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


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#46 Paul Parish

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Posted 17 May 2006 - 07:18 PM

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.

#47 bart

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 04:31 AM

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.

#48 richard53dog

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Posted 18 May 2006 - 09:53 AM

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

#49 sylvia

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 04:30 PM

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.

#50 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:04 PM

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

#51 sylvia

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:12 PM

Eva Natanya's no longer with the company - I think she left a couple years ago to study theology from what I read in this forum. Alexandra Ansanelli danced Lilac Fairy last night, (Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli's cast). She also danced the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain for the first time tonight (Roberta Marquez and Rupert Pennefather cast), the one with all the brushing of the arms. I don't know whether you'll be able to get confirmation of when she's dancing on the tour - in London we don't any secondary cast info until we open the cast sheets 90mins before the performance, and there's always a bit of last minute juggling. But there are just 4 Lilac Fairies dancing I think - Nunez, Cuthbertsen, McMeekan and Ansanelli so I hope you get to see her. She's making her Aurora debut, dancing with Pennefather, with the RB at the start of next season.

#52 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:21 PM

"Eva Natanya's no longer with the company - I think she left a couple years ago to study theology from what I read in this forum. "

Duh -- I knew that......but forgot. So thanks, Sylvia for the reminder, and for the information about Ansanelli. That's really good news

#53 richard53dog

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:22 PM

Alexandra Ansanelli danced Lilac Fairy last night, (Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli's cast). She also danced the Fairy of the Crystal Fountain for the first time tonight (Roberta Marquez and Rupert Pennefather cast), the one with all the brushing of the arms. I don't know whether you'll be able to get confirmation of when she's dancing on the tour - in London we don't any secondary cast info until we open the cast sheets, and there's always a bit of last minute juggling. But there are just 4 Lilac Fairies dancing I think - Nunez, Cuthbertsen McMeekan and Ansanelli so I hope you get to see her. She's making her Aurora debut, dancing with Pennefather, with the RB at the start of next season.


The Kennedy Center website is only showing the 2 leads in the SB dates so no telling who the Lilac Fairy will
be in those 5(?) performances.

But Ansanelli is shown in the cast for La Valse in both the Mixed Bill nights so it looks like she will be in D.C.


Richard

#54 sylvia

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Posted 19 May 2006 - 06:36 PM

No problem!

The fact that Ansanelli's got 2nd night Lilac Fairy after Nunez is hopeful, but you can never tell with tours! Best just ask her at the stage door when you see her there imho! :wub:

Apart from SB, Ansanelli's also danced Afternoon of a Faun, Tchaikovsky pdd, Polyphonia, featured in Requiem and as one of Lise's friends in Fille. She'll be dancing the Fonteyn role in Birthday Offering pdd with Valeri Hristov (with whom, from what I've seen in rehearsals and a preview, she has wonderful chemistry with!) in the last mixed bill next month. So she's making a few inroads into the RB repertory! But I guess I should be posting this in the Ansanelli thread...

#55 beck_hen

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 03:24 PM

On the controversial costumes—I've recently watched video snippets of Margot Fonteyn and Antoinette Sibley as Aurora at the New York Public Library. The most charming feature of their costumes was that their tulle underskirts were a different color than the silvery/gold/white brocade of the bodice and overskirt. I remember red for Fonteyn and pink for Sibley. This wasn't resurrected? A disappointment.

#56 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 09:10 PM

Casting is up at the ROH website for four productions - Ansanelli will be doing three Auroras.

http://info.royalope...ccs=984&cs=2632

She's also doing. . .more Balanchine :) She's cast in Violin Concerto but not 4Ts. For what it's worth, I think Violin Concerto suits her better.

#57 dirac

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Posted 25 May 2006 - 11:39 AM

rg wrote: "it's worth recalling that when ABT 'revived' messel's production for its skeaping-staged SLEEPING BEAUTY, the spectacle proved far less 'impressive' than it was said to look in its royal ballet heyday."

I was quite familiar with the "Messel" production which lived on with the touring section of the Royal for some years after the Covent Garden company abandoned it. I didn't see the ABT version live, but I have seen photographs and what struck me immediately was that the fabrics were wrong. Messel designed for tarlatan while ABT seemed to be using nylon net, or some other kind of softer fabric, so the tutus lacked structure. Some of the colours looked a bit strident too, but that may well have been colour reproduction.


