The Dream/Song of the Earth Royal Opera House London
Thursday 02 February 2012
Ashton’s The Dream and Kenneth
MacMillan’s Song of the Earth are two
of The Royal Ballet’s most-loved classics, making a terrific double bill.
This handsome revival became a news story when Sergei Polunin quit the company, days before he was due to make his debut as Oberon. On opening night, Steven McRae stepped into the role, dancing with dazzling technique and vivid charisma.
McRae was already down to dance Oberon this season. Over the past year, he and Polunin have often been cast in the same roles, giving the company’s two young virtuosos a chance to outdo each other. It must be a weird way to make your debut in an already challenging role, but McRae is superb.
When he plots to enchant Titania, his gestures are sharp and commanding. Then, for a moment, he mimes her awakening, imagining her with a wealth of languorous sensuality. He dances the famous scherzo with quicksilver grace, whirling through the intricate steps. At his speediest, McRae never loses sight of Ashton’s lyricism, with a flowing warmth to his dancing.
Alina Cojocaru was a subdued Titania. She dances intelligently, with clean line and delicate phrasing, but with less than her usual presence. Valentino Zuchetti danced Puck with fizzing speed and energy. The production takes a while to warm up, but there were good performances from lovers, fairies and rustics.
After The Dream’s speedy delicacy, there’s the grand simplicity of Song of the Earth. Dressed in Nicholas Georgiadis’s simple costumes, dancers move with sculptural weight to Mahler’s Das Lied on der Erde, evoking happiness and loss before facing death.
After some rough edges in the first movement, this performance grew in power. In the Third Song, Sarah Lamb darts and dives through the evocation of youth. Lauren Cuthberston dances with fresh spontaneity in the fourth song.
As the central woman, Tamara Rojo dances with calm, smooth strength. In the Farewell, there’s almost too much abandon in her gestures, but she has the presence to carry this music. Alone on stage, facing her end, she waits with authority.
Rupert Pennefather, making his debut as the central man, gives a clean, committed performance. Carlos Acosta, as the masked messenger of death, shows his lofty jump and warm presence. Barry Wordsworth conducts a moving performance, sung by mezzo soprano Katharine Goeldner and tenor Toby Spence.
In repertory until 5 March. Box office 020 7304 4000.
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
- 3 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 4 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
- 5 Paracetamol Challenge: Mother of girl killed by overdose pleads with teenagers not to take part
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Grace of Monaco film panned: Screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman as movie gets US debut
Suicide Squad: leaked footage shows first look at Batmobile chasing Joker through city streets
ASAP Rocky sparks outrage with misogynistic lyrics about Rita Ora in new song 'Better Things'
'I was raped as a child, and only now can I tell my story': How James Rhodes fought the law courts in a battle to be heard
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'