Dec 202014

Dame Monica Mason with David Drew, Derek Rencher and Rudolf Nureyev in Hamlet. The Royal ballet 1964. Photo: Donald Southern

Derek Rencher, one of the longest serving mem­bers of The Royal Bal­let, has died at 82.

He joined the Sadler’s Wells Bal­let in 1953 and was pro­moted to soloist in 1957 soon after the com­pany was gran­ted its Royal Charter, becom­ing The Royal Bal­let. Soon after he became a prin­cipal and cre­ated roles in Elektra, Persephone, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, Enigma Vari­ations, Shad­ow­play, Ana­stasia, Rituals, A Month in the Coun­try, The Dream, Isad­ora, The Tem­pest and Winter Dreams.

His work was cap­tured many times for the screen and he can be seen as Paris with Mar­got Fon­teyn and Rudolf Nureyev in the 1966 Romeo and Juliet; was Roth­bart in the 1980 Swan Lake with Nat­alia Makarova and Anthony Dow­ell; and Emperor Franz Josef in the 1994 video of May­er­ling with Irek Mukhamedov and Vivi­ana Dur­ante. As a char­ac­ter artist he was cel­eb­rated for his Ugly Sis­ter in Ashton’s Cinder­ella, among many, many oth­ers. He cre­ated the role of Mon­sieur G.M. in Manon and can be seen dan­cing part of the role with Nat­alia Makarova and Stephen Jef­fer­ies. …con­tinue reading.

Dec 142014

Thiago Soares as Siegfried and Marianela Nuñez as Odette - ©ROH, Alice Pennefather, 2012

Christ­mas, New Year and then the Epi­phany — the day of the Befana, a sort of female Santa Claus who deliv­ers presents to Italian chil­dren for the Twelfth day of Christ­mas — and Daniele Cipri­ani Enter­tain­ment now adds another date to this feast of abund­ance with a dance gala full of plums!

The 10th and 11th Janu­ary in Rome will see Svet­lana Zakhar­ova, Mari­anela Nuñez, Vyacheslav Lopatin, Thi­ago Soares, Silvia Azzoni and other inter­na­tional ‘stelle del bal­letto’ dance in the gala Les Étoiles.
…con­tinue reading.

Dec 102014

Carla Fracci at La Scala for Fidelio 7 December, 2014One of the most eleg­ant even­ings of the Italian cul­tural cal­en­dar wouldn’t be com­plete without one of the Italian artists who sym­bol­ises eleg­ance: Carla Fracci.

The baller­ina, who grew up through the La Scala bal­let school and had count­less tri­umphs on its stage, is, sur­pris­ingly, no longer involved in the artistic life of the theatre, but is always present for the fam­ous open­ing of the Opera and Bal­let Sea­son on 7 Decem­ber. This year she was the guest of the energy com­pany ENEL and Francesco Starace, the company’s Chief Exec­ut­ive Officer and Gen­eral Manager.

This year also marks the open­ing of the Milan Expo 2015 sea­son when La Scala will put on extra per­form­ances for the mil­lions who will visit the city next year: there will be more than 300 per­form­ances in total dur­ing the next twelve months. …con­tinue reading.

Dec 092014

Carlos Acosta as Colas and Marianela Nuñez as Lise in The Royal Ballet's La Fille Mal Gardée - photo by Bill Cooper / ROH


George Bal­anchine / NEW Hofesh Shechter / Ken­neth Mac­Mil­lan
Music: Paul Hindemith / Koen Kes­sels / Gustav Mahler

27, 30 March, 8, 10, 14 April at 7.30pm

A world première from much sought-after Israeli cho­reo­grapher and com­poser Hofesh Shechter is the centrepiece of the Royal Ballet’s con­tem­por­ary mixed pro­gramme which opens at the end of March.

In his first com­mis­sion for The Royal Bal­let, Shechter will draw on his vis­ceral and com­pel­ling style to cre­ate an intense ensemble work for the Com­pany, explor­ing tri­bal energy with ‘an ocean’ of dancers.

The pro­gramme also includes George Balanchine’s The Four Tem­pera­ments. His 1946 work was once con­sidered coldly formal but is now seen as a mas­ter­piece of the 20th cen­tury. This is the first time in eight years that The Royal Bal­let has per­formed the piece and it will fea­ture débuts from the major­ity of the cast.

The final work in this triple bill is Ken­neth MacMillan’s Song of the Earth. Cre­ated in 1965 for Stut­tgart Bal­let, Song of the Earth is an embod­i­ment of love, loss and death, set to Mahler’s song-cycle Das Lied von der Erde. Prin­cipal Dan­cers Steven McRae and Thi­ago Soares make their debuts in this bal­let. …con­tinue reading.

Dec 082014

Fidelio Backstage with Graham Spicer, Anja Kampe and Silvia Farina, La Scala 2014

Instead of loun­ging in the press­room with glass of some­thing bub­bly in my hand dur­ing the open­ing of La Scala’s sea­son, I found myself in the wings hold­ing a mic and try­ing to describe – and trans­late – what was going on around me.

The idea for this first live back­stage video stream came from Silvia Farina, who is respons­ible for La Scala’s digital adven­tures, and was with me onstage. The world’s most fam­ous opera house has been quickly catch­ing up in the social media sphere, and this is the latest of a series of steps to open its doors to an even wider pub­lic. So for Deborah Warner’s new pro­duc­tion of Fidelio, which is Daniel Barenboim’s last pro­duc­tion as the theatre’s Musical Dir­ector, there were three cam­eras back­stage through­out the opera, and before, after and dur­ing the inter­val Silvia and I babbled into our Sen­nhe­isers and inter­viewed some of the fig­ures indis­pens­able for mak­ing it all hap­pen. …con­tinue reading.