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Your Reaction: Viscera / Afternoon of a Faun / Tchaikovsky Pas de deux / Carmen

What did you think of The Royal Ballet's Mixed Programme featuring the world premiere of Carlos Acosta's new Carmen?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

27 October 2015 at 10.39am | 44 Comments

Press reviews:
Guardian ★★★
Telegraph ★★★
Times (£) ★★★
Evening Standard ★★★
Time Out ★★★
The Stage ★★★
Arts Desk (£) ★★★
Independent ★★
Financial Times ★ (Carmen), ★★★★ (Rest of Programme)
New York Times (Without star rating, Carmen only — critical)

What did you think of Viscera / Afternoon of a Faun / Tchaikovsky Pas de deux / Carmen? Let us know via the comments below.

The mixed programme of Viscera / Afternoon of a Faun / Tchaikovsky Pas de deux / Carmen runs until 12 November 2015. Tickets are still available for some performances.

The programme will be broadcast live to cinemas around the world on 12 November 2015. Find your nearest cinema.

This article has 44 comments

  1. A sad ending to the otherwise very enjoyable evening. Carlos Acosta is not a choreographer.

    • To the ROH Press Office: for the sake of transparency, you should reference in your Press Reviews section above a single star from Clement Crisp, FT given to Carlos Acosta's Carmen and four stars to the rest of the Mixed Bill. A graceful solution, I thought.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 28 October 2015 at 12:50pm

      Hi Anastasia,

      As you'll see from this and other 'Your Reaction' pieces, constructive criticism is both welcomed and published.

      These articles are manually generated and because the FT review wasn't online at the same time as the others yesterday, it missed the daily update.

      It has now been added.


      ROH Content Producer

    • penelope simpson responded on 1 November 2015 at 4:38pm

      Sadly, you are right. Quixote for me was a disappointment and I am sorry that RB did not learn their lesson. Acosta is one of our great Principals and we will be sad to see him go, but choreography is not his thing.

    • ER responded on 7 November 2015 at 12:44pm

      Dear Chris,

      Luke Jennings review from Observer seems to be missing where he raises very valid issues a lot of ballet lovers would agree with.
      Viscera ***
      Afternoon of a Faun *****
      Tchaikovsky Pas de deux ****
      Carmen *

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 9 November 2015 at 10:39am

      Dear Elena

      Our selection of reviews is following opening night - the Observer is usually missing as it is published later. Happy to add it when we have time.

      Best wishes


  2. But don't miss Sarah Lamb and Vadim Muntagirov in 'Afternoon of a Faun', they are dancing so well together; subtle and exquisite.

  3. clare herring responded on 27 October 2015 at 8:38pm Reply

    Who needs Cigarette factories ??!!!!!!!!! ........
    Carlos Acostas` Carmen was HOT ! It was smoking ! - The most thrilling hour of dance I have ever seen . Dynamite ! Magic !

  4. Geoff responded on 28 October 2015 at 12:59am Reply

    Three glorious ballets (and performances) followed by, what, expensive pointless tosh? Why was Acosta allowed this indulgence? With heavy promotion it may fool the ignorant but Acosta's work on Carmen belongs more in some deadly West End "musical" than on the stage of Covent Garden.

    What a way to remember Acosta, aspiring to be a choreographer but in fact flailing about as if trying to recapture the energy and invention of half-remembered work by other more talented choreographers he has danced.

    The work lifts for about ten minutes at the point Escamillo arrives (which leaves 50 minutes of head in hands tasteless whatnot) Perhaps just that section could be salvaged for galas etc in the future, saving face for Acosta. Otherwise let's politely avoid mentioning this again.

  5. francois responded on 28 October 2015 at 1:59pm Reply

    Poor Carlos Acosta, what a sad farewell for such a sublime dancer, I would have so much preferred another and ultimate performance of Solor, one of his best role ever, or any other classical character. To leave the company with a creation of a ballet on a so many times choreographed piece like Carmen was quite a challenge, but it sadly failed. It is messy, poor in dramatic impact and it lacks of thread.

    However, excellent dancing from Marianela Nunez and chiefly from Federico Bonelli, who gives a very interesting and unusual interpretation of Escamillo, between rogue and arrogant macho. Outstanding!

    The remaining part of the evening is fabulous, especially the Faun by magnetic Sarah Lamb and Vadim Mutagirov, the jewel of this Mixed Bill performance.
    Bravo to Emmanuel Plasson for his conducting of Debussy, and shame to the brass for the multiple accidents throughout the evening - chiefly in Tchaikovski-, brass accidents that happen much too often at Royal Ballet and ROH Orchestra (compared to other orchestras in Europe). Tony, fix it please !!

  6. David Shiers responded on 28 October 2015 at 5:01pm Reply

    There was much to enjoy throughout the evening but agree with both Geoff (on the weak choreography) and Francois above. The occasional split note in a brass section is almost inevitable but really too many on this occasion. I hadn't been to the ROH before and am afraid the quality of the sound from the pit is the poorest I've heard - it sounded as if the band had a blanket thrown over it. Improve the pit space please so as to project a cleaner sound out into the auditorium. You need to hire an acoustic engineer to sort out the surfaces and configuration down there.

  7. francois responded on 28 October 2015 at 10:01pm Reply

    @ David Shiers: agree about the sound. It suddenly deteriorated a few years ago, it started when ROH decided to empty the stall circles boxes which are right near the stage (and are not anymore proposed for sale). I do not know if there is any correlation between this new configuration and the acoustic deterioration but the pit sounded much clearer 5 years ago.

  8. Patricia Casselden responded on 29 October 2015 at 12:19am Reply

    Viscera fine.
    FAUN with Custerbson&Underwood STUNNING.
    Tchaikovsky pdd great.
    Carmen a huge disappointment - visually & musically stunning, but TOO long, & choreographically clichéd and boring - Morera & Bonelli great but as a sub - title of one of 'Madam's' ballets said 'Pity the poor dancers'!!!! I just wanted it to end! Just sad if this is Carlos' swansong!

  9. Robert responded on 29 October 2015 at 1:08am Reply

    Everyone in my box absolutely loved Carmen!
    Loved it.
    Talked about trying to get to see it again.
    Standing ovation.
    Everyone standing.

    Ok ok it's full of gimmicks - clothes being ripped off, drumming hands on tables, chairs on wheels - but you cannot keep your eyes off it! It's like the Royal Ballet meets Pina Bausch meets an Ann Summers catalogue. It's that good! Undoubtedly the most entertaining thing I've seen on the ROH stage. Ever.

    Perhaps it's just not a show for oldie purists? ;-)

    • I agree with Robert. I went without prejudice, and without having read any reviews, and I thoroughly enjoyed the much-debated Carmen. I am not a regular ballet-goer, but I enjoy dance, contemporary ballet in particular, and I was determined to see this artiste in the flesh before the end of his career. I was not disappointed either by his on-stage presence (phenomenal) or by his choreography (compelling). I give Acosta credit for drawing upon a range of relevant Spanish/Latin American musical sources to enrich the work. Integrating singers and musicians into the on-stage business worked well. My one misgiving about the production was the characterisation of Carmen herself who portrayed sexuality rather than sensuality. A 'femme fatale' must have both of these, methinks.
      On the occasions I have attended live ballet in London, I too have felt that there are those in the audience who regard themselves as the custodians of standards in the dance world, and who are determined to make their voices heard. However, insistence on high standards should not preclude open-mindedness.

    • Marian Sheath responded on 1 November 2015 at 7:43pm

      Completely agree with your comments Robert. I went to the matinee yesterday and thought it was sensational. Bravo Carlos. I too want to see it again and immediately went to the box on leaving but sadly all performances now sold out.

  10. Such a fabulous evening, Viscera - stunning performances from Morera and Stock, Lamb and Muntagirov are elegant and beautiful and Faun, Salenko and McRae Pas de Deux is breathtaking and totally captivating.
    What a huge disappointment with Carmen! Can't agree more with Geoff- after a Don Quixote fiasco why was Acosta allowed this indulgence all over again! As much as I admire him as an outstanding dancer who thrilled and captivated audiences, sadly as a choreographer he has always disappointed.

  11. Jakegee responded on 30 October 2015 at 8:55am Reply

    I wish to dissent with many of the opinions given above in criticism of Carlos Acosta's "Carmen". I was at both performances and the audience gave a most enthusiastic response at both. I felt the second one was better, since, in my opinion, Laura Morera was a much more accurate Carmen, and I felt Carlos better suited the role of Escamillo than Don Jose.

    I did feel that it was occasionally a bit 'gimmicky', but no one can deny that it was wonderful dance, great theatre with a very simple but hugely effective set and lighting, and, above all, a wonderful piece of entertainment to end a very enjoyable quadruple bill.

    It vexes me, and indeed annoys me, that it is always the same critics and reviewers who assume their roles as judges of what WE, the audience, must enjoy! As I've said above, the audience gave a huge response to "Carmen". Elena above decries "the fiasco that was Don Quixote" Get your facts right, woman, Don Quixote has been a huge success for Royal Ballet. Last year it packed the house for 16 performances in its second season and has had world wide acclaim.

    Additionally, for those who say that Carlos Acosta is not a choreographer, remember that his "Tocororo" held box office records at Sadlers Wells for years (and perhaps it still does?) His choreography for "Guys and Dolls" at Chichester Festival Theatre has had great praise and is now about to tour.

    Sadly the world of ballet seems to be too much influenced by the fuddy-duddies who will not accept anything outwith the realms of classical ballet, and cannot appreciate any change or innovation. The same critics shouted down Hofesh Shechter's "Untouchable" and Wayne McGregor's "Woolf Works" - but audiences LOVED them.

    The goal and purpose of the Royal Ballet is to entertain audiences with a range of tastes, not just those few elitists who consider their opinions to be the final judgement. We other mere mortals must also be heard. I congratulate Kevin O'Hare on his courage to introduce new exciting pieces to the Royal Ballet repertoire. I visit the R.O.H. frequently and see every production at least once each season and rarely leave feeling less than happy. Yes, I do occasionally think " That one was not for me." However, the solution to that is not to attend that production in a future season. It is not my right, nor that of anyone else, to sit in judgement as to what audiences should watch.

    "One man's meat is another man's poison", but too much poison is whispered and sometimes shouted by the few who consider their opinion to be gospel. I hope many others will share my view.

    Thank you, Royal Ballet. Thank you, Kevin O'Hare. Thank you, especially, Carlos Acosta, for all your wonderful performances and dedication to your admiring audiences.

    • Susy Canvin responded on 31 October 2015 at 11:44am

      How very refreshing to read your comments, I totally agree with them. I make a point of never reading reviews before seeing a performance, then I can make my own judgement. I particularly enjoyed reading your last paragraph, well said!

    • Anastasia responded on 2 November 2015 at 1:21pm

      Worldwide acclaim for Acosta's Don Quixote? Where and when? I am sorry but let's stick to the facts. Acosta's Don Q sold tickets for a number of very good reasons, his choreography (if you can call it choreography, not a clichéd approach to rework a classic bravura piece) not being one of them. First of all, Carlos Acosta himself used to be a tremendously charismatic Basilio and the audiences wanted to see him again. Secondly, a few casts in London (I saw four and would like to highlight Steve McRae and Iana Salenko, as well as Akane Takada and Anna Tsygankova’s Kitri) proved to be lovely and capable of tackling Petipa’s original and fiendishly difficult steps, lifts and splits. Please do not confuse these with Acosta’s know-hows, which were again unhappily displayed en masse in his Carmen. Thirdly, all ballet goers love a full length ballet and the Royal Ballet is short on that front, packing their programme with triple or quadruple bills each season. So far, only Christopher Wheeldon (one hundred cheers to him) managed to surprise and delight us with his full-length works. But in terms of classics, Royal Ballet, where is your Raymonda (please, please do it before the wondrous Zenaida Yanowsky retires), La Sylphide, Esmeralda, Le Corsaire? So, yes, we were hungry to see this new Don Q and we were disappointed with what Carlos Acosta did with it. Carlos Acosta is not a choreographer.

  12. W J Owen responded on 31 October 2015 at 6:20pm Reply

    I went to the matinee on 31/10. I loved the first three ballets but I'm afraid that Carmen didn't do it for me. I really wanted to like it but it just didn't work for me. I'm not a ballet purist and went to see it with an open mind. I loved Raven Girl but could see why it didn't work on the first occasion and those problems had been ironed out when I saw it this year. With Carmen, I can't really put my finger on why it's not working for me.

