Royal Ballet - The Dream - Song of the Earth - Carlos Acosta - Tribute to Anthony Dowell
Royal Opera House - Covent Garden
On 19 May 2001, I went to
see a double-bill of ballets performed
at ROH by the Royal Ballet; Barry
Wordsworth conducted the orchestra.
Sir Frederick Ashton choreographed
the ballet The Dream with music by
Mendelssohn arranged by John Lanchbery.
Kenneth MacMillan choreographed Song
of the Earth, with music by Mahler.
The Dream is based on Shakespeare's
A Midsummer Night's Dream. Johan Kobborg
played Oberon, King of the Fairies
and Leonne Benjamin played his wife
Titania. Luke Heydon played Bottom
and Giacomo Ciriaci - Puck. Zenaida
Yanowsky was Hermia; Nicole Tranah
was Helena and the roles of Lysander
and Demetrius were danced by Christopher
Saunders and David Pickering.
Song of the Earth is a series of ballets
set to Mahler's song-symphony inspired
by Mahler's musical setting of 8th
Century Chinese poems about the eternal
cycle of life, death and renewal.
The choreography draws on the poems'
images - men drinking, men on horseback,
women gathering lotus blossoms, and
a pavilion reflected in a pool. MacMillan
tries to capture the joys and sorrows
as well as the shapes - classical
ballet and the angularity of Eastern
dance - allows.
Carlos Acosta is a powerful presence
as the role of the Messenger of Death
who wanders through all six movements,
marked and mysterious, the dark shadow
stalking the living. Tamara Rojo is
persuasive as the Woman; Jonathan
Cope as the Man.
There was also an exhibition at the
ROH A Knight at the Ballet: a Tribute
to Anthony Dowell, who retired at
the end of the season as Director
of the Royal Ballet. He was a student
at the Hampshire School of Dance
and at the Royal Ballet School in
the 1950s and traces his career from
his first solo in Napoli in 1961 through
to his appearances as Drosselmeyer
in the current season's revival of
The Nutcracker. There were both photographs
and costumes on display.