The Sleeping Beauty at The Royal Opera House – Review

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Nuñez and Muntagirov Shine at this Royal Ballet Classic

In the midst of a dreary mid-winter season, what could be more moving than the lavish revival of Monica Mason and Christopher Newton’s 2006 production of The Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House, which was an update of Dame Ninette de Valois’ 1946 production of the famous Wells Sadler Ballet reopened the Park at the end of the Second World War.

Production photo of The Sleeping Beauty, The Royal Ballet ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski (3)

This production is now the jewel in the crown of the Royal Ballet repertory as it brings together Marius Petipa’s original choreography from its St Petersburg premiere in 1890, completed by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon, with Tchaikovsky’s score and Oliver Messel’s design. It is the second in Tchaikovsky’s ballet trio The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, which represent the pinnacle of the art form.

Production photo of The Sleeping Beauty, The Royal Ballet ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski (1)

The original story comes from a series of medieval texts with narratives that were later passed on to the aural tradition. The tale was codified by the Brothers Grimm in their repository of folklore keys, Grimm’s Fairy Tales with the story most recently reappearing in the National Theatre’s musical Hex.

Kristen McNally as Carabosse and The Royal Ballet artiste in The Sleeping Beauty ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski

Sleeping Beauty has three acts but with a long prologue setting the scene, it’s really a four act ballet. The prologue, with Tchaikovsky’s thrilling opening pushed forward to ample tempo by conductor Koen Kessels, is set at the christening of Princess Aurora performed by her father King Florestan XXIV and her Queen played graciously by Christopher Saunders and Elizabeth McGorian. Carabosse’s ‘evil’ elf Kristen McNally – whom I last saw as a nurse in Romeo and Juliet – was resplendent in black and crimson. Accompanied by their rat attendant, they cut out some evil shapes. He is enraged for not accepting the invitation to this royal event and giving the baby an axle which he predicts will lead to the Princess’ death.

Fumi Kaneko as the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski

Carabosse’s nemesis is the Lilac Fairy, danced by Fumi Kaneko who brings a subtle elegance to her work whether in classic roles like here or in more contemporary pieces like Kyle Abraham’s The Weathering. The ‘good’ Lilac Fairy explains that Aurora will not die but will fall into a deep sleep.

Marianela Nuñez as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski

Act 1 takes us to the Princess’ 16th birthday party and features her most famous ballet sequence – The sublime Maxim of the Rose – with four Princes wooing Marianela Nuñez as Princess Aurora with their flowers. These six minutes are perhaps the technical high point of the repertoire for a classical ballerina with a diabolical sequence of développés, pirouettes, attitudes, bourrées, and arabesques that Nuñez delivers so brilliantly. It’s meant to look easy and it is, and she manages to incorporate her character’s transition from girl to woman at the same time. A disguised Carabosse gives Aurora a shaft through which the girl pricks her finger, causing her to pass out. In response, the Lilac Fairy put the entire palace to sleep and a forest canopy covered the palace.

Vadim Muntagirov as Prince of Florimund in The Sleeping Beauty ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski

Heralded by the horns of France Tchaikovsky Act 2 takes us forward another hundred years to the hunting grounds of the forest. The great Russian dancer Vadim Muntagirov portrays the Prince of Florimund with the aura of a young aristocrat. He meets the Lilac Fairy who summons the spirit of Aurora. He fell in love and asked the Lilac Fairy to take him to Aurora. After a set-to with Carabosse, the prince kisses the revived Aurora. With the courts now awake and order restored,

Mica Bradbury as White Cat and Puss-in-Boots in The Sleeping Beauty ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski

Act 3 is set in the wedding of Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora which is where the fireworks start. There is a series of virtuoso solos, pas de deux and pas de quatre by principals and guest fairytale characters. Mica Bradbury and Leo Dixon are hilarious and hilarious as Puss-in-Boots and White Cat; and Isabella Gasparini and Joseph Sissens as Princess Florine and Bluebird have great chemistry, with Sissens in particular, showing great athleticism in her eyelashes.

Joseph Sissens as Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty ©2023 ROH.  Photo by Andrej Uspenski

But the highlight of Act 3 is Muntagirov’s variation of Prince of Florimund where he soars through the air with the grace of a prince. This production of Sleeping Beauty is classical ballet at its best.

With its dramatically coherent story, gorgeous costumes and scenery, and world-class dancing, this production is a joy to behold.

Royal Ballet

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY Main Stage Monday 16 January – Tuesday 6 June 2023

Live Cinema Relay: Wednesday 24 May 2023, 7:15 pm Encore Cinema Relay: Sunday 28 May 2023, 2:00 pm

Tickets: £9 – £170

Royal Opera House

WC2E 9DD London Road Arc

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *