I have to admit, it really is rather nice to be able to see the whole stage during a ballet (or almost all of it at any rate). Last time I saw Romeo and Juliet (the ballet) at the Royal Opera House it was a bit of a learning experience. The lesson; never buy slips seats for a ballet! I missed so much that when I saw the production was coming around again I couldn’t resist. Especially once I heard that Carlos Acosta was playing Romeo. This time I booked row E of the amphitheatre, sideways on enough to save a bit of cash, but central enough to see the action. It was certainly well worth the extra money.
The big numbers in this ballet are particularly spectacular. I absolutely adored the ball. The dramatic music (yes, the Apprentice, I know, but screw that, this is much better), the fantastically elaborate costumes all combining together in a whirl of opulent style and rich autumnal colours, contrasted beautifully with the whites and blues of Juliet and Romeo. I also thought the pas de deux following the balcony scene was beautiful (not least because I could see the whole thing this time!).
The bright market place routines in the second act were also splendid, particularly in the third scene before the fight. By the end of the act, watching Romeo pick up the sword to fight Tybalt I wanted to scream at him to let it be and walk away. Romeo’s grief after he won the duel left me in tears, which were only added to by Lady Capulet’s absolute devastation. It was heartbreakingly beautiful.
I often find that the emotions attached to a show one has never seen are enhanced through shock, whereas a tale that one is already familiar with is enhanced through anticipation. Knowing what will happen, wanting to change things and knowing that you cannot, can sometimes be even more emotionally wrenching than an unexpected twist. The fight in which Tybalt kills Mercutio and Romeo then kills Tybalt is one of those turning points at which you know it’s all going to start going downhill fast, yet every time you watch it, hoping that this time something will be different, that this time it will end happily ever after. (Well I do anyway!)
The third act was beautiful throughout and I cried for most of. I was properly in tears by the end and I can’t remember when I’ve ever been so emotionally engaged by a ballet before, though this is probably the saddest one I’ve seen (the last time doesn’t count since it loses far too much of the drama when you can’t see what’s going on. I had the same issue with the operatic version of Manon, which incidentally I’d also like to see again one day from a better seat). The odd pas de deux which Romeo dances with the seemingly dead Juliet was heart wrenching and the final scene tore me apart.
Carlos Acosta was magnificent as ever and Tamara Rojo was spellbinding. I think she’s absolutely wonderful and together they’re magical. For some reason (probably stage door related) I’ve always found Carlos to be a little cool and detached, but when he smiled in this show, it was like he’d lit up the whole opera house, it was incredible. I’ve liked Gary Avis for a while now, but I think he surpassed himself this time. He’s a fabulous dancer, of course, but it’s his acting that makes him truly exquisite. His Tybalt was fabulously strong and manly, he sent shivers down my spine, especially in the opening dance at the ball scene. I think I might have a new balletic love and he, at least, appears at the ROH on a regular basis. Elizabeth McGorian played Lady Capulet and I was certainly impressed with her.
I told myself I wouldn’t go to the stage door and I really did mean it, but then somehow I ended up there anyway. It was worth it – autographs from Jose Martin (Mercutio), Elizabeth McGorian as well as signatures and photos with Carlos and Tamara – but I was kinda disappointed not to see Gary Avis who was a big factor in my reasons for waiting in the first place. Still, there’ll be other times, I hope.
I keep telling myself that I’ll cool it with Opera House bookings next season and then I see something like this which totally knocks that resolution out. That said, I’ve not actually looked at what’s on next, so I might calm it down a bit simply through lack of interest. For the most part I’m avoiding seeing things again unless there’s a very good reason, generally related to casting.
Anyhoo, it really was a marvellous production and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tomorrow is either a night off, swing class or the Lion In Winter depending on how I feel (I’ve not felt very well the last couple of days and I could probably do with another night in, but we’ll see), but Thursday is We Will Rock You and I can’t wait. I’ve also booked a trip to see Earl Carpenter as the Phantom of the Opera (I’m still working on possible tour dates for John Owen-Jones) and thanks to GILT I’m bang in the middle of the second row of the stalls! It’s all very exciting.
Anyhoo, that’s all for now,
Peace, loVe loVe and happiness,