First Night: Sex and death, Italian style

Romeo and Juliet

Royal Ballet, Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith

A year is a long time in the career of a thirtysomething dancer and Viviana Durante took quite a risk when she decided to take a year's sabbatical from the Royal Ballet. But she hasn't allowed herself to get out of condition and has kept her hand in, guest-starring as Giselle in Japan for pleasure (and profit). We caught a glimpse of her in a pas de deux at the Covent Garden Farewell Gala last May but Saturday's at the Apollo was her first three-act performance in Britain for over a year.

Her fans were delighted to see her and so was Irek Mukhamedov, whose regular partner she had been. Mukhamedov, who earned his spurs at the Bolshoi, looks at home in the Apollo and can project with ease into the barn-like space. His partnering is intensely emotional, meltingly sexy and technically superb. But (there had to be one) MacMillan's Romeo is not his role. He will appear to infinitely greater advantage in next week's Giselles, particularly with his new George Clooney-ish crew-cut, which renders him even more dangerously handsome than usual. He was flanked by Tetsuya Kumakawa's airborne Mercutio and the immaculate Shi-Ning Liu as Benvolio. Kumakawa's account of Mercutio's steps showed his usual meticulous virtuosity. In his terminal sword fight in Act 2, he was physically a perfect foil to Ashley Page's monotonously nasty Tybalt but what happened to the sensuality, the camaraderie, the machismo, the wit, the sheer humanity of the character? Even very late in his career with the Royal Ballet Stephen Jefferies was able to make Mercutio's death a matter for tears.

We know that the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt are momentous events that render the tragedy unstoppable but only because Prokofiev tells us so. So many of the set pieces seem to be hitching a ride on Viktor Fedotov's startling management of the score. In the first act Fedotov makes the Cushion Dance rumble with the menace of approaching thunder. Unfortunately, a passage designed to display the implacable arrogance and cruelty of the Veronese establishment is trod by the Royal Ballet gents with all the moody menace of a High Renaissance line dance.

On a practical note, the Apollo's crowd control was a big improvement on the opening night. This was partly explained by the fact that the house was less full. Ladies should be aware that, although there are numerous exquisitely renovated facilities, they've done nothing about the old ones and the old ones stink. If you can afford to be choosy, the stalls, although poorly raked, are preferable to the circle, which is a very long way from the action. Old Covent Garden hands come equipped with binoculars that wouldn't look out of place at Goodwood - all the better to see her with.

The old audience was very pleased to see Viviana Durante from any distance and any newcomers will have responded readily to her crystalline pointework and the fervid intensity of her acting. Her technique seems undiminished by her year's absence and her dramatic gifts are something in desperately short supply in British ballet. Welcome back.

Labatt's Apollo, to Sat (0171 304 4000)

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Mobile App/IOS Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC)

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Mobile App/IOS...

    Front End Developer-JavaScript, Angular J.S, HTML, CSS, ASP.NET

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front End Deve...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Associate CXL Consultant

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil