The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Opera House, London
Wednesday 19 August 2009
The Mariinsky Ballet's visit draws to a close with a fine new Aurora in a creaking old production. Konstantin Sergeyev's 1952 version of The Sleeping Beauty suffers from a much-modified text, very leisurely pacing and dreadful wigs. Even so, Evgenia Obraztsova shines as the lead.
This is a Soviet Beauty, trimming and adapting Petipa's original. The question is why the Mariinsky brought it in the first place. Ten years ago, the company staged a lavish reconstruction of the original 1890 production, with a much richer text. The 1890 costumes were sometimes curious, but they had nothing on the horrors credited to Simon Virsaladze. (The 1952 version sticks one of the fairies in an acid orange tutu, then surrounds her with attendants in hectic lilac. Ouch.)
So why go back to the previous production? There's been a retro look to many of the Mariinsky's recent decisions. At first, the company responded to the end of the Soviet Union by looking outwards, taking on Western choreography, re-examining its own past. It even changed its name, dropping the Soviet Kirov and returning to the old imperial Mariinsky. That impulse has faltered. Dancers who seemed excited by Forsythe or Balanchine now look under-rehearsed in those works.
It's not all bad news. There are still fine dancers, led by Obraztsova's lovely Aurora. Running on for her birthday party, she has an exuberant happiness. Small, with a pretty face and heavy-lidded eyes, she's bouncy and elegant. In the "Rose Adagio", her balances are steady enough, but the sense of celebration is more important. As she turns, arms held wide, she has an expansiveness that fills the Tchaikovsky music.
Igor Kolb makes an efficient prince. He jumps and partners briskly, but is short on depth. Maxim Zuzin's Bluebird has more energy. Ekaterina Kondaurova is an imperious Lilac Fairy. The corps de ballet were on untidy form, with far too many rough edges. Soloists fall into mannerisms. The lifted chin, a Mariinsky habit, was running riot.
Islom Baimuradov had some swagger as the wicked fairy Carabosse, but my favourite mime performance came from an attendant. Carabosse punishes the master of ceremonies by ripping off his hat and plucking his hair out. The attendant picked up the loose hair and hid it in the hat, trying to spare him embarrassment. It's the kind of detail that this production so often misses.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Enrique Iglesias injured trying to catch a drone mid concert
- 2 Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Annie Leibovitz shot Vanity Fair cover
- 4 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
The 1975 leave social-media after tweeting cryptic comic strip hinting at break up
Britain's Got Talent 2015 final: Winner Matisse had secret dog double, says owner Jules O'Dwyer
Top Gear to follow Have I Got News For You format with 'different host for each episode'
Britain's Got Talent final 2015: Ofcom receives 90 complaints about Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden's 'revealing dresses'
Ed Sheeran debuts new love song 'Sweet Mary Jane' about relationship with weed
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history