Posts Tagged ‘Covent Garden’

L’elisir d’amore, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, November 2012

13 November, 2012

This 2007 Laurent Pelly production is set in 1950s Italy with Dulcamara, the charlatan purveyor of an elixir, arriving in an articulated lorry housing a mobile café. There are also bicycles, a moped and motor scooter, even a dog, giving a charmingly simple feel to the rural community.

In dress rehearsal for this second revival the movements of the supporting cast seemed unnatural, particularly in Act I, but musically it was another matter. Aleksandra Kurzak was a glorious Adina, sexily appealing in her stage presence, and prettily secure in her vocal work. Her Chiedi all’aura lusinghiera (Ask the flattering breeze) in the early duet with Nemorino was charmingly sung with flirtatious body movements.

All images ROH/ Catherine Ashmore

Bruno Campanella conducted with a sure but light touch, and I loved the addition of a motif from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde by Mark Packwood on the fortepiano continuo in Act II. This is after Nemorino appears, having drunk more of Dulcamara’s love potion, but Roberto Alagna in this role rather overplayed things, heaving hay bales and throwing himself to the stage in Act I and lurching around very drunk in Act II. As Dulcamara, Ambrogio Maestri was a joy to watch and hear, particularly having just seen him in a different production live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His duet with Aleksandra Kurzak in Act II was perfection, and Fabio Capitanucci was a fine Sergeant Belcore, interacting well with the rest of the cast.

Forthcoming performances promise to be vocally delightful, but I hope the production comes over more convincingly in Act I. Those cyclists riding from stage right to left, and back again, several times, pretending they are merely passing by, and the man on top of Dulcamara’s vehicle flapping furiously with a cloth to no apparent purpose, were unnecessary distractions. Comments on the staging in later performances are welcome.

Performances continue until December 7 — for details click here.

Royal Ballet Triple: Viscera/ Infra/ Fool’s Paradise, Covent Garden, November 2012

4 November, 2012

This wonderful evening of dance featured two interesting works receiving their first performances by the Royal Ballet.

First came Viscera by Liam Scarlett, commissioned by the Miami City Ballet and premiered in their home-town during January 2012. With costumes by Scarlett himself, beautifully pure lighting by John Hall, and music for piano and orchestra in three movements by American composer Lowell Liebermann, this was riveting.

Nuñez and Hirano in Viscera, all images ROH/ Andrej Uspenski

Music in the first movement was fast. A flurry of turns and lifts, swiftly accomplished by the sixteen dancers led by Laura Morera moving and interchanging with one another, produced a visceral impact. Then suddenly as the lighting turned from red to turquoise the tempo changed to a mood of great tranquillity, and the piano, ably played by Robert Clark, started the second movement with the orchestra directed by Barry Wordsworth joining in later. This section was a pas-de-deux, beautifully performed by Ryoichi Hirano and Marianela Nuñez as they cut interesting poses expressing a great spiritual attraction between them. As she leaves, he walks off, and the final section starts. Slower than the first, but as the lighting changed to pink, so the music changed to a bolder form. The choreography of arm movements was intriguing, and the colours changed again: a moment of turquoise changed to red, and firm chords from the orchestra led to a final denouement. It was all superbly danced, and this 20 minute ballet formed a terrific start to an evening that ended with Fool’s Paradise by Christopher Wheeldon.

Watson and Hamilton in Fool’s Paradise

This 30 minute ballet was first performed in 2007 by Wheeldon’s own company, to music by Joby Talbot, who later delivered the score for Wheeldon’s full-length ballet on Alice in Wonderland. Lovely flesh coloured costumes with subtle highlights by fashion designer Narcisco Rodriguez were complemented by distant lighting from high above by Penny Jacobus, with fluttering white leaves descending to the stage. It all starts with two men and a girl standing at stage rear. As she moves to join them in a pas-de-trois the action warms up, and couples come into play, moving and disappearing. Beautiful partnering here by Federico Bonelli with Sarah Lamb, Edward Watson with Melissa Hamilton, and Steven McRae with Yuhui Choe in the sensual choreography underpinned by Talbot’s mellifluous music, which at times sounded like early Schoenberg. After complex variations among nine dancers, they come together at the end to form an extraordinary tableau of bodies, arms and legs.

