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Your Reaction: What did you think of the Bernstein Centenary in cinemas?

Audiences responses to our cinema relay from The Royal Ballet, celebrating the music of Leonard Bernstein.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

27 March 2018 at 10.19pm | 34 Comments

What did you think of the Bernstein Centenary mixed programme in cinemas?
Add your thoughts in the comments below.

The next production to be broadcast as part of the ROH Live Cinema Season 2017/18 is The Royal Opera's Macbeth, which will be shown on 4 April 2018. Find your nearest cinema and sign up to our mailing list.

If you experienced technical issues during this live cinema relay, please email details to

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

27 March 2018 at 10.19pm

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Bernstein Centenary, Corybantic Games, Mixed Programme, Production, The Age of Anxiety, Yugen

This article has 34 comments

  1. Anne Bahuaud responded on 27 March 2018 at 10:52pm Reply

    What a wonderful way to visualise Bernstein's music. A thrilling experience.

  2. Mac Betto responded on 27 March 2018 at 10:59pm Reply

    Fabulous. It really took off with Chris Wheeldon's piece - such awesome feminine beauty, and i suppose the guys were pretty good too!. Lighting, design, costumes, movement - who couldn't love this?

  3. Philippa Morgan responded on 27 March 2018 at 11:32pm Reply

    Wonderful balletic interpretations of Bernstein's inspirational music. Excellent atmospheric sets. Well done to all involved, particularly the superb solo treble William Davies - what a star! Disappointing that the musicians and chorus were not shown more on the Live Screen.

  4. We all in munich agreed it would be stupid to applaud as no performer could hear us. We lasted until the end of Age of Anxiety-then we could not but cheer & applaud no matter. This transcended ballett.- we felt the hope & pain of the characters like in a play. A night to remember. #ROHBernstein #ROH #munich

  5. Barbara Reindel responded on 27 March 2018 at 11:56pm Reply

    Went to a cinema in Munich / Germany and enjoyed the time with London Royal ballet and Leonard Bernstein so much!! What an enchanting evening! Thank you very much!!

  6. Mark whelan responded on 28 March 2018 at 1:04am Reply

    I sat again in complete astonishment how wonderful the body beautiful can be given the Royal ballets masterful and the best in the words choreographers... it's just spellbinding to see such talent and such great dancers. Interviews were so informative too. We are in an ahe of undeniable access to ballet at the garden. It's pretty awesome. Cant wait b to see Manon in person...

  7. Kathy -Eastbourne responded on 28 March 2018 at 7:48am Reply

    Amazing....the concept of 'streaming events' has given me great delight..opera,plays,art tours.I am not a great ballet fan BUT BUT the Bernstein is the very top of my experience in this media. All new music to me ...and with my narrow view of ballet STUPENDOUS....what a delight movement,colour.........Would not have missed that performance for anything

  8. Carole Moore responded on 28 March 2018 at 9:49am Reply

    the music was unknown to me. my knowledge of this music was lacking but I could not help be in awe of the ability of the cast.
    Phew, wonderful!

  9. ann paxton responded on 28 March 2018 at 9:52am Reply

    Amazing and truly moving. Living in Jersey one never gets to see live ballets etc so this was a real treat being involved with such a beautiful evening, music and ballet a joy.
    Thank you ROH

  10. Peter Hillyar-Russ responded on 28 March 2018 at 10:58am Reply

    I watched this brilliant show in South Derbyshire: everyone was amazing, but for me the highlight of the evening was Tierney Heap's beautiful dancing of the fifth movement of Corybantic Games.

  11. Lorna Richardson responded on 28 March 2018 at 11:06am Reply

    It was a most enjoyable evening and I am extremely pleased I attended. I also thoroughly enjoyed listening to the interviews. The presenter was excellent but I can't recall his name. I wish someone would tell him how good he was. It is great that those of us who live outside of London can see these productions through the live screening.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 28 March 2018 at 2:55pm

      Hi Lorna,

      Thanks for sharing your comments, glad you enjoyed it! The presenter was Ore Oduba, he presents a number of our ballet cinema relays and we're delighted to be working with him - he's also presented World Ballet Day with us in the past.

      Hope to see you at another screening soon,


  12. Jo Johnston-Smith responded on 28 March 2018 at 1:30pm Reply

    Myself and my parents watched this in Holyhead. We thought it was a fantastic celebration of Bernstein’s music and the ballet was incredible.

    I found the Age of Anxiety especially moving and it is a incredible blend of music, dance and poetry. The individual movements in the Corybantic Games all had unique elements which connected with each of us.

  13. Victor Ellams responded on 28 March 2018 at 2:04pm Reply

    I thought this was an excellent evening and Humphrey Burtons comments added to it
    A pity the superb treble soloist in the Chichester Psalms wasnt singled out though.
    A very attentive audience at the Odeon Merry Hill in West Midlands were captivated.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 28 March 2018 at 2:51pm

      Hi Victor,

      Thank you for your comment, glad you enjoyed the performance.

      Ore did mention and credit the treble soloist - it may well be that the curtain came down too late for him to be able to come on and bow, according to his contractual agreement with us.

      Many thanks,


  14. terry trower responded on 28 March 2018 at 6:06pm Reply

    Leonard Bernstein is my favourite American composer and I am sure he would have loved this programme of his music set to dance. Dance, choreography, lighting and orchestra were superb. As a retired professional percussionist I can say that it was a most delightful evening which my wife and I both enjoyed.

  15. William Swales responded on 28 March 2018 at 6:53pm Reply


    I particularly enjoyed how Bernstein depicted ‘loneliness’ as we watched and digested some people ‘mixing’ with each other in superficial circumstances and a ‘wall flower’ merely ‘observing’ – all going home to emptiness and despair – and the wonderful juxtaposition of the tall towers of the cityscape telling us that ‘all’ life is here – and the tower blocks are responsible for the loneliness of such societies.

    As to the virtuosity of the solo violinist - his performance was breathtaking and it was wonderful to see him receive appreciation from the audience in the auditorium.

    With regards to the mention that Bernstein composed the piece for Isaac Sterne – Sterne is immortalised as the ‘fiddler’ in the classic film ‘Fiddler on the roof’ – the word ‘fiddler’ depicting ‘fixing’; ‘meddling’; and ‘on the ‘fiddle’ amongst other connotations as we watch the fraud and the malicious destruction of a society through pogroms brought about through prejudice and racial hatred – all depicted in the film and in the wonderful ballets.

    My only disappointment is that you did not put up subtitles in English – particularly during the Credo of the 21st Psalm – normally sung to Drummond – so that we could comprehend the Hebrew text of the Chichester Psalms - which presented a ‘barrier’.

    As to the cinematography – this is your best yet – the dancers displayed from top-to-toe – with space given for the dancers to ‘dance into’ on the intimate shots (rather than simply ‘tracking’ the dancers as one might track a racing car as the dancers progress across the dance-space – which loses the impact of their stunning footwork and how far the dancers travel when glides and travelling pirouettes are performed) as well as full proscenium displays to that we could see and savour the ‘pas de action’ right across the entire dance-space of the pageant. Top marks!

  16. Dillon & Justin Naylor responded on 28 March 2018 at 7:41pm Reply

    Looking forward to seeing this when the cinema screenings begin next month in the US!!

  17. HopeAlwaysWins responded on 28 March 2018 at 8:30pm Reply

    This evening was simply the best ive experienced with the royal ballet. I loved Alice, I adored Jewels and all the others before and after that. But the performance of The Age of Anxiety moved me more deeply than anything else before. As a gay man myself, I found myself moved to tears in a cinema by an evening that so much celebrated who I am.

    Please tell me, Are you going to put this performance on sale? I know so many people who have to cope with their past to freely be themselves and I think The Age of anxiety could really help them. Also I need to see it again and I live in germany,.. so please please please consider it,

    all the best and thank you!

  18. Mary M O'Sullivan responded on 28 March 2018 at 8:39pm Reply

    Wow! Thank you ROH what a night of Ballet's to Bernstein's music I loved them all but the Age of Anxiety for me was fabulous.
    Thanks again
    Mary M O'Sullivan
    Cork Ireland

  19. Sheila McBryde responded on 28 March 2018 at 9:08pm Reply

    As an avid operaphile I often find it difficult to know what ballet is saying to me. However, that was not the case with The Age of Anxiety: no words were needed. It was obvious from the dancers' body language and facial expressions (thank you live relay!) and I loved it, combined with Bernstein's music. Yugen was beautiful- the wonderful dancing, the simple and colourful costumes, and the set, which wouldn't have looked out of place in a production of The Ring! It all jelled very cleverly with the Chichester Psalms, well sung by the hard-working ROH Chorus (spellbound by their performance in Carmen the other week) and the soaring treble of William Davies. I even enjoyed Corybantic Games and watched carefully at the black line at the edge of the dancers' dresses, after the design of it had been explained! Another plus for the live relay! As another ancient (!), it was lovely to see Humphrey Burton again, still able to hold our interest with his enthusiasm. All in all, a great evening. Thank you to all involved! (Sorry, seem to have gone on a bit!)

  20. Shawna Paxton responded on 28 March 2018 at 10:50pm Reply

    Wonderful evening of music & ballet from the maestro Leonard Bernstein & the Royal Ballet plus chorus. I was initially disappointed to learn that Bernstein's musicals weren't going to be featured in the program at all as my late father worked with him in the 1950s in the orchestra of West Side Story & I, age 10, used to be allowed to sit in the pit with him (no health & safety rules then) & cry throughout the performance! but I absolutely loved the three new ballets to Bernstein's orchestral music. Credit to the three very different choreographers, the musicians, opera chorus & the dancers whose skill is surely superhuman!
    Love the live cinema screenings as I can no longer afford Opera House tickets, thank you to the Arts Council for the scheme. Really looking forward to Manon (tissues will be needed again!)

