‘Cinderella’ at the Royal Opera House

Lovely dayout yesterday to matinee of Cinderella (Prokofiev ballet) at ROH. Rosie’s 6th birthday treat but we grownups adored it too! Glamour, magic, story clearly told, stunning sets and costumes, great music – reminding us what we go to the theatre for…

Classic Frederick Ashton choreography, with trademark Ashton figures in the hyperactive Jester (James Hay) and of course the pantomime-dame Ugly Sisters (James Wilkie and Thomas Whitehead, extremely funny). Yuhui Choe pretty and touching as Cinderella, Sergei Polunin likewise as her fairy-tale Prince. (But Rosie liked the Fairy Godmother – Francesca Filpi – best of all.)

Nice to see my old chum Mark Jonathan credited with the lighting, which was sumptuous and just right. And what a brilliant score – all the Prokofiev hallmarks of clarity, energy, ingenious and unexpected orchestration (particularly percussion, oboe, bassoon, contrabassoon and trumpet, all working incredibly hard! No ‘easy night off’ playing for the ballet in this one.) And he does that odd trick of putting a tuba on the bass line even in moving or touching passages – shouldn’t work but it does.

Not having seen a synopsis, I was fascinated by the reference to The Love for Three Oranges in the score, paralleled by the appearance of three oranges on stage… is this Prokofiev’s in-joke, or Ashton’s? Any insights welcome.

What a contrast to our dismal evening at The Tsar’s Bride earlier in the week. (No offence to Rimsky-Korsakov’s fine and sometimes amazing music, or to Sir Mark Elder’s equally fine but disappointingly ponderous conducting. But the ballet reminded us, by contrast, what a chore it is to sit through yet another grim updated staging that doesn’t fit the music and has us peering at a room full of dark-suited gents in a gloomy setting, trying to figure who is who and which one is singing. And that was just the first scene. Yes, we were sitting very high up in the Amphi! 😦

See review and photos of Cinderella at http://www.seenandheard-international.com/2011/04/09/prokofiev%e2%80%99s-cinderella-at-the-royal-ballet/

photo (c) Tristram Kenton

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2 Comments on “‘Cinderella’ at the Royal Opera House”

  1. David Says:

    Prokofiev bore popping up here after long absence, hail Jonathan!, to answer your query. It would have to be Prokofiev’s, wouldn’t it, since Ashton’s choreography came much later. But the serving of oranges to the guests is very much part of the original scenario.

    Just to be extra-smart, Prokofiev also quotes his own incidental music to a stage adaptation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, but only because that never saw the light of day as planned back in 1937.

    Agree about staging of Tsar’s Bride, probably not clear for anyone who didn’t know it – I guess the appearance of ‘Ivan Grozny’ in Act 2 would have gone for nothing (just another Russian mafioso in a dark suit).

  2. jonathanburton Says:

    Thanks David! Good to hear from you.
    No indeed, Diana spotted Ivan the Not Very Good at the party, but I was mystified as to why his name appeared in the cast list, since he passed me by completely.
    (But we WERE sitting a long way away…)

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