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Subject: "Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1433
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Lynette H

08-03-01, 03:46 PM (GMT)
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"Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
 
   The first evening of the Royalís latest triple bill was a fairly downbeat and sombre affair. The house was the thinnest Iíve seen this season, with plenty of empty seats in all areas, and the response fairly muted. Fortunately there was a cheerful and upbeat closer in the form of The Concert to provide us with plenty of laughs and send us home with a smile on our faces.

The opening work was a revival of Macmillanís Triad, which hasnít been seen at Covent Garden for a number of years. Dowell in his final year as Artistic Director has chosen many works with which he was particularly associated: and MacMillan made a leading role in Triad for him in 1972. The work deals with the impact of a woman on the relationship between two brothers, and is set to Prokofievís first violin concerto. Iíd expected one of MacMillanís more moody and intense creations with suitably creepy or erotically charged overtones, and I can imagine how Leanne Benjamin, originally cast as the woman, could have provided these. Injuries and last minute substitutions came up with a cast of Tapper, Persson and Watson.

Jaimie Tapper has been very successful in some leading roles (particularly charming in Les Rendezvous) but although she danced very cleanly here, I wasnít convinced she was right for this part. She came across as sweet and wholesome, which arenít characteristics one normally associates with MacMillan heroines. There was little that was alluring or powerful enough to wreak the sort of emotional mayhem that Watson was suffering. Persson managed the technical aspects with ease, and he can swing Tapper round his neck quite happily. However nothing about the character or motivation came across at all: it was a complete blank, totally uninvolving. Lots of steps but no projection of personality. Watson in the role of the hurt and rejected brother was dancing in a different and altogether more interesting ballet: on stage he was just born to suffer. Watching his intensity and commitment gave you an indication of the impact the piece could potentially have. On the night it got a rather quiet response.

The world premiere of Ashley Pageís latest work, This House Will Burn, was the centrepiece of the evening. If you are familiar with Pageís work then there are no particular surprises here: dramatic sets which move or play strange tricks (no, it doesnít go up in flames - heís already done that in an earlier piece): ugly grungy costumes for the women, some of whom strip down to bra and pants, lots of aggressive sexuality, furious energy, some very hard working and talented dancers, no narrative as such, and a fairly bleak view of the world. All these are present as usual, and if you liked his last half dozen works for the Royal, then youíll probably like this one. If not, then it last for forty minutes, and will feel rather longer.

The music is a new commission from Orlando Gough, and has bits of muttered spoken text (not in English) woven into it. The sets as usual look expensive: a curtain intermittently rises and falls to show us a domestic setting with a kitchen (yes, finally the kitchen sink really is on stage), sofa, bed and heaps of discarded furniture. A separate enclosed room at a higher level is used by participants to watch each other dress, undress and get up to various unhealthy games. The atmosphere is of a sleazy but perhaps rather unsuccessful party - no one is having fun and everyone seems to end up in the kitchen at some point. Various couples pair off , attempt to, or almost come to blows. A couple of children (uncredited) wander about, are put to bed by an understandably worried-looking Kobborg. Page has an interesting cast: Galeazzi and Yanowsky make the most of their opportunities. Kobborg has a ferocious energy. Watson is, as ever, the one left out. The work seems to stop rather than conclude. It met with a polite though not particularly enthusiastic response.

After this, we really did need something to lift the spirits. The company obliged with a zestful performance of The Concert. Bussell was originally cast for this before her departure on maternity leave: Wildor took her place. Kobborg (completely unrecognisable from the previous piece) was the enamoured gent: Nicola Tranah the implacable wife. The mistake waltz was as popular as ever with fits of giggling everywhere. It was pleasant to laugh at lifeís absurdities after all the angst earlier in the evening, and the company looked like they relished every minute - as did Philip Gammon as the much put upon pianist.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review eugene merrett 08-03-01 1
     RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Michael 09-03-01 2
         RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 09-03-01 3
             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review eug 09-03-01 4
                 RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 09-03-01 5
                     RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review alison 09-03-01 6
                         RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review EUGENE MERRETT 09-03-01 7
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 09-03-01 8
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 09-03-01 9
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Ann Welsh 09-03-01 10
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review eugene merrett 09-03-01 11
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Michael 10-03-01 12
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 10-03-01 13
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Michael 11-03-01 14
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Viviane 11-03-01 15
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Claire S 11-03-01 16
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 11-03-01 17
  RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Bruce Madmin 11-03-01 18
     RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Viviane 11-03-01 19
         RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 12-03-01 20
         RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Stuart Sweeney 13-03-01 21
             RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Bruce Madmin 14-03-01 22
                 RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Jim 14-03-01 23
                     RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Bruce Madmin 15-03-01 28
                         RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Stephanie Wragg 30-03-01 39
                 RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Stuart Sweeney 14-03-01 24
                     RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Bruce Madmin 15-03-01 27
  RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Robert 14-03-01 25
     RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review Shirley 14-03-01 26
         RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review alison 16-03-01 29
             Triad Triple Bill Christopher 17-03-01 30
                 RE: Triad Triple Bill alison 19-03-01 31
                     RE: Triad Triple Bill Christopher 20-03-01 32
                         RE: Triad Triple Bill Ann Williams 20-03-01 33
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill Stuart Sweeney 20-03-01 34
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill Ann Williams 21-03-01 35
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill Stuart Sweeney 21-03-01 36
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill eugene merrett 21-03-01 37
                             RE: Triad Triple Bill alison 21-03-01 38

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eugene merrett

08-03-01, 11:28 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #0
 
   It comes as no surprise that the theatre was not sold out. Triple bills are always a tough sell.

But when one the works is a repeat from last year, another ballet is a relatively unknown MacMillan work and to top it all off an esoteric ballet from Page then you wonder if the ROH has a death wish!!

Whatever one says about Page's talent it must be said that his ballets are difficult to understand or appreciative. I think you really need to have specalist knowledge of ballet to grasp them!


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Michael

09-03-01, 03:08 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #1
 
   Thank goodness for the delicious performance of the Concert, with Sarah an absolute joy. The Page piece seemed endless, full of the combative pas de deux with which he seems obsessed. The cast was well chosen and provided plenty of personality. If it was severely edited, to concentrate on the bits with Cojocaru, which were I think the best, it might be bearable. As you say about Triad Lynette, Tapper and Persson danced beautifully but were an emotional blank; Watson was magnificent,a really special mover


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Jim

09-03-01, 09:10 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #2
 
   LAST EDITED ON 09-03-01 AT 10:35 AM (GMT)

I saw Thursday's performance. The Amphitheatre was quite full, but lots of spaces elsewhere, and the applause was vigorous enough.

The evening started with the curtain rising to a solitary Sir Anthony who annouced the death of Dame Ninette de Valois. I found his speech spontaneous, heart-felt and very moving.

>Thank goodness for the delicious performance
>of the Concert, with Sarah an absolute joy.

I agree whole-heartedly. After the recent controversy in these postings, I was keen to see her for myself and was delighted. It will be interesting to compare her with with Guillem when I see it again in a couple of weeks.

>The Page piece seemed endless ......If it
>was severely edited, to concentrate on the bits with Cojocaru,

I think I can be a bit more up-beat. My heart sank at first when it seemed that it could be renamed "man sitting on kitchen sink" (the sort of stuff my University's performing arts students turn out) but it did grow on me and I'm looking forward to seeing it next time.

I found Triad "interesting" (not a euphamism, I am a MacMillan "collector"). In things like that I often wonder if, through my ignorance, I am missing some "deep and meaningsful message". I thought the girl, Jamie Tapper, was lovely. Does her "line" remind anyone else of Darcey Bussel when she was younger?

Needing five modes of transport to get home, it was quite a night


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eug

09-03-01, 11:59 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #3
 
   Jim I thought you only went down to London to see Gulliem!

The amphitheatre being full but the other areas being empty is no comfort to the Royal Ballet. They need to get the high yield seats sold. If an airline was pact in Economy but empty in Business it would be out of business very soon.

I have yet to see the concert - the last time I was schedule to see it I had to return to my office half way through the performance. Also it always seems to tagged on to an otherwise not very exciting triple bill. Even this seasion the other works on the triple are not something to get over excited about! I do not think I could justify an evening out just to see one work!


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Jim

09-03-01, 12:36 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #4
 
   >I do not think I could justify an evening out just to
>see one work!

I have often done it for the right artiste


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alison

09-03-01, 01:33 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #5
 
   Yes, Jim, but I don't think Eugene's as keen on Sylvie as you are .

Seriously, though, do we know anything about the injury to Cope, and whether he's likely to be performing later in the run?


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EUGENE MERRETT

09-03-01, 02:56 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #6
 
   Jim, would you see Sylvie in, say, the Concert even if the OTHER two works on the bill were utterly bad or at least not to your liking. (and you needed to make 5 changes on your journey to London - BTW think about renting a car - it might be cheaper!)

With apologies to my two favorite dancers, Durante and Yoshida, I am afraid to say I do not think I would do it!!


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Jim

09-03-01, 03:03 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #7
 
   LAST EDITED ON 09-03-01 AT 03:17 PM (GMT)


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Jim

09-03-01, 03:16 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #7
 
   >Jim, would you see Sylvie in,
>say, the Concert

Yes, I have already done it - I booked to see her on March 22 in The Concert, not even looking to see what else was in the programme (last night was an extra opportunity to be in London). I also did this when I went to see her in Marguerite and Armand, and Lilac Gerden. To be honest, I can't now remember what else was on with those.
And I'm flying to see her in Paris next Thursday (Manon) which must be a labour of love because I hate flying

> (and you needed to make 5 changes on your journey to London

It was coming back: I missed (by 30 sec, literally) the last train out of Baker Street to Wembley Park where I left my car. So it was: tube to B.St., walk to Queen's Park (about 4 miles), bus to Wembley, taxi to Wembley Park and eventually, car!


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Ann Welsh

09-03-01, 06:24 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #9
 
   Jim: what a hero!


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eugene merrett

09-03-01, 08:02 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #10
 
   Well if you are going to Paris for Manon you must tell us what you think. Especially about the production and the difference between the POB version and the homegrown version.

