Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
bart

The Royal's "new" staging of the 1946 Sleeping Beauty

65 posts in this topic

ACtually, seems like there was a lot of sparkle in the jewel fairies, fast astonishing footwork -- was that Merle Park?

Yes it was! And Georgina Parkinson was another jewel fairy. I forgot the third jewel fairy. I liked Aurora's Wedding overall, I just was surprised that Fonteyn wasn't nearly as great as she was in the 1955 telecast. She is exquisite though in Les Sylphides (as is Nureyev as the Poet). And I loved La Valse.

Share this post


Link to post

AN EVENING WITH THE ROYAL BALLET - credits:

Aurora's wedding (Act III of The sleeping beauty) / film directed by Anthony Asquith ; choreography, Nikolai Sergeev after Marius Petipa ; music, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky ; sets and costumes, Oliver Messel ; cast: Fonteyn (Princess Aurora) and David Blair (Florimund); Graham Usher, Merle Park, Georgina Parkinson (Prince Florestan & his sisters); Antoinette Sibley, Brian Shaw (Bluebirds); Douglas Steuart (Puss-in-Boots) & Virginia Wakelyn (White cat); Ann Howard (Red Riding Hood) & Ronald Plaisted (Wolf); Alexander Grant, Keith Milland, Lawrence Ruffell (Three Ivans); Leslie Edwards (Cattalabutte); Ray Powell (Carabosse); Deanne Bergsma (Lilac fairy); Derek Rencher & Gerd Larsen (King Florestan & his queen)

Share this post


Link to post
Richard, the original Sleeping Beauty -- the one that truly premiered in 1890; not the Vikharev new-old reconstruction -- went from Aurora's variation straight to the languid Sarabande. The music for the PDD's Coda was used earlier in the act, danced by (I believe) two of the Jewel fairies...it was a female pdd.

I've got "Tchaikovsky's Ballets" in front of me.....

Actually the coda was danced in 1890, Wiley states that the repetiteur says over bars 25-26 'Brianza'. He also states that the male section of the coda was notated in Nikolai Legat's version.

After the adagio Wiley explains that the notation preseves two variants (what does he mean - variants?) of a pas titled 'Dance after the Pas de Deux/Adagio', which he says is identified in one of the variants as being danced by two woman - the fairies Gold and Sapphire to music in 6/8 that lasts for 38 bars. As far as I know the Entree is longer that 38 bars (?) , maybe it was edited to be more in lines of a classical variation, which are usually about 40 bars or so.....

I was wondering what mucial manuscript Wiley is talking about in the book when he refers to the holograph score and the nouvelle version? Also he refers to a repetiteur (or rep.). Is there a section in the book that explains this? I couldnt find it.

Share this post


Link to post

I have another question, which is a little off topic. I was wondering the source of the extended harp arpeggios of the Rose Adagio and the Vision scene Pas de Deux, which seem to only appear in Soviet productions of Sleeping Beauty. Likewise the Love Duet of Swan Lake has an elaborately extended harp section at the beginning, which again is only part of the Russia versions of the pas.

Tchaikovsky's original harp arpeggios for the Rose Adagio are not nearly as elaborate as the ones used today by the Mariinksy in both the Sergeyev staging and the new/old reconstruction. However Tchaikovsky's original passage for harp at the start of the Vision scene Adagio is very brief, whereas the Mariinksy version, used in both the Sergeyev staging and the new/old reconstruction is again very elaborate - both are sort of done a la the harp arpeggios at the start of the Shades scene of La Bayadere.

I always thought that these extended interludes for harp were from Drigo, but nowhere in Tchaikovsky's Ballets does Wiley mention them.....

Share this post


Link to post
A few weeks ago, curious about how "authentic" the Royal ballet's text was, I compared the Royal's BEAUTY (w/ Durante) and the Mariinsky reconstruction. I was stunned at how much, after a century, the Royal Ballet retained Petipa's text. Though there were changes, or some would say "improvements", there was a very admirable consistancy between the two, which really says alot about the level of respect and tradition at the Royal Ballet. BRAVO! I dont know if it still being retained, but the Ashton? Act I Valse was nothing compared to Petipa.

It wasn't Ashton in this particular production.

I was there at the RB performance that was filmed in 1994 with Durante as Aurora. The opening credits state "Choreography: Marius Petipa Production Anthony Dowell assisted by Christopher Carr".

The detailed credits in the small print on the cast list are:

"The Choreography for the fee des Lilas Variation in the prologue is by Feodor Lopokov; the Garland dance in Act I, Kenneth MacMillan; Aurora's Variation and the Prince's Variation in Act II and the Sapphire Variation in Act III, Frederick Ashton; entree and coda in the Act III pas de quatre Anthony Dowell after Frederick Ashton"

I hope the credits given are as detailed in the new production.

Share this post


Link to post

You can see the first photos of the new production in ballet.co gallery

I remember the Messel version quite well (I think) and it looks as if the costumes have been changed quite a lot. But note the caveat that this was a rehearsal and not everyone is in full costume.

There's another rehearsal this morning so I'd guess there'll be another set, of a different cast, later.

First night tonight...

Share this post


Link to post

It looks lovely, nonetheless.......I hope the colors and vibrancy of the Messel come through.....another dusty unmagical production such as the last one will be lamentable. Looking forward to seeing this when it comes to Washington next month!!

Thanks for the links to the pictures!

Share this post


Link to post
You can see the first photos of the new production in ballet.co gallery

I remember the Messel version quite well (I think) and it looks as if the costumes have been changed quite a lot. But note the caveat that this was a rehearsal and not everyone is in full costume.

There's another rehearsal this morning so I'd guess there'll be another set, of a different cast, later.

First night tonight...

Your quite right that the costumes have been changed a lot and that's not all. Talk about making a Mess of Messel. A missed opportunity for the Royal I think. I have just got home from the first night which was notable for the performances of Marianela Nunez as Lilac Fairy, Sarah Lamb as Pricess Florine and an outstanding Aurora with Alina Cojocaru inhabiting the role in a way that very few have, in my 40 odd years of ballet going. To say that the company performed in a manner that was dull is to ignore the garishness of the new costumes. Oliver Messel who I was fortunate to meet on a number of occasions must be pirouetting in his grave. Messel was a man of infinite taste and style which this resurrection for me and many other members of the audience who grew up with the original Messel production so to speak, (ncluding a number of well-known writers) were more than dissappointed. In the audience were former Aurora's with the Royal

including Bery Grey, Doreen Wells and Antoinette Sibley. One of my all time favourite Lilac Fairies Deanne Bergsma was also present. Rather touchingly the late HRH Princess Margaret's children were present and in a sense part of the continuum of their mothers presence at the first night of the original production 60 years ago and of course Princess Margarets long patronage of the Royal Ballet. More later when I have seen other casts.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for the update......I'll have to reserve judgement on the designs until I see them myself.......but the performances were good, I am happy to hear! I am surprised that someone overseeing the construction of the new costumes did not do a better job integrating new and original...certainly they are documented, are they not?

Please continue to keep us informed.....

Share this post


Link to post

I was fortunate to watch both the rehearsal this morning (Marquez, Pennerfather) as well as attend the first night and it's late so I have to be quick. I haven't seen the original Messel production but I personally feel the RB's got it right with this one. I can't see what's wrong with the colours at all because they are gorgeous, particularly the vibrancy of the costumes of the fairies and cavaliers against the intense blues and greens of the backdrop. I think it has what the previous Makarova production lacked, and that is magic - the growth of the forest at the end of the prologue and the Panorama with the moving backdrops leading to the kiss are simply wonderous. The choreography (with additional choreography by Ashton, Dowell and Wheeldon) really works for me. And I have to say how proud I am of the dancers - I enjoyed the dancing across the company immensely. I don't think anyone yearns quite as well as Kobborg does in act 2. And to add more names, Martin Harvey, Belinda Hatley and Deirdre Chapman were unforgettable in the Florestan pd3.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you so much, Sylvia! Many of us consider this version (in prior incarnations) the gold standard of Beauties. Good to know this rescension holds up.

Share this post


Link to post

To bad the photos dont really give views of the decor, but from the very little shown the looks very nice. To bad the fairies dont have the little wings included in thier costumes, which I think is very effective in making them seem more "magical".

I have never seen Ms. Alina Cojocaru dance (any films available?) but from the looks of not only the photos provided in the link by Cabro but also others Ive seen she must be SOMETHING ELSE! WOW! That 'Act III Grand Adage' back bend is terrific!

Although I really liked the other ultra-modern "Sleeping Beauty" production that was dropped (I forgot the designer's name - the one that was filmed w/ Durante and Solymosi) the more traditional approach is always the best way to go!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post

For those interested in the production details, they are given in the programme as follows:

Choreography: Marius Petipa

Additional choreography: Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell, Christopher Wheeldon

Production: Monica Mason and Christopher Newton, after Ninette de Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev

Original Designs: Oliver Messel

Realization and Additional Designs: Peter Farmer

Lighting: Mark Jonathan

Staging: Christopher Carr

Principal Coaching: Alexander Agadzhanov, Lesley Collier, Jonathan Cope, Anthony Dowell, Donald Macleary, Monica Mason, Christopher Saunders

Additional choreography:

Prologue: Carabosse and Rats: Anthony Dowell

Act 1: Garland Dance: Christopher Wheeldon

Act 11: Aurora's Variation, The Prince's Variation: Frederick Ashton

Act 111: Florestan and his sisters: Frederick Ashton after Marius Petipa

Act 111: Polonaise and Mazurka: Anthony Dowell assisted by Christopher Carr

And to answer a couple of questions from earlier in the thread - there is no 'Ivan and his brothers' - Aurora and the Prince get the coda to the last act pas de deux; and if you looked at the photographs, the Prince doesn't actually do that pas de deux in his shirt.

Share this post


Link to post

Solor- You can catch Alina in "The Nutcracker" released in either 2001 or 2002 with the Royal Ballet, choreo by Peter Wright... She is Clara (or Marie/a??)

There may be some other dvds out there too!

In this new version of SB, does Carbosse try to stop the prince in Act II from kissing Aurora?

Share this post


Link to post
Solor- You can catch Alina in "The Nutcracker" released in either 2001 or 2002 with the Royal Ballet, choreo by Peter Wright... She is Clara (or Marie/a??)

There may be some other dvds out there too!

In this new version of SB, does Carbosse try to stop the prince in Act II from kissing Aurora?

Yes, I missed that in the rehearsal but in the performance Carabosse watches the prince and Lilac Fairy go throught the gates of the castle, then she lingers onstage contemplating while the gauzes lift to reveal Aurora's bedroom. She then moves up and behind her bed and tries to cast spells while the prince enters and kisses her awake. Incidentally, Florimund remembers how to break the spell on his own. He asks the Lilac Fairy what to do, and she mimes "Remember?!" and he does! I definitely prefer it to the more slow-witted Florimund!

I haven;t got my programme to hand but it does say that there are gaps in the records of Messel's designs. And also he liked to update the costumes, but the designs are not dated so there is some uncertainty as to what goes when. I think at the Insight Evening it was also said that there is only one exact replica of a costume and that is the Queen's (in Act III? Elizabeth MaGorian wears a fabulously pink and bowed ballgown - I thought she looked like Marie Antoinette :( ) And the RB's reused shoes and wigs from the Makarova production to save money.

Yes I think Nutcracker's the only officially released DVD that's out there, though she's appeared in a number of televised productions: Don Q (Armour), Cinderella, I think Daphnis and Chloe, a South Bank documentary about her partnership with Kobborg, and supposedly Giselle to be televised at the end of the year.

Share this post


Link to post
Although I really liked the other ultra-modern "Sleeping Beauty" production that was dropped (I forgot the designer's name - the one that was filmed w/ Durante and Solymosi) the more traditional approach is always the best way to go!!!!!!

The late Maria Bjornson, designer of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera." I agree about the traditional approach.

Although everything followed the standard text, her scenery and costumes weren't successful for me. It gave the illusion of looking up through a man-hole (?) and distorted everyone's line. Also, I had never seen Catalabutte in high heels until that production.

I'm so happy the Royal has returned to the Messel designs!