I recall reading that when Robert Helpmann saw the preparations for ABT's revival, he was appalled by the general look of the production - the colors were off, details not as he remembered them -- and when he asked Messel about it he was assured that "everything is just as it was" or words to that effect, and Helpmann said they certainly were not. Messel was in poor health -- arthritis, heart disease -- and nowhere near peak form, which may have affected things.

#58 Kate B

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 12:42 AM

I went to see it on Saturday and I thought the production was wonderful. I thought the costumes were just right - over the top enough to be fairytale but not too far into camp territory. It was unsentimental, particularly with the excellent casting of Carabosse and the Lilac Fairy. My friend and i were in raptures over Act 2 and I thought the divertissements were just right. I even warmed to Marianela Nunez.

If you have the chance to see it, you must go!

#59 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 05 June 2006 - 01:06 AM

I was there on 31 May and 1 and 3 June as well. I happen to like Sleeping Beauty to begin with, but I had no problem sitting through the production three times. I got lucky as well and caught both Cojocaru and Nunez at top form - both sailed through the Rose Adagio (Cojocaru particularly without adjustment). Unfortunately Marquez was a bit off her game but Rupert Pennefather keeps getting more and more princely. Lauren Cuthbertson was a lovely Lilac Fairy with beautiful mime.

I'll be back for the Rake's Progress on the 7-9.

#60 leonid17

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Posted 17 December 2006 - 03:24 AM

Casting is up at the ROH website for four productions - Ansanelli will be doing three Auroras.


I only caught up with Miss Asanelli’s Aurora at yesterday’s matinee and she gave what for me, was the most authoritative performance of Aurora I had seen for many years. Technically assured, Miss Asanelli acted with expressively confident charm, making light of the challenges in the 'rose adagio' with an accomplishment that led me to ask my companion, 'Where on earth did she learn to dance like that?' and where did she learn to communicate through mime and facial expression so clearly her intentions and feelings to the point you thought she was actually speaking the words.

Miss Asanelli was 'on song' in a manner I had never seen from her before. At this performance, she was entitled unlike many others, to be called a ballerina, as she gave a 'star' performance that took me back to the 1960's when such performances were less rare at the RB than they are today.

I took a reality check with a number (4 in total) of RB ballet-goers of long standing who agreed with my assessment of Miss Asanelli.

David Makhatelli, for the first time for me, showed that he is worthy of dancing leading roles in the 19th century classics exhibiting style, perfect support and attention to Miss Asanelli and dancing at a level of technique that one had always expected him to exhibit. Mr. Makhatelli only needs to add a more dynamic attack in some steps to become a serious rival to the other leading male dancers in the RB.

The company generally danced in tired manner, and several soloists gave performances well below the standards that the audience is entitled to expect. Casting or coaching in a more effective manner is a necessity at the Royal Ballet as it would I feel prevent what for me has been fairly unsuccessful all round performances in 'The Sleeping Beauty' both this season and last except for most of the principal dancers.

I am not surprised that the RB has only one dancer ( M.Nunez) who dominates the casting of the Lilac Fairy
because this situation occurred in previous eras of their history, i.e. Beryl Grey, Svetlana Beriosova and Deanne Bergsma.

There were many young children at this performance and all those within my sight and earshot, behaved impeccably and appeared to be both entranced and appreciative. It is an excellent move for the Royal Opera House to provide inflatable cushions for them to sit upon.

Earlier in the week I saw Sarah Lamb blossom from a very good birthday scene, to an extraordinary pristine classicism with thrilling moments in the Vision Scene and her last act Grand Pas de deux was marked by a beautifully extended line and epaulement fitting for royal princess.

Sarah Lamb continues to impress and if consistency is matched to her undoubted gifts, the Royal Ballet now has four dancers who perform the standard classical repertoire at a level that I expect.

Regrettably I have yet to see Tamara Rojo as Aurora but have heard very good reports.

Two beautifully performed Aurora's in one week, as good a Christmas present as I could hope for.

Edited to add an interesting article in todays NY Times http://www.nytimes.c...nce/17sulc.html


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