Sorry for the delay , but here goes!
I attended the opening performance of The Sleeping Beauty,by the St.Petersburg Ballet Theatre at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh.The theatre is a lovely building but the stage i felt was too small to house a ballet of this size,and the black plastic stuff that they covered the floor with seemed to hinder rather than aid the fluent footwork of the dancers.The orchestra that was with them was their own , conducted by Aleksandr Kantorov.Whoever was on percussion must have had a bad day as every cymbal clash was loud,really loud.One lady in front of me nearly hit the roof when a quiet piece of music came to a dramatic end with a clash of cymbals, it did not do my headache any good either!
Whilst waiting for the performance to start i kept telling myself not to compare this production with that of Sir Anthony Dowells in 1995 for the Royal Ballet(RB),but i am afraid that is exactly what i did do as i have not seen any other production of Sleeping Beauty by any other company.So i make no apologies if i put in an odd comparison here and there.
The prologue was set in the castle of the wicked witch Carabosse(Olga Yukubovich).The back drop to her castle was gothic,to one side a warm and inviting glow under the cauldron.Carabosse had elf like creatures that looked cute rather than menacing,no rats here.She was hindered in her movements by the long dress she was wearing,should take it up an inch or two.In this production the king and Queen (Pavel Kholoimenko and Svetlana Markova)need help producing an heir,Carabosse to the rescue with a magic potion.I wonder if she has considered marketing this on the NHS?
Remember David Drews Catalabutte in the RB version?His performance stated HE was in charge,HE was running the ceremony (and what a pair of legs in those tights!),this Catalabutte(Aleksi Ilin)walked around in a daze,was it because he was not on the invite list or was it first night nerves?whichever he deserved being turned into a donkey later by Carabosse.
Now take Auroras fairy godmothers,there are supposed to be 5 i counted only 4.One stumbled during her solo ,but got up and carried on.There was no Lilac Fairy,here she is the Fairy of Goodness and Light.Her costume was a stunning white tutu and beautiful head dress that shimmered int the stage lighting whichever direction she took.Was expecting her to do her solo variation after the other fairies had done theirs,not waiting until after seeing Carabosse off!
The maids of Honour danced well , one seemed to be dancing on a dead shoe as it looked to buckle under her but she kept going - no time for a shoe change.The village boys and girls came out with their flower entwined hoops to dance what is supposed to be one of the best known pieces in the whole ballet,it was a bit of a let down.The boys were in ghastly bright pink,they looked like Morris dancers shuffling from one foot to the other,two of them going in opposite directions from the others.The girls were not much better,they gave the impression they would rather be somewhere else.
The Rose Adagio danced by Aurora (Irina Kolesnikova)for me is one of the most beautiful pieces in the classical repertoire and one of the most difficult.The piece starts well and is supprisingly similar to that of the RB,that is where the silmilarity ends.Aurora was at one stage at such an angle on one of the princes shoulders i thought she would fall off when he moved,thankfully this never happened.The plastic stuff on the floor prevented a lot of movement here.When being turned by a prince she exited pirouette facing the wings and had to be turned manually the last few centimeters.When Carabosse returns she gives Aurora a rose stem which she pricks her finger on,where does she end up going to sleep for 100 years - in a gazebo!.When the courtiers are put to sleep by the Fairy of Goodness and Light no privet hedge or forest appears.
The vision scene between Aurora and Prince Florimund(Yuri Glukhikh)started so well, she was so enchanting , so graceful especially when she performed 2 or 3 sissonnes in a row during her solo piece, then it happened , she stumbled and fell to the floor, all credit to her for getting up and carrying on.Yuri has a lot of charisma, a lot of talent , he can jump , he has excellent turns , i just wish when he lands his jumps that he would take a bit more care over the placement of his feet they were all over the place.
This is new to me Carabosse is pushed into a boiling cauldron and dies whilst fighting with Florimund!Since there are no obstacles to stop Florimund he finds the castle and Aurora easily, he throws a rose at her and she wakes.What happened to the kiss?From the fairytale guests that arrive for the wedding the Bluebird (Andrei Yaknnyuk) started with a great deal of energy , his jumps had height , but by the end of the pas de deux with Princes Florina (Anna Podlesnaia) and his solos he could hardly get off the ground.Cat(Olga Ovhinnikova) and Puss in Boots(Dimitry Shevtso)got a few laughs from the audience for their "cat" fights.
All in all i thought it was a lovely production (suprisingly similar to the RB version), as i have stated if the stage was bigger who knows what might have been?I am sure the floor covering had a lot to do with the outcome of things , if you are not confident with what you are dancing on nerves and therefore mistakes creep in.
I did miss the mime sequences between Carabosse , the fairies and the Queen.Because there was no Lilac Fairy the big mime sequence is lost,this is a core piece of the ballet at least some of it should have been included - if it was i must have blinked as i missed it.
Founded in 1994 this young company features some of Russias brightest and gited dancers , some of which are graduates from the Vaganova School.I noticed from the programme that some of the major parts were danced by members of the corps de ballet,not soloists or principals.They are still touring the UK until22nd February , so if you get the chance to see them i would recommend you go and see them.
Okay thats it..bit long?? not sure what i should have put in and what i should have left out?If there are any spelling mistakes i apologise as i haven't had time to proof read it!!
<small>[ 16 January 2003, 07:23 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>