Wheeldon triple bill review – Osipova glitters as 1880s It-girl

Royal Opera House, London
This Christopher Wheeldon programme includes the premiere of one-act ballet Strapless, whose scandalous heroine Madam X is all attitude and frocks

Christopher Wheeldon is getting very clever at narrative ballets. Together with his designer Bob Crowley, he’s learned to pace, control and clarify his storyline, distilling dramatic essentials with ease. At the very least, his new one-act ballet Strapless is a superb piece of stagecraft. Whether it succeeds as art is less certain.

The ballet is inspired by John Singer Sargent’s once-scandalous portrait Madame X, and by the story of its socialite model Amélie Gautreau, whose wantonly suggestive pose on canvas led to her being ousted from the very society that had courted her. Paris in the 1880s is vividly evoked throughout: in the clash and colour of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s score, in the sets and costumes, and in the small character detail. Kristen McNally is particularly good as the wife of Amélie’s lover Samuel Pozzi, compressing a whole biography of bossy Parisian hauteur into a palette of brittle, fussy steps.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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