Last Sunday, I was invited to a very special performance – thanks to Mr BB – of the English National Opera (ENO) at the London Coliseum.
We arrived just before noon, and were greeted by Ruinart champagne and canapés. We had the opportunity to chat with a board member of the ENO, who was soon joined by Tamara Rojo. The first thing I told her was that I saw her last performance at the Royal Opera House (ROH). I wasn’t prepared to see her and that’s the spontaneous sentence that came to my mind. Does she have enough of being reminded of her ballet performances, now that she “retired” to become ENO’s Artistic Director? I couldn’t tell. In any case, she has a special place in my ballet “apprenticeship”. I was an adult when I saw my first ballet at the ROH and became an avid ballet goer after that, with my girlfriends and quite often on my own. I wanted to catch up on all the years during which my friends would have been taken to the ballet by their mothers. Tamara was in many of the ballets in those catch up years.
We were then asked to take our seats for lunch. I had been to the Coliseum before and I visualised our lunch being served on a tray while we were sitting in the side loges. Pushing the door from the auditorium, I realised that our host had bigger plans. Our tables were set on the stage!
Of course, lunch was sumptuous, including the wine. Between the starter and the main, Tamara introduced the ballet performance. The performance started on the stage, with us watching from our tables. It was certainly a new definition of ‘front row seats’. For the first time, I could see the dancers’ facial expressions and realised how acting was important, without any lyrics as in the operas. I felt the moves looked less smooth, which may partly be due to the more distinct floor noises; but what we lost in smoothness was more than offset by clarity and expressiveness, in my view.
The private performance lasted about 45 minutes but it felt like it was over in a flash. I wished it could have gone on longer but I was soon consoled by my main course and delightful desserts, as well as a pair of signed ballerinas slippers. So that I will always remember this enchanted moment.