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Ranking the Sleeping Beauty productions (top 5, Bottom 5)


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 07:04 AM

June 2007

The new ABT production of 'Sleeping Beauty' is stirring up lots of talk and emotion about this, the most classical of Petipa ballets.

For those among us who have seen umpteen production of the ballet throughout the years (live or on tape), why not play a little game of 'Rank the Beauties'? Simply name your top and bottom productions, among professional troupes. Think only about the productions (design & staging/choreography) and not the dancers.

Here are mine.

Top 5:

1. Kirov-Mariinsky 1890 (as revived in 1999) -- the original is still the best by a mile, IMO!

2. Royal Ballet 1946 (not the 2006 revival, due to pale costumes & poor new Garland Dance)

3. NYCB 1990 -- gorgeous, unified design concept; a great example of tightening a beloved old ballet without having to lose the magic. No key moments lost.

4. Kirov-Mariinsky 1952 -- Konstantin Sergeyev may have strayed far from tradition in the ensembles and some solos, but the result is a unique masterpiece. Tasteful, magical costumes & fine sets. It all fits together.

5. POB ca 1998 (latest of the Nureyev stagings) -- if one has to have over-the-top roccoco, this is how to do it, in rich, grand, large-scaled manner. And it's Nureyev, so we are prepared for the changes & they please. A wild delight.

I've seen bits of the recent Berlin Ballet (Malakhov) version on the internet and like what I've seen so far, with very bold colors and unified design. It may eventually make my top 5.

Bottom 3: (don't have the stomach to go beyond 3)

1. THE WORST - ABT 2007 - it just doesn't get any lower than this. Simply read my post on the SB review thread.

2. Ballet de Chile ca 1980 - a very tatty, weak production, seen only on video (thank goodness)

3. Royal Ballet ca 2003 - Makarova tries to transplant the 1952 Sergeyev on a troupe that heretofore maintained one of the grandest version of them all (1946 Messel). The result was a pathetic mish-mash, complete with little kids in cupid outfits.

#2 Hans

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 09:20 AM

Top Three:

1. Kirov Reconstruction
2. Sergeyev
3. Paris Opéra, although I could do without Nureyev's added choreography.
(I'm sure the 1946 Royal would be on here, but I haven't seen it or its reconstruction.)

Bottom Two:

1. NYCB
2. Royal Ballet (I believe staged by Dowell--the one with the hideous Disney/Goth costumes and tilted set)

I'm guessing the new ABT is going to be on here once it arrives at the Kennedy Center, but I'll reserve judgment until then.

#3 cargill

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 09:51 AM

My number one by a long long shot is the Kirov 1999 reconstruction, and after that it gets difficult. I would say the Messell, though I only have seen pictures of it, and then the somewhat disappointing ABT revival. I haven't seen the new/old RB version, but it sounds somewhat problematic. The De Valois 1975 version was a bit bland but was certainly an honorable production. After that, it goes from tolerable to unbearable.

My no. 1 tolerable is the NYCB version, just for Peter Martins' really, truly lovely magical vision scene. I would add the 1952 Kirov version in the tolerable category, because of the messing around with the prologue, and because when I saw it, Lilac appeared in the vision scene in droopy chiffon.
My almost tolerable is the previous ABT version, just because of its textually accurate Prologue, but boy were the sets heavy and the vision scene ugly.

For the unbearable, ABT's new version comes first, then the Dowell version with the tilting sets, and then the very short-lived MacMillan 1973 Royal Ballet version.

#4 canbelto

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:06 AM

Ones that I've seen, either live or in the theater:

Best:
The new Royal Ballet costumes. Yeah the scenery's gotten tackier, but it's still the most cohesive production. Saw it with Nunez and then there was the BBC telecast. I gather the old Messel production was great, but I only have the truncated B&W film to judge, plus the Act 3 from the early 1960s, distinguished mostly by Sibley's Florine. (One of Margot Fonteyn's worst video outings, IMO.

Also very good:
Peter Wright's production that can be seen in the Dutch National Ballet dvd. A little portentious, but overall, a nice production.

Nureyev's production for the POB. Some things bug, like the long solo for the Prince before the Vision scene, but not enough for me to stop watching. The video with Dupont and Legris is great.

Kirov's 1952 Sergeyev production. I don't like the complete erasure of all the mime, as well as some changes in the choreography, but it's a pretty production. Perhaps a little too fairy-tale-ish. All is pink and pretty, all the time. I saw it in the theater, it made me happy and smiley. There are several good videos out there.

