George Balanchine is a highly musical ballet director, I find his work fascinating and beautiful to watch. This Jewels production from the Paris Opera ballet is testament to that. I found this production a gem in every department. Throughout the sets(minimalist but still lovingly decorated) and costumes are just gorgeous, it has the effect of looking into a jewel box which came across beautifully. The choreography will literally leave you in a trance, which is exactly the effect needed for Emeralds, while Rubies' razor-sharp quick-silver-like choreography ideally fits the jazzy nature of Stravinsky's music. It's all very French and very elegant, and I did love how the choreography in Diamonds seemed to be paying an affectionate tribute to Petipa. The music by Faure for Emeralds, Stravinsky for Rubies and Tchaikovsky for Diamonds is outstanding, especially the Faure, mainly because it evoked so much emotion from me and it was the most fitting within the dancing and such. The orchestral playing is ethereal and subtle for Emeralds, stylish and jazzy for Rubies and powerful in a hauntingly beautiful way for Diamonds, and throughout the sound is enough to transport you to another world. The piano solo in Rubies is superbly played.
The conducting is authoritative, nuanced and shapes and phrases the music very nicely. There is little, if anything, to complain about the dancing. The Corps-De-Ballet, at its largest in Diamonds dance impeccably. In the lead roles, the most captivating was Clairemarie Osta in Emeralds, sensual and petite and perfectly captures the dream-like quality shown in the music and choreography. She is supported very elegantly by Laeticia Pujol and Mathieu Ganio. Aurelie Dupont's in Rubies dancing is phenomenal, her pirouettes especially are a source of admiration, and while she is charming she just misses that extra bit of swagger. Swagger is something that Marie Agnes Gillot, looking very glamorous, has this said, so much so she is like a refreshingly playful sexy minx. Agnes Letetsu and Jean-Guillame Bart in Diamonds are very elegant and naturally dignified, and they dance with such precision and magnetism. The Pas-De-Deux, while beautifully danced, was choreographically a little too dirge-like for my tastes, but the image of Bart kissing Letetsu's hand and the final moments are unforgettably sweeping, in the spirit of a Petipa ballet I'd say. Overall, a gem. 10/10 very easily. Bethany Cox
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