Birmingham Royal Ballet at Sadler’s Wells – The Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty, Op.66 – ballet in a Prologue and Three Acts to choreography by Peter Wright & Marius Petipa, with an original scenario conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant

King Florestan XXIV – Wolfgang Stollwitzer
His Queen – Yijing Zhang
Princess Aurora – Elisha Willis
Prince Florimund – Jamie Bond
Catalabutte, Master of Ceremonies – Rory Mackay
The Fairy Carabosse – Marion Tait
The Lilac Fairy – Yvette K. night

Fairy of Beauty – Jenna Roberts
Her Cavalier – Tom Rogers
The Fairy of Honour – Ana Albutashvili
Her Cavalier – Kit Holder
The Fairy of Modesty – Alys Shee
Her Cavalier – Lewis Turner
The Fairy of Song – Karla Doorbar
Her Cavalier – Lachlan Monaghan
The Fairy of Temperament – Maureya Lebowitz
Her Cavalier – Nathanael Skelton
The Fairy of Joy – Delia Mathews
Her Cavalier – Yasuo Atsuji
Carabosse Attendants – Alistair Beanie, Feargus Campbell, Joshua Lee, Max Maslen, Yujin Muraishi, Oliver Till
Lilac Fairy Attendants – Laura Day, Reina Fuchigami, Mild Mizutani, Nikita RuhI, Yaoqian Shang, Emily Smith
Ladies-in-waiting, Court Ladies, Court Gentlemen, Royal Attendants, Heralds, Guards, Nurses – Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Act One:
Four Princes – Steven Monteith, Jonathan Payn, Tom Rogers, Tyrone Singleton
Princess Aurora’s Friends – Laura Day, Karla Doorbar, Laura-Jane Gibson, Jade Heusen, Maureya Lebowitz, Yaoqian Shang
Garland Dance – Ana Albutashvili, Arancha Baselga, Sarnara Downs, Delia Mathews, Angela Paul, Alys Shee, William Bracewell, Miles Gilliver, Kit Holder, Brandon Lawrence, Lachlan Monaghan, Nathanael Skelton
Ladies-in-waiting, Court Ladies & Gentlemen, Royal Attendants, Heralds, Guards, Nurses – Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Act Two:
The Countess – Callie Roberts
Gallison, the Prince’s Aide – James Barton
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Hunt, Nymphs, Ladies-in-waiting, Court Ladies & Gentlemen, Hunt Attendants, Musicians, Guards, Nurses – Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Act Three:
Pas de quatre – Karla Doorbar, Miki Mizutani, Lachlan Monaghan, Lewis Turner
Puss-in-Boots and the White Cat – James Barton, Arancha Baselga
The Bluebird and the Enchanted Princess – Yasuo Atsuji, Céline Gittens
Red Riding Hood and the Wolf – Laura-Jane Gibson, Valentin Olovyannikov
Attendants, Guards – Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Koen Kessels

Philip Prowse – Designs
Mark Jonathan – Lighting

Reviewed by: G. J. Dowler

Reviewed: 19 October, 2013
Venue: Sadler's Wells Theatre, London EC1

The Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photograph: Bill CooperThere cannot be a better production in existence of The Sleeping Beauty than Sir Peter Wright’s now almost thirty-year-old version for Birmingham Royal Ballet. Not only is his choreographic text highly satisfying but he also has set and costumes designs from the great designer Philip Prowse; every scene is a sumptuous tableau, costumes as lavish and fantastical as one could ever wish for, the enchanted forest utterly delightful in its conception. Add to this the superlative conducting of Koen Kessels of this most magnificent of ballet scores and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia’s impressive playing and one can see that this was a performance of distinction.

The company is looking very strong indeed, with many dancers both old and new eagerly taking their parts and dancing with a care to requisite classical style that is increasingly less common. Ensemble among Aurora’s friends and the Act Two Nymphs was excellent, with accurate placement of arms and legs and an easy, shared musicality. Kessels’s brisk tempos serve this production and the dancers well, leading to a rapid (but unhurried) sequence of the six fairies in the Prologue, which did not drag here. In these superb vignettes matters were a little more mixed, not in terms of correctness but rather that of a certain lack of charm from some of the Fairies. Praise to Delia Mathews who sailed seemingly effortlessly through the fiendish Lopukhov variation, which in other productions is taken by the Lilac Fairy. Wolfgang Stollwitzer’s haughty, patrician King Florestan and Marion Tait’s venomous Carabosse, perhaps the finest interpretation for many a year were impressive; it is a cause of great sadness that she will soon stop performing the role.

The Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Royal Ballet. Photograph: Bill CooperThere was much crispness and engagement from the Act Three pas de quatre dancers, the male duet particularly fine. But Beauty stands or falls on the central couple: Jamie Bond gave a performance of rare refinement, partnering with courtly seamlessness and delivering his solo work with great brio – his Act Three showpiece demonstrated deep pliés, a high jump and an unruffled princely demeanour. Elisha Willis brought great experience to the role of Aurora, and while she was not wholly convincing as the 16-year-old princess in Act One, she looked comfortable and generous as the Act Three bride. She displayed commendable care with the choreography, technical strength – nowhere more welcome than in the delicious gargouillades of her second Act One solo – and used her arms and back to great effect. The impression of this performance was very much that of seeing a whole company working together to serve a great ballet, and I can honestly write that it is a long time that I have enjoyed a performance of this it quite as much.

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