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Review: Sylvia, Birmingham Royal Ballet at Birmingham Hippodrome

David Bintley's ballet is a delight

Sylvia

David Bintley's Sylvia is a ballet for a summer night.

There are parties, handsome guests, the Champagne flows and the score by Delibes is as enchanting as when it was first written over a century ago for a first performance at the lovely old Palais Garnier in Paris.

World weariness in the love game has long been a fascination for the French.

In Sylvia the God of Love, Eros (Mathias Dingman) has abandoned love and turns up as a white-haired, benign gardener in a grand household, where the boss, Count Guiccioli who changes into the butch and violent Orion the Huntyer (Tyrone Singleton) is getting marital disruptions with his wife Diana - she becomes the cruel Diana the classical Huntress ( Celine Gittens).

And since social conflict has a habit of spiralling downwards. the clashes between the Guicciolis is affecting a burgeoning love affair between their head servants.

The Governess who transposes into the legendary Sylvia ( the beautiful and accomplished Momoko Hirata, who consistently brings such grace to the company) and the count's valet who morphs into Amyntas Sylvia's lover (Joseph Caley, who is now dancing on top of his form).

If you can hang on to the story so far, it gets better.

Eros puts down his garden shears with a sigh, revs up the magic, and takes us on a mysterious journey where the power of love to set master and mistress to rights is evoked successfully and the world get put to rights, and in that context its recalls Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The curious thing is that as the ballet progresses from contemporary somewhere or other, to a fairy-tale land of pirates, classical landscapes and pirate galleons, your mind may well dream up other things you may have seen.

In an evening where a rare three-act ballet which has held its place in ballet history since Delibes first put plume to parchment, you get some enchanting moments , fine choreography and a great deal of laughter.

Amyntas loses his sight (he gets it back again, don't worry) as Diana gets nasty with her bow and arrows and her husband, Orion has a quaint drunken scene lusting after Sylvia.

But Eros steps in, a superb pirate galleon sweeps into the action, some rather nutty pirates and an even nuttier pirate captain (Eros with a wooden leg) dance around then capture a band of veiled cuties, Amyntas gets his sight back ( fine solos are danced here by Caley and Hirata which drew roars of approval and not a few bravos).

Then we go back to the couture and swish of the original party in the marquee, the strawberries and cream come out, and it all ends well, like a summer dream.

Runs until Saturday, June 27

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