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Birmingham Royal Ballet, Two Pigeons (Ashton) andMozartiana (Balanchine)


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#1 Nanarina

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 08:08 AM

Mozaartiana and The Two Pigeons.

I was able to book seats for this performance over a year ago, so had plenty of time to look forward to my trip.

Mozartiana, was the last ballet choreographed by Balanchine 2 years before his death. He had previously produced a similar work, but this was a revised version created in the 1980's. The music was Tchaikovskys arrangement of Mozart, and benefitted from the Russian composers wonderful orchestral arrangement that is known and loved. It is a short work, using a small corp de ballet and Soloists. Nao Sakuma, Jospeh Caley And Chi Cau. It was well performed, and reflected very strongly the style of typical Balanchine choreography.
The carefully structured groups of dancers, the steps and movements we remember him for. The costumes designed by Rubin Ter-Artunian were simple, the Corp dancers wearing black dresses, with full skirts and white collars and sleeves, while the Principle girl was in a similar codtume in deep bright blue. The two male soloists wore Black/White tights with a matching tunic. An entoyable beggining to the performance.

The Two Pigeons Music Andre Messenger, Choreography by Sir Fred. Ashton, Design by Jacques Dupont.

This was the pinnacle of the evening a colourful vibrant work by one of the favourite British choreographers. First performed in early 1960s,a very old French ballet, revived by Ashton with Christopher Gable, Lynn Seymour in the leading roleThis ballet, has been aclaimed all over the UK, it was very often sold out, and the evening of the 19th was no exception. , The story line is really charming and tells of the love of an artist and his fidgetty sweetheart, who will not sit still while he is painting her. Tired of her antics, he is soon captivated by a visiting Gypsy girl and leaves to follow her. I knew it very well from when I worked with The Royal Ballet.
It was very pleasing to see that the original costume designs were still in use.

The designs in the first act, for the girls friends reflect the colours of ring doves, each cotume is different, coloured, and has feathers on the bodice, and a bow on the back which is like a birds tail. The leading girl is dressed in white, she is a Dove.
rather than a Pigeon. In the second act the Gypsy costumes are very attractive, using bright jewel colours for both the girls and boys. It was just as I remembered it, lively, colourful and full of woderful music and dancing. But most important of all, are the beautiful white doves that feature in the opeformance, that fly on stage, landing on chairs and the dancers themselves. Sadly I do not think it was ever filmed, which is such a pity, as it would be wonderful to be able to purchase a DVD.

#2 JMcN

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 12:36 PM

I was fortunate to see two performances of this programme on Saturday 20th June.

I saw Mozartiana for the first time on the midscale tour a couple of weeks ago and, while I enjoyed the performances it did not leave a great impression on me. I must say that I enjoyed it more on the bigger stage at the Hippodrome. The cast was led by Momoko Hirata and Alexander Campbell at both performances. They were absolutely terrific together. Momoko is a tiny dancer, beautiful dancer who fills the stage with her presence. She was absolutely sublime. Alexander is another dancer with an enormous stage presence and they really both sparkled. Jonathan Caguoia danced the Gigue with verve and brought such a warmth to the stage that ir was easy to forget about the "Little Lord Fauntleroy" costume he had to wear.

I just adore Ashton's Two Pigeons. Yes, I know the story is silly and sentimental but Ashton knew how to create characters that the audience can believe in and care about. I know it's a ballet with a lot of humour and a happy ending but I always end up weeping buckets!

On Saturday afternoon we saw Natasha Oughtred and Joseph Caley in the leading roles (I understand that they made their debuts the night before). Their performance was exquisite. Natasha was impish and flirtatious but so broken when the young man went off with the gypsies. Joseph was both tender and exasperated. You could tell that his infatuation with the gypsy was just that - a passing infatuation. Both these young dancers gave intelligent readings of their characters. Carole-Ann Miller was splendid as the gypsy, leaping and shimmying around the stage - it was easy to see why the young man became so easily infatuated with her. Her lover was a swash-buckling Matthew Lawrence who threw himself into the role with gusto.

The final, reconciliation duet between Natasha and Joseph was incredibly moving and I'm surprised I saw any of it I was crying so much!

The magical evening performance was led by Nao Sakuma and Robert Parker. IMHO it was a masterclass in how this work should be performed. These two experienced performers really spark off each other and are a joy to behold. Elisha Willis and Dominic Antonucci were splendid as the gypsy lovers. My eyes took their second pounding of the day!

Saturday was a most memorable day with two performances to savour.

#3 bart

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 04:10 PM

It's wonderful to read your reports, nanarina and JMcN. We've been discussing the decline of Ashton performance on another thread, so it's especially good to learn that Birmingham is reviving 2 Pigeons, with original designs, no less. I've never seen this ballet, but reading about it in Julie Kavanaugh's Ashton biography made me curious. How wonderful that this revival has been a success, and a sell-out too. :devil:

#4 Nanarina

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:04 AM

:wink: Hello JMcN

I am so glad you enjoyed the programe, it was lovely, was'nt it? Must admit it made me cry as well, I am afraid even all those years ago when I worked with the Royal Ballet, it had the same effect!!!

#5 Nanarina

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Posted 26 June 2009 - 09:17 AM

:wink: Thanks Bart.

I think that David Bintley is a great supporter of Sir Fred's work. And it is thanks to him and Monica Mason that some of these Ballets are now beginning to come back. Daphnis & Chloe, Ondine and the recent large production of Sylvia. We can see Fille mal Gardee and other productions creeping into other companies repertoire's. The Australian Ballet,and now Paris Opera. You can see the former on DVD, and it is verry true to the original style. However, I have not seen POB, and would love to do so, Perhaps one for a future visit.


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