The new Royal Ballet season details have been announced today and I’m shocked by its sheer dullness. It looks as though it took a couple of minutes to throw together.
Five straight repeats from the 07/08 season – Jewels, La Bayadere, Serenade, The Nutcracker and Dances at a Gathering. The top price for Swan Lake has risen to £110 and for other three act ballet’s is £97. DGV, The Lesson, Theme and Variations, Swan Lake & Seven Deadly Sins have been performed in the 06/07 season.
Last year the Royal Ballet performed 131 times, for the 08/09 season it will rise minutely to 135 (against the 156 by the Royal Opera). But consider the number of repeats and it looks mind-numbingly dull for audiences and dancers alike.
In terms of the casting which has been announced, there are precious few debuts for the dancers. There is only one debut in Swan Lake (Ansanelli). I’m pleased to see McRae get a debut in Manon, in the more interesting role of Lescaut than Des Grieux. There are 6 other debuts in Manon. The Nutcracker brings with it only three debuts over a staggering 19 performances, most notably McRae with Choe for one matinee only.
I don’t think this is a season to get anyone excited about going to the ballet and it looks to be much more about raising money with the box office sure-fire winners of Nutcracker and Swan Lake, though it’s a risk putting the prices for the latter over the £100 mark.
So that leaves what in terms of “new ballets” for the 08/09 season ?
Well, it’s just L’Invitation Au Voyage (created by former Royal Ballet dancer Michael Corder and last seen in 1985), a new McGregor (which is part of his contract as resident choreographer), Carmen (Mats Elk and last seen in 2002), Isadora (Deborah MacMillan has devised a new one act version of Kenneth MacMillan’s ballet) and a new Marriott. The trouble is, to see L’Invitation Au Voyage you will also have to sit through (or at least pay for) last season’s Serenade and Theme and Variations from the season before. And it’s the same story with the other “new ballets” which are sandwiched with other very recent performances.
Totally uninspiring and it makes me wonder how the dancers can grind them out time after time.
We are overdue some changes at the ROH on the basis of this announcement.