Review of 2011 (Part One)
We run through the first part of our year review featuring among others, Anna Nicole, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Romeo & Juliet at the O2 arena.
What a busy year we’ve had at the Royal Opera House. From mysterious demonic visitors to human insects, running-late rabbits to Playboy pin-ups – our stages have seen them all. We thought we’d take a look at 12 of our stand-out productions from 2011.
Brash, buxom and brain-spinningly coarse in places, Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Anna Nicole premiered in February in a storm of publicity and mild controversy. For many, Eva-Maria Westbroek was a revelation as a naïve, small town stripper turned Hollywood wastrel – dissecting the aspirations and failings of the American dream with every flick of her platinum blonde locks and each jazz-tinged lyric. A triumph of contemporary opera.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
A trip down the rabbit hole with Lauren Cuthbertson proved one of the highlights of 2011 for ballet fans. Visually striking, Christopher Wheeldon’s adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic was the Royal Ballet’s first full-length narrative work for 20 years. The inventive production returns to the stage in 2012 from March after its screening on television over the festive period.
The Tsar’s Bride
The Royal Opera debut of Rimsky-Korsakov’s rarity (‘Verdi with Vodka’) saw Sir Mark Elder conducting a cast on top form including Marina Poplavskaya and Johan Reuter. Set in a dystopian new-Russia of oligarchs, neon-clad high rises and brutal executions; Paul Curran’s production and Kevin Knight’s designs drew astonished gasps from the audience nightly. A powerful example of transposed context and setting. Watch a video about the production of the scenery:
The Rite of Spring
The final dance programme of the 2010/11 season saw Kenneth MacMillan’s The Rite of Spring performed alongside Ashton’s Scènes de ballet and Glen Tetley’s Voluntaries. Swapping the conventional female sacrificial victim for a male alternative, it provided the company’s male Principals with an opportunity to showcase their athleticism in Stravinsky’s masterpiece. Edward Watson proved particularly impressive, his tortured twists a hint of what was to come later in the year with The Metamorphosis. Watch Dame Monica Mason, the original ‘chosen one’ discussing MacMillan’s approach to the work as well as rehearsal clips:
Ballo della regina / Live Fire Exercise / Danse à Grande Vitesse
Three extraordinary works from The Royal Ballet: a Company first, Ballo; a world premiere, Live Fire Exercise; and a much-loved Company favourite, Danse à Grande Vitesse (DGV). Ballo was a bubbly reimagining of a lost Verdi score by Balanchine, full of fiendishly difficult footwork. Wayne McGregor collaborated with artist John Gerrard, ‘a creator of real-time virtual worlds’ for Live Fire Exercise’s stunning backdrop and soundscape. Christopher Wheeldon’s frenetic choreography to Michael Nyman’s Musique à Grand Vitesse score for DGV capped a memorable mixed programme. Watch John Gerrard and Wayne McGregor discuss the inspiration for Live Fire Exercise:
Romeo & Juliet at the O2
Swapping the Royal Opera House for the cavernous O2 arena was a challenge met with relish by The Royal Ballet in June. Over four nights, thousands of people who had never attended a performance at the company’s home venue had the chance to see a balletic classic. With a staging adapted for the setting, this was the first time the company danced in a UK arena. It returns to the Royal Opera House in January. Truly epic.
What did you most enjoy here in 2011?