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The Cellist/Dances at a Gathering

“Richly inventive new ballet about jacqueline du pré”

It’s a brave choice to make a ballet about Jacqueline du Pré. Cathy Marston’s first work for the Covent Garden main stage succeeds in paying sensitive tribute to the enormity of du Pré’s talent and the cruelty of her demise, eschewing a straightforward biography or the swirling accusations of adultery and betrayal, which are well known from the film Hilary and Jackie, based on a book by her siblings.

Instead, Marston’s The Cellist shapes a richly metaphorical love story between a musician (Lauren Cuthbertson) and her instrument. There’s no phoney air-cello here. Marcelino Sambé dances the role of Jackie’s ‘Davydov’ Strad, with scrolling spools of movement that turn his limbs and body into finely curlicued luthiery, the proud bearing of his chest beautifully suggestive of the instrument’s shapeliness and burnished quality.

He’s embraced by and bears his player aloft – his expansive duets with Cuthbertson’s spontaneous and swaying Jackie evoke a genuinely moving sense of untrammelled joy in music-making. Meanwhile Matthew Ball is a dynamic, darting presence as the Husband (pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim).

As in her other ballets, Marston makes clever use of the corps as a kind of surging Greek chorus, shifting the curved walls and chairs of Hildegard Bechtler’s evocative set into concert halls and hospital rooms. Philip Feeney’s score stylishly weaves sections of du Pré’s famous repertoire (including the Elgar concerto) into his own composition. Completing the bill is Jerome Robbins’ nostalgic and witty Dances at a Gathering, set to a selection of Chopin waltzes and mazurkas winningly played by Rob Clark.

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Production Details
Production nameThe Cellist/Dances at a Gathering
VenueRoyal Opera House
StartsFebruary 17, 2020
EndsMarch 4, 2020
Running time2hrs 15mins
ComposerPhilip Feeney, Frédéric Chopin
ChoreographerJerome Robbins, Cathy Marston
Set designerHildegard Bechtler
Costume designerBregje Van Balen, Joe Eula
Lighting designerJennifer Tipton, Jon Clark
CastAlexander Campbell, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Federico Bonelli, Francesca Hayward, Kristen Mcnally, Laura Morera, Lauren Cuthbertson, Marianela Nuñez, Matthew Ball, Thomas Whitehead, William Bracewell, Yasmine Naghdi, Marcelino Sambé
VerdictRewarding double bill featuring Cathy Marston’s sensitive and richly inventive new ballet about Jacqueline du Pré
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Anna Winter

Anna Winter

Anna Winter

Anna Winter

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