Fool’s Paradise final tableau

The second item of the triple, Wayne McGregor’s Infra with its interesting music by Max Richter, was surrounded by two half hour intervals, making a good dinner interlude for those who are already familiar with it. But this triple bill, superbly danced and with two works new to the Company, is worth every penny of the tickets at bargain basement prices. Terrific value and very well worth seeing.

Performances continue only until November 14 — for details click here.

The Lighthouse, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, Covent Garden, October 2012

11 October, 2012

Just after Christmas in the year 1900 a steamer went to the Flannan Islands Lighthouse bringing a keeper to relieve one of the three keepers already there. The Flannan Isles are a lonely spot beyond the Outer Hebrides, and when the steamer arrived the three keepers had vanished into thin air. What happened?

All images ETO/ Richard Hubert Smith

This remarkable chamber opera by Peter Maxwell Davies tells us. Or does it? In the first half three officers who arrived at the Lighthouse tell a later enquiry what they encountered. Everything apparently in order, a meal partly eaten, a chair lying slightly broken, and not a soul to be seen. Their reports on the chair differ, as would any eyewitness accounts, but what they found seems clear enough. Then in part two, after the interval, the three officers, strongly sung and with excellent diction by Adam Tunnicliffe, Nicholas Merryweather and Richard Mosley-Evans, reappear as the three lighthouse keepers.

The three lighthouse keepers

Three people with their own ghosts, each a little worrisome in his own way. Mosley-Evans as the bass is a religious nut, prone to Biblical visions, and in a Peter Grimes type of way sings, “Time to light the lantern shining across the seas of sinfulness”. Is he crazy, or is Merryweather the baritone the crazy one, singing of a heinous crime he got away with as a teenager? The music already got strangely excitable in the first half and in the second half it heaves with emotional energy. Played by a smallish group of instrumentalists it was directed by Richard Baker, who kept the tension going very well.

Tension arises

Because of stormy seas the keepers had been left alone too long, and their equanimity is beginning to crack. Tunnicliffe as the tenor is the first to be hit, and this production, brilliantly directed by Ted Huffman, with designs by Neil Irish, leaves us wondering what will happen next. Lighting by Guy Hoare is superb, with its subtle changes from cold to warm, and in the end it gives a fine impression of a lighthouse beam rotating and playing on a scene that is not quite what it seems.

To find the answer, or at least an answer, as to what happened witness the opera yourself. It’s a powerful work.

Performances continue at the Linbury Studio Theatre, 13th Oct – 7:45 pm; West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, 16th Oct – 7:30 pm; Exeter Northcott, 24th Oct – 7:30 pm; Harrogate Theatre, 1st Nov – 7:30 pm; Theatre Royal Bath, 6th Nov – 7:30 pm; Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 9th Nov – 7:30 pm. For details click here.

Swan Lake with Osipova and Acosta, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, October 2012

11 October, 2012

For those lucky enough to have tickets for last night’s Swan Lake, Odette/Odile was danced by Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova partnered by the Royal Ballet’s Carlos Acosta as Prince Siegfried. They were terrific together.

Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta, all images ROH/ Alice Pennefather

Osipova was in the news recently when she and Ivan Vasiliev quit the Moscow’s Bolshoi and joined the Mikhailovsky Ballet in St. Petersburg, one reason being frustration with the Bolshoi’s casting policy. This enabled her to replace Tamara Rojo in this performance, Rojo having recently left to become artistic director of the ENB. Despite having barely danced the role before, Osipova gave a wonderful characterisation of Odette/Odile: a suitably frail Swan Queen with beautifully fluid movements in Act II, a seductive Odile in Act III, and finally showing great emotional and spiritual strength as she faces Von Rothbart’s entrapment in Act III. There was excellent chemistry between her and Acosta, and his dancing showed huge strength, precision and emotional commitment to the role. He performed magnificently in his solos, and his deft partnering allowed her full rein.

Among the rest of the cast, Gary Avis was a dramatically perfect Von Rothbart, and though the swans danced well, the female corps in Act I seemed a bit ragged. In the pas-de-trois from that act, Itziar Mendizabal and Hikaru Kobayahshi were excellent as the two girls, and Act III showed some fine character dances. The Spanish dance and the Mazurka were excitingly performed, Ricardo Cervera was outstanding in the Czárdás, performing with enormous attack, and Yuhui Choe and Paul Kay were sheer delight in the Neapolitan dance.

This production has seen several small improvements over recent years but I still find the supers a clumsy irritation at the start of Act III, and the dappled lighting in Act IV can look a bit odd when there are only four swans on stage with one in darkness. Overall however the Company did a great job under fine musical direction from Boris Gruzin in the pit, who started slowly and built up well to the dramatic highlights.

Future performances of Osipova with Acosta on October 13 and 25 are a sell-out, but the present run of Swan Lake continues until November 24 — for details click here.

Albert Herring, English Touring Opera, ETO, Linbury Studio, Covent Garden, October 2012

7 October, 2012

This delightful comic opera by Benjamin Britten creates a deftly woven musical tapestry performed by thirteen instrumentalists and roughly the same number of singers. Eric Crozier based his libretto on a tale by Guy de Maupassant, transferring it to a Suffolk town and creating a glorious critique of small town mentality, pomposity and sexual repression.

Albert as May King, all images ETO/ Richard Hubert Smith

The local bigwig Lady Billows presides over the choice of May Queen, but her busybody assistant Florence Pike finds a moral imperfection in every nominee, so they decide on a May King instead, with the flawlessly simple greengrocer Albert Herring fulfilling the role. But he too is human and the twenty-five sovereigns prize is partly spent on a night of dissolution, after which he can finally break away from his domineering mother. Britten never wrote a sequel, but we are left with the impression that Albert could very likely marry — possibly the pretty schoolteacher Miss Wordsworth — and make his escape permanent.

Sid and Nancy

Apart from a disappointing Lady Billows the cast sang very well, and Mark Wilde made a suitably shy and uncertain Albert. Rosie Aldridge sang a strong Miss Pike, giving a wonderful delivery of that line, “Country virgins, if there be such, think too little and see too much”. With no surtitles her diction was admirably clear, a benchmark that one or two other cast members might better strive to achieve. As a lovely Miss Wordsworth in her pretty costume, Anna-Clare Monk was delightful, her rehearsing of the children’s singing most charmingly witty. Charles Johnston and Tim Dawkins provided fine vocal depth and stage presence as the vicar and superintendent, and Charles Rice and Martha Jones formed an excellent team as Albert’s friends Sid and Nancy.

Miss Wordsworth rehearses the children

The spare but effective set designs by Neil Irish, aided by Guy Hoare’s clever lighting allow subtle changes of scene, all within the same framework. Excellent costumes too, and very good direction by Christopher Rolls. The members of the Aurora Orchestra played extremely well under the baton of Michael Rosewall, and I particularly liked the solos on the French horn and the saxophone.

Albert Herring continues on tour at: Linbury Studio Theatre, 10th Oct – 7:45 pm; West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge, 17th Oct, 19th Oct – 7:30 pm; Exeter Northcott, 25th, 27th Oct – 7:30 pm; Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, 30th Oct – 7:30 pm; Harrogate Theatre, 2nd Nov – 7:30 pm; Theatre Royal Bath, 5th Nov – 7:30 pm; Snape Maltings Concert Hall, 10th Nov – 7:30 pm; Malvern Theatres, 13th Nov – 7:30 pm; Buxton Opera House, 16th Nov – 7:30 pm. For details click here.