Much as I welcome Catherine's contribution you would have the advantage of having seen both the English and French version


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Michael

10-03-01, 04:17 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #11
 
   Jim - I wonder if Sylvie is not appearing in the Concert - in the programme there is no biography of her, but there is one for Marianela Nunez who is not scheduled to dance in anything as far as I know. There are however photos of Sylvie within the main body of the programme. Maybe worth checking....


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Jim

10-03-01, 11:30 AM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #12
 
   >Jim - I wonder if Sylvie is not appearing in the
>Concert

Oh no.... my evening will seem so flat....

> - in the programme there is no biography of
>her, but there is one for Marianela Nunez

Hmmm. Well-spotted Michael - I hadn't noticed. Is she any good?

> Maybe worth checking....

How can we find out????



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Michael

11-03-01, 04:01 AM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #13
 
   Nunez is full of confidence, and would I guess be good, if a but young still. Unfortunately I can't get to any more of the Concerts, but I suppose you could try the RB press office and mention the programme?


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Viviane

11-03-01, 06:49 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #14
 
   Thursday 8 March - my *very first time* at the ROH !

The "House" has amazed me and not at least the way the renovation has been done although it lacks (to me) a bit of poetry...
It was funny -after reading all those postings on expensive sandwiches, bad sight-lines, the benches and the 'horrid'places.. - to be there and "see" all this by yourself !

When Sir.A.Dowell entered the stage at the curtain-rise I didn't understand quite well what was going on..and I was astonished at his announcement : 'my 8 March' will be for ever in history : the day Dame Ninette De Valois passed away...

The Triple Bill was afterall a bit of a strange mix.

on TRIAD :
To me,Triad is a very clear and understandable ballet on human relations.
The boys made strong dizzy turns and I loved Jamie Tapper.
Some lifts and 'handlings' were too complicated,you could notice that the dancers weren't feeling really comfortable with some of this and it slowed down the movements.
But this piece wants me to see more MacMillan !
Above all,the real *star* was the violin-player !!! Wonderful !!!

on THIS HOUSE WILL BURN :
As Triad was so 'clear', so 'confusing' was This House..
A story about 3(?) different lawless relationships, all mixed up in a dreadfull environment with 2 children who are the innocent
withnesses of all this uncomprehensable adult-behaviour.

At the first minutes I didn't know how to get through the coming time.. My 'escape-plan' in case of such emergency wasn't helpfull : the plot was confusing, the scenery not interesting,
the music neither, the costumes (what's in a name !)were not worth to mention..
Amazing...it was the DANCE who helped me through this !
There was a lot of fine, varied dance (different styles) in it and the fact that this was often simultaneous on different places of the stage, kept this piece fascinating enough to stay in your seat...
Maybe I need a second 'view' to understand more...?

on THE CONCERT :
This was obvious : my absolute favourite was "The concert".
And..if you know that I love Chopin..you'll understand that this
piece is a "little gem" to me... I love the way Robbins let's inspire himself by this music ! What a cheerful ballet and how nice to hear people laugh and enjoying in a dignified operahouse.
I found Sarah Wildor just splendid and I'm really looking forward to see more by her.

It was a very special evening -to me- that started with amazement and sadness and to the end : conquered by laughter and most precious of all : DANCE !
I'm already checking my agenda...



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Claire S

11-03-01, 07:35 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #15
 
   I'm glad you enjoyed your first visit to "the House", Viviane.

I loved your conclusion that "dance" was the most precious thing about the evening, though sadly I didn't think it the best tribute to Dame Ninette.

This House Will Burn was OK because of something good performances but I doubt whether any other company will be staging it, or whether it will be revived like Triad. Triad itself was a bit underpowered (imagine it with some MacMillan "experts" - Benjamin, Mukhamedov etc. I thoroughly enjoyed The Concert. It was great to see Sarah Wildor letting her hair down (literally) and Johan Kobborg, too, proving he's so much more than a beautiful technician.

I can't help thinking that despite Anthony Dowell's moving and very heartfelt address, my two previous visits (Cojocaru and Kobborg in R&J and Hatley and Persson in La Fille Mal GArdee) were better tributes to Dame Ninette de Valois and all that she achieved - including developing the talents of MAcMillan and Ashton.


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Jim

11-03-01, 07:58 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #16
 
   Re: TRIAD - when I read in Lynette's review that the two male characters were brothers, it all dropped into place. For some reason or other I had missed this point. I look forward to seeing it again in a different light.


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Bruce Madmin

11-03-01, 09:43 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #0
 
   As usual I've not read the other reviews prior to doing my own...

Q: What are the three worst words in ballet?
A: "New Ashley Page"

I've steadily become quite depressed about the work of Ashley Page for the Royal Ballet. Year in, year out, he's always been given at least one major commission - a hugely privileged position that nobody else has enjoyed - and year in year out the general view of the critics and audience is less than charitable. Of course no view is 100% shared by all and there are those who critically acclaim his work. But then some think Hitler is misunderstood and the victim of a bad press...

