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


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#31 Jane Simpson

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 04:18 AM

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...

#32 Juliet

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 07:26 AM

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!

#33 leonid17

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 03:17 PM

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.

#34 Juliet

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 03:25 PM

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.....

#35 sylvia

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 04:36 PM

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.

#36 carbro

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 07:58 PM

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.

#37 Solor

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Posted 15 May 2006 - 08:13 PM

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!!!!!!

#38 Jane Simpson

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 02:45 AM

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.

#39 Joseph

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 04:01 AM

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?

#40 sylvia

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 04:45 AM

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.

#41 Cygnet

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 07:57 AM

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!

#42 Alymer

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 02:28 PM

"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.

#43 bart

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 04:54 PM

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?

#44 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 05:43 PM

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.

#45 dirac

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 10:07 AM

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', butů"




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