Götterdämmerung, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2012

2 October, 2012

Under Antonio Pappano’s direction the orchestra gave us a lyrical and multi-layered interpretation of Wagner’s score, ranging from soft moments to huge power.

Norns, all images ROH/ Clive Barda

After the prologue with the Norns, followed by Brünnhilde and Siegfried, things really opened out in Act I with John Tomlinson as Hagen in the hall of the Gibichungs. He was riveting as he explains to his half brother and sister, Gunther and Gutrune, how they might win fabulous partners. Too fabulous of course, but they are easily fooled by this son of Alberich, who then gave a superb monologue as he sits to keep watch, ending deeply and darkly with des Niebelungen Sohn (the Niebelung’s son). Dimly lit, he remains sitting for the rest of the act as Brünnhilde is first visited by Waltraute and then by Siegfried’s transformation as Gunther.

Mihoko Fujimura as Waltraute showed wonderful stage presence and diction along with huge strength and purity of tone, outshining the uncertain stage presence and excessive vibrato of Susan Bullock’s Brünnhilde. She rose effortlessly over the orchestra, ending with a wonderfully defiant Walhalls Göttern weh! (Woe to the gods of Valhalla).

Brünnhilde with the Gibichungs

In Act II, Tomlinson as Hagen steals the show, quietly of course at first when he is addressed by his father Alberich, very assertively sung by Wolfgang Koch in a little boat in the air, like a one-eyed, heavy-set version of the Mekon. As the Gibichung scenes follow, with Stefan Vinke as a boldly ingenuous Siegfried, Peter Coleman-Wright as a grandiosely weak Gunther, and Rachel Willis-Sørensen as a very strongly sung Gutrune, Tomlinson once again became the focus with a powerful call to the vassals. After Brünnhilde arrives his gaze follows her, and when he persuades her and Gunther that the only solution is Siegfried’s death, his voice took on extraordinary colour.

In Act III Stefan Vinke as Siegfried has just the right tone and bolshy attitude when meeting the Rheinmaidens, and when the hunters arrive he gives a fine account of his earlier life, urged on by Hagen. Hagen’s murder of Siegfried and subsequent attempt to grab the ring from him was very effective, and the orchestra then swept us forward with a superb funeral march. Weakness only occurs later at the hall of the Gibichungs where instead of Brünnhilde dominating Gutrune, Rachel Willis-Sørensen had the more powerful stage presence, though after feebly raising an arm just before Starke Scheite, Susan Bullock as Brünnhilde sang strongly at the end.

The final scene of Keith Warner’s production has Hagen taking the ring from Brünnhilde only to be overwhelmed by the Rheinmaidens. Images of the gods are suspended over fires, and young people come onto stage as if representing a new world order, but I would prefer the music without too much imagery. All in all, however, a memorable Ring cycle under Pappano’s musical direction, and a nice touch at the end was the entire orchestra appearing on stage for the curtain calls.

There are three further Ring cycles, the final Götterdämmerung being on November 2 — for details click here. There will also be a live broadcast on Radio 3 on Wednesday, October 24 at 3:45 pm, and Christmas broadcasts of Acts I, II and III on January 2, 3 and 4 at 4:30 pm.

Siegfried, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2012

30 September, 2012

Wotan’s meeting with Erda that starts Act III of Siegfried is a focal point in his demise.  After awakening her for advice she tells him to ask Brünnhilde, their daughter bold and wise, but learning Wotan has cast her aside, she asks why he who taught defiance punished defiance, why he who ruled by vows now rules by perjury. Wotan responds angrily, and in most productions Erda simply sinks back down into the earth, but in Keith Warner’s staging he stabs her in the side with his spear and she slumps over the side of her throne.