Share this post


Link to post

"I'm so happy the Royal has returned to the Messel designs"

Alas they haven't. This is a Peter Farmer designed production with a nod to Messel in the sets for the Prologue, Acts I and II and Aurora's tutus. Happily the choreographic text is pretty much the one from that production, although they have dispensed with the Ivans so Aurora and Florimond have a coda to the Grand Pas and we have Christopher Wheeldon's Garland dance - not as good as the Ashton, I thought.

Peter Farmer has given a number of interviews recently in which he has stated that the Messel costumes were too old-fashioned, not to say camp. Messel was not a designer but a decorater, he believes. Taste is very personal, but I did like the Messel designs and I find Farmer's substitutions bland to the point of invisibility. I'm reminded of middle class weddings in my youth when bridesmaids were often described as wearing "wild silk dresses in sweet pea colours". I'd also dispute the statement in the programme about the difficulty of identifying the Messel costumes. There are plenty of people around still who appeared in that production - at least one was at last night's performance and remarked that she didn't recognise a single costume.

As to the performance - I found it pretty underwhelming with the excveption of Marianella Nunez as the Lilac Fairy. Johan Kobborg looked tired and certainly had some difficulty with his variations and Alina Cojocaru didn't project as far as my seat in the centre of the stalls circle. There was some pretty odd casting in some of the solist roles too - at least one dancer who couldn't get his/her feet round the variation. Hopefully later casts will escape from that first night atmosphere and make more of the opportunities the choreography provides.

Share this post


Link to post

The striking photos for me were those of Carabosse (Genesia Rosato). She appears to be a stylish, even glamourous society woman, actually outshining the queen in one of the photos.

This is quite different from the grotesque cross-dressing harridan we are often offered (Dowell in the Bjornson-designed version, for instance).

What did you think of the way Carabosse is depicted here, as opposed to previous productions at the Royal?

Share this post


Link to post

With the new production of particular interest here right now, this goes back to earlier parts of the thread, regarding 'Evening with Royal Ballet,' which, because of using 'La Valse, I have been watching all parts of several times a day for a few weeks. Not being a dancer, I won't say too much about the part I fail to understand, but that I didn't notice mentioned here--i.e., I wouldn't be able to know whether Ms. Fonteyn was lesser in terms of personality, etc., than another production, but cannot watch David Blair. I would be interested to know if this is considered exemplary or at least adequate for Prince Florimund. I'd seen Nureyev and Sibley in 1973, but don't otherwise know numerous performances of 'Sleeping Beauty,' a deficiency I'll be remedying shortly, even if not with live performances this season probably. At any rate, I always want to watch Park and Ushery and then Shaw and Sibley over and over (also the adorable White Cat and Puss n' Boots), but stop every time at the pas de deux, until today when I wanted to ask a guest what he thought of this too. He called Blair's dancing 'workmanlike,' but then he's not a dancer either. I just always thought when Blair was not moving, he was just standing there and not listening too much to the music and, rather, waiting till there was something else he had to do next. I thought that interpolation of the 'Nutcracker' piece odd, too, but didn't know if this sort of thing was practised often.

Share this post


Link to post
Peter Farmer has given a number of interviews recently in which he has stated that the Messel costumes were too old-fashioned, not to say camp. Messel was not a designer but a decorator, he believes.

Those quotes can be found in Ismene Brown's article in the Telegraph from last weekend. Presumably Messel was too busy socializing and getting pally with royals to learn his trade. :clapping:

"I think Oliver was a social figure with artistic flair rather than a true designer. His Beauty wasn't organised in colour terms as we expect now - more like fancy dress. I don't like to use the word 'camp', but…"

Share this post


Link to post

I have to say, i sure did LIKE the photo of a scene from Messel's 1946 Beauty that ran with Ms Brown's article -- the costumes in particular had a lovely airiness to them that made the figures stand out against the ground without being at all out of harmony with the ground or each other.

By contrast, the photos I've seen so far of the new costumes all look hard-edged, with tutus that have no loft to them, and the colors look like aniline dyes.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, dirac, for that article. This quote alone would be worth the price of the newspaper:

Ballet is a bastard art, a highwire pas de quatre of music, choreography, theatre and design. Though the composer speaks first, for most watchers it is when the curtain rises that they snap that critical first impression. Before the dancers have moved, the audience's senses and intuitions have been switched to a certain frequency by the designer.

