Tonight we saw Cinderella at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Keith and I have many traditions and for the last eleven years we have been to the ballet at Christmas. We have only seen Cinderella once before and that year we were sick as parrots and highly medicated. All I can remember was Wayne Sleep as an ugly sister and that I must have gone through about three packets of Tunes lozenges in a bid to stymie my seal sounding cough.
The ballet is charming, but at Christmas it is truly magical. What is more, since its refurbishment in the 1990s, The Royal Opera House is an amazing venue. The seats are comfortable, views are mostly unrestricted and the acoustics fantastic. It is a far cry from many of the playhouses in London, which were built for midget Victorians (Londoners grew and ate fast food. It's not our fault).
Cinderella is my favourite childhood tale. I have never concluded why, but I imagine Germaine Greer might have a few stern words with me if I ever verbalised my thoughts. Tonight's spectacular event did all my romanticised pre-conceptions justice. The general synopsis is as the fairytale. Girl is tormented by two ugly sisters. The ugly sisters go to the ball and do a shockingly bad job at wooing a Prince in too tight trousers (in this case a pair of fetching white tights). Meanwhile, our heroine is visited by her fairy godmother, who happens to bring a change of clothes for Cinders and conveniently turns random rodents and gourd into steeds and a set of wheels. Cinders frequents the ball and wows the Prince with her moves, but fails to keep track of the time (possibly a watch just did not go with her outfit). She hot foots it from the ball, but because she may have had too many cocktails loses a shoe and stumbles home. Later, the Prince finds the shoe and sets about looking for a lady with a limp (as she is missing a shoe). He eventually finds Cinders and she tries on the shoe. For some strange reason no one in the kingdom is a size five and they live happily ever after. Job done.
Now take the above story and imagine an amazingly decadent and illustrious version of this rags to riches tale. Prokofiev's score catapults the audience into Cinderella's world of torment and you ride the music wave until the happy ending. The dancers fluidly and effortlessly move in unison. I especially loved the court dancers who reminded me of Laduree macaroons. Their gracefulness as they spun and pirouetted about the stage was outstanding. Frederick's Ashton's choreography is perfect.
The costumes were immaculate and beautiful. When Cinderella makes her entrance to the ball her incandescent tutu is breath-taking. It shimmers and sparkles, which adds to the seasonal feel. Even the Fairy God mother has an amazing glittery dress. The costumes are part of the lure of the ballet as they help create the visual scene as well as looking stunning under the lights.
We recommend the ballet, not just at Christmas, but any time of the year. Tickets range from as little as £5 to £97. Whilst the premium seats are not cheap, you will experience a treat which you can hold in your heart forever. If you do not live in London but happen to be visiting over Christmas, it would be a shame to not see a ballet. With respect to Christmas, we especially recommend Swan Lake or The Nut Cracker which are both out of this world.