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Question: Which productions have you seen?

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I thought we'd start off with the "what have you seen" question. Please post, whether you've seen None, 1 or 300 versions. It helps if we know where we're all coming from.

"Sleeping Beauty" was about the third ballet I saw -- Nureyev's production for National Ballet of Canada -- and I didn't like it! Didn't even like the score. (I don't think I was responding to Nureyev's changes. I think I saw a flat performance.)

The next was a very standard, after-Royal Ballet production by the Stuttgart, which was criticized for being too pretty. I stood every night for that, to learn the ballet (this was at the dawn of the video age, and I didn't have a video).

ABT's revival of the Messel production -- which didn't work; costumes looked dated. Lots of good dancing, though.

All this time I'd been reading about The Great Royal Ballet Version and was dying to see it -- never did. When I got Sleeping Beauty by the Royal it was the Last Attempt To Get Our Tradition Back version (1980?). I certainly liked it better than any of the others I'd seen.

After this, I can't retrace it chronologically. I saw the Nureyev one again (NBoC) in a stupendously great performance that made his tampering almost forgivable (it's not as radical as the later version for Paris).

MacMillan's for ABT -- I think it's sour and anti-fairytale, and often miscast/undercast.

Helgi Tomasson's for both SFB and the RDB. (It was ok for SFB when it was done, but it's a cut-down, simplified version. Watching the Danes deliberately not act -- it was set on them at the beginning of the Video Coach era, and they copied the videos of SFB exactly -- was excruciating.)

Marcia Haydee's for Stuttgart, which I think I'd rank the worst I've seen.

The Dowell's production for the Royal, which I'd rank second worst (not only the sets, but the casting, the dancing, and the choice of which versions of what to leave in and take out).

The Kirov's old production.

The Kirov's new/old reconstruction production.

Regional productions that struck me as small companies trying to get into the big leagues too soon by Houston and Ballet West.

If I think of more later, I'll pop back in.

I saw the Royal Ballet so often in my early viewing of classical ballet, that its style became what I thought was "proper" for Petipa. Finally seeing the Kirov was an eye-opener -- very different from the Royal, and very different from itself 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago (from video evidence). I have no idea what the Proper Petipa Style is.

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Nureyev's production for National Ballet of Canada, live.

ABT,the Messel designed version, with Gelsey Kirkland and Ivan Nagy.

Martins for NYCB.

The reconstructed 4 hour version by the Kirov as well as a previous Kirov version in the early 90s.

Koplakova for the Kirov on tape.

Some South American company with Bujones, also on tape.

Dowell's for the Royal, both live and on tape.

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The ABT production twice or three times, starting about six years ago.

Peter Martins for NYCB in several different seasons (the first time also I think a while back -- could it have been as early as 1993?)

And finally the Kirov's "reconstructed" production, like one of those Russian meals which seems never to end and where course follows course and vodka, red and white wine and Tokaj and cognac are all on the table at once.

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I'm most familiar with the NYCB production (the Auroras I recall are Fugate, Tracey and Weese.) My first Sleeping Beauty was the Peter Wright production done by Sadler's Wells, and it was not impressive. The company just was not technically up to it. I've seen the MacMillan production at ABT (I'm not fond of the Georgiadis designs) and also their earlier (Skeaping?) production on tape from the late '70s with Cynthia Gregory where she is a quite respectable Aurora. I've seen the Nureyev production done by the POB, and it's stylistically wonderful as only the POB can be, but dramatically a wreck. I've also seen the Kirov historical production, which I remember, like Michael, for its dizzying and fascinating excess.

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Oh, gosh - I've seen so many I keep getting them confused. Let's see: THE Royal Ballet production - and YES, it was lovely, then the Ashton version of the late 60s with the knee-length tutus for which he added a solo for Florimund in Act II and an "awakening pas de deux"; then the dreadful Dowell production and then the current one; The Nureyev production for the Canadians - which I loathed; the "old" Kirov production and the revival production; the NYCB production; the ABT Messel "revival" and the MacMillan one. Festival Ballet had a production I saw, too, but I can't remember whose it was. I'm sure there are more, but it's late and I can't remember who/where/when. I must have seen many more on tape.

