The (Opera) House That Derek Built; from Lily Savage to the Royal Ballet, It's All Coming Our Way Soon
Hill, Ian, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
IF YOU haven't got your plans made for any evening out, until February of next year, Belfast's Grand Opera House has the solution.
For as the News Letter has learned, the city's most loved performance space will today announce an unequalled programme of events running right up to its Christmas Pantomime.
Top of the bill comes the all-Ireland debut of the Royal Ballet with a programme already tipped to be one of the aces in November's Belfast Festival.
The ballet company's Belfast date is their only one in the United Kingdom outside of London. Their programme is stunning. The full company, with top stars including Darcey Bussell, Leanne Benjamin and Stuart Cassidy plus the great Sylvie Guillem, will present first Massenet's Maon to choreography by Kenneth MacMillan, then a three ballet melange of Frederick Ashton's version of Elgar's Enigma Variations and short pieces mixing romance and elegance.
Derek Nicholls, the Opera House's Director, says the company is in the premiere league as far as ballet is concerned.
''This glittering season is arguably the most significant ballet event ever to be staged in Northern Ireland. For us it's a major coup. However I'm hoping this glitter won't put the rest of our new season in the shade for its one of the most adventurous we've ever presented full of top shows, top stars and an amazing range of delights'', he told me ahead of today's announcement.
Derek has learnt a lot about Ulster's tastes since he first came here, so classical white ballet isn't the only temptation.
Jaleo, the award winning company from Seville, return in late October with a new programme of flamenco. In contrast to both, Diversions Dance, leaders in contemporary and no strangers to Belfast, return for one night on October 25.
The House's autumn season opens, and closes, as is now traditional, with pantomime. The curtain goes up on the summer one on July 29. It's Beauty and the Beast with the everlasting Lionel Blair and Anne Hailes.
And amongst these delights fans of the West End will surely pick out Smokey Joe's Cafe, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in which Richard Swerrun in this title role of a production dubbed ''the world's best loved '' by this newspaper on its last visit to Belfast.
Smokey Joe's, Derek assures News Letter readers, bears no relevance to the once popular Sixties chippie based on the city's University Road. Instead it's an evocation of the music of The Drifters, The Coasters and of course Elvis with a reprise of Stand by Me, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock and the poignant Pearl's A Singer. …