Sleeping Beauty, Choe and Golding, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 27 March 2014Posted on 28 March 2014
Tonight Natalia Osipova was supposed to have made her role debut for the Company as Princess Aurora, but a day earlier she fell in rehearsals and was hospitalised. Her replacement, Yuhui Choe was the star of the evening, sensational in the Rose Adagio of Act I, looking her princes in the eye and moving with huge musicality. Her big solo in Act III was danced with extraordinary grace, and with Matthew Golding as a noble Prince their partnership was well matched though understandably lacking the security she exhibited in previous performances with Hirano.
Yet Osipova was not the only absence due to injury. I’m told 17 dancers are out of commission, which makes it impossible to field a full cast, and there were several gaps. Particularly noticeable in Act I was the absence of some of Aurora’s friends — there were just six out of the usual eight, and since one of those was the Lilac Fairy, it was down to five when she scooched off to change costumes, but the cast list tactfully avoided mentioning names.
No such problem with the Fairy Variations in the Prologue, which were all well danced, with Olivia Cowley, Akane Takada and Hikaru Kobayashi particularly notable in the first three — but I do wish the conductor, Valery Ovsyanikov would raise the tempo a bit. Even the fast ones seemed slow.
A wonderfully nasty portrayal of Carabosse by Kristen McNally, lovely dancing from Beatriz Stix-Brunell as the Lilac Fairy, and the Act III pas-de-trois for Florestan and his sisters (Zucchetti, Harrod, Hamilton) came off well, with Valentino Zucchetti a charmingly poised prince, and Elizabeth Harrod full of sparkling energy. Likewise for Akane Takada as Princess Florine, who showed outstanding precision in the Bluebird pas-de-deux with Marcelino Sambé, and I loved Paul Kay and Elsa Godard as the Cats.
But the evening was Yuhui Choe’s, and the audience thundered their applause. Gone was the irate objection shouted from the Amphi when Kevin O’Hare came on to announce the cast change. Choe is a jewel in the Royal Ballet’s crown.
Performances with various casts continue until April 9 — for details click here.