Royal Opera House, London
Dance review: The Bolshoi's Sleeping Beauty is an opulent yet superficial affair
Tuesday 06 August 2013
The Bolshoi Ballet’s new Sleeping Beauty is certainly opulent. From the feathered headdresses to the sheer amount of gold painted on Ezio Frigerio’s scenery, it’s a very glitzy vision of the story. For all the glitter, Yuri Grigorovich’s production is superficial. It’s left to the dancers to find warmth and depth in the ballet, with a fine Aurora from Ekaterina Krysanova.
The production was created for the opening of the redeveloped Bolshoi Theatre in 2011 – these London performances are the first outside Russia. Frigerio’s designs, and Franca Squarciapino’s equally lavish costumes, reflect new approaches at the Bolshoi. Though the company has been divided by factions, and rocked by this year’s acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin, it’s also visibly changing.
Halfway through the London season, there’s little sign of the huge scale and sincerity that used to be the Bolshoi’s calling card. Both men and women are thinner and smaller in build. The company is aiming for more refinement, more detailed footwork, elegance as much as power. It’s an approach that could suit The Sleeping Beauty, Petipa’s gorgeous 1890 fairy tale.
Grigorovich’s staging flattens the traditional text, fiddling with the gorgeous geometry of Petipa’s fairy dances. Ditching the detail, Grigorovich also makes some staggeringly unmusical cuts to Tchaikovsky’s score. Conductor Pavel Sorokin takes the score very fast: the dances need more room to breathe.
The storytelling is fussy. Petipa had the whole court watch in horror when Aurora finds the spindle. Here, they’ve all turned their backs at the fatal moment, so that only Vitaly Biktimirov, the master of ceremonies, reacts. Led by Alexei Loparevich’s wicked fairy, mime performances are underpowered or hammy.
Yet Krysanova is a buoyant Aurora, sailing through the demanding Rose Adagio and dancing with crisp attack. In the Vision scene, she softens her dancing into long, floating phrases. Around her, the production looks up, with more atmosphere and stronger corps dancing. Krysanova gains grandeur for the last act, which is confidently staged.
Artem Ovcharenko, her prince, has bright technique, with a strong jump and speedy turns, but rarely seems engaged in the action. Ekaterina Shipulina has polished authority as the Lilac Fairy. The soloist dancing is variable. The soloist fairies are often lightweight, but the wedding guests show more assurance, with Anna Tikhomirova standing out in the “finger” variation and as Cinderella.
Season continues until 17 August. Box office 020 7304 4000.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
EastEnders Christmas Day special, TV review: It's all about the Carters this Christmas - and Danny Dyer is brilliant
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman to stay on as Peter Capaldi’s assistant Clara Oswald in next series
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader