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REVIEWS: The Sleeping Beauty


nysusan

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So the Lilac Fairy's gift involves a coup d'etat? That wouldn't have gone down well in Romanov Russia!

That's only minimally better than original Perrault, where it turns out the Desiré's mom and dad are ogres. But if we look at this from Aurora's point of view, whose in-laws aren't?

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I'm waiting for the reviews from today's performances!

As to last night, was it just me, or did others also notice that during the prologue, you could see through the, um, shower curtain? I thought I glimpsed an arm moving around back there, and when I trained my opera glasses (from the family circle), I had a clear view of the corps girls, who appeared to be standing around, laughing, and chatting before the shower curtain went up.

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You could see that from the Dress Circle too. And did anyone else notice that Carabosse, when she first appeared after the fire-flash, had a patch of white on the back of her costume. I couldn't figure out what it was, and then noticed it falling off as she moved. My first thought (given the ugliness of the costume) was that it was a design choice, to appear that she was molting. (Though the other dancers then had to avoid slipping on the stuff on the stage.) My companion, however, pointed out that Carabosse was probably too close to the flashpot when it went off, and was left with the residue on her costume.

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I'm waiting for the reviews from today's performances!

As to last night, was it just me, or did others also notice that during the prologue, you could see through the, um, shower curtain? I thought I glimpsed an arm moving around back there, and when I trained my opera glasses (from the family circle), I had a clear view of the corps girls, who appeared to be standing around, laughing, and chatting before the shower curtain went up.

You musta paid extra to get that special insight! Nice way to introduce the fairies.

If lighted correctly, a sharktooth scrim can be opaque or transparent. The Shower curtains were noisy too.

Perhaps ABT will present "Psycho, a Ballet inspired by Sir Alfred Hitchcock"

BTW, Rear Window has a really bad dancer in one of the apartments.

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Yes, more please!! Hurray for Part and Gomes!!! :angel_not:
I thought it was odd that Carabosse handed Aurora an undisguised spindle; other productions I’ve seen has the needle hidden in a bouquet of flowers. It doesn’t make sense…one would assume people would have warned her about playing around with spindles or someone would have snatched it away from her earlier.

In Dowell's production for the Royal Ballet Carabosse also simply handed a spindle to Aurora. She may have been warned about playing with spindles but she probably had never seen one before to realize the danger.

I have a (rather overly edited and disappointing) DVD of a 1955 telecast of the Sadler's Wells Royal Ballet doing Ashton's version, and there too an undisguised spindle is used. I thought that since they had been banished from the kingdom, no one had ever mentioned their existence, and that Aurora was curious about this shiny new object.

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The bouquet of flowers is a later addition, I would guess cribbed from La Bayadere. As VC mentioned, one assumes that no one's mentioned the curse to Aurora (How'd you like to tell her that she's going to die at 16?) and so she has no idea she's in danger from this unfamiliar object.

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Cheesy was the word I thought of while leaving the theater!!

But I thought the set was appropriately, fairy-tale beautiful as the prince awakens Aurora in her bed.....

Not much else was.... with the exception of a couple of very fine performers....

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I hope this performance will allow Veronika Part's naysayers to calm down :FIREdevil: (I was almost hoping to see McKenzie anoint her as Ballerina at the end of the performance---ala Nureyev and Guillem?)

That said---I liked the production. I was with my daughter-in-law who was seeing her first Sleeping Beauty, and she was overwhelmed; her enthusiasm might have influenced me. The production felt like a Sleeping Beauty in miniature and it had (for the first time?) the feeling of a fairy tale. The entrance of the fairies in the Prologue was magical---each came on separately held aloft in a lyric backward tilt by their cavalier. This SB strikes me as a money maker for ABT--ala NYCB's Nutcracker. (great 'family' entertainment). For the purists out there (including me!) hope for the Kirov to restore their restoration :flowers:

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... For the purists out there (including me!) hope for the Kirov to restore their restoration :FIREdevil:

It exists. I saw it less than a year ago at the Mariinsky. Still the best of the bunch, by a mile.

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I'm waiting for the reviews from today's performances!

As to last night, was it just me, or did others also notice that during the prologue, you could see through the, um, shower curtain? I thought I glimpsed an arm moving around back there, and when I trained my opera glasses (from the family circle), I had a clear view of the corps girls, who appeared to be standing around, laughing, and chatting before the shower curtain went up.

Anyone saw the Saturday mat and evening performances?Reviews?Thanks. :FIREdevil:

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The program insert for last night's performance said that Julie Kent was injured. However, at this moment, she is still scheduled to dance Tuesday evening.

The highlight of last night's performance was Abrera's Lilac. She has always been lyrical and in recent seasons has solidified her technique. Last night, it all came together in one of the most beautiful, luminescent and articulate performances of Lilac that I've ever seen. Her phrasing was just exquisite. Every aspect of her technique was solid and exploited for no reason other than to convey the story. Abrera's balances were breathing and effortless, and her turns were old-school musical as opposed to the flipping we're inclined to see these days. Her final ascent and "hanging" made sense and seemed more controlled than at the premiere. As disinterested as I have been in this new production, I am now forced to buy another ticket to see her performance with Vishneva as Aurora.

Last night's Aurora was Murphy. She was highly competent and correct. Her Rose balances were less than expected, but everything else was remarkable from a technique standpoint. It may be that her emphasis on blazing speed and attack are not particularly compatible with Petipa -- even when you add the epaulment.

Stiefel was very, very good last night -- had me believing that he was a prince, and that's about the extent that the story allows. Their final pas was thrilling, and the two of them gave us everything they could possibly give. The audience went bananas.

A couple of quick kudos:

Misty Copeland as the White Cat: Get a picture of that, please. The face was as cute as you could ever imagine and rich with cat attitude. Her variation was short but would have made any cat proud.

Maria Riccetto and Sascha Radetsky in Bluebird: Both of them impressively rose to the occasion. Maria is so elegant - I wish they would find more for her to do.

Martine as Carabosse pulling out Wes (Cattalbutte) Chapman's 'hair'.

I hope they get rid of that shower curtain.

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Fairy changes from opening night: Hee Seo was Sincerity, and Adrienne Schulte was Valor. I was bothered by the over-the-top intensity and aggressiveness of Schulte's Valor. It may be that the music was a bit faster than the night before, but it seemed excessive in all respects. Hee was lovely and has some very articulate feet, but again, seemed to be pushed by the tempo.

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Misty Copeland as the White Cat: Get a picture of that, please. The face was as cute as you could ever imagine and rich with cat attitude. Her variation was short but would have made any cat proud.

...Maria is so elegant - I wish they would find more for her to do.

I agree on both counts! I saw Misty Friday night and thought she was great. "Cat attitude" captures it perfectly, and I would add, if one can judge such a thing alongside cat-ness, she had a lot of authority as well.

I like Maria very much as well. How come she only gets one Lilac Fairy? I saw her and Abrera in Symphonie Concertante last week. They looked great together -- very much in unison -- but I preferred Riccetto as a warmer and more lyrical dancer.

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I thought that the tempo seemed much quicker throughout both the Sat matinee and evening performances as compared to opening night. I think this is a good thing – the pace was still appropriate, this wasn't a NYCB pace but on opening night it was glacial. In the Valor variation it looked to me like both Abrera (Fri) and Schulte (Sat eve) were dancing ahead of the music and I thought it made them both seem frantic and overly emphatic. I assume that they were coached to do it this way but I don't like it. It especially stood out because I think all of the other fairy variations have been done just perfectly.

At the Saturday matinee the pairing of Herrera & Corella brought more dynamism to the production. I thought Herera was lovely. She doesn't achieve the heights of ecstasy that Part can bring - I found the Part/Gomes combination more poetic & magical but Herrera brought a sweetness and sincerity to her portrayal and if she doesn't have Parts gorgeous line & epaulment, well she certainly has the technical chops for the role. Corella danced the heck out of the Prince's role – he was spectacular.

