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Audiences hit trifecta with superb ‘Raymonda’

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TO RAYMONDA Valeri Hristov

RAYMONDA

DIRECTOR: Elizabeth Triegaardt

CHOREOGRAPHY: Norman Furber

CAST: Members of Cape Town City Ballet with guest artists Hikaru Kobayashi, Valeri Hristov, Dirk Weyershausen, Trevor Schoonraad and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Allan Stephenson

VENUE: Artscape Opera House

UNTIL: Saturday

RATING: ****

Cape Town City ballet’s production of Raymonda proves the adage that “good things come in threes”, as three different casts each bring their unique strengths and qualities to their respective roles to spoil the Mother City’s ballet-loving public for choice.

Those fortunate enough to view all three in action are left with a plethora of happy memories: the finesse and precision of Hikaru Kobayashi and princely elegance of Valeri Hristov, both from the Royal ballet Company; the expressive charm of Laura Bosenberg partnered by the willowy Dirk Weyershausen, a principal of the Norwegian National Ballet; the lyricism and commitment of the CTCB’s Kim Vieira perfectly matched with a confident Daniel Szybkowski, and, for good measure, the macho athleticism of Trevor Schoonraad who hails from the English National ballet.

As if this array of proficiency were not enough to reward audiences, the ballet itself (which was last performed in Cape Town 16 years ago) is replete with spectacle, marrying large, richly-costumed ensemble dances with an unusually high proportion of solos, pas de deux and pas de trois.

Among the latter, the sprightly trio of Jesse Milligan, Rosamund Ford and Kirstel Jensen in the finale stands out for its deft execution, as does the fiery twosome of Spanish captives (Lauren Rogers and Kim Vieira) in Act 2.

The rose-clad female corps de ballet of Act 1 left something to be desired on first appearance, but have improved noticeably with each subsequent performance as their co-ordination is tightened.

The third act is arguably the most exciting visually, a-gleam with lustrous costumes and all the ceremony associated with aristocratic nuptials.

Raymonda’s bravura solo is tackled with aplomb by all three executants, although it must be said that Kobayashi’s rendition of this daunting inclusion sets a benchmark of technical excellence.

The villain of the piece, Abderam, is a covetable role on which Schoonraad, Ivan Boonzaaier and Xola Putye successively stamp their authority; Angela Hansford, dancing the role of the ex-favourite Semiramis, brings feline grace and brooding intensity to her part. She alternates with Lauren Rogers, whose account of the rejected woman is equally convincing.

As the several casts deliver their exacting agenda to the unfamiliar but ear-enchanting strains of Glazunov’s music, rendered with appropriate tempi by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra under Allan Stephenson’s persuasive baton, one reflects that this is ballet at its best.


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