Sylvia, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Hippodrome
IN these troubled times, what better way to lift the gloom than Delibes’s light-hearted, yet rarely staged, masterpiece, Sylvia – and when it is performed by the region’s own globally recognised company, an entertaining evening is all but guaranteed.
The story is a rather wonderful one; Amynta and Sylvia, servants of the lecherous Count Guiccioli, are lovers - but at a party the count’s wife, the Contessa, and Amynta, discover the count with his hands all over the innocent Sylvia. Luckily their gardener is Eros, the god of love, who sets about putting the lovers back together again through a magical journey.
What follows, under the direction of choreographer David Bintley, is pure unalloyed joy, with the count, Robert Parker, transformed into Orion, a grubby caveman with a natty bearskin, and the contessa, Elisha Willis, Diana the Huntress surrounded by her army of nymphs. Eros, Alexander Campbell, meanwhile re-appears as a pegged legged pirate captain, and boy can he dance on that wooden leg!
The ballet is shot through with shades of light and dark, Orion’s caveman servants Gog and Magog, Kosuke Yamamato and James Barton, doing brilliant comic turns, while Willis is suitably icy as the wronged wife and huntress.
However it is the leads of Nao Sakuma’s Sylvia and Chi Cao’s Amynta that command the stage and it truly sends a shiver down the spine when they are finally and joyfully reunited.
The dancing is superb, of course, but the acting too is first class, rendering the synopsis of the drama all but redundant.
Delibes of course is more famous for his other masterpiece Coppelia, but Syliva, written seven years after and heavily influenced by Wagner, is brimful of familiar tunes to fill the heart.
Sylvia closes tomorrow night (Saturday) but the BRB’s season continues at the Hippodrome with Pomp and Circumstance.
Call 0844 338 5000 for tickets.