Bad:
The Anthony Dowell production, preserved for posterity on video. Ugh, awful costumes, awful sets. Saved only by Viviana Durante's almost eerily rock solid Aurora. The tilted sets: no, just no.

I unfortunately haven't seen either the NYCB Sleeping Beauty nor the Kirov reconstruction although I know Act 3 was televised this New Year.

#5 Natalia

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:18 AM

The Anthony Dowell production, preserved for posterity on video. Ugh, awful costumes, awful sets. Saved only by Viviana Durante's almost eerily rock solid Aurora. The tilted sets: no, just no.
...


The only reasons why I did not place that one on my 'bottoms' list were (a) it is a cohesive, uniform design (however ugly) and (b) 95% of the steps are true to Petipa.

Celebrated production of the past that I wish could be revived during our lifetime: Diaghilev-Bakst 1921 for Ballet Russe at the Alhambra Theater, London. Any takers? I was hoping that perhaps ABT would have but, oh well. :wub:

#6 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 11:23 AM

The Anthony Dowell production, preserved for posterity on video. Ugh, awful costumes, awful sets. Saved only by Viviana Durante's almost eerily rock solid Aurora. The tilted sets: no, just no.
...


The only reasons why I did not place that one on my 'bottoms' list were (a) it is a cohesive, uniform design (however ugly) and (b) 95% of the steps are true to Petipa.

Celebrated production of the past that I wish could be revived during our lifetime: Diaghilev-Bakst 1921 for Ballet Russe at the Alhambra Theater, London. Any takers? I was hoping that perhaps ABT would have but, oh well. :blushing:


Well the designs are out there...... :wub:

#7 scherzo

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 12:01 PM

I'd like to defend the Dowell/Bjornson SB. It may be that I have a warped aesthetic thing going on (I like the NYCB R+J costumes as well) but....it's not that bad!!!

:wub: In the coda of the Act III pd2 in this production, there are big travelling lifts down each diagonal. I've never seen this anywhere else: where does it originate?

The Messel designs look much more interesting in the recording with Fonteyn than the present 're-imagining'. That said, I think that the RB's current production is the best that I've seen (though I've not seen the Kirov's reconstruction!). I find the Kirov's a little too pink, and the tutus while pretty are quite bland.

Poor old Lilac Fairy, she's put through the wringer: she ends up in a flimsy wire boat in the Dowell, dangling on strings in the new ABT, dressed in a rather inappropriate negligee in the Kirov and perched on a very thin but very tall rising pedestal at the end of the RB Makarova. Try filling out all of those risk assessment forms.

Is there any reason why the Bakst designs could not be revived?

#8 Natalia

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 06:17 AM

Is there any reason why the Bakst designs could not be revived?


'Only' money. However, considering the cost that surely went into big recent productions, one would think that that same funding could have gone towards a more beautiful and tasteful end. For me, a true and complete reproduction of the Bakst designs, amidst a traditional choreographic rendering (either 1890 Petipa or 1946 Petipa/DeValois/Ashton), is the great delight that is dangling before the major classical ballet troupes in need of a new wonderful 'Sleeping Beauty.' Talk about the amazing publicity and support that such an undertaking would capture! :FIREdevil:

#9 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:10 AM

I would buy a ticket now for something like that!!!!!!!!!!! :FIREdevil: :clapping:

#10 richard53dog

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:23 AM

I would buy a ticket now for something like that!!!!!!!!!!! :FIREdevil: :clapping:




Yeah, me too. It sounds almost too good to be true. When the RB annnounced their new/old Beauty that premiered last year, it sounded almost like they were doing something along that line. But they messed up (IMHO in a minor way) with the choregraphy, and to a greater degree, in different ways, with the sets and costumes.