This certainly applies to the Balanchine design revolution of simple colored cyclorama and dancers in practice clothes or minimally-fussy costumes. The audience was prepared for the enormous aesthetic changes Balanchine was creating even before the dance began. (And often before the music started, as the curtain often rises to silence.)

(I suppose some might quibble at the reviewer's choice of the phrase "bastard art", however.)

The minimalist Balanchine style is still my favorite "look" for ballet, though I realize it's not appropriate to fairy tale ballets. However, the Messel designs -- at least in photographs -- seem busy, excessively colored (SO many varieties of pastel), and frou-frou beyond the call of duty. There is so much going on in the background distracts the eye from the movement.

It sometimes seems that companies with smaller budgets for sets, costumes and decor do this ballet better.

Share this post


Link to post
I have to say, i sure did LIKE the photo of a scene from Messel's 1946 Beauty that ran with Ms Brown's article -- the costumes in particular had a lovely airiness to them that made the figures stand out against the ground without being at all out of harmony with the ground or each other.

I liked the photo too.

I'd love to hear more on this, including reports on different casts. I'm hoping to catch the production in D.C.

next month when the Royal Ballet travels to the US.

Richard

Share this post


Link to post

I was wrong abour Carabosse - on 3rd viewing, as the Prince enters the bedroom, she stands above Aurora's bed, frantic and glowering. But she doesn't prevent the Prince from breaking the spell. It's only the Lilac Fairy at the castle gates she fights against.

In light of the criticisms of the costumes, particularly the fairies, I tried to be objective. It is true, when the full company are onstage in the prologue they do appear to blend into one another, but harmoniously I thought! My first impression in the rehearsal, and then again in both performances was how airy and beautiful it all is. It does take binoculars to see the finer detail of the costumes. But in their solos, the fairies don't blend into the backdrop - the costumes certainly stand out against the intense blues and greens. My main objection is to the lighting in the vision scene when the dancers appeared to be in darkness at times, but I was focusing so much on Aurora and the Prince tonight I'm afraid I forgot to check whether there had been any improvement. I also have a bit of a question mark over the Wheeldon's new Garland Dance - I'm just not sure I like it! But I'll wait to see it from above again before I saw anything more.

On the dancers themeselves, I think it's a mistake to cast Marianela Nunez as the Lilac Fairy...because she's in real danger of outshining everyone before her, including the principal casts. I thought she was simply glorious, radiant. Her prologue solo is so strong, so secure with long, long balances in arabesque and pulling off double, triple, quadruple pirouettes without distorting the music. And there is something so open about her dancing, so completely generous. She has a gorgeous natural smile and such expressive eyes that she uses so well, she makes all her mime scenes the highlight of the whole evening, seriously! The look of joy and wonder she has in the panorama, makes you really believe in this incredible journey that Floriumund is taking. Marianela really make you feel she's completely in control throughout the whole story, that everything's going to be ok. After the prologue I decided right there was no way I am going to miss her Aurora.

I enjoyed the principal cast. I don't think Roberta Marquez and Rupert Pennefather are especially suited to each other, but the fact that she's so tiny and he's over 6' makes the first overhead lifts in the vision scene quite breathtaking. She's such a charmer in act 1 that she comes across as almost a child. I think her Rose Adage tonight was not what it could be - she can, as she did in the old Makarova production and the rehearsal on Monday, pull off such fantastic balances as to disdain to take the hand of the fourth suitor and continue to stay in attitude for what seems like an eternity - but she had to be rushed through the 4th turn tonight. Still she seemed assured in act 2, her vision almost a completely different dancer, and in act 3 she again matured into royalty. Pennefather made a fine prince. I'd like to know who coaches him as there are tiny mannerisms he has that really remind me of Jonathan Cope! Bluebird and Florine tonight were Yohei Sasaki and Belinda Hatley.

Share this post


Link to post

Does anyone know if Eva Natanya or Alexandra Ansanelli will be dancing in this production in London or on tour?

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0