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Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty


volcanohunter

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Though the new DVD of La Fille mal gardée has just hit the shops in the UK (with no sign of a North American release as yet), Opus Arte has announced that its next release will be the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty, filmed in December 2006. The UK release date is listed as July 1.

Princess Aurora: Alina Cojocaru

Prince Florimund: Federico Bonelli

King Florestan XXIV: Christopher Saunders

His Queen: Elizabeth McGorian

Cattalabutte: Alastair Marriott

Carabosse: Genesia Rosato

Lilac Fairy: Marianela Nuñez

http://www.opusarte.com/pages/product.asp?ProductID=244

Canadian audiences can get a sneak peak when the big screen version comes to Empire Theatres on June 21.

http://www.empiretheatres.com/promotions/opusArte2007.asp

Trailer: http://centralsystem.digiscreen.ca/ShowPag...resentation=213

Also, select Opus Arte on the Digiscreen channelizer.

http://www.digiscreenmovienetwork.com/Channelizer.html

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Opus Arte seems to have underestimated the demand for this video. Even on its own site the DVD is out of stock until July 18. Let's hope that when the time comes for its release on this side of the Atlantic, Opus Arte distributors will be well supplied.

Having seen this performance on the big screen, I can understand the popularity. It isn't completely perfect, but it comes pretty close.

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The wonderful news is that the performance is excellent. It's a lovely, solid production with excellent leads, and every ballet fan should have this disc.

The bad news is that Wheeldon's garland dance is pretty awful: he spends so much time posing the dancers that they never really get around to dancing. It's a terrible waste of beautiful music and should be chucked. And as with POB's Swan Lake, Opus Arte can't get the credits in the booklet right. It lists Jose Martin as the Bluebird when it's actually Yohei Sasaki.

The performance is not quite perfect. The BBC recorded only one performance, so there was no way of editing out small stumbles. They may be part of the reality of live performance, but I'd rather not have them in a record for posterity. For example, Cojocaru does not nail the pirouettes in her Act 1 solo, though it does nothing to detract from her performance, and she finishes off with a terrific manege. As an aside, I've seen several ballerinas lately having trouble with the pirouettes, and I wonder about the wisdom of going for triples right off the bat. Cojocaru manages two excellent triples, her third triple is less secure, and she falls out of the fourth. I would think it would be better to adopt the POB practice of three doubles and a quadruple.

Nonetheless, she is pure magic, the overriding reason to get this disc. Her Rose Adagio is particularly magnificent. I prefer her radiant restraint to the giddiness I've seen from some ballerinas recently. Elisabeth Platel has pointed out that the balances of the Rose Adagio are essentially a demonstration of Aurora's self-possession, which is what Cojocaru conveys perfectly.

I also like Bonelli very much. It's an awful thing to say, but I'm actually glad it was him and not Kobborg that was taped. Bonelli is more princely in style and proportions. He doesn't quite nail Ashton's Act 2 solo, but then I've seen only Anthony Dowell do that, and in any case he fares better in it than Zoltan Solymosi. (In terms of purely musical response, I like David Ashmole in the Australian Ballet production best in Act 2.)

The prologue fairies are excellent, so it's a pity that there were so many waist-up shots during their variations, and Genesia Rosato's mime is admirably lucid.

The POB production, for all of Nureyev's eccentricities, is preferable in some respects. I have never liked turning the Lilac Fairy into a dancing role. The way I see it, once she's danced her variation and bestowed her gift on baby Aurora, she's used up her fairy dust and wouldn't have any left to counter Carabosse. Blessings, once bestowed, can't be changed: think Isaac and Esau. From what I remember of reading the story in childhood, Aurora was rescued by a fairy that had not yet made her gift, and Nureyev follows Petipa in this, at least. She's a beautiful dancer, but I wish that Marianela Nuñez were a bit taller. She gets a bit lost among the corps in the vision scene. I know that it makes her a sensational turner, but I also wish that she weren't quite so upright and that her torso moved a bit more. Of course she has a smile that can win over even curmudgeons like me.

Sarah Lamb is a radiant Florine, but Sasaki is unexciting; Benjamin Pech soars high above him. Valeri Hristov also can't quite compete with Jean-Guillaume Bart, and as good as the RB's corps is, the POB's is better.

I first saw this performance on a large film screen, and watching dancers magnified in glorious Technicolor, breathtaking Cinemascope and Stereophonic sound went a long way to conveying the kinetic energy of live performance that's lost when ballet is reduced to two dimensions on a TV screen. I took my mum to see it. She normally finds Sleeping Beauty a little boring, but this time she actually got a bit weepy when “Vive Henri IV” began to play. The experience had been that transfixing. Watching the DVD wasn't quite as captivating, but I had been pretty thoroughly enthralled in that movie theatre, and maybe I just need a larger TV.

