Sylvia

Jan 25, 2008 #London
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Up the Opera House (twice in one week, my goodness) to see Sylvia. I bought the ticket off a student who couldn’t go, so I had a £59 seat right behind the conductor in the front row of the stalls for £20. Delibes is one of my favourite composers, and I love what I know of Sylvia, so it was a great way to spend an evening. What I didn’t know about the ballet was that it had two big solos for the alto saxophone. Amazing what you learn.

It’s an odd world Ashton & his costume designer have created – the girls have not an inch of flesh showing, all betighted and swathed in wafty skirts like maidens at a victorian picnic, while the boys are pretty much naked apart from mini-skirts and strange cutaway socks. There’s enough leaping and turning to leave nothing to the imagination. I’m not complaining, but I’ve seen less homoerotic floor shows at The Fridge. In fact, it was a cross between Julian Clary’s campest Sticky Moments, and the kind of vaudeville campery that you get on the Graham Norton show. I half expected to see punters stick ten-pound notes in the boys’ shorts when they were far enough downstage. I shouldn’t be unfair – it’s ballets like Sylvia that provide the model for that kind of stuff, not the other way round, I guess. Or is it?

I hadn’t a clue what was going on or who anyone was, because I forgot to get a programme, but It was all just too silly and gay to matter, frankly. I loved it.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist