Two unforgettable ballets to open the new season

Mayu Tanigaito and Tonia Lookers both rehearsing the role of Carmen.
Warwick Smith/Fairfax NZ

Mayu Tanigaito and Tonia Lookers both rehearsing the role of Carmen.

Carmen with L'Arlesienne, presented by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Regent on Broadway, Friday March 17, reviewed by Stephen Fisher
 
The Royal New Zealand Ballet has turned to the work of the remarkable French choreographer Roland Petit using the music of Bizet to bring two unforgettable ballets to the stage to begin the 2017 season. The show included choreography and design elements that so strongly characterised the original presentations.
 
The evening opened with L'Arlesienne, a devastating tale of unrequited love, beautifully realised on stage, with the splendid outpourings of Nicolai Gorodiskii and Madeleine Graham capturing the full demands of the work while leading the company in an arresting visual feast that fully amplified the depths of emotion required. However, captivating as L'Arlesienne may have been, it was only a hint of the superbly stylistic Carmen that headlined the programme.
 
Using music superbly adapted from Bizet's colourful Carmen suites, this was a company fully committed to their work, responding with great joy to the demands of the evening. With Natalya Kusch as Carmen, Joseph Skelton as Don Jose and Paul Matthews as the Toreador, this was an outstanding interpretation of one of the world's most popular operas. Kusch may not have continually oozed all the sensuality we have come to expect from this character, but there can be no doubt about the strength of her performance, as she wove her spell around her doomed admirers.
 
Again the company was magnificently committed to their performance as they realised the imaginative choreography with great strength and a sense of style, their tribute to the work of this ingenious and inventive choreographer completely captivating an admiring audience.
 

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