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Sleeping Beauty, POB, Jan 20

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Here's a copy of a review I recently posted in alt.arts.ballet:


On Jan 20, I attended a performance of Nureyev's production of

"The Sleeping Beauty" at the Paris Opera. People wishing

to read a real review of this performance will have to wait

until a review written by Leigh Witchel (with whom and thanks

to whom I attended it ;-) ) is published in "Ballet Review".

I must say that I'm not especially knowledgeable about "The Sleeping

Beauty", since I had only seen one full-length production of it before (by

a Czech company around 1993, and I had seen very few ballets back then),

and some excerpts. However, while I admired the dancers, the sets (by Ezio

Frigerio), the costumes (by Francia Squarciapino) and of course the lovelyscore by Tchaikovsky (beautifully played by the Paris Opera Orchestra,

lead by David Coleman), I didn't like much Nureyev's production:

choreographically, I often find his style unmusical and contrived, and

also a lot of details of the plot were unlogical. For example, the role of

the Lilac Fairy was more or less split between two dancers: a dancing one,

who danced the sixth variation in the Prologue (Delphine Moussin, with

charm and polish) and disappeared later, and a miming one (Emilie Cozette,

nice but a bit too unexperienced). Moreover, the Lilac Fairy was totally

absent during the last act...

The main roles were danced by Benjamin Pech and Elisabeth Maurin. Pech,

who is the more recent "premier danseur" (first soloist), replaced Manuel

Legris, who was supposed to dance that night, but was injured. He's a

fine dancer with a strong technique, but I found him not very suited to

such a role of prince. He's lacking the elegance and nobleness of Legris,

and his energetic style isn't well paired with Maurin's softness. Maurin

is among the senior ballerinas of the company now (she's 37), but still

looks at ease in such a role, she's a good actress and has an elegant port

de bras.

The corps de ballet of the prologue looked very young (at first,

for a few seconds I wondered if they were dancers of the company

or students from the POB school), and indeed the list included

mostly dancers who entered the company in the last few years,

apprentices and "surnumeraires" (extra dancers hired for a few

performances). Moreover, Nureyev's choreography for the prologue

often looks like a kind of "knot dance" instead of a garland

dance, so that some scenes looked a bit clumsy. In Act I,

the corps de ballet included more experienced dancers,

especially "sujets" (soloists) like Nathalie Aubin or Miteki

Kudo, and it was clearly visible.

In the last act, Nureyev kept only three "divertissements": the "Precious

Stones" pas de cinq (danced with talent by Gil Isoart and Beatrice Martel

as the main couple, and Natacha Quernet, Muriel Halle and Virginie

Rousseliere), the Blue Bird pas de deux (danced by Stephane Elizabe, not

very impressive, and Laure Muret, especially charming and polished), and

the "Puss-in-Boots" pas de deux (danced by Sandrine Henault and

Fabien Roques with much charm and humor- it was one of the nicest

moments of the performance).

In less important roles, one could notice Laurent Queval as the

King, Florence Branca as the Queen and Michel Berges as Catalabutte,

all are senior members of the company with good acting talents.

Celine Talon was a strong Carabosse.

This ballet had been shown live on the French TV on Dec 29,

with another cast (Aurelie Dupont and Manuel Legris

in the main roles, both wonderful, Jean-Guillaume Bart

and Marie-Agnes Gillot in the Precious Stones pas de cinq,

Benjamin Pech and Delphine Moussin in the Bluebird pas de

deux, and Delphine Baey as the sixth Fairy of the prologue).

Also there's a review of another performance of this production (on Jan 7, with Sylvie Guillem and Laurent Hilaire) by Kevin Ng




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For keen followers of the Paris Opera Ballet, I recommend a discussion thread on POB on the Ballet.co.uk website in the What's Happening section. There are 2 Parisians there, as well as Estelle, who are most informative on the POB dancers, repertory, concours etc. They post in French and English. For me, it's a good opportunity to practise my French. This thread has been running since January. Currently it's already the 12th thread.


[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited February 25, 2000).]

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About the thread on ballet.co.uk: it includes some interesting information, but I'm afraid it might be quite difficult to follow, since some posters write almost exclusively in French (and often use colloquial terms).

Also, one has to be careful, because it's not easy to distinguish facts and opinions (and

gossip...) And some comments about dancers were quite rude in my opinion (surely they wouldn't be accepted on *this* forum!)

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Just to correct a point of information, the article on Sleeping Beauty to which Estelle referred will not be in Ballet Review, but rather in a forthcoming issue of Dance Now. I hope people will enjoy it! To give away a bit, Estelle and I are very much in accord with what we saw. To read a totally different viewpoint on the performance, there is Patricia Boccadoro's review at http://www.culturekiosque.com It's fascinating to see the broad range of responses possible to the same thing.

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