I was so curious to see Murphy's Aurora that I bought a ticket for Sat night the minute I saw the casting change (I'll be out of town till the end of the run and thought I'd have to miss her). I have major love/hate feelings towards her as a ballerina. I really, really want to love her – and I do in roles like Sylvia, Gamzetti, and Myrtha. But the classical & romantic heroines? Forget about it. I was hoping that Kirkland's coaching would add a new dimension to her dancing, and was encouraged in my thinking by her lovely Titania last week. Unfortunately none of it carried over to her Aurora. First let me say that the audience loved her. Adored her – there were shouts of brava from all points in the house practically each she completed a variation. I'm afraid Haglund's captured my feelings perfectly:

Last night's Aurora was Murphy. She was highly competent and correct. Her Rose balances were less than expected, but everything else was remarkable from a technique standpoint. It may be that her emphasis on blazing speed and attack are not particularly compatible with Petipa -- even when you add the epaulment.

If last night's performance had been T&V she would have been wonderful, but it wasn't and she wasn't. This princess had no modesty, no joyful exuberance, in fact no subtlety or poetry at all. I thought her third act was gorgeous but she lost me 2 acts earlier. I'm afraid I didn't love Abrera either. Her dancing was beautiful and very classical but I felt no benevolence, warmth or authority from her, and saw no hint of the creamy lyricism through the upper body that is so necessary to this role. Stiefel was great, combining beautiful line with bravura dancing. I was pleasantly surprised by Radetsky's Bluebird. His leaps showed great amplitude – perhaps not the highest flying Bluebird but he really soared across the stage and he managed to dance this beautifully without looking campy. I'm afraid Ricetto is a dancer I just haven't been able to warm to. She has been fine in every role but my favorite in none.

For anyone who hasn't bought tickets yet and is planning to go – I think this production looks much better from farther away than from up close but it's probably not best viewed from the top of the family circle or balcony boxes. A lot of the important theatrical moments take place high up at the very back of the stage - I don't know if you can see it from balcony or FC center but I missed a lot of it when I sat in balcony box seats. Interestingly enough I also missed a lot of the action when I sat in side Parterre seats (about halfway back) – but that was because I was on the wrong side for this one. If you like to sit in the side arms boxes try to get seats on the even numbered side.

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Oh, I completely forgot to mention the single reason I decided to go and see 2/3 of the Saturday matinee (after Kyra's soulful last Mozartiana). Sarah Lane was stunningly beautiful as Princess Florine. Shimmering epaulment, breathtaking balances (lingering beautifully but never excessive) perfect purity of line – an unforgettable performance.

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In response to jilaney and MJ: the plot synopsis in the program says that the King and Queen are told by Lilac Fairy that they must leave the kingdom and leave Aurora to her destiny, and the Queen cries a river of tears that Prince Desire will drink from.

Never heard of a SB with that plot twist. Anyone know what the point is of Prince Desire drinking from the river of tears?

And thank you so much nysusan and Haglund's for the reviews of yesterday's performances. :FIREdevil:

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I CAME, I SAW, AND NO, IT DIDN'T CONQUER

"Sleeping Beauty" Saturday, June 2 matinee

PH/AC/MW/CC/S.Lane, C.Lopez (A. Hamoudi filled in for J.Pastor)

Why? Because there was no tension...it just got flatter and flatter, and longer and longer, (not counting the 35minute delay of start because of set difficulties) with no movement forward of plot or motivation through the choreography (beyond a well-known story outline).

STAGING:

There were some nice visual effects: shimmering water, rainbows and sunlight, whizzing sizzling rockets exploding in smoke for Carabosse's entrance which dissappate to reveal a spider quite effectively, a castle that looks like Sully's ramparts, dank dark spiderholes with webs. And a few technical glitches: "travelers" that hitched (that's usual), confused light gels (or cues?) that took a few tries to hit "lilac" (not so usual), minor delays in the entre-acts set changes. I liked the exterior castle set, the painted river drop, and forest wings, and the darkness of Carabosse's lair. I tolerated (and resisted the urge to run away from) the costuming...

Yes, the time period definately jumps 200-300 years; glossed over in the program by the words "100 years OR MORE". And yes, I TOTALLY agree, with at least one principal dancer that the costumes are definately something Disney would be proud of. I loved the sparkles, but not the colors: Super-saturated, 'crayola' bright, and the poor unfortunate 4 princes--well the less said the better because my stomach is having difficulties today. Bluebird's & Princess Florine's costumes, however, were perfect--finally matching the colors of the real bird. The principal's final act wedding finery was already commented on during Gala thread, were appropriately sparkling, and luckily less saturated. Princess Aurora still wears pink with small roses etc. as accents in birthday scenes. Vision scene, however, and corps tutus etc were too pale under lights so, if pink never showed well, and if white (as my mother thought) than they only made all that repetitive Petipa look like it escaped from Swan Lake.