#11 vissi d'arte

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Posted 12 June 2007 - 11:41 AM

Here are my favourite productions of the Sleeping Beauty! I haven't seen that any (unfortunetly) yet, and most of them on video.., but anyway:

1: My absolute favourite are Rudolf Nureyev's production for the Paris Opera with sets and costumes by Ezio Frigersio and Franca Squarcapino!! It's a beautiful and stunning production, and I love Nureyev's added choreography for Prince Desiré since I think male dancing is also very beautiful and it gives the charachter perhaps a bit more depth. I also find the choreography very beautiful and musical (I've only seen the video with Manuel Legris and Aurelie Dupont) and of course he's the perfect Prince! :D I also love the Finale of the third act; it's really yoy of dancing! Bravo Mr.Nureyev:D

2: Second place I have to say the Swedish Royal Ballet production that was staged by Dame Beryl Gray (who danced the Lilac Fairy I believe?? in the 1946 Royal Ballet production). I simply love this production because first of all it's just beautiful with sets and costumes by David Walke,:D and secondly it's the first Sleeping Beauty I ever saw; and I also was one of the children in the garland waltz in Act 1! So I've seen it like 10 times both from the stage and from audience point of view. It's a very traditional production, pretty similar to the Royal Ballet's I would guess. For example it has the Pas de trois danced by Florestan and his Sisters! (was it made by Sir Ashton)?? The only thing I don't like is that the Prince has very little work to do....!! Learn by Nureyev, it's not 1890 any more, male dancers has to do more than just partner the ballerina!

3: and 4: I'm sure I would love the Royal Ballet production and the Mariinsky reconstruction if I ever saw them!!!:D

5: Sir Peter Wright's production is a quite nice one to, but just a wee bit to dark, and (wait I take that bake I like Georgiadis :blushing: ). It just doesn't keep my interest for the entire three acts, somehow.., and what happend to the Panorama..???? :dunno:

Well those are the only ones I've seen. I just wonder if any one else has seen the Dame Beryl Gray production, and in that case what did you think?

#12 Lynette H

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 04:39 AM

Here are my favourite productions of the Sleeping Beauty! I haven't seen that any (unfortunetly) yet, and most of them on video.., but anyway:



5: Sir Peter Wright's production is a quite nice one to, but just a wee bit to dark, and (wait I take that bake I like Georgiadis :blushing: ). It just doesn't keep my interest for the entire three acts, somehow.., and what happend to the Panorama..???? :dunno:


The designs for Sir Peter Wright's version for BRB were by Philip Prowse, I think I thought the designs were beautiful, lots of red and gold for the court. They do look darker in the pictures in this link than I remember on stage.

http://www.brb.org.u...m...ery&urn=120

#13 Cygnet

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 09:47 AM

My six favorite productions are (in order):

1. Maryinsky's 1890 reconstruction
2. Maryinsky's 1952 Sergeyev
3. Dame Ninette de Valois/David Walker 1977 production for the Royal Ballet - the perfect frame for a STELLER generation of dancers at Covent Garden.
4. Nureyev's for POB & Nat'l Ballet of Canada
5. Perm Ballet's version. Preserves much of F. Lyuphokov's work.
6. Grigorovich's version for the Bolshoi

I didn't like Dowell's production for the Royal. I have it on good authority, (thanks for the
detailed reviews everyone :thumbsup: ), that IF I see MacKenzie's at OCPAC next month, his version
will photo finish with Dowell's.

#14 agnes

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 10:15 AM

:thumbsup:

I read many of the posts in the very mixed reviews of SB (ABT, June 2007), and this post ranks the ABT production quite unfavorably. I am planning to travel to the Kennedy Center in January 2008 to watch the Kirov perform La Bayedere as a comparison to the ABT May production. And up until now, I was also going to watch the opening night of SB by ABT.

Having to travel from Los Angeles, this four-night trip will cost me up to $1200, all expenses included. Now, I am wondering if it is worth watching SB in Washington DC. My first experience with ABT was La Bayadere (MET, May 2007, Part/Gomes/Wiles), and no, I wasn't all that taken by the performance, contrary to other posters' opinions. Should I just wait until ABT comes to Orange County Perfoming Arts (CA), and shave off about $145 from my expenses?

#15 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 June 2007 - 11:29 AM

There will surely be different answers, but personally I would not travel to see this production. What might make a difference is what you're looking for in Beauty. If you're more looking to see dancers that you love, it's not as unpalatable. If your idea of a great Beauty is the 1946 Royal Ballet version, cancel your plane tickets.

I may be the only person on this thread, but Nureyev's versions are closer to the bottom than the top of my favorites - though great advances and achievements in bad choreography have kept it quite safe from the absolute bottom. The versions are handsome to look at and generally inspire better dancing from companies needing the challenge, but they're fussy and wrongheaded choreographically. I don't hate the NYCB version, though I don't love it. I'd like to consign ABT's new version to the flames. My favorite so far is at the RB. I've only seen the current version so have no basis for comparison to other RB versions.


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