Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, October 2009

Marianela Nuñez as the Lilac Fairy, Royal Ballet photo by Johan Persson

This was the first night of the present run, and featured some excellent dancing, but the evening never really took off. That may partly have been the conducting of Valeriy Ovsyanikov, who manipulated the tempos to suit the dancers, but sometimes went too far in slowing the music down, particularly for one of Aurora’s solos in Act III, which was completely spoiled. The cast was led by Ivan Putrov and Sarah Lamb as Florimund and Aurora, with Marianela Nuñez as the Lilac Fairy. Nuñez danced beautifully, Putrov was an elegant and worthy prince, but I was disappointed with Lamb, who seemed to be going through the steps in an anorexic haze.

Carabosse was well portrayed by Genesia Rosato, who seemed to take a malicious delight in the role, and the fairy variations in the Prologue were very well performed by Yuhui Choe, Hikaru Kobayashi, Helen Crawford, Iohna Loots and Laura Morera, in that order. I thought Hikaru Kobayashi was particularly good in the second variation representing Vitality — the original virtues of these five fairies are Purity, Vitality, Generosity, Eloquence and Passion. The Prologue was a great success, but I felt the performance tailed off a little afterwards, perhaps because of a lack of vitality, generosity, eloquence and passion on the part of Sarah Lamb. Purity she had, but it wasn’t enough. In Act III, Laura Morera and Steven McRae were superb as Princess Florine and the Bluebird, his solo steps being beautifully executed. There is no gold variation in this production, but the silver, sapphire and diamond variations, for Florestan and his sisters, were danced by Sergei Polunin, Helen Crawford, and Samantha Raine, who was very good indeed. Polunin, I thought was brilliant, and his jetés were an exercise in perfection.

This lovely production by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton, using the old Oliver Messel designs with additions by Peter Farmer, is one of the company’s gems, but although beautifully danced, this first evening lacked energy and spontaneity. Some ushers threw flowers from the Amphi and Balcony at the end, although they seemed to dump them down rather quickly, perhaps because the applause was on the weak side and there hadn’t been a single cheer throughout the performance.

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