Act I, all images ROH/ Clive Barda

This deeply flawed Wotan, whose downfall may be represented by the crash-landed aeroplane we see in Act I, was superbly portrayed and sung by Bryn Terfel, and his encounters with Mime in Act I, Alberich in Act II, and Siegfried in Act III were beautifully represented. While Wotan is the key to this opera, the cast was a strong one despite the illness of Wolfgang Koch as Alberich, which led to an interesting last minute scramble.

According to Kasper Holten, who appeared on stage before the start, Koch informed the ROH this morning that he would be unable to sing, so they flew Jochen Schmeckenbecher in from Vienna. Holten smilingly told us he was already on his way through passport control, and from the wings in Act II, with Koch acting the role on stage, he gave a fine performance.

As Mime, Gerhard Siegel was in excellent voice, his acting superb, and in Act II this scheming liar dons an ass’s head whenever he speaks his true thoughts to Siegfried. This is a nice aspect of the production, as is the representation of Fafner. After he puts on the tarnhelm, turns into a dragon and is fatally wounded, Siegfried places the helm on the floor, lifts it up and the head continues to sing. Later he brings the dead head to stage front, placing it next to the body of Mime. While still alive, Eric Halfvarson sang a wonderful Fafner, his deep notes carrying an air of otherworldly wisdom and menace. Lovely singing from Sophie Bevan as the Woodbird, and her clever contemporaneous contortions on the trapeze were a wonder to behold.

Woodbird and Siegfried

She interacted well with Siegfried, whom Stefan Vinke portrayed to perfection as a strong brash fellow. His powerful singing had a great clarity of tone, and he seemed entirely at ease on stage. Sadly this was not so true for Susan Bullock’s Brünnhilde, and though her voice showed charm, particularly in unaccompanied passages, her stage presence failed to convey the power of this role. Whether she will have the imperious glance to face down Gutrune in Act III of Götterdämmerung remains to be seen on Monday.

End of Act III

The orchestra was on top form under Antonio Pappano’s direction, giving great support to the singers, and I loved the percussion work by Stefan Vinke’s Siegfried as he tempers the sword. A wonderful performance all round, and such a pity that Bryn Terfel is now out of it. His response to the thunderous applause was admirably restrained, and he seems to be happy to be just one of an excellent team.

There are four Ring cycles, the final Siegfried being on October 31 — for details click here. There will also be a live broadcast on Radio 3 on Sunday, October 21 at 2:45 pm, and Christmas broadcasts of Acts I, II and III on December 28, 31 and January 1 at 4:30 pm.

Die Walküre, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2012

27 September, 2012

A pivotal point in Wagner’s Ring is Act II scene 1 in Walküre where Fricka faces her husband Wotan. A strong presence is vital here and Sarah Connolly gave a superb portrayal, avoiding the danger of playing her as overbearing but firmly and gently persuading her husband that he is in serious error. It was beautifully done, and she kisses him before he asks Was verlangst du? Her demand that he abandon the Wälsung finally succeeds, and as the scene ends, Bryn Terfel’s Nimm den Eid (Take my oath) was sung with a gravelly resignation.

Valkyries, all images ROH/ Clive Barda

His representation of Wotan is more mature than during initial performances of this Keith Warner production seven or eight years ago, and he ranged from gentleness to fury with great conviction. In talking to Brünnhilde in Act II scene 2 he showed serious introspection as he sings of giving up his work and longing only for das Ende! Recalling the words of Erda that allude to Hagen’s birth signalling the end of the gods, moves him to real anger, and his In meinem Busen berg’ ich den Grimm (In my heart I hide the fury) was delivered with huge effect. The orchestral ending of that scene under Pappano’s direction was superb.

As Brünnhilde, Susan Bullock started rather nervously after the misfortune of needing help from a stagehand to detach her harness, but for a performer to make her first entrance down a forty-foot ladder is surely a bit of an ordeal. She warmed up later, and at the start of Act III scene 3 her War es so schmählich (Was it so shameful), delivered initially without orchestral accompaniment, was beautifully sung.

