VIENNA FESTIVAL BALLET AT THEATR COLWYN
Adolphe Adam’s romantic and tragic two-act ballet Giselle came to Theatr Colwyn on May 11, courtesy of the superb Vienna Festival Ballet, directed by Peter Mallek. The ballet tells the story of Giselle, a peasant girl who falls in love with the mysterious Count Albrecht, who is both betrothed to another and disguised as a peasant of her status. When he is found out, she is heartbroken and dies, but finds no peace beyond the grave either. It’s a story of love, betrayal, madness and ultimately forgiveness.
The performance last night (11 May) at Theatr Colwyn can be best described as intimate. The size of the venue meant that everyone in the audience was very close to the action, so every lift, twirl and step was easily and clearly visible. Not that the audience were there to scrutinise, but this did make it very clear that ballet is very tough!
Despite the odd mishap here and there in the performance, it felt raw and emotional, and the dancers were clearly very much in character. The closeness of the performance and the performance of Giselle herself made for a very emotional show, and pulled at the heartstrings of the audience. Some believable acting coupled with some fantastic dancing gave the show a sense of electric urgency that was felt throughout, the wish for Giselle to rest at peace and not to suffer any more.
Overall, it was a wonderful show, hit by a couple of misfortunes that weren’t enough to detract from it at all. The size of the venue made the audience feel very close to it all, and it was very enjoyable.
The Vienna Festival Ballet’s next performance of Giselle is in Chester on May 14th.
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/05/14/giselle-55578-30968007/
Ukrainian National Opera at Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Llandudno’s Venue Cymru last night played host to the Ukrainian National Opera of Kharkiv and their internationally acclaimed performance of Puccini’s La Bohéme, directed by Ellen Kent.
One of the most popular and romantic operas, La Bohéme tells the tragic tale of Mimi, a doomed and lonely Parisian woman and her love for the poor, penniless writer Rodolfo.
Set in 1830s Paris, the performance immediately enveloped the audience as soon as the curtain rose, and transported them to the poor, impoverished world of Rodolfo and his friends. The set was very believable, complete with hand painted scenery and impressive smoke effects, as well as sumptuously designed costumes.
The performance itself was a complete treat, and included many famous arias such as Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen and They Call Me Mimi. There was also a memorable appearance from Musetta’s small dog during Musetta’s Waltz, which had some of the audience in stitches.
The on-stage relationship between the lovers Rodolfo and Mimi was entirely believable; they performed extremely well. It was very easy to believe that they were two people completely infatuated with each other, despite desperately trying not to be, and the final act depicting the death of Mimi brought at least a tear to all in the audience. The performance also caused some mixed emotions between laughter and sadness at points, due to the antithesis of the sad and tragic relationship between Mimi and Rodolfo and the comical relationship between Marcello and Musetta, which were both portrayed on stage simultaneously at some points.
It was difficult to feel sadness for one relationship without laughing at the other – until the end act, when all elements of humour were completely forgotten, and sadness took over the audience at the tragic death of Mimi.
After a slightly shaky start in act one, in which the orchestra had a tendency to drown out the singers, the performers settled in to an extremely successful performance, enjoyed immensely by all. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride that drained much out of all watching, but left all very satisfied. An excellent performance.
The Ukrainian National Opera of Kharkiv continues their tour of La Bohéme around the UK.
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/04/20/la-boh-me-55578-30802626/
Welsh National Opera at Venue Cymru, Llandudno
The internationally renowned, highly praised company Welsh National Opera returned to Llandudno’s Venue Cymru this week, putting on a spectacular performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s three-act La Traviata, as part of a 17 date tour across the UK.
The indisposition of Carlos Osuna, who was to play lead character Alfredo in the opera, added an extra pressure on the performers, but ultimately wasn’t an issue, with the role being taken over by Italian-American tenor Leonardo Capalbo, who filled the role marvellously. His on-stage love Violetta was also superbly portrayed by Joyce El-Khoury, who made her company debut with the opera just last month.
The entire show went off without a hitch, from the opening notes of the overture to the dramatic and moving quintet death-scene that ended the performance. The audience was captivated, and by the end some of them were in tears. It was a believable performance too, the audience were drawn in to the all-consuming and desperate nature of Violetta’s and Alfredo’s love for each other, and felt a palpable pang of urgency for the crisis to be resolved, when it seemed like all was lost and they would never have the opportunity to love each other again.
The orchestra was passionately led by conductor Julia Jones, and added a light, fresh sound to the opera. The sound was quick, agile and attractive, and never drowned out the performers, but instead gelled with the voices extremely well, to create a light and airy atmosphere that contrasted very well with the dark and sad themes of the opera.
The set and costumes were sumptuously designed, with a luxurious colour scheme of purples, charcoals, midnight-blues and dark, inky blacks. The entire effect was accentuated by the warm glow of many lit candles. All of this combined gave off a constant effect of twilight, which drew the audience in and made it feel up-close and personal, and again contrasted with the light and airy sound of the music. It was an intense and wonderful performance.
Welsh National Opera round off their stay with Beatrice and Benedict tonight, and of The Marriage of Figaro tomorrow, March 15. Tickets www.venuecymru.co.uk
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/03/14/la-traviata-55578-30530152/
Theatr Colwyn played host this week to students from Colwyn Bay’s Ysgol Bryn Elian and other schools, performing Arthur Laurents’s and Stephen Sondheim’s famous musical West Side Story for three nights as part of their post-16 courses.
After a slightly shaky start (caused no doubt by understandable nerves) the cast fell into their characters well and seemed genuinely to enjoy the performance that they were putting on. By the end of the show, the cast portrayed a confidence on stage that belied their experience.
Laurents’s original story and Sondheim’s famous lyrics and melodies were followed to the letter and to the note, and no sections of the story were omitted, which was pleasant to see. Although this ended up making the performance rather long, it was still enjoyable.
The production was also supported by a full orchestra – impressively also consisting entirely of students. This complimented the close acoustics of the small theatre magnificently for the most part, and made for a sound that enveloped the audience, and effectively pulled them into the story. However, the slight downside was the fact that the room was so small meant that, on occasion, the orchestra was a little too loud and had a slight tendency to drown out the singers on the stage. This, however, was rare, and it wasn’t noticeable enough to be detrimental to the performance.
Special mentions must go to lead characters Callum Evans (Tony) and Elin Hughes (Maria), whose excellent voices lit up the audience from the moment they began singing. It was truly exciting to hear such young talent, their voices full of emotion and an expression of enjoyment on their faces. The scene in which Tony says his final goodbyes and sings a final duet with Maria was very moving, and had some of the audience in tears. There were also fine performances from Nathan Leigh Goodwin as Bernardo, Dan Davies as Riff and also an excellent and on occasion humorous performance from young actor Dorian Schiefer.
Overall, it was an amusing, emotional and ultimately excellent performance that was a credit to the cast, musicians and crew and, despite the occasional problem, an absolute pleasure to watch.
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Sunday [15th January] evening saw the first of two nights of performance from the internationally acclaimed Moscow City Ballet, with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, directed by company founder Victor Smirnov-Golovanov and choreographed after the original of Marius Petipa. From the beginning, the presence of the live orchestra added incredible dynamics to the performance. From the first notes of the famous overture an excited hush overcame the audience as they began to anticipate a spectacular show, and they weren’t disappointed. Despite the fact the Moscow Ballet’s performance deviates in many ways from the original Nutcracker in some places, it was a joy to watch and mostly easy to follow throughout.
Some of the highlights of the performance were the tense conflict between the Nutcracker’s Gingerbread Men and the Mouse-King and his men, an exquisitely performed Dance of the Snowflakes ensemble when Clara awakens in the Land of Snow, as well as the National dances – most notably the Chinese dance that had some of the audience chuckling to themselves good-naturedly. Perhaps the most memorable moment, though, was the grande pas-de-deux, a breathtaking and daring concluding performance that left many wishing for more.
The corps de ballet supported the main dancers extremely well, maintaining a fluid, moving background, although at times it did indeed seem that there were rather a lot of people on the stage, which had the capacity to get slightly confusing. These instances were few and far between, however, and both large ensemble pieces were captivating. The changes to the original story were mostly forgotten as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the newly-crowned Clara danced their audience into a trance, and looked genuinely like they were thoroughly enjoying performing.
Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable, beautiful and fluidic performance, and despite the deviances in story, occasional over-crowdedness and what seemed to be a small and minor curtain malfunction at the very end, it was exquisitely choreographed and assembled, and performed with a serene dexterity that fused music and motion perfectly, making this seasonal classic also a timeless one.
Read the original article here: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/leisure/theatre-reviews/2012/01/16/the-moscow-city-ballet-the-nutcracker-55578-30132263/
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