    I like the musicians performing on the stage - singers and guitarists . That was not new though. It was in Don Quixote too. I liked the flamenco section in the second scene.
    I hated the amplified singing towards the end . What was that all about ? The singers were there so why couldn't they just sing from the pit or the wings?
    The dancers were wonderful. Carlos Acosta was perfect in his role. I love Laura Morera and no one does feisty better than her but it was missing in this role. I just don't understand why. Surely it's essential for Carmen?
    My main criticism is that there was no subtlety in the performance. It was very "in your face", almost like pantomime. It just didn't work. A shame .

  13. Dana responded on 31 October 2015 at 7:09pm Reply

    I find it baffling that ordinary members of the public feel entitled to say Carlos Acosta is not a choreographer.

    Only a dance authority might feel entitled to dismiss not only one of the world's leading dancers / choreographers but also the institution which has established him as choreographer and has staged his work for a paying public. And none have dared dismiss him in such a sweeping way.

    Carmen is a short, modern, semi-abstract, and highly metaphorical work; the matador / bull ring metaphor was genius. The energy and enthusiasm of the choreographer was felt throughout - whether or not he was on stage.

    Spine tingling, experimental, personal, and a true homage to Latin American and European dance.

  14. lablady responded on 31 October 2015 at 10:06pm Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed Jakegee's comments above and agree wholeheartedly. We, the audience, have a voice and he has done well to convey that point. I saw the mixed bill/Carmen this afternoon and enjoyed the entire programme. Highlights for me were undoubtedly, Eric Underwood and Lauren Cuthbertson in Afternoon ... just STUNNING, Leti Stock in Viscera and Acosta's CARMEN. Loved loved Morera (she is so fiery and mesmerising to watch, she dances with her soul), and (layman as I am) I judged the choreography to be exciting, new and terrifically dramatic and powerful. What else are we looking for? Was also good to see Gina Storm-Jensen and McNally given parts where we could actually see them. Loved their card scene. What a treat of an afternoon. I wish I could go again.

  15. Chris Palmer responded on 31 October 2015 at 11:03pm Reply

    Wow what a wonderful evening. Enjoyed every moment and Carmen was amazing. Very emotional and totally immersed you in the story.

  16. Alison Pedley responded on 31 October 2015 at 11:27pm Reply

    Jakegee, your review was refreshing to read after the negativity of many others. I attended today's 31st October) matinee and thoroughly enjoyed a confident and fantastically danced performance. Bonelli was superb as Don Jose and Acosta excellent as Escamillo, to say nothing of the sultry Morera. I also agree with your final paragraph, keep pushing the boundaries Kevin, it's working

  17. W J Owen responded on 1 November 2015 at 7:43am Reply

    I should have also said that there have been comments about ballet purists being intolerant of a more modern / different style of dance. I think that is rather unfair. The criticism on this page has been constructive and I am sure the Royal Ballet will welcome it. ( After I saw Raven Girl the first time they sent me a questionnaire about the production and many of my areas of criticism had been improved upon this year). Carmen strikes me as akin to a Matthew Bourne production . I have been to see several of those and whilst the music is usually recorded ( a big negative for me), the productions are much better than this production of Carmen. So I would say that if you liked this Carmen, go and see a Matthew Bourne production to see how much better it can be done . With a live orchestra and the fantastic dancers of the Royal Ballet , this Carmen should have been so much better.

  18. Bridie Macmahon responded on 1 November 2015 at 9:51am Reply

    Just to say that I agree with many of Jakegee's comments above, but a) I love Hofesh Shechter and I loved Woolf Works but I still had reservations about Carmen, and b) it's legitimate to question the quality of a work even if it has proved to be popular. So I don't think it's fair to label anyone who criticizes a new work as a 'fuddy-duddy'; it's often the people who go to ballet most often and/or have been going for the longest time who care most about it as an art form. That said, I enjoyed Carmen and thought it had a lot to recommend it.

  19. Helen Dixon responded on 1 November 2015 at 9:59am Reply

    Went to ROH yesterday matinee. The music for Viscera was not for me , but the rest of the performance was wonderful. I can't believe that someone as good as Carlos Acosta will not be dancing classical roles again. I saw the last performances of Nureyev, and that was just embarassing, but why is Carlos leaving with all that talent?

  20. Patricia Fray responded on 1 November 2015 at 12:28pm Reply

    Neale and I attended the matinee performance Saturday (31.10.15). We thoroughly enjoyed all 4 sections. There were such delightful contrasts and the variety made the afternoon pass in a dazzling array of visual pleasure. Perhaps the Carmen could have been a bit shorter but what could you cut and not lose the story! No we loved it all. Well done for being innovative and pushing the boundaries. We think the ballet performed at the ROH is better than anywhere.

  21. Harriet responded on 1 November 2015 at 1:13pm Reply

    I didn't enjoy Viscera; bored me to tears if I'm honest. Loved the middle section although wasn't entirely convinced on the cast for Faun. Tchaikovsky PDD is a cute piece & was danced beautifully. I saw the matinee on the 31st October.

    I loved Carmen, thought it was brilliant which did surprise me, as it didn't sound like it'd be my cup of tea (I'm not a McGregor fan for example). Morera was perfect and it was so great to see Bonelli shine in a grittier role than I'd usually see him in, completely saw him in a different light & found he was excellent. I can't imagine Acostas & Bonelli's roles reversed though & am disappointed this won't be the exact cast that makes it to the cinema. Acosta was perfect in the matinee & I feel his character was a better fit. I can maybe understand the less than glowing reviews, although I think some are unnecessarily harsh. Loved the music. Overall was pleasantly surprised as I went with low expectations.

  22. Lynne responded on 1 November 2015 at 4:41pm Reply

    This is a terrific, varied mixed bill and, with three wonderful casts in each ballet, one which really shows the strength and versatility of the company. I’m slightly surprised at the negativity towards Carmen – I loved it. To me it contains all the passion and drama you’d expect, with several solos and pas de deux amongst the lead characters (in all three casts) which exude emotional chemistry. And I thought the set was stunning. Personally, I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t make a come-back in future seasons.

  23. Rob G responded on 1 November 2015 at 4:56pm Reply

    Sorry - don't agree with the above. I'm 35 so not a "fuddy duddy". Like modern works and the classical rep, even went to see Raven Girl again so can't be accused of falling under the critics' spell.

    The difference in quality between Liam Scarlett's work and Carlos's work was vast. There were no interesting lines or lifts, plus stripping the dancers down to their undies just felt cheap. Don Q was okay but had less of Carlos' imprint on it, even then it wasn't nearly as good as the Bolshoi's version. I'm afraid Carlos should leave it to Liam and Co to come up with new work. Maybe stick to the writing or go into teaching instead but choreography - no. Let's not ruin the memory...

  24. Viscera was well danced and seemed to belong to the cast in a way that it didn't when it was new, but does it have to be so dark? Does anyone ever bother to see what productions look like from the Amphitheatre?

    Afternoon of a Faun is a brilliant work in which Robbins created choreography which subtly evokes the Nijinsky original while Tchaikovsky pas de deux is an enjoyable gala piece made by a master choreographer, They were both very well danced and up to this point I was having a most enjoyable evening. Then we had the new work, Carmen.

    I am sorry but calling people who disagree with you and find it a very poor piece "purists" and "fuddy duddies" may make you feel better but it doesn't improve the structure or the choreography of Acosta's new work which lacks a dramatic trajectory and fails to develop any of the main characters, Carmen remains a cardboard cut out throughout,and any dramatic momentum there may be is interrupted at regular intervals by the corps providing some local colour.The whole thing is a great waste of fine dancers.The objection that I and many others have to this work is not that it is challenging and innovative, but that it is derivative and dull. Acosta has clearly run out of ideas long before he has run out of music.Mastery of other people's choreography does not automatically confer the ability to invent interesting new choreography to fill out a score or even to rework existing dance works effectively.

    I have no doubt that this sort of mix and match form of work is very popular when it appears in one of Acosta's entertainments but it doesn't make this piece an effective and coherent dramatic ballet.

    .It is very sad that such a stellar career should end on such a low note.Acosta is a great dancer but a comparatively inexperienced choreographer. Mounting a production of a work,such as Don Quixote, with which you are familiar is a very different task from creating an entirely new work. It is a pity that no one appears to have recognised this although it should have been obvious.

    I have no doubt that his fans of whom there were many in the audience think Acosta's Carmen a very fine piece of work. Unfortunately his fans can only buy tickets they can't improve the quality of the choreography through their faith in their hero.

  25. Wow-lively thread (grins). Here's my two pence worth: -
    Viscera- Hinkis, Morera and Hirano led our cast. Gorgeous dancing from the leads, exciting and energetic performances from the ensemble, great playing from the orchestra. Scarlett's abstract pieces are elegant and enjoyable to watch.
    Faun-Cuthbertson and Underwood: wonderful, compelling, superb dancing. Great to see the talented Underwood in a part that fits him so well. We saw Hamilton and Muntagirov in it before she left on her sabbatical, and they were amazing but with different nuances; I like the way different casts are finding their own reading and interpretation of the piece, just as Jerome Robbins intended.
    Tchaikovsky pdd- Nunez and Muntagirov spectacular and assured, great rapport with each other and the audience....just a huge treat to see them.
    Carmen- ahh...ha. So many versions out there, some with their own legends (eg Plisetskaya's long search for a composer until Shostakovich suggested she ask her husband Schedrin, Petit's popular version originally made for his wife "I liked the overture so much that I rushed home with ideas for a ballet without waiting to see the rest if the opera"- Petit, etc etc) Frankly, it's very brave of Acosta to tackle a score and story with so much history (or baggage, depending on your view).
    My impression was that there were great ideas and some less successful ones: one moment you'd say "I love that" and the next moment you'd think otherwise. No doubting the commitment and passion from all the cast, the corps included. We had Morera, Bonelli as Don Jose, Acosta as Escamillo- I thought this casting was (instinctively) the best fit for the 3 characters (although really, Nunez, Acosta and Bonelli could dance anything as well). Bonelli brought pathos to Don Jose's misery without being a wimp, Acosta can do swagger without it becoming a caricature, and Morera is one of the best dance actresses in ballet today- just one arch of her eyebrows or stiffening of her shoulders speaks volumes. It isn't a great ballet right now, but it's not a disaster either. I hope Carlos will go back to his ballet- perhaps a few times even- and rework some of it-with time and some revisions it could a great piece.
    Bits I liked: the musicians on stage, the photographers, the set, the rope/cuffs as a metaphor for Carmen the prisoner holding Jose captive with her allure. Didn't like the use of Bizet's L'Arlesienne music as it wasn't intended for this story and sounds out of place, not sure the stripping adds anything to the plot and looks confusing, and there is a lot more choreography that could have gone into the various pas de deux - it looked like if Acosta had had more time he could have made some great duets for them. Balanchine, Ashton and Peter Wright have all reworked ballets they made long ago and improved them, no reason why this can't be the same. Some might argue that it would have been better premiering this in an experimental setting like the Linbury, but I suspect that lots of people would have wanted to see it and there would have been insufficient seating.

  26. Went to the school matinee yesterday. So exciting to be there and see such incredible dancing. But wished I could cover the children's eyes quite often in Carmen.

    • Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning)) responded on 5 November 2015 at 2:40pm

      Thanks for your comment, very pleased to hear you enjoyed your visit, but sorry to hear you didn't feel Carmen was always suitable. We are keen to offer new work as well as established repertoire for our Schools' Matinees and this meant that the school groups were among the first to see the new Carmen. Following the opening night, we thought carefully about the content. We felt that it was appropriate to the well-known story of Carmen and comparable to television dance shows and music videos which are shown before the watershed. We will shortly be sending feedback forms to all school bookers and very much appreciate hearing from those who have brought groups. Thank you for getting in touch, we will bear your and other feedback in mind for future Schools' Matinees.

      Best wishes,

      Edward Mackay
      Community Engagement Manager

    • ML responded on 13 November 2015 at 12:54am

      I agree with WB- the other 3 works were amazing for school children, but Carmen as a ballet or opera is not really suitable for under 13s. I saw Roland Petit's version of Carmen at 10 but that is far more subtle than this production. I was surprised that the ROH did not issue the content advisory (not that it would have changed what tickets I bought) like it has done for other productions.

  27. Valerie Knight responded on 6 November 2015 at 9:05pm Reply

    We went to the evening performance on 31 Oct. The only thing we didn't enjoy was Viscera but I admit comtemporary is not my taste. I could see it was well danced but the music gave me a headache. Agree with the comment about the darkness. Lovely to see Lauren Cuthbertson back in Tchaikovsky pdd. Thought Matthew Ball was excellent in Faun and Carmen although his solo as Escamilo was lost in the crowd scene - so much enjoyed the rehearsal clip where it really was a solo. The audience certainly enjoyed the whole programme on Sat. evening. Will be seeing it all again at the cinema on 12th and it will be interesting to see a different cast. I agree with Patricia Fray that ballet at ROH is better than anywhere. With the range of RB's repertoire there is something for everyone.

  28. theneverlatewizard responded on 7 November 2015 at 10:22am Reply

    I am wondering whether some of commenters were there last night or just decided to form an opinion without actually seeing the performance...there was a huge ovation after Carmen and haven't talked to a single person after the performance who didn't put it either the best or second best last night..

    While Viscera and the third, Tchaikovsky piece was certainly well performed, this perfection absolutely lacked imagination, to the extent that it would be hard to have a conversation about what these piece ment to someone a day later..

    Thus the stars of last night were the Faun and Carmen, which not only were amazing but also much more subtle and thought-inspiring with many layers of meaning. I agree though, these were only for those more open to abstract thinking.
    Viscera and especially the third piece will please those who like things simple and easy to understand...that's the Walt Disney piece and likely to digest easier but not much remains with you thereafter...

    • Rob G responded on 9 November 2015 at 3:08pm

      Are we talking about the same Carmen? Many layers of meaning? Only for those open to abstract thinking? If anything it was Carmen was for those that lack imagination.

      Cheap bucks fizz gags, stripping to your undies, rolling chairs around and banging on tables don't make it a dance evening for me. Maybe good for a musical in the west end but not for a dance performance at Covent Garden. The performance lacked any interesting choreography whatsoever, which contrasted greatly with Viscera which has real innovation (in lines and lifts) rather than cheap thrills and awkward lifts.

  29. royalballetbore responded on 7 November 2015 at 5:06pm Reply

    Oh poor old Carlos. LEAVE HIM ALONE ha ha! - He's a firebrand and you cannot blame the RB for giving him a shot.

    So far I have seen Morera dance Carmen with Bonelli as Don Jose, Acosta as Escamillo. This seems like the best to see first, in fact I already fear for Carlos in the thankless (poorly costumed) Don Jose role which I'm due to see next week. The dance through prison bars with elasticated 'rope/chains' was the worst offending section for me - and so soon - Shia LeBoeuf meets MTV meets Ashton, done with no ident of itself. Acosta has plainly diluted himself just a little too thinly throughout and had too little time, but we can never doubt his art and contribution. Can't wait to see him downstairs in Tuckett's Elizabeth in January and Classical Selection in December.

    The night was saved by all the other wonders. Morera/Hirano PDD in Viscera was the moment of the whole night. Is there nothing Morera isn't exceptional at?

  30. Jane E. responded on 12 November 2015 at 11:42pm Reply

    I have just seen the final performance of Carmen/mixed bill, screened at the cinema. I enjoyed every minute and wish to say, Bravo to the Royal Ballet and Bravo to Carlos Acosta. It was an evening of beautiful Dance and Theatre. The curtain call for Carlos was wonderful to see and I wish him every success for the future.

  31. Anne O responded on 13 November 2015 at 9:26am Reply

    I also saw the final performance at the Cinema and enjoyed all the ballet in different ways. i felt it would have been fitting to see Carlos in a short classical dance but have loved and enjoyed his career and wish him the Best of Luck for the future and thank him hugely for the past!

  32. William Swales responded on 28 December 2015 at 2:52pm Reply


    Carlos Acosta’s amazing fusion of opera and ballet blows EVERYTHING that went before it clean out of the water. This is ‘ballet-opera’ as it SHOULD be done.

    Forget the cringing versions where basses fail to reach the high notes and few baritones can reach the low notes – and throw away the dreary lifeless ballet adaptations that lack fire and passion for here is a masterwork that has raised the bar so high that many many years or even DECADES will pass before it is surpassed.

    As to the production: Martin Yates brilliant scoring of the music captured every nuance of Prosper Merimee’s depiction of the ‘fatalistic’ deluded world in which the gypsy, bigot, hypocrite, and the ‘easily led’ resides - and the musicality of the stage musicians painted the passion, drama, and inevitable tragic conclusion to the powerful tragedy with stunning virtuosity and stark emotional realism.

    The performances of ‘The flower song’; ‘Habanera’; and ‘Seguidilla’ were breathtaking – and the way that Federico Bonelli depicted Escamillo ridiculously ‘strutting his stuff’ as a pompous, shallow, vain, and extremely needy womaniser ‘resting on his laurels’ of slaughtering cruelly taunted and severely injured bulls barely able to stand on their last legs - in the (so called) name of ‘sport’ - was inspired – Bonelli is one to watch for sure.

    Fiona Kimm’s powerful delivery of the deadly ‘no holds barred’ tarot reading reduced me to tears – as did David Buckingham’s stunning guitar accompaniment incessantly biting deeply into the psyche – as he played the ‘tarantella’ (spider dance) depicting the ‘web of intrigue’ created by the fortune teller as the cards delivered their ‘fate’ and impending doom – with the ever-present brooding macho ‘viking like’ bullish duende (fate) forever ‘looking on’ in readiness to ensnare feeble-minded ‘believers’ into his cruel callous trap – a trap that will entice an upstanding ‘free-spirited’ man from his society into a world of treachery and deceit as ‘fate’ leads everyone into a tragic, pitiful, ‘no-win’ situation.

    The way that Carlos Acosta’s choreography depicts both Carmen (Spanish for Scarlet) and Don Jose entwined and locked in chains when he ‘stands guard’ at the prison and in a moment of excitement and infatuation frees Carmen – which culminates in Don Jose being imprisoned and then stripped of his rank for his ‘folly’ – for me stands as a ‘magical moment’ of theatre. I have never seen this important ‘moment of truth’ that predicates the ‘defining moment’ when Carmen consorts with her friends at ‘Lillas Pastia’s’ (the semiology of ‘lily’ denoting innocence and purity; unfulfilled love; and procreation – depicted in Giselle when the prince places lilies on Giselle’s grave) and meets Escamillo - so vividly depicted – ever – and as for Marianela Nunez – she was on FIRE! She IS Carmen! X X

    As to the lighting – the use of the colour space to depict passion (red); envy (green); cowardice (yellow); and despair (stage black) was mind-numbing. The use of colour in this way was very reminiscent of Powell and Pressburger’s dazzling ‘must-see’ presentation of Offenbach’s ‘ballet-opera’ ‘Tales of Hofmann’ featuring Moira Shearer and Robert Helpmann and an all-star cast that deliver stunning vocal performances – now fabulously restored to 4K from the original ‘3 strip’ Technicolor camera negatives by Martin Scorsese and available on BluRay. The lunar eclipse turning the moon blood-red - depicting impending doom (always associated with floods; fire; famine; and death) – and the way the ‘ring of fire’ became the bullring where Jose confronts Escamillo and Carmen meets her ‘fate’ was a MASTERSTROKE of theatre – and as to the stunning arresting costumes – they depicted EVERYTHING about each and every character – from bravado to weakness; from conniving scam to conviction (shades of the fortune teller in ‘Les Sylphide’ methinks); from passion to despair (poor Jose); and from taunting to comeuppance of Carmen - ‘the scarlet woman’ – truly wonderful.

    Well Mr Acosta – you may have retired from performing – but the ovations and flower accolades you received from your ‘ballet-opera’, together with your game-changing choreography of ‘Don Quixote’ that truly captures the allegories of Miguel Cervantes – suffering and tormented in the hands of ‘The Spanish Inquisition’ for writing his masterwork - tells us that you are the man to choreograph ‘the big three’ – ‘Swan Lake’; ‘Sleeping Beauty’; and ‘The Nutcracker’ from their ‘tired’ ‘old-fashioned’ productions into a form that is both fit for the twenty-first Century – and ‘hits home’ the powerful potent allegorical messages that these three ballets deliver - and then perhaps consider re-staging other operas into ‘ballet-opera’ – and truly transform the art form – just as Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber has done with his ‘ballet-opera’ ‘Phantom of the opera’ – a show that is now in it’s THIRTIETH year.

    Go on Carlos – I dare you – and I am sure that I am not alone with my sentiment.

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