Siegmund and Sieglinde

The final ending was an orchestral triumph, and so was the beginning with Pappano delivering a feisty prelude including wonderful thunder from the kettledrum after Siegmund enters, and beautiful playing from the solo cello. When John Tomlinson later enters as Hunding, driving his axe into the table, the drama moves into top gear and his initial Du labtest ihn? was unusually powerful. Followed by his Heilig ist mein Herd (Holy is my hearth), including a brief handshake with Siegmund, it became quite clear who was master here. A hugely commanding portrayal, only rivalled by La Scala’s new production in December 2010 with — wait for it — Tomlinson again. Yet in Act II after facing Siegmund with Wotan taking a hand, he suddenly shows uncertainty and fear, and rightly so as Wotan drives his spear into him, having done the same to Siegmund.

Valkyries and Terfel as Wotan

As Siegmund himself, Simon O’Neill gave a moving performance, singing with huge conviction and animation, and with fine chemistry between him and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde. Faced later with Brünnhilde in Act II his So grüsse mir Walhall (Then greet Valhalla for me) was simply riveting. When Sieglinde awakes, the stage is suffused with new energy, and in Act III her emotional O hehrstes Wunder! Herrlichste Maid! was beautifully delivered, with a lovely ringing quality to her top notes.

Altogether a super Walküre, grounded by Bryn Terfel’s brilliant performance as Wotan. We shall miss him in the final opera, but his reappearance as the Wanderer in Siegfried on Saturday is eagerly anticipated.

There are four Ring cycles, the final Walküre being on October 28 — for details click here. There will also be a live broadcast on Radio 3 on October 18 at 4:45 pm, and Christmas broadcasts of Acts I, II and III on December 25, 26 and 27 at 4:30 pm.

Das Rheingold, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, September 2012

25 September, 2012

This prologue to Wagner’s Ring promises a feast of fine singing and acting in the remaining three operas of the cycle.

All images ROH/ Clive Barda

Alberich and Rheinmaidens, all images ROH/ Clive Barda

Bryn Terfel sang as well or better than I have ever heard him in the role of Wotan, emphasising maturity and self-awareness, showing he realises he has set in motion something against which the treaties on his spear will be powerless. His acting left the audience in no doubt that they were witnessing the start of something very dangerous, confirmed by Loge’s later warning when he sings of the gods hastening to their end.

As Wotan’s wife Fricka, Sarah Connolly sang beautifully, giving the role a hugely feminine charm, and in two days time it will be intriguing to see how she and Terfel interact in their difficult conflict during Act II of Walküre. Such a pity however that fratricide has removed Iain Paterson’s magnificent Fasolt. His engaging appearance in flat cap, carrying a measuring rod of five cubits length, was well matched by his superbly lyrical singing, and when Fafner strikes him down we see the action very clearly as he falls forward against the glass wall facing us.

Gods and telescope

This is one of many fine aspects to Keith Warner’s production, revived by the director himself. The descent to Niebelheim is accomplished by the floor rising, revealing a coldly lit, colourless realm where a cadaver lies on a hospital trolley, and Alberich rapes a woman tied down to another trolley, though Wotan eventually sets her free. Niebelheim is a thoroughly nasty world, but this production also has its light moments. Alberich’s transformations using the tarnhelm are amusingly effective, and right at the end of the opera, the shrewd but flippant Loge takes one of Freia’s golden apples, slices it, and cooks it in a frying pan!

Valhalla awaits

In the meantime Antonio Pappano’s conducting has moved the action smoothly forward, making two and a half hours seem like nothing at all, particularly with such very fine singing from the whole cast. Gerhard Siegel made a superb return to the role of Mime, but many of the cast were new. Wolfgang Koch and Eric Halfvarson sang strongly, making their House debuts  in the bass roles of Alberich and Fafner, and Maria Radner sang a glorious Erda. Stig Andersen made a cheekily lively, if somewhat ungainly Loge, Ann Petersen sang with real feeling in the relatively minor role of Freia, and among the Rheinmaidens I particularly liked Harriet Williams in the role of Flosshilde as she sings seductively to Alberich.

