Obsidian Tear / The Invitation / Within the Golden Hour at the Royal Opera House
With performances of three ballets from the Royal Ballet, The Obsidian Triple at the Royal Opera House is a unique pleasure to behold. Beginning with Wayne McGregor’s Obsidian Tear, followed by The Invitation by Kenneth MacMillan and Christopher Wheeldon’s Within the Golden Hour, they form a harmonious triple bill.
On a minimalist stage, the dramatic and intense contemporary Obsidian Tear choreography conveys a simple, raw, at moments disjointed effect, forming expressionist manifestations of ritual, power and aggression. Choreographer Wayne McGregor, in describing the creation of this piece, has spoken of combining the myth of the powerful, seductive Greek goddess Nyx, who represents night, with the contrasting solo violin of Salonen’s Lachen verlernt. Nyx’s children – Death, Sleep, Destruction, Retribution, Brightness, Day and Eros – inspired this work. The title of the piece is based on a story of an Apache tribe who jump over a cliff to their deaths to escape defeat by the US cavalry. With nominations and wins for over 50 awards, including winning two Golden Mask Awards, four Critics’ Circle Awards, two South Bank Show Awards, and many others, Obsidian Tear could well be McGregor’s most powerful ballet.
With a dreamlike set by Nicholas Georgiadis, consisting of a colonial mansion, a moonlit garden, and early 1900s costume, The Invitation evokes an initially ethereal and romantic setting. However, the story that unfolds is tense and violent, involving a brutal rape. A young couple find one another but are assaulted by a group of young people, who attempt to separate them. An older couple in marital strife appear, becoming entangled with the younger pair, resulting in a vicious assault. A highly emotional piece, the narrative is expressed very powerfully through the dance, in particular the rape scene, which is disturbingly visually descriptive. Francesca Hayward’s performance as the rape victim is stirring and poignant as she transforms from joyful buoyancy to a broken creature, like a crushed butterfly.
The third ballet, Within the Golden Hour, is lovely and very sensual, conducted by Tim Murray with music by Ezio Bosso. Reputed as a neo-classicist, Christopher Wheeldon has created stylish abstraction and inventive patterning that express innate masculinity, with three central pas de deux, containing hints of the Charleston, the tango and the waltz. For the finale, the dancers combine with graceful harmony, as if parts of a clock.
The three ballets complement one another beautifully with hypnotic, emotional performances and superb choreography and dancing. Bravo!
Photo: Bill Cooper
Obsidian Tear / The Invitation / Within the Golden Hour is on at the Royal Opera House from 28th May until 11th June 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch choreographer Wayne McGregor rehearse Obsidian Tear here: