The Royal Ballet sure can be sneaky. Yesterday afternoon, I had no intention of watching Marianela Nunez's Coppelia, preferring proven talent, Sarah Wildor. 24 hours on, I have a ticket lined up for Nunez's debut as well (on the 31st in case anyone else is interested).
I was happily seated near the front. Donald MacLeary took the masterclass with Nunez who went through all her solo variations in Act I, and a couple more from Act III(?) I'll admit I've never seen Coppelia, and know nothing more than the bare bones of the story, but from what I saw, I think Nunez will make a wonderfully cheeky and good-humoured Swanhilda.
As the performance is only a couple weeks from now, they mostly worked at just polishing th steps. I wasn't prepared for much when Donald said that Coppelia wasn't technically a very demanding ballet, but it didn't seem that way to me! I don't know whether Marianela was showing off a bit for her audience, or if she naturally pushes herself very hard. She did quite a few triple pirouettes in her variations, though Donald kept saying a double would do, and even managed a quad. But he wasn't at all lenient, pushing her to make the mime clearer, chainee faster and hold the balances longer. The audienced responded very warmly, to all of the above and a series of brises she did across the stage. I think there was only one word in everyone's head at that moment - wow!
There were no breaks in the one hour spent - her breathing was heavy from start to finish. It just amazes me how much stamina she had and how she could just keep going.
It was fascinating, the running commentry and corrections Donald gave, and even more so when he got up and demonstrated bits himself. He has the most fluid arms I've ever seen. He's also very funny, and took time to explain things to the audience.
Unfortunately, Johan Persson who was also supposed to be making his debut is injured.
So did anyone else go?