I had the same thought. I enjoyed the performance thoroughly, but when I thought about bringing friends, I couldn't help but feel that ballet -- this ballet, anyway -- is an acquired taste. I kept thinking about the Mariinsky Jewels. It strikes me as more immediately appealing to the modern eye, and if I were bringing non-ballet friends, it would be Balanchine all the way.
This production makes me realize once again the genius of Balanchine, to peel away all this frou-frou...
I admit, this viewpoint is almost the opposite of mine, so it's fascinating to read. I love Balenchine, but I love the old Imperial ballets for different reasons and I've always considered them (the extreme length of many of them to modern audiences aside), as *more* accessible to someone who doesn't know ballet than the more abstract works. I will also admit that recently I've had a friend, with no dance background except for a little Broadway style stuff, into seeing ballets with me, and at first she couldn't get over the mime--even the little bit of mime that we saw (in the San Franscisco Ballet's Giselle). I had almost forgotten how it's a technique one does need some background in, the same way that when I was being educated about classical opera I found the formal stylist elements (long recitative for plot, then often even longer arias that often express one thought over and over) initially alienating.
That said, I thought for such a complete Beauty it went by AWFULLY fast, which is why I suppose I am so surprised by any complaints of length--I can't imagine ever being satisied with the NYCB production, which admittedly I've never seen.
I saw the local cinema showing of Sleeping Beauty here in Victoria, BC, where it was time delayed to 1pm. The theatre was surprisingly full, more so than for any past ballet I've managed to see there, and everyone seemed to be really into it--particularly by the Rose Adagio.
I really don't have many thoughts to add to the great discussion already. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite ballet, and I'm someone who can't get enough of it, so while I get the complaints about length, for me I was even disappointed that they didn't include the charming Hop O' My Thumb wedding divertissement with the kids. I expected this, as the Grigorovich production has never included it to my knowledge--the only place that I know for sure does is the Mariinsky both in their 1890 "New/Old" reconstruction and in the currently performed 1950s K Sergeyev staging. That Sergeyev staging drops the Cinderella divertissement, which the Bolshoi does do, so I guess it's rare to get a more or less complete version.
I admit, I've never seen David Hallberg dance before, except in a few youtube clips, and I *really* enjoyed him in the role. It made me grateful for Grigorovich's amped up male choreography. I'm always on the fence with La Zakharova--I'll echo the thoughts that her over-extensions were distracting, but I thought she really came into hte part for the Vision scene and the final act. Overall I thought the dancing was splending, although I was hoping Grigorovich would have added back some of the mime he removed earlier when Soviet ballet was much more "anti-mime".
I thought Carabosse and Lilac were both fine, if slightly unexceptional. I know that Grigorovich, in an old 1980s Soviet book I have (in awkward English) about his previous production goes on at huge length about the importance of juxtaposing their two roles to the entire ballet, and I didn't really get that sense this time.
I need to compare it to the DVD of the previous Bolshoi production, which I haven't watched in some time, but staging/choreography wise I think it was basically the same. I admit to being mixed on the designs--I think Virsaladze's designs for the previous version look dated and too abstract for such a classical ballet (I prefer his earlier designs still used at the Mariinsky), but I do admit I missed his use of colour. The deep violet's of Act I, the browns of the wood scene, all seem to go with the musiuc more--I found the settings here often gorgeous but a little flat and "same"--and no real sense of the shift in eras (which no production ahs done better, I feel, than the original). I was also disappointed by the Panorama, but I remember finding it disappointing in the previous Bolshoi production as well. And I share nearly everyone's belief that the floor design was too distracting, even if I appreciated them adding that element.
Anyway I was thrilled to see it, and found it to be largely beautifully filmed. The production isn't perfect, but as people on here probably know by now my idea of a near perfect Beauty is the Mariinsky reconstruction--so...
Oh, and I thought the orchestra sounded stunning in the theatre--and was also pleased to see the Bolshoi looking so incredible.