  21. jean responded on 28 March 2018 at 11:53pm Reply

    The dancing, the acting, the drama of story telling and the music of the age of anxiety was absolutely wonderful. What a magical performance.
    The final work sparkled and the starter in red was a delight of liquid movement.
    Cannot wait to see Manon again after many years on May 3rd.

  22. Rob Hawker responded on 29 March 2018 at 12:34am Reply

    Beautiful varied program, showing the sensitive nature of Bernsteins' music and wonderful, sympathetic choreography.
    Performances from orchestra, singers and dancers that did justice to the works, made for an evening both exhilarating and moving.
    Let down again by mediocre sound levels from the cinema.
    The presentation was much improved.

  23. Richard responded on 29 March 2018 at 2:04pm Reply

    High quality viewing, and sound, in our small local cinema. Some fantastic dancing, from most of the best performers the RB has to offer. The Bernstein's music in the last two works was rather impenetrable for me, but I did like the Chicester Psalms accompanying Yugen.

  24. Leonard Crane responded on 29 March 2018 at 3:48pm Reply

    The people must have been watching a different production to me.
    The Age of Anxiety was competently done, even if a bit hammy, and the live feed method of filming did not detract from the storyline too much.
    As to the other two pieces a poor choice of music and cold and uninspiring. An indulgence by the choreographers seeing how clever they could be.
    The live feed was disjointed and one moved between a full view of the stage (marvellous) and head and shoulder shots of massive figures (terrible) or in the last item two dancers when three couples were dancing and interacting so the effect intended was completely lost (useless).
    I wonder if the choreographers have any input into how the live feeds are produced because the cutting to individuals and couples destroys the visual impact of a full stage of dancers.
    I am of the view there should be the option of a one fixed camera view of the stage so one can choose where to look oneself.
    For those who will criticise me I have been to a number of live performances at Covent Garden and elsewhere and to various live feeds. I went to see the Ballet Rombert yesterday evening at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking and it was excellent.
    Having said all that going to a live feed does get me out of the house and sometimes just sometimes it is worth it.

    • John Mathers responded on 3 April 2018 at 12:01pm

      I can only partially agree with you, Leonard Crane. I've seen both live broadcasts and attended the ROH and the experiences are different. I like the close ups because they add a dimension one can never see at Covent Garden: it enhances the experience. With ballet one can appreciate the altheticism, muscular definition and perfection of the dancers better than any attendance in person. However, in the case of opera the close up camera work can be just too, too much: do we really want to stare down someone's throat in that way?! Better to keep a little distance, I think.

    • ML responded on 8 April 2018 at 12:06am

      You might want to catch this triple bill in person - the experience is totally different. I've watched the same mixed bills/full length ballets at the Opera House as well as in the cinema and the experience is so different. Sometimes it's better live but other times it equally enjoyable both ways.

      The full impact and power of this triple bill needs to be felt with the live orchestra in my opinion because the three pieces of music are incredible works in their own right. I sat at a side seat with a full view of both orchestra and stage and at the end of Yugen I was transfixed and was ready to buy another ticket to watch it all over again (had the box office not been shut) - that's how beautiful and moving it was. The orchestra played magnificently too. Hopefully you'll get a chance to experience it live at Covent Garden and feel the wonderful impact of the dance and the music in person that no 2D camera & screen can convey. If not, perhaps another season. Well worth it.

  25. nickb responded on 29 March 2018 at 5:01pm Reply

    Wonderful dancing, choreography and music. The RB and ROH musicians really are in a class of their own!

  26. Stephen Pollock-Hill responded on 31 March 2018 at 4:18pm Reply

    What a shame Bernstein did not live to see this tribute! We watched it at The Broadway, Letchworth spellbound. Personally I preferred "The Age of Anxiety", and "Corybatic Games" to "Yugen". The costumes were far better designed to display the moves and dramatic lines. All performers should be so proud of three faultess performances and the musicians and technical staff especially the choreographers of a memorable evening to over 900 venues in nearly 30 countries. It makes you proud to be British and justifies the large Gov. subsidy given to RoH Covent Garden, when it now reaches a much wider audience rather than a priviledged elite.

  27. Andrew Brix responded on 1 April 2018 at 7:16pm Reply

    We hve just enjoyed the Bernstein centenary programme at the cinema in Spiez (Switzerland), especiallyThe Age of Anxiety. Bernstein’s compositions and the choreography combined To make an unforgettable experience. The introductions and interviews add even more to the value.

    BUT why oh why are some interviews subtitled in German and others not? ( particularly those with Humphrey Burton, which gave valuable hints on the works).

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 1 April 2018 at 8:26pm

      Hi Andrew,

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the performance. The interviews which were filmed in advance are subtitled, but the live interviews (or, in the case of Encore screenings, the interviews which were live at the time) are not subtitled.



  28. Carol Summers responded on 2 April 2018 at 8:13pm Reply

    Unfortunately I missed it but really want to see it. When and where will it be shown again. I'm in Oxford

  29. Stevie responded on 4 April 2018 at 11:42am Reply

    Transcends musical taste. Bernstein may have whispered, 'I hadn't realized that I was that good'.

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