Page created a wonderful piece 7 years ago, Fearful Symmetries, and I also liked Room of Cooks for being so taut and dramatic (and short!). But that's about it and more than many would offer as praise. Most of his works have been danced just a few times in their original bill and never surface again. In the last few years Page has become absorbed by dysfunctional relationships often told in a dysfunctional way. There are snatched images and bleak cameos everywhere but any dramatic plot is beyond fathom.

This House Will Burn is Pageís latest work and it's the same approach with expensive design (by the artist Stephen Chambers and Jon Morrell) and a commissioned score from Orlando Gough. The designs feature a bed, kitchen sink, sofa, a Perspex room up a level and piles of household goods together with some strange front and backcloths of figures. They are certainly inventive, as is the moody lighting and likeably jazzy minimalist score, but they tend to compete with rather than support the choreography. Or rather the choreography takes brilliant dancers and manages to drone on for nearly 40 minutes making you depressed at the repetitiveness of it all. There is no joy here just snatches of relentless and senseless relationship horror often in front of the children - a bit of smothering for you perhaps? About 10% of the time there are some glorious flashes of movement in pdd and duets but for the most part one becomes dejected at the narrowness of the movement and dramatic vocabulary. Pageís notes on the piece consist of a couple of quotes from books that provide little by way of illumination. Compressed down to 10 or 15 minutes it might be more successful I suppose.

Both Page, and his management, seem content to mine the same seam which I guess would make sense if it was critically appreciated or did good box office. But it isn't and doesn't and itís got to the point where Page just seems to be 'taking the piss' as somebody in the audience graphically described it. We all want new work, we all want to help develop the next MacMillan or Ashton, but you can't force these things and rather than waste money on repeatedly self-indulgent productions in the main house it would be better to develop lots more choreographers in the smaller theatrical spaces that the ROH now possesses. For himself Page ought to take the opportunity to work with other dancers and in other contexts. The time has surely come to end the situation where Page continues to take the money but sees it as beneath contempt to even occasionally consider the audience.

Another choreographer into dysfunction and the excesses of the human spirit was MacMillan of course. He however knows how to sketch characters people understand, identify with and even relate to. Triad has been out of the RB repertory for nearly 30 years and on the same bill made a welcome return. Itís about two brothers and a girl that they both deeply fancy - they would say love I'm sure. MacMillan said the work was based on some childhood memories. But you wouldn't expect MacMillan's memories to be all lightness and innocence and they are not. There is raw emotion here but it's not an incredibly dark piece and it does covey the real mixed emotions of adolescent relationships.

It's the end section of pas de trois that I find incredibly endearing as the brother repeatedly tries in vain to force the couple apart. Itís also a ballet of legs: I've never noticed legs so much in any MacMillan piece and on reflection itís right because few us ever use our legs as much as we did in our younger and friskier days.

Dancing were Jaimie Tapper, Johan Persson and Edward Watson (as the Brother) and all did great jobs, Tapper being very secure technically, Persson smiling less and starting to grow on many, and Watson was magnificently broody and strong. His presence on stage is now very powerful and he needs to be given more principal roles.

Rounding off the evening was The Concert lead out by Sarah Wildor and Johan Kobborg who were both feeling their way into the roles but created a fine impression. After the Page it cheered the audience and sent us home happy. This is actually a good bill with two excellent pieces well worth seeing. Forgive me for carrying on about the Page but the helpful nudges of many seem to fall on steadfastly deaf ears while all the time precious money, and opportunity, is squandered.



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Viviane

11-03-01, 10:38 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #18
 
   LAST EDITED ON 11-03-01 AT 10:52 PM (GMT)

>About 10% of the time
>there are some glorious flashes
>of movement in pdd and
>duets but for the most
>part one becomes dejected at
>the narrowness of the movement
>and dramatic vocabulary.

Oops... were those 'glorious flashes of movement' only
10% of the time...?
Maybe I was just too enthusiastic for being there !


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Jim

12-03-01, 06:02 AM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #19
 
   >Oops... were those 'glorious flashes of
>movement' only 10% of the time...?

Speaking statistically, proportions (percentages) are notorious for having huge margins of error - hence unexpected results with Opinion Polls in Elections. Since Bruce's sample size is rather small (apparently only a single sampling unit) I would estimate the Margin of Error to range from about 3% to over 25%. As we say "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".


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Stuart Sweeney

13-03-01, 10:34 AM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #19
 
   Stick to your guns Viviane. Although the complexity of the story has caused problems a couple of the newspaper critics have admired the movement vocabulary and one gave the piece a real thumbs up overall. A friend of mine, who is far more knowledgable about dance than me, thought 'This house...' the most interesting work on the programme.

It's a modernist piece and sometimes such works have complex structures or enigmatic themes that demand more than a single viewing. Analogies can be drawn with films like 'Last Year in Marienbad', novels like 'Ulysses' or indeed the work of the artist Stephen Chambers who has inspired several Page ballets including this one. One can like or dislike such works, but it doesn't mean that it's not valid art. Not all narratives have to be as simplistic as 'Cinderella' or 'Sleeping Beauty. Perhaps we see too many children's stories in ballet. Pina Bausch, one of the most feted dance artists working today, makes Page's pieces look simplistic.

I enjoyed the setting and the music and thought a lot of the movement in 'This House...' sensational. I'm not convinced yet that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but like Jim I'm looking forward to seeing it again.


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Bruce Madmin

14-03-01, 07:59 AM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #21
 
   Since you raise the view of critics...

I've heard that Anne Sacks (Evening Standard) was greatly impressed but have not seen her review. With no disrespect to her I'd note that when her name comes up on Postings its usually in the context of some 'odd' comments that folks struggle to comprehend. Judith Mackrell's (Guardian) review was also generally positive but she has long been a Page supporter and does the RB programme notes on him.

Some of the other critics:

Jann Parry (Observer): reports it factually.

Debra Craine (Times) called it the worst of his latest series..congealed mess.. an infuriating 39 minutes

Nadine Meisner (Independent) proposes that the piece should be called 'This Piece Should Burn' and notes that "often he falls into self-indulgent choreographic incontinence."

Ismene Brown (Telegraph) proposes that the piece should be called 'This House will Boo' on account of the booing she heard. "Once upon a time young Page was promising. I can't help thinking he would have made more of his talent if he had been asked to deploy it less often as resident choreographer"

Clement Crisp (Financial Times)... "The choreography labours, brings forth a mountain of pretension, and we have learned that if we ignore it, it will go the way of such other triumphs of the exasperating as Bloodlines, Hidden Variables, Piano, Two Part Inventions and Sawdust and Tinsel. .... The dance seems as aggressive and incomprehensible as football hooliganism.

Jenny Gilbert (Sunday Independent) "... it looked like pure indulgence, fully deserving the muted boos that issued from the balcony (always more opinionated than the stalls, since up there people actually pay for their tickets). In the week that saw the death - age 102 - of the company's extraordinary founder, Ninette de Valois, one blenches to think what she would have made of this. In her active days she would have taken her legendary stick to it.

Louise Levene (Sunday Telegraph)... "Ninette de Valois once wrote, very perceptively, of the essential difference between a doodle and a pattern, but Page has seldom grasped this distinction. He also seems arrogantly oblivious to the fact that once the fun in the studio is over, the "fourth wall" will not be a mirror but an audience. Page needs a new direction."

There are other reviews yet to emerge from the monthly mags, but I don't see them being particularly out of kilter with their peers.

I appreciate that this is painting it badly and that its possible to find some slightly better quotes. However anybody reading the totality of what the great and the good think could not fail to conclude that the majority are weary of what Page is producing. That does not mean that some people don't enjoy his work or that they are wrong to do so - as Jim always points out beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc. But it does mean that if you have limited resources a consistently disenchanted majority will question if the best use is being made of them. And the longer it goes on the more pressing they will be.

Lack of popular acclaim of course is not the be all and end all and if this were early in Page's career, or if it were a new way forward he was experimenting with, we would all say no problem, better luck next time etc. But that's not the position - he willfully keeps trotting out the same stuff. The really intelligent search for and find ways forward that satisfy themselves and the audiences they are commissioned to entertain.

It might be that in 30 years time Page will be hailed as a brilliant innovator who was misunderstood in his prime. But many are prepared to take the risk, call it a day and invest in others who might bring us joy both today and tomorrow.

As an aside I'm sure the professional critics involved will take to heart the comments about seeing too many children's story ballets and therefore probably not being able to make effective judgment. Poor lambs probably aren't intelligent enough for the Page!


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Jim

14-03-01, 08:32 AM (GMT)
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23. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #22
 
   I am by no means claiming this was a wonderful ballet, and I would not go specially to see it if there wasn't something else in the bill that attracted me. Only that I thought there was enough in it to make it ingriguing enough to warrant a second viewing. What worries me a little about mass adverse criticism is that the same happened to Beethoven, Stravinsky, Prokoviev, Kodaly... all were totally despised at one time. Think of the initial reaction to the first showing of The Rite of Spring! So, in my humble way, I would prefer to reserve judgement. Ashley Page may well fall by the wayside in the the pit of the ignominious. On the other hand.....maybe, just maybe.....


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Bruce Madmin

15-03-01, 09:49 PM (GMT)
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28. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #23
 
   >I am by no means claiming
>this was a wonderful ballet,
>and I would not go
>specially to see it if
>there wasn't something else in
>the bill that attracted me.
>Only that I thought there
>was enough in it to
>make it ingriguing enough to
>warrant a second viewing. What
>worries me a little about
>mass adverse criticism is that
>the same happened to Beethoven,
>Stravinsky, Prokoviev, Kodaly... all were
>totally despised at one time.
>Think of the initial reaction
>to the first showing of
>The Rite of Spring! So,
>in my humble way, I
>would prefer to reserve judgement.
>Ashley Page may well fall
>by the wayside in the
>the pit of the ignominious.
>On the other hand.....maybe, just
>maybe.....


If creating choreography was a costless activity I'd agree about just letting things spool on. But its not and choices have to be made about who gets the money and access to dancers. Every piece that a one choreographer like Page gets is by default an opportunity denied to somebody else - or its an opportunity denied to several choreographers if the money were used in the smaller performance spaces.