I agree with canbelto about Cojocaru. She’s an Aurora for the ages. She’s thoroughly wonderful, the crown jewel in what is an excellent performance all around. Get it for her. I can almost guarantee you’ll love it.

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Thanks for your detailed review, volcanohunter!

Cojocaru manages two excellent triples, her third triple is less secure, and she falls out of the fourth. I would think it would be better to adopt the POB practice of three doubles and a quadruple.
Until recent years, the Auroras I've seen have all done doubles four times, and it never occurred to me that anything was missing. This past season, one of the Auroras I saw attempted triples with approximately the same result you describe here. It certainly didn't work from the standpoint of musicality.

Of course, that isn't enough to deter me from buying it. :off topic:

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The DVD will reach American shores on August 26. Pre-order while the price is low! Just enter product number B001B223UG into the Amazon search window at the top of the page.

Done. :thumbsup: I've been waiting for this for a LONG time.

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Thanks for your detailed review, volcanohunter!
Cojocaru manages two excellent triples, her third triple is less secure, and she falls out of the fourth. I would think it would be better to adopt the POB practice of three doubles and a quadruple.
Until recent years, the Auroras I've seen have all done doubles four times, and it never occurred to me that anything was missing. This past season, one of the Auroras I saw attempted triples with approximately the same result you describe here. It certainly didn't work from the standpoint of musicality.

Of course, that isn't enough to deter me from buying it. :wink:

IIRC, in the Makarova Ballerina series, Elisabeth Platel does the varitaion with single, double, triple, quadruple. Correct me if i'm wrong.

When i saw Royal ballet in San Antonio last year, i'm pretty sure Tamara Rojo did at least 1--and perhaps 2--quadruples. I seem to remember double, triple, quad, quad. I believe all the others did doubles.

-goro-

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IIRC, in the Makarova Ballerina series, Elisabeth Platel does the varitaion with single, double, triple, quadruple. Correct me if i'm wrong.

When i saw Royal ballet in San Antonio last year, i'm pretty sure Tamara Rojo did at least 1--and perhaps 2--quadruples. I seem to remember double, triple, quad, quad. I believe all the others did doubles.

I just looked over my old videotape, and Platel does three doubles and a quadruple, just like Aurélie Dupont. I have to add that Platel's performance is ravishing: pure perfection. Personally, I don't see what adding multiple triples and quadruples could add to the variation musically. If anything I suspect it would disrupt its atmosphere. Unless they can come up with a perfectly controlled and timed quadruple, like Platel did, I think most Auroras would be better off sticking to doubles and making their big splash in the manège, where the music is less restrained.

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I very much enjoyed this performance. I was watching the DVD on a plane the other night, and the woman behind me saw it when she got up to stretch her legs. She seemed intrigued, and took down the info to buy a copy from amazon.com. From our conversation, I didn't get the idea that she was a long-time ballet fan, so hopefully this will bring someone into the fold!

I have a basic question: I can tell from the costumes which of the four princes is the Spanish Prince and which is the Indian Prince, but I can't tell from the costume who is the Russian and who is the French Prince. The program booklet and the credits list the French Prince first (Gary Avis) and the Russian Prince (David Makhateli) last, but from digging around on the Internet, the prince who did most of the extensive partnering looks more like Avis than Makhateli, even though he generally was the fourth Prince to partner Cojocaru But that Prince reminds me a bit of Olymic champion figure skater Anton Sikharulidze, which could mean Makhateli, who also hails from Georgia. If' someone knows for sure, I'd appreciate if they could post.

In short, Cojocaru was gorgeous, but I was surprised by Bonelli, whom I've never seen live, at least that I can remember. His line and positions were generally pristine, and it was great to see such clean technique.

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I have a basic question: I can tell from the costumes which of the four princes is the Spanish Prince and which is the Indian Prince, but I can't tell from the costume who is the Russian and who is the French Prince. The program booklet and the credits list the French Prince first (Gary Avis) and the Russian Prince (David Makhateli) last, but from digging around on the Internet, the prince who did most of the extensive partnering looks more like Avis than Makhateli, even though he generally was the fourth Prince to partner Cojocaru But that Prince reminds me a bit of Olymic champion figure skater Anton Sikharulidze, which could mean Makhateli, who also hails from Georgia. If' someone knows for sure, I'd appreciate if they could post.

