Tuesday, 28 February 2017

'The Sleeping Beauty' at the Royal Opera House

Last week we went to see 'The Sleeping Beauty' performed by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House. This is a special ballet and it's quite historic for the Royal Ballet since it was the first ballet they performed back in 1946 at the Royal Opera House. I'd never seen this production before and was really looking forward to it in the grand setting of the Royal Opera House.  It doesn't have the emotional intensity of some of the other ballets in the Royal Ballet's catalogue, but it's quite rightly an audience favourite and now it's one of my favourites.

Princess Aurora, our heroine, was supposed to be danced by Lauren Cuthbertson but, before the ballet started, the Director of the Royal Ballet came on stage to tell us that Lauren was ill and her role would be danced by Yasmine Naghdi. I trust the Royal Ballet to give us a good show so I wasn't worried about that in the slightest. I wonder how Yasmine felt about it, sitting back stage, waiting to go on that famous stage and wondering where it might lead?

We all know the story of this classic fairytale. The wicked fairy curses the baby princess to prick her finger on a needle and die but the good fairy saves her by amending the curse to make her sleep rather than die. A hundred years pass and the handsome prince is hunting in the forest, finds the sleeping princess and awakens her with a kiss. They fall in love, marry and live happy ever after. There you are you see, you know the story. But how you get from start to finish is fraught with joy and fear and some great dance sequences and our princess seemed to spend most of her time high on tippy toe (a technical term).

From the start this is what, I suppose, we all think a ballet is: lads in tights and lasses in tutus, a cast of thousands (not quite). fantastical sets and gorgeous costumes, and amazing music swirling up to the rounded ceiling which is like the inside of a Faberge egg. The spectacle and the glory of it all is quite magical. And they they start to dance and the story unfolds. I love it when the stage is packed with dancers moving as one and then the principals join them for their show-off dances and I sit there wondering how on earth a human body can do *that* and how they don't hurt themselves doing *this* and how they can possibly do *that*. But they do. Again and again.

Some moments I thought were lovely were the dance of the fairy godmothers bringing their gifts to the baby Aurora, everything with nasty Carabosse in (she can disappear in a puff of smoke you know), Aurora's dance with her four suitor princes and the dance of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund before their wedding. It was all terribly lovely and then we have the wedding itself with Puss-in-Boots, Red Riding Hood and other fairytale creations attending and doing their dance.  One of the more energetic dances was by Princess Florine and the Bluebird, with the Bluebird leaping into the air and soaring across the stage in a great bound.

While there is no incredible story-telling or shock twists and turns, this is very much a feel-good production and quite a historic one. I liked Tierney Heap as the Lilac Fairy appearing throughout the production to make things right again and Hayley Forskitt, as her arch nemesis, the evil Carabosse. James Hay was also pretty spectacular as the jumpy-all-over-the-shop Bluebird with his amazing solos. And full praise to Yasmine Naghdi as Aurora and Matthew Ball as Florimund who only first danced these roles a few days before. They worked well together and it's nice to see the more junior members of the Royal Ballet being given their big break.  I'll watch out for both of them in future.

Thanks for the magic, Royal Ballet.

No comments: