Sunday 16 October 2011

Cleopatra Queen of the Nile

I made my way to Norwich Theatre Royal on Thursday evening to attend the Northern Ballet's performance of Cleopatra with great excitement. Created by David Nixon with music composed by Claude-Michel Schonberg the ballet is inspired by the Queen of the Nile.

The Ballet is a historical retelling of Cleopatra's life from her chanting to the God Wadjet who reveals a golden throne that is the throne of the Egyptian Pharaohs.

In Act 1 it is Cleopatra's wedding to Ptolemy. It is clear there will be no sharing of power and with the help of her handmaidens Cleopatra drowns Ptolemy while he bathes and sits on the throne alone. The Romans arrive in Egypt and Caesar embarks on a long Nile cruise with the Queen and ultimately the child Caesarion is born. Caesar returns to Rome with Cleopatra and Caesarion but in time the political situation changes and Caesar is killed and Cleopatra returns to Egypt.

In Act 11 The Romans return led by Mark Antony who cannot resist Cleopatra. Octavian and Mark Antony's wife Octavia watch his actions and Octavia is sent to Egypt to bring her husband but she returns home empty handed. Octavian rushes to Egypt with his army which leads to Mark Antony dying in Cleopatra's arms. In the final scene Cleopatra is face to face with Wadjet pulling a snake closer to herself but he pulls back. Unable to resist he plunges venom into her and as she dies the gods extend their arms and Cleopatra ascends to her destiny.

The Ballet had great choreography and is a visual triumph. I greatly enjoyed the music that gave a great atmosphere for the dancers to perform this epic story. Dramatic and stunning Cleopatra is a brilliant production that the Northern Ballet can be very proud of. It was splendid to be able to witness this all at Norwich Theatre Royal.

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