I agree with you that there isn't much particularly "Russian" about Makhateli's costume, apart from the fact that his hat and cloak are trimmed with fur. The difference between them seems to be that Avis' "French" prince wears the biggest feather on his hat and heeled shoes, while Makhateli's "Russian" prince wears boots, like the remaining two princes.

Which reminds me: it's a pity that the Royal Opera House's revamped web site no longer has a section dedicated to the ballet company (or the orchestra, or the chorus), at least none that I can find. The "who's who" section lists the members of the administration and technical crews, but none of the resident performing artists. You'll pardon me for thinking that conductors, repetiteurs, dancers, choristers and instrumentalists are ultimately more important in the functioning of an opera house, so I hope the ROH web masters will give them their due.

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I agree with you that there isn't much particularly "Russian" about Makhateli's costume, apart from the fact that his hat and cloak are trimmed with fur. The difference between them seems to be that Avis' "French" prince wears the biggest feather on his hat and heeled shoes, while Makhateli's "Russian" prince wears boots, like the remaining two princes.

Thank you so much for the ID! I hadn't realized it was fur -- I thought the Russian Prince had rolled his hat and cloak over a pile of grey-colored chicken feathers :thumbsup:

One of my favorite parts of "The Sleeping Beauty" is watching the Princes. While some of that is a distraction -- during the "Rose Adagio" I get a knot in my stomach, like watching my favorite skaters at the Olympics -- I love to see what the four men will do with their parts. (Alas, too many of them treat the Princes as throw-away roles, and more than one good man has concentrated so hard on not knocking Aurora off point that there's little character left.) Edward Watson looked like a Spanish nobleman, a younger version of Don Q before the madness. I'm not sure what an Indian noble was supposed to look like, but Gary Avis had so much character as the French Prince (who does most of the partnering). His costume was the inverse of hers, the pearl gray satin with pink trim and roses -- clearly the front-runner had Carabosse not intervened -- and he was so attentive and had so much presence and style.

I'm enjoying this the more I watch and re-watch it. I particularly love how Cojocaru rolls down through her feet off point so slowly and with so much control.

Which reminds me: it's a pity that the Royal Opera House's revamped web site no longer has a section dedicated to the ballet company (or the orchestra, or the chorus), at least none that I can find. The "who's who" section lists the members of the administration and technical crews, but none of the resident performing artists. You'll pardon me for thinking that conductors, repetiteurs, dancers, choristers and instrumentalists are ultimately more important in the functioning of an opera house, so I hope the ROH web masters will give them their due.

Absolutely. I had to go fishing over the Internet to find pictures of both dancers, after having spend 15 or so minutes searching all over the new site for them.

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The charitable view of the new ROH site is that it's not finished yet, and that company information (for the opera as well) will be added before the season starts. Even if this is true, though, I think it's poor planning that they haven't left some stubs to tell us that.

(The thing that really annoys me about it is that if you want to know what's on next March, say, you have to know to go the press release page and then download a PDF document. Anyone who knows a better way, please let me know!)

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I think that last year, even with the old site, that they posted the season on the "What's On?" calendar in at least two rounds. When I did our calendar, I had to go to the .pdf file for the full season.

It's silly for them not to have a link from "What's On?" to the .pdf file, though. If the press release link wasn't posted on the "Ballet Talk on Tour" thread, I wouldn't have known where to find it.

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I must be inhabiting another universe, because I found the RB's Sleeping Beauty to be second rate. The choreography was danced by the entire company so poorly, so lackadaiscally (other than Carabousse) as to make it look like another ballet when compared with the productions of the Paris Opera Ballet (2006 DVD) or the Kirov Ballet (2001 DVD), which I consider the top versions currently available. Some of the soloists in this Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty were downright embarrassing (eg, the Bluebird duet).

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I must be inhabiting another universe, because I found the RB's Sleeping Beauty to be second rate. The choreography was danced by the entire company so poorly, so lackadaiscally (other than Carabousse) as to make it look like another ballet when compared with the productions of the Paris Opera Ballet (2006 DVD) or the Kirov Ballet (2001 DVD), which I consider the top versions currently available. Some of the soloists in this Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty were downright embarrassing (eg, the Bluebird duet).

It's the universe I inhabit too. The Royal Ballet is my local company but I rarely watch them as their continuing downward trajectory really depresses me. I haven't seen the DVD but I've watched this current Beauty production several times now and haven't seen a single performance in which principals, soloists and corps were all dancing to an 'international' standard.

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Just finished watching the DVD. I agree with those who believe this is one of he better ones (the best is always in one's personal memory bank). enjoyed the comments about watching the princes...that's the way I first discovered David Wall supporting Margot.

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