As many reviews say Page has been creating work since 1981... its an awful long time to get to a point where people are still wondering if there is something to get really enthusiastic about here. If we were in a position where the likes of Tuckett, Wheeldon, Marston, Hampson, Sapsford, Hart, Cooper all regulalrly had 40 minutes of commissioned score, access to best dancers, healthy designer budget etc it would be terrific and we would all shut up and enjoy the rich diversity of it. But alas its not so...

Choices have to be made unfortunately. After a few years of seeing decisions made and the results of those decisions on stage a goodly number of folks are openly saying that the future might be better with other decisions.


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Stephanie Wragg

30-03-01, 11:57 PM (GMT)
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39. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #28
 
  
>
>Choices have to be made unfortunately.
>After a few years of
>seeing decisions made and the
>results of those decisions on
>stage a goodly number of
>folks are openly saying that
>the future might be better
>with other decisions. ***Reading this, I just thought that the ROH should try using a test audience, especially when it comes to Page works since they are so bad. The film industry always does this to gauge audience response. It could be a way to get some constructive criticism before it's too late to change anything. Of course, being the ROH, the test audience would probably be made up of weird people as opposed to the real people who attend performances.



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Stuart Sweeney

14-03-01, 02:09 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #22
 
   LAST EDITED ON 14-03-01 AT 02:17 PM (GMT)


Picking up some of the points Bruce from your response to my post:

'Since you raise the view of critics...'

I assume that your lengthy quotation from the reviews was in response to my mention of critics and initially thought I might have to reconsider my words. However, when I looked back, what I had said was, '...a couple of the newspaper critics have admired the movement vocabulary and one gave the piece a real thumbs up overall.' Checking, I find that:

- Judith Mackrell wrote, 'Page takes risks and courts argument and makes his dancers look physically sensational, and intellectually alert.'

- Jann Parry wrote, 'Urged on by the music, the dancers couple with fierce intensity. Each duet is in a different style, bringing out the particular qualities of the astonishing performers.'

- Anne Sacks' review, which I have read, is full of praise for the work.

Thus, my original statement appears entirely correct in itself and appropriate in the context of offerring reassurance to Viviane that her enjoyment of the dance element of the piece was not a lone view, even if it is a minority one.

Later in your post you make general comments about what should artists such as Page should strive for,

'The really intelligent search for and find ways forward that satisfy themselves and the audiences they are commissioned to entertain.'

Most artists, as opposed to entertainers, believe their prime objective is to make work that follows their own artistic agenda and, in the case of the collaborative arts, those of the people they work with. On this last point, my impression from conversations with some of the RB dancers who perform his dances is that they respect and admire Page's work. Some dance artists, such as Matthew Bourne can combine their vision with popular appeal, while others, such as Jonathan Burrows, clearly do not. Although I'm in favour of programming works like 'The Concert' that have lots of popular appeal, it would be very sad both for the choreographers and artists involved and the largest dance company in the country if they were to produce work merely 'to entertain'.

You describe the critics as 'the great and the good' and you also say,

'...many are prepared to take the risk, call it a day and invest in others who might bring us joy both today and tomorrow.'

As someone who spends a lot of his time campaigning for democracy, I don't think the artistic arena is a democratic one. Many playrights never read reviews. I suspect that few choreographers take account of more than one or two critics whom they respect. Deborah MacMillan describes how Norman Morrice had the strength of character to follow his artistic vision and resist the pressure of the critics, and more significantly the ROH establishment, who all wanted him to drop 'Manon'.

Ross Stretton will follow his own artistic vision, which may or may not include Ashley Page. However, I sincerely hope that Stretton won't be influenced by the critics. If he is, he's the wrong man for the job.

On another point, I agree with you Bruce that more use should be made of the two smaller ROH spaces both for new work and revivals of smaller scale pieces.

As to Page's new work, I stick to what I said before, 'I enjoyed the setting and the music and thought a lot of the movement in 'This House...' sensational. I'm not convinced yet that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but like Jim I'm looking forward to seeing it again.'

I have to say Bruce that I do wish you hadn't written in your review that, '...itís got to the point where Page just seems to be 'taking the piss' as somebody in the audience graphically described it.'



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Bruce Madmin

15-03-01, 09:41 PM (GMT)
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27. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #24
 
   I quoted extensively not to particularly dispute what you said or say that there are not those who like Pages work etc but just to put the overall critics position in its proper perspective. In any event individual thoughts are interesting but always open to charges of favouritism etc however when you aggregate things up it becomes more interesting I think.

Artists Vs Entertainers.
You say "Most artists, as opposed to entertainers, believe their prime objective is to make work that follows their own artistic agenda.." That's a very narrow view I believe and needs to be tempered with other inputs such as is the work likely to be considered successful by the person who commissioned it, the critics, and the audience. I'm not sure I go along with the "Most artists.. " starter either - the ones I know do think in the round about what they are doing - who they are creating for etc. Its another input and they are not prostituting themselves or their art particularly. If people are spending there own money they can do absolutely anything they want but when they are spending somebody elses money there is automatically an issue of accountability not to say responsibility as well.

The best artists of course entertain. I don't see the particular distinction you appear to between art and entertainment - its all entertainment to me. In any event it seems a bit hollow for somebody to give themselves the grand title "artist" when few people might want to see what they do in the space they work in and the bulk of the professional critics struggle with their work. It doesn't mean they are absolutely wrong to carry on, just that there is a more than reasonable probability that they are barking up the wrong artistic tree...

New work:
I don't have a particular problem with new things that fail - though I would obviously prefer everything to be a success. I'm committed to new work and growing new choreographers and as part of that people experiment and occasionally produce ghastly things. What I struggle with is seeing the same mistakes repeated - that's the main point here and a recuring theme in many of the reviews.

Dancers Views:
I dearly love more than a few dancers and as a breed they would kill for new work of whatever type - there is scarce little of it. Creating any role is magic for them and I'm sure they enjoy that process with a variety of choreographers. But their enjoyment of the process doesn't necessarily make it great work or valid art. Its those out front who are the judges.

Role of AD:
I sincerely hope that Stretton *is* influenced by critics. I also hope he is influenced by audience views, his own eyes, what dancers say, box office receipts, what the board says and any other informed comments that comes his way. He needs to take it all on board and then decide. He should be very interested in what people think of his programming. I also suspect he will not be on an open ended contract and thus after 5 years, or whatever, there will be a discussion about artistic performance. I see this way forward as positive, rather then making a decision on an AD and just hoping that things work out OK for the next 10-15 years. Everybody is a bit more accountable these days and that applies to AD's, choreographers etc as much as anybody. However...

Democracy and making choices:
Agree that its not a strictly democratic process - vision is needed and sometimes a cussed view. But you can't be cussed 'forever' - sooner or later (measured in years) the wider view on your success, or lack of it, has to count for something. If it doesn't then we would be condoning a system that subsidised somebody to do a lifetime of work that pleased few while other creators who might do better with that money get nothing.

It can't be right to reward without question a perceived lack of artistic or commercial success with further work while denying others who might well to do better.

One thing about my review and this debate has been concerning me - I clearly have been very hard in expressing my views and of course at other times I've stressed the need to consider feelings etc etc. Its an obvious contradiction but I've rationalised it and obviously feel justified. Page is a big boy, has free will (compared to dancers for example), and I'm sure more than aware of the likely impact of producing the same type of work again and again. As the years have gone by I think the professional reviewers, as well as many in the audience, have steadily hardened their views as well. Artistic freedom aside something is not quite right here.


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Robert

14-03-01, 04:36 PM (GMT)
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25. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #0
 
   Mixed Bill Thursday March 8th
Like others I was alarmed to see such a thin house last Thursday. Anthony Dowellís opening speech about Ninette de Valious seemed wasted on so few of us. The good thing though was that I was able to move to much better seats just before the curtain went up. As I had returned to Covent Garden to try and see The Concert which was almost impossible to see from my £26 seat last time I was very pleased.
I expected The Triad to be interesting and was not disappointed. The Ashley Page ballet was not anything like as bad as I had expected. I had heard him talking about it on the radio and had a sense of foreboding. The ballet had some good choreography but was terribly muddled and as usual nowadays probably about an unpleasant subject. When I saw the children in it I hoped it was not about pederasty. I do not think it was but itís meaning was not very clear and one was left feeling uneasy as to what it might really be about. At times it reminded me of The Carman with an unstructured story funny music, and arty choreography. (Matthew Bourne fans please note I thought The Carman good.) What Ashley Page really needs is guidance from the lady who died Ninette de Valious; she would never have let him get away with it he has talent but needs help. The Concert was as good as I thought it would be. Koberg is excellent in it and Sarah Wilder replacing Darcy Bussel was really good. (Despite Ismene Brown) She does look maturermore mature than Darcy does but she acted very well. I was pleased to see Adam in the audience to see her. (Adam Cooper watchers please note!)
Covent Garden is such a lovely theatre to go to. A lovely evening for just £6 followed by Turandot the next night also for £6 and packed tight. A final tip for those that think the sandwiches too expensive, one between two is quite adequate or you can order half sandwich which is enough for most people.


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Shirley

14-03-01, 05:11 PM (GMT)
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26. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #25
 
   Having watched 'This House' twice I must admit that as good as some of the dancing is I doubt if I will watch it again. Perhaps it is just too modern for me, or I just don't 'get it' but talking to others they don't seem to 'get it' either. Saying that I haven't 'got' many of the others Page has choreographed recently but considering they are so similar in style I shouldn't have been that been surprised by his latest piece!

Financially I would have thought the RB can't afford to put on shows in the main house that don't sell and this bill hasn't! Some of the work I have seen in the Clore and Linbury would be much better suited to the main stage than 'This House' and you have to ask why has it not sold? All the ther mixed bills have sold really well this season!


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alison

16-03-01, 12:59 PM (GMT)
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29. "RE: Triad Triple Bill, RB, 7/3/01 Review"
In response to message #26
 
   >Financially I would have thought the
>RB can't afford to put
>on shows in the main
>house that don't sell and
>this bill hasn't! Some of
>the work I have seen
>in the Clore and Linbury
>would be much better suited
>to the main stage than
>'This House' and you have
>to ask why has it
>not sold? All the ther
>mixed bills have sold really
>well this season!

Perhaps because it wasn't a well-thought out bill? The Shadowplay one worked (just), the Ashton/Tudor/Macmillan one before Christmas was chock full of goodies and predictably sold out, but this one feels as though there wasn't much thought behind it. A new (and hence untested) Ashley Page, Triad, which a lot of people would scarcely have heard of, let alone know,
and The Concert in order (hopefully) to pull in the punters, which presumably hasn't happened as well as they'd hoped. When they put together a good mixed bill the RB are more than capable of getting a good audience (viz the Diaghilev one last season), but this just didn't sound like a good prospect. Together with the poor sales on the Henze opera, Boulevard Solitude (so short that you're paying about £1.50 a minute in the top seats!), this is starting to be a little worrying.


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Christopher

17-03-01, 06:16 PM (GMT)
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30. "Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #29
 
   Alison

In response to your query about Jonathan Cope, he is now scheduled to dance - as billed - in his remaining performances of the triple bill. Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a masterclass with Sir Anthony Dowell coaching Alina Cojacaru (who was exquisite) and Hubert Essakow in Ashton's Dream pas de deux. Just before, Sir Anthony mentioned to the dancers that Jonathan Cope had woken up that morning with flu - caught from his kids - so fortunately no long term injury!

As for the triple bill, I think it is very clearly themed around love, sex and relationships. It's a shame that the 'new' Ashley Page is cliche ridden from beginning to end - a dreary shopping list of sexual activities and perversions already exhaustively catalogued in a thousand other works from the nineties. It is instantly dated. Those who think otherwise obviously have little familiarity with the photographic work of Robert Mapplethorpe and the output (across the artistic spectrum) of those subsequently influenced by his exploration into sado-masochism. Mapplethorpe's work is undeniably great and lasting - but can anyone out there think of a more hackneyed, conventional, drab and unimaginative preoccupation now than S&M, sexual abuse and transvestitism? (Though Edward Watson did look very fetching.) What was once transgressive and new has become cant and mere fashion. It's time for truly original artists to transcend the melodramatic fodder of day-time TV talkshows! What was Page's work? For all the fantastic dancing: arms and legs going nowhere. There wasn't a single character.

It's true that Persson and Tapper did little in "Triad" other than get through it without falling over. But through the choreography the ensemble still managed to communicate a developing situation of temptation, guilt, ecstasy, remorse, pain and pleasure - the emotive content entirely lacking in Page's post-modern and by now predestrian rejection of narrative. "Triad" - unlike "This House Will Burn" - will last because it has human interest.

As for seats not selling, Romeo and Juliet and Turandot have sold massively - and next booking period Otello and Queen of Spades have performed spectacularly well. Not every production can be a sell-out success, and the Royal Opera House has more hits than misses. Here's to the Stravinsky Triple Bill!


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alison

19-03-01, 01:16 PM (GMT)
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31. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #30
 
   Good to hear the news about Cope.

>As for seats not selling, Romeo
>and Juliet and Turandot have
>sold massively - and next
>booking period Otello and Queen
>of Spades have performed spectacularly
>well. Not every production can
>be a sell-out success, and
>the Royal Opera House has
>more hits than misses. Here's
>to the Stravinsky Triple Bill!
>
Oh, I know - I wasn't trying to imply otherwise. I only just about managed to get a row-end seat for Turandot at all, and a friend who wanted 3 seats was totally unlucky. I can scarcely even get a standby now for most productions .


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Christopher

20-03-01, 01:31 PM (GMT)
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32. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #31
 
   Well, you could probably get your whole extended family in to see Boulevard Solitude... (But would you want to?!)


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Ann Williams

20-03-01, 02:40 PM (GMT)
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33. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #32
 
   Well, I've booked to see 'Boulevard Suite' - sounds fun to me!


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Stuart Sweeney

20-03-01, 11:00 PM (GMT)
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34. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #33
 
   I'm tempted to go as well. When are you going Ann?


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Ann Williams

21-03-01, 10:23 AM (GMT)
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35. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #34
 
   Stuart - I'm going to 'Boulevard' on Monday 2 April, standing at the back of the stalls circle, though it sounds as if there'll be no shortage of seats to hop into!

Might see you there?


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Stuart Sweeney

21-03-01, 10:40 AM (GMT)
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36. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #35
 
   Sadly, no. I'm off to Paris that day to see the POB Kylian programme on the Tuesday.


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eugene merrett

21-03-01, 10:43 AM (GMT)
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37. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #35
 
   If there are cheap seats I might go - what is the deal? They sent me a flyer offering no discount. If they think I am going to pay more then£30 for a one and half hour opera then the ROH marketing team must be pretty dumb.

The Triple bill programing was so misconcieved - The NYCB are the master of programing. They will always have at least one crowd pleaser (often the last ballet) as part of a "difficult" triple bill.


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alison

21-03-01, 01:30 PM (GMT)
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38. "RE: Triad Triple Bill"
In response to message #33
 
   I might go if I can get a standby - and if I can fit it in among all my dance-going.


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