BWW Review: SYLVIA, Royal Opera House

BWW Review: SYLVIA, Royal Opera House

BWW Review: SYLVIA, Royal Opera HouseFrederick Ashton's Sylvia was last seen as part of the Royal Ballet's repertoire back in 2010. And how this glittering, mythical tale of silliness has been missed! One cannot deny that the subject matter is hardly the most hard-hitting, but this decorative ballet is full of delightful touches and romantic choreography that make for dreamy, escapist viewing.

Natalia Osipova tackles the protagonist's role in zesty and feisty fashion. Act One Sylvia is regal, fearing no one. If she were a female of today she would be a strong, independent woman. She wields her bow and arrow with confidence and finesse. Facially she expresses more so than I have ever seen before, exuding a wonderfully mischievous air as she gleefully rejects Aminta's (Federico Bonelli) initial declaration of love.

Bonelli himself had by most balletomanes standards somewhat of an off-night. His opening arabesques were visibly shaky, lacking the necessary control. He never quite recovered to deliver the impact desired in the final pas de deux and without this Aminta can come across as rather a drip as he wallows in his infatuation for the young nymph in Act One.

A misbalanced central casting however was not enough to diminish any of the enjoyment brought from this Ashton classic. The peasants, dancing in honour of Eros - God of love - clutch baby lambs to their chests and skip along with wheelbarrows, making for a quaint backdrop reminiscent of La Fille mal gardée.

Just as Fille has its chicken dance, Ashton employs some rather spritely goats (the effervescent Anna Rose O'Sullivan and David Yudes) here who provide additional frivolity to Act Three. Benjamin Ella's Eros is also great fun, especially as the scampering and suspicious cloaked figure who revives Aminta at the end of Act One.

Osipova remains deeply expressive as she undergoes something of a transformation in her falling for Aminta. Our spirited feminist is gone and replaced with a delicate and elegant lovestruck young lady. Though she and Bonelli lack chemistry, the musicality demonstrated in their individual solos to Delibes' fine score leads me to forgive them.

As can only be the way in such a story, there is a happy ending and the lovers defeat the evil hunter, Orion (Ryoichi Harano), with almost comedic convenience - but in a ballet with dancing goats and cloaked figures, the plot is not what we're here for. Osipova's precision and Bonelli's natural masculinity mean this is a frivolous but satisfying fairy tale.

Sylvia at Royal Opera House until 16 December.

Photo credit: Dee Conway

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From This Author Vikki Jane Vile

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