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I did like the old production of "Sleeping Beauty" by The Royal Ballet company.

When I saw it in the late 1980's, "awaking pas de deux" and "panorama" have been already dropped, but it was still really a lovely and fairy-tale like production for me. That production always

made me very happy.

I especially loved the scene in the end of Act I, when the Lilac Fairy makes all the people sleep and cover the castle with a deep forest. I haven't come across such a beautiful end of Act I ever.

So, I was so sad and disappointed when The Royal Ballet sold it to Boston Ballet and mounted the current production.

I have seen quite a few productions of "Sleeping Beauty", of Bolshoi"s, old and current Kirov's, Kiev's, St. Petersburg Mali's, Paris Opera Ballet's, ABT's, Stuttgart's, Birmingham Royal Ballet's, etc. However my first favourite production is still the old Royal's !!

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As I don't travel much, and not too many companies come here, the only production I've seen live was SFB, and overall it isn't bad, but it bugged me that Tomasson switched the "awakening" music around and gave the pages'/ladies in waiting dances to Aurora's suitors. The costumes were very pretty except for the robes in the prologue which looked like Obi Wan Kenobi should have been wearing them.

On video I have seen the Royal Ballet's Dowell production, with its dizzying sets and wedding-cake costumes. Durante and Solymosi are both fine dancers, but their difference in height is a bit distracting. I understand it was unintentional but still...

I also saw two of the Kirov videos, which were, of course, well danced, but I found the designs rather bland.

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The productions that I actively remember are the Sergueff/Messel RB one, which remains my favourite, the Dowell RB one (which I like a lot more than most people seem to), and the Kirov reconstruction of the original, which was absolutely fascinating. I've seen more than these, and more again on video. The Chisinau National Ballet I saw quite recently, and can remember virtually nothing about it!

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On tv/video, I've seen the Royal Ballet production (designs by Oliver Messel?)with Lesley Collier and Dowell. I loved the costumes, sets and mood of the production and couldn't take my eyes off Marguerite Porter as Lilac Fairy. For me, she was to LF what Fonteyn was to Aurora -- the gold standard.

I hated Dowell's staging from several years ago. The sets were so distracting and made me woozy.

But Dowell wasn't a bad Carabosse.

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At the Royal Ballet I’ve seen four different productions of Sleeping Beauty. The first was the “old” version with the Oliver Messel designs; the second was the Ashton/Wright production followed by the Kenneth MacMillan version. After that we had the Ninette de Valois production for many years. The current production by Anthony Dowell I saw televised and decided not to bother to see it live.

Of these the Ashton/Wright version, which was produced in the late 1960’s, was far and away the best in my eyes. It was set in the middle ages, and had some wonderfully original touches, such as the fairies making their entrance running down a moonbeam, Carrabosse with a huge reptilian tail and an entourage of real dwarves. This was also the version where Ashton’s lovely “awakening” pas de deux first saw the light of day.

It didn’t last though, the critics were outraged at the ballet being transported from the court of Louis XIV to the medieval period and objected to Aurora’s wedding taking place in a marquee. It was dropped, to be replaced by a version by Macmillan that was disliked even more. A few years later de Valois created her own version. It was traditional and looked attractive and was danced until fairly recently when it was replaced by Dowell’s version. In London at the same time we had a very serviceable version of Beauty by Ben Stevenson at Festival Ballet (now ENB), which was replaced by Nureyev’s version in the late 70’s.

Other versions I’ve seen include the Bolshoi and two Kirov ones. For the record, I am not a fan of the Kirov’s “historical version”. In general I think the British productions are more technically demanding for the ballerina and that the Russian ones have somehow diluted the choreography e.g. simplified Rose Adagio without arms en couronne, no fishdives, not rising from the floor en pointe in the final pas de deux and so on.