Word has it that the entire cast for this Ring is rehearsing very strongly both in terms of singing and acting, and I eagerly await the next three operas.

There are four Ring cycles, the final Rheingold being on October 26 — for details click here.

Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, July 2012

15 July, 2012

This triple bill, inspired by three Titian paintings currently on view at the National Gallery (Diana and CallistoDiana and Actaeon, and The Death of Actaeon), is a tribute to Monica Mason who is retiring as artistic director of the Royal Ballet. The three ballets involved seven choreographers!

Nuñez as Diana with nymphs, all images ROH/ Johan Persson

The theme of the paintings finally came to life in the last ballet Diana and Actaeon, beautifully choreographed by Liam Scarlett, Will Tucket and Jonathan Watkins. Here we see Actaeon and his hounds, Diana and her nymphs, and witness the clash between them when he enters their space. The transformation scene where his purple hunting outfit converts to brown with dark legs, like a stag, was very well done, and when his hounds attack him, blood soaked pieces of ragged flesh appear round his haunches. The choreography was intriguingly inventive, and the pas-de-deux between Federico Bonelli as Actaeon, and Marianela Nuñez as Diana, amply expressed confusion on both sides until she finally takes command, and her nymphs come on to effect the transformation.

The set designs by Chris Ofili were fabulous, with bold colours expressing an otherworldly forest scene, reminiscent of Bakst’s dramatic designs for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Dramatic dancing too from the large cast, in which Bonelli and Nuñez were exceptional. Music by Jonathan Dove, beautifully conducted by Dominic Grier, was wonderfully expressive, and the singers Kim Sheehan and Andrew Rees were excellent. This final item of the triple bill will surely stand on its own in the future and I look forward to seeing it again.

Melissa Hamilton and others in Trespass

It was particularly welcome after the second item, Trespass, featuring dull choreography by Alastair Marriott and Christopher Wheeldon to some dreary music by Mark-Anthony Turnage, conducted by Barry Wordsworth. The dancers did their best with it, and the set design by Mark Wallinger featured a huge, curved, two-way mirror, apparently inspired by the idea that Diana is goddess of the moon, and that Actaeon is trespassing on a lunar landscape. The effect of the mirror probably depended where you sat, and I suspect the ballet looked far better from the Stalls, than the Amphi.

Machina/ Acosta and Benjamin

The first item, Machina, had a more direct appeal. Here was Diana represented by designer William Shawcross as a massive industrial robot, with a light at the end of its arm. Its arm movements were so interesting one could almost miss the dance choreography. Nico Muhly’s wonderful music, very well conducted by Tom Seligman, formed a fine basis for the choreography by Kim Brandstrup and Wayne McGregor, and the only problem, as in many of McGregor’s pieces was the distraction of the clever lighting. The huge robot with the light on its arm rather overwhelmed the dancers towards the end, and the lighting by Lucy Carter showed an intriguing use of shadows as the machine moved gradually from invisibility to superb clarity. The main dancers, Leanne Benjamin, Tamara Rojo, Carlos Acosta and Edward Watson were simply superb, exhibiting the choreography to huge advantage.

But where were the flowers for Tamara Rojo and Leanne Benjamin? Huge bouquets greeted the female principals in the other two works, but there were none here. This is becoming standard practice where Rojo is concerned, and if the Royal Ballet were a less confident company one might suspect some machinations behind the scenes, since Rojo is leaving to become Artistic Director of the ENB. Surely there is another reason, particularly since this was a great tribute to Monica Mason, who appeared on stage at the end looking absolutely delighted.

The next performance is a live relay on July 16 to BP big screens, and two other performances follow on July 17 and 20 — for details click here.