thu 01/10/2020

Sylvia, Royal Ballet | reviews, news & interviews

Sylvia, Royal Ballet

Sylvia, Royal Ballet

That zany thing, a nymph ballet, gets a bewilderingly bad first night out

Marianela Nuñez's Sylvia: The most efficient nymph in Diana's establishment, but lacking tendernessAll photographs Bill Cooper/RB

Places, please, deliciousness, please. This is Delibes, a man whose music goes with delectable disbelief, and this is that zany thing, a Fifties nymph ballet, so let us sip hallucinogenic Arcadian cocktails and leave normality at the cloakroom. But the sheer prettiness of Léo Delibes's ballets (La Source, Coppélia, Sylvia) is too much for most dancemakers to digest. Even a choreographer so oozing charm as Frederick Ashton made no classic with his 1952 staging of Sylvia. Last night, given the bumbling performance by the Royal Ballet after a few years’ absence, it came over even more as a ballet best to have on iPod.

Places, please, deliciousness, please. This is Delibes, a man whose music goes with delectable disbelief, and this is that zany thing, a Fifties nymph ballet, so let us sip hallucinogenic Arcadian cocktails and leave normality at the cloakroom. But the sheer prettiness of Léo Delibes's ballets (La Source, Coppélia, Sylvia) is too much for most dancemakers to digest. Even a choreographer so oozing charm as Frederick Ashton made no classic with his 1952 staging of Sylvia. Last night, given the bumbling performance by the Royal Ballet after a few years’ absence, it came over even more as a ballet best to have on iPod.

With most ballets, it’s less the substance than the way you tell them. This kind of casualness kills a period-piece like Sylvia stone-dead

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Poor old Ismene! Have you thought of counselling?

"With most ballets, as with jokes, it’s less the substance than the way you tell them. This kind of casualness kills a period-piece like Sylvia stone-dead, dancers dropping constantly out of style when off the ball, as if still in the studio, little regard paid to the refinement of feet and épaulement, and a bewildering lack of engagement with the music." Too, too true ... and not at London alone ...

Unfortunately the audience on the opening night were under the misapprehension that they's just experienced an exquisite rendering of a charming ballet. What fools they were to fail to appreciate what a car-crash of a ballet they'd just witnessed.

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