I know many people regard videos as somehow second rate when watching ballet and I agree they are no substitute for a live performance. But they are a superb record. The Ashton/Wright version was televised about 30 years ago with Sibley and Dowell in the leading roles. It probably lies mouldering in a BBC vault somewhere. I would give a lot to see it again as for me it was pure magic. If it does still exist it really should be released on video. I recommend the Sergeyev version, which has been released on video. It was made as a studio film and Desire makes his entrance on a white horse surrounded by adorable borzoi dogs. Sizova and Soloviev dance the leads with Dudinskaya as Carabosse and Makarova and Panov as the bluebirds. It’s wonderful.

One last point for any future Sleeping Beauty producers. Never even think about substituting the coda of the grand pas with the three Ivans !!!

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I've only seen one full-length production of SB, and that's only on video -- the POB in '99 with Aurelie Dupont as (to me) a pleasant, youthful Aurora.

Costumes were just absolutely gorgeous -- when my mom picked me up from school she was just ecstatic and drove me home full speed ahead so I could see for myself. The corps was one entity, and the soloists were so perfect in their roles that I almost cried for all the faults I have. The set itself, with billowing velvet curtains and lifelike statues, served as a transport from my homework-ridden world to this magical fairytale.

What's this about Nureyev staging it for POB and making a dramatic disaster? Is this the same production? For strange reasons, there are no credits on the tape at all, it's just curtain to curtain. And even with the off-and-on lack of acting depth in Marie-Agnes Gillot's Lilac Fairy, and Dupont's sometimes strained smile, I am just amazed every time I watch that tape.


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Here are the productions that I've fully seen/watched:


- National Ballet Theater of Odessa's version (Maria Polyudova, after Petipa, Sergeev, and Lopukhov) = 1st TSB production I ever saw in a 2019 tour; it was pleasant and had beautiful sets (particularly Prologue and Act III) but I remember a few songs/dances were missing (like the "Singing Canary" fairy variation)


- Royal Ballet's version (2006 revival performance/2009 DVD; Ashton/Dowell/Wheeldon) = First video of TSB ballet I watched; generally a pleasant production, I like how Désiré/Florimund has an added solo in Act II and the costumes are excellent, but the DVD I watched is a bit on the "old" side when it comes to footage quality.

- Bolshoi Ballet's version (2011 revival/2012 Blu-Ray; Grigorovich) = One of the most "grandiose" ballet productions I've ever seen in terms of sets and costumes, the dancing is really well done and this is the only one I've fully watched that has the Cinderella/Prince Fortune divertissement, but I feel like Grigorovich abridged/cut parts of the score a little too much.

- Peter Wright's version (2003/2004{?} DVD; Dutch National Ballet) = The sets are a little too dark for my liking and it's hard to determine which fairies are which {I remember the Lilac Fairy variation being danced by another fairy} but this has one of my favorite Act III pas de quatres {all variations split between 2 ballerinas and 2 cavaliers} and the "awakening" pas de deux is gorgeous.

- Matthew Bourne's version (2012 production; 2013 DVD) = A very interesting Gothic-styled and well-choreographed modern take on the ballet; I like the relationship dynamic between Aurora and the Prince's equivalent Leo but I miss some tracks from Act III which were cut here.

- Rudolf Nureyev's version (I own the La Scala Ballet DVD but first saw a video of Nureyev's POB staging) = Another visually beautiful production with more male solos; I like the reinterpreted Act III pas de quatre as a pas de cinq, but I miss having one more divertissement and I prefer ending the ballet with the Apotheosis than just ending with the mazurka.

- Australian Ballet's version (Maina Gielgud's version, 1993 performance/2008 DVD) = The costumes are very "maximalist"/80's (as a family member watching the video with me pointed out), though I love the pas de deux between Christine Walsh as Aurora and David Ashmore as Prince Florimund, and this version is tied with or may surpass the Bolshoi version's "wedding act" imo.

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