Monday, January 28, 2013

REVIEW: Cinderella by the Dutch National Ballet (Amsterdam)

Het Muziektheater / The Amsterdam Music Theatre (Amsterdam), Tuesday January 1

On to the 14th show of my 14 shows in 13 days marathon.

Since I am running REALLY late in my reviews, I will keep this very short. Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet Cinderella is a co-production by two major companies, Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. The piece premiered in Amsterdam’s Muziektheater on 13 December, 2012, while I saw the last and emotional performance of the run. Apparently (the announcement was in Dutch), the accompanying orchestra – Holland Symfonia - is facing a budget cut and the January 1 performance will be the last of nearly two-thirds of the musicians with the orchestra.

This new Cinderella triumphed in delivering a well-told, darker but more nuanced Christmas ballet. By moving around the order of Prokofiev’s original score, Wheeldon managed to create scenes to give a more balanced story way beyond just Cinderella and her ugly stepsister. We witnessed Cinderella losing her mother, the Prince and his best friend being naughty kids, Cinderella’s father oscillating between a caring guardian and being indifferent, to the nicer stepsister falling in love with the Prince’s best friend. In fact, the narrative was so packed with details and balanced out that the emphasis almost didn’t land on Cinderella and her prince.

The success of this ballet in not on the showcase of great choreography or ballet techniques but on the theatrical and entertainment value of the production. British designer Julian Crouch contributed a lot to the magic on stage – beautiful craftsmanship, levitating chairs fantastic masks and multitude of chandeliers were just few of the many wonderful visuals provided.

The one thing that I was not particularly keen on was the replacement of the Fairy Godmother with four ninja/kuroko style “Fates”. Not only did this substitution weaken the free-spirit character of Cinderella, the whole design style didn’t seat well with the other element… BUT this is just a minor quibble to a truly wonderful new ballet!

Choreography: Christopher Wheeldon
Music: Sergej Prokofjev
Libretto: Christopher Wheeldon and Craig Lucas
Design and Costume: Julian Crouch
Lighting: Natasha Katz

World Premiere13 December 2012, Het Muziektheater Amsterdam

Orchestra: Holland Symfonia
Conductor: Ermanno Florio

2 Hours and 30 Minutes with 2 Intervals

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