Hadn't seen this in over a decade so a pleasure to re-discover, but still very troubled by the ballet.
I really don't think that Ashton understood the play. Of course did - it's a very good distillation of a very long five act play, but to my eyes he seems to be trying to create a tragedy rather than a fairly ambivalent comedy. Guillem's performance just reinforced the disparity - she was on a different page to everybody else.
Did anybody see Seymour - I imagine she would have had the hard, self-interested, ambivalent, spiteful quality that Guillem brought to this. After Seymour (which is where I came in with this ballet) with Park, Conley, Porter, Sibley - the role was presented as much more romanticised, prettier, asking us to have sympathy for Natalia, in effect presenting her as the heroine of a romantic Hollywood weepy from the 30s or 40s. With such a mushy approach the ending did not work - why should we care about this woman? A reading trying to elevate to tragedy didn't convince. So - how did Seymour play it?
I remember Dowell being incredibly wet in the part - good to see Cope looking suitably gauche on his arrival (he is the naive catalyst) - but he looking too knowingly controlling when he grabbed and strongly held Natalia later.
Coming back to this struck again how ridicuously grand and OTT the set is - much too pretty and at odds with the spirit of the play. What hit me this time is how incredibly soupy the score is - all of which leads me to think Ashton just got it wrong. But what a great ballet!
(And an odd thing, first time I've noticed this - why does Beliaev change his trousers after his first scene, from nasty checks to equally pajama stripes?!).