High wire acts I suppose wow the general audience who are probably used to such things now and expect them. And I think historically, they were used in early SB productions? But unfortunately, for me it is simply excessive theatrics when I want dancing, and the dramatic tension is quickly transformed into "will she/or won't she get stuck up there and be left to 'swing in the breeze'"?

DANCERS?

First I will generically say that the principals were professional, the soloists generally--and in some cases (Sarah Lane's Princess F.) outstandingly accomplished, and the corps busy and better than earlier in the season.

Paloma's first variation was not on phrase, but then she usually isn't (to my resigned annoyance these days), and otherwise she did the moves ok. No problems with the Rose Adagio balances, but leg in attitude kept drooping lower and lower until I knew that ankle, and those lovely arched feet, were taking it all and not her back. Her 4 princes behaved and partnered well. Other variations, she picked up the pace, and danced closer to phrase so I was happier if not exactly excited. Paloma made a sweet Princess but a somewhat self-centered one, who only reacted to her Prince (and princes) generically. (But then this is NOT Swan Lake, and definately not Macmillan, so maybe that's all that's required.)

Angel Corella is a fine dancer who was given approximately two times, within an hour+ of interminable action to actually show he could dance: the opening sequence in the Hunt scene, and the Grand Pas in the final act. I had no major complaints re his dancing or partnering, but all that virtuosic ability and expressive acting were so truncated by the choreography, I felt very sorry for all Prince Desires in this production. There is action and choreography supposedly to show that Desire is not a "cardboard Prince" but, more often than not, they were lost in a fog and almost totally without dramatic tension. (Since Corella is usually good at conveying drama, I knew it was the steps not the dancer-actor at fault.)

Michele Wiles was regal, perfect technically, and rather opaque as Lilac. Not heartless like Myrta, but similarly aloof from her human charges and their pleas. Her costume was also saturated but more bearable--not sure why it is accessorized with a scarf without purpose.

I'm glad Carabosse has more to do, and mime, and act/react. But when the tension is absent in the plot, it is hard not to look for a twirling mustache. Carmen Corella was good as Carabosse--sassy rather than evil, and I had fun watching her; definately something to scare the smaller members of the audience, who seemed entranced by the whole production (a la Disney?).

Not so this adult viewer. Apologies to Gelsey.

(I may edit later).

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Oh, I completely forgot to mention the single reason I decided to go and see 2/3 of the Saturday matinee (after Kyra's soulful last Mozartiana). Sarah Lane was stunningly beautiful as Princess Florine. Shimmering epaulment, breathtaking balances (lingering beautifully but never excessive) perfect purity of line – an unforgettable performance.

NYSusan,

"Shimmering epaulment, breathtaking balances, perpect purity of line", it sounds like you're describing a memorable Aurora! :FIREdevil:

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Oh, I completely forgot to mention the single reason I decided to go and see 2/3 of the Saturday matinee (after Kyra's soulful last Mozartiana). Sarah Lane was stunningly beautiful as Princess Florine. Shimmering epaulment, breathtaking balances (lingering beautifully but never excessive) perfect purity of line – an unforgettable performance.

NYSusan,

"Shimmering epaulment, breathtaking balances, perpect purity of line", it sounds like you're describing a memorable Aurora! :FIREdevil:

Lane was the reason I bought my June 5 ticket. I look forward to her promotion to soloist as much as Part fans look forward to her promotion to principal.

Interesting that the only performance that is close to sold out is the Murphy afternoon performance on June 9.

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Interesting that the only performance that is close to sold out is the Murphy afternoon performance on June 9.

That may be because it's an "ABT Kids" performance. I have tickets too -- and I'm not an ABT kid -- and I'm hoping for the best in terms of a quiet balcony...

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Oh, I completely forgot to mention the single reason I decided to go and see 2/3 of the Saturday matinee...... Sarah Lane was stunningly beautiful as Princess Florine. Shimmering epaulment, breathtaking balances (lingering beautifully but never excessive) perfect purity of line – an unforgettable performance.

I was there too and in complete agreement with your comments re Sarah Lane. Sarah glows with lyrical beauty, a radiant upper body, as well as fabulous balances, huge stag leaps, effortless turns, a sparkling technique. You can see Gelsey's touch on Sarah, big time, in this awful production.....

And speaking of this production......... Just off the top of my head..... I had been biting my tongue until now.....

This SB is one of the most God-awful things that has been seen on any stage in our lifetime! It is an appalling mish-mash of the worst costumes (day-glo colors with glitter, glitter, glitter; garland dance costumes in a dreary mustard color that scream, "Sponsored by Grey Poupon!"), staging (Carabosse's aliens "coccoon" the prince and stick him in a silver spider web which he has to hold up by himself as part of his costume! More people fly through the air on wires since Cathy Rigby did Peter Pan), sets (more cheese than Zabar's, Fairway and Whole Foods combined; smoke-effects that are so extreme it stinks up the entire Met house and is incredibly loud to boot), choreography -- and I use the term loosely (dumbing down too many of the traditional technically difficult steps; the lips-to-lips kiss-penchee in the wedding pas has been tweaked sideways to a weird, cheek-to-ear, air-kiss: it looks like they now both suffer from severe halitosis and can't bare the smell of each other's breath -- unbelievable!), jaw-dropping musical cut-and-pastes (the violin solo from Nutcracker inserted in the dream scene! No Puss and Boots, no Red Riding Hood variations -- they just sit around watching -- with Cinderella and Her Prince, no less. Cinderella?? What is this? Disney Princess Smack-down Wrestling? As the text-messaging kids write today: WT_???) and a whole host of severely overbaked acting performances.... I was ready to shoot the canary fairy.... overdone to death throughout the production, instead of remaining a charming solo....

I won't even attempt to list everything else that's wrong because the list would take days to compile.

But I will be back to see Sarah and/or Herman in Bluebird again..... or Part as Lilac Fairy (wishing....)....

Part was beautiful, did an ok job, but she is just not well cast as an Aurora......

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The Times weighs in. Mr. Macauley was not pleased:

In the Prologue all six fairy solo variations have been carefully studied. But their ensemble passages, which can be the most transcendent sequences of the ballet, are a mishmash. Aurora’s dances at her Act I birthday, in the Act II Vision and in the Act II Wedding have been assembled in mix-and-match fashion without being staged as part of a cumulative, classical whole. . . .

This is scarcely a production for purists. Claiming to be “inspired” by Konstantin Sergeyev’s 1952 staging for the Kirov, it sees fit to lift his version of Aurora’s Vision solo wholesale. No inspiration is cited for its liberal quotations from Frederick Ashton’s supplementary dances. . . .

. . . At no point is this a staging concerned with drawing its audience into the inexhaustible variety or even the knockout theatricality of Tchaikovsky’s score.

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And speaking of Kevin's production......... Just off the top of my head..... I had been biting my tongue until now.....

This SB is one of the most God-awful things that has been seen on any stage in our lifetime!

I won't be seeing this until June 9, and look forward to it with a mixture of dread and anticipation. But dare one say that as New York Sleeping Beauties go, the City Ballet may have the upper hand?

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Ouch! The reviews are in. Ouch! I guess with all the complaining about the costumes, I need to ask: Did anyone think that Aurora's three tutus were ugly or wrong? I thought they were beautiful. Just curious. I think I would have chosen a paler pink to go with Murphy's hair, but I didn't find them objectionable at all. Did anyone else?

I neglected to mention that in the Schwartz Gallery inside The Met Opera House lobby, there is an exhibit of set models and designs for next season's opera productions including Macbeth, Hansel and Gretel, Iphigenie en Tauride, and Peter Grimes. The models are stunning examples of work by people who know how to use the vast production capabilities of the Met Opera House. Now granted, the Met has had some set design disasters, e.g., last year's Madama Butterfly which went for a Hollywood effect, but wouldn't ABT be better off with a much, much closer collaborative relationship with The Met Opera on areas such as production and scenic design? Sometimes I think that ABT would be better off completely merging with The Met.

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