton/Marius Petipa/Mikhail Fokine/Lev Ivanov/Ninette de Valois/Enrico Cecchetti/Peter Wright (Choreography), Artists of The Royal Ballet, The Royal Ballet Orchestra
Recording: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, England (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010) – 90’
Opus Arte #OA 1087 D – Booklet in English, French and German

Those with a penchant for ballet, but wishing to skip extended full versions may want to look into An Evening with the Royal Ballet. Royal Opera House/Opus Arte have put together a nicely balanced selection of passages from renowned performances, but nothing there’s nothing fancy in the presentation: no introduction or forward (only ending credits)…a decidedly “cut and paste” format which to that point does little to create imagination to magnify anticipated highlights. Despite a paltry booklet narrative, the actual collection is pure delight.

In this album (excepting the Voices of Spring) The Royal Ballet has a common denominator of opulent staging and artistic articulation. Combined with dancers’ nuanced dilettante perspectives, the resultant richly enhances the viewers’ senses. Osbert Lancaster’s La Fille mal gardée set is colorful, but it appears affectedly dull. Nonetheless, the perky flights of Marianela Nuñez and exactitudes of Carlos Acosta compensate, adding lightness and comical energy. Especially frivolous is William Tuckett’s “Ballet Trocadero-esque” movements dialoguing amidst Lise’s friends in the cartoonish Clog Dance. Behind all this, Hérold’s music percolates along with unblemished happiness.

While Miyako Yoshida’s pirouettes in the The Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum “Pas de deux” are sharp and well-positioned, Peter Wright’s choreography is too abrupt and cold. Steven McRae (as The Prince) enters into the choreography with nice angles and razor thin alacrity. Tchaikovsky’s perennial favorite, “The Cygnets”, danced by Keating, Loots, Maguire and Pajdak, re-emphasize Lev Ivanov’s pas de chat with tightly bracketed technique that digests into sublime proportions. The final segment places returning Marianela Nuñez, Thiago Soares and Christopher Saunders in Swan Lake’s finale, “Pas de trios and apotheosis” that is wrought with a classical, dramatic conclusion.

Straight out of mythology, we see Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle dance an aesthetically pleasing “Pas de deux” from Delibes’ Act III of Sylvia. La Réunion vis-à-vis Sylvia and Aminta recreates a dignified and majestic spectacle.

Of more contemporary nature, Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta pair as Prokofiev’s star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet. Grand posturing in “The Ballroom” is soon followed by the contemporary passionate vision in the couples’ “Balcony pas de deux.” Kenneth MacMillan’s teeming choreography is consuming, set against Sergey Prokofiev’s searing score. Leanne Benjamin and Carlos Acosta fly across the disproportionately vacuous stage to Frederick Ashton’s routine, Voices of Spring, while Johann Strauss II’s effervescent music from Der Fledermaus plays on.

Perhaps the most memorable dancer can be accredited to the finesse of Alina Cojocaru in the title characters of The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. Her mathematical arching translates fluidly in the “Rose Adage” just as the demands demonstrated in Giselle’sPas de deux and conclusion” (alongside marvels of Johan Kobborg), clearly demonstrate her taxing yet flawless execution. Cojocaru’s lines have rich continuity, and they are par excellence.

If an award could be given to a dancer in the category of “Best Mechanical Marvel”, it would go to Leanne Benjamin in Coppélia. She interprets the Ninette de Valois-based choreography with bona fide clarity. Benjamin’s meticulous diction (aided by Luke Heydon’s softened pantomimic antics as Dr. Coppélius) is triumphant.

Snippets are good, and this Opus Arte collection embraces. This DVD lays out a “welcome mat” for all, even those reluctantly doubting Thomases.

Christie Grimstad




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