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.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 HeForShe campaign: Iceland to follow up Emma Watson speech with UN women's rights conference – for men only
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
Before They Pass Away: In pictures
Pride: Are US film censors pandering to homophobia?
Kylie Minogue Kiss Me Once tour, London O2 - review: Pop princess still reigns supreme
Miranda Hart and Sarah Millican named highest-selling female comedians
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >