London,  Music

An evening at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

The Sleeping Beauty by the Royal Ballet on 11 January 2020, 7:30pm

The lively Covent Garden district has many theatres, restaurants and shops, and whenever I visit this place, it’s always full of people. This is one of my favourite areas to just walk around, watch street acts or music at the square with the Market in the centre, go to Whittard’s to get some favourite English tea in pretty tins, and I am always curious to see what’s on at the Royal Opera House on the northeast corner of this vibrant market piazza ( the main entrance at Bow Street)
The present building dates from 1858 after a fire destroyed the previous building. This is actually the third opera house built on this site, the first dates back to 1732 to the days the rivalry between composer George Frideric Handel and Giovanni Bononcini.
This evening’s performance featured the Royal Ballet in a performance of The Sleeping Beauty, a ballet by the 19th century choreographer Marius Petipas ( combined with additional choreography by F. Ashton, A. Dowell, and C. Wheeldon) with music by Piotr Tchaikovsky.
The performance was sold out, but I managed to get a returned ticket after hanging around the box office for about an hour prior to the show. My wait was rewarded with a nice seat near the stage where I could even see the facial expressions of the dancers as well as watch the orchestra and the conductor.
It was a lovely ballet to watch. The orchestra was very precise and the ensemble impeccable. The violin solo played by the concertmaster Sergey Levitin was outstanding with the elegance and sophistication perfectly suited for the style of this music. Unfortunately, the string section missed a little bit of feeling of the style in the phrasing, depth and color in their sound, even though it was performed very professionally throughout.
Before the final act, the director came out and announced that the Princess Aurora, the principal role, would be danced by Fumi Kaneko who, up to this point, danced the role of the Lilac Fairy.
Lauren Cuthbertson had danced the role of Aurora up until the end of the second act but it was revealed that she had injured herself already during the first act. As the interlude between the second and third acts was only about five minutes, such a dramatic change caught everyone by surprise. For me, the Japanese dancer Fumi Kaneko stood out from the beginning as one of the most expressive dancers. The result was fabulous and she had the biggest applause for her courageous switch and her great performance in the finale. Other dancers I loved were Yasmine Naghdi, an amazing dancer who danced the role of Princess Florine together with Mathew Ball in the role of Bluebird.