Online via StuttgartBallet@Home
December 26, 2020
For its Christmas present to its loyal audience and fans, so long starved of much in the way of live performance, Stuttgart Ballet presented Marcia Haydée’s long and luscious production of The Sleeping Beauty, first seen in 1987.
The costumes by Jürgen Rose costumes (a case of nominative determinism if ever there was one) bring a richness to the ballet. The myriad of blues leap out at you as we are introduced to 18th-century court splendour, fairies and all, in the lengthy opening. Thereon, it’s one visual delight after another; just a shame that the sets do not always bring the same richness.
Haydée’s foucus is as much on Carabosse as Aurora. The ‘wicked fairy’ casts a presence throughout, even at the wedding celebrations when she walks menacingly in front of the various fairy-tale characters; a reminder that life is not all roses even for privileged princesses, and that she has unfinished business and will return.
Unusually, Carabosse is a proper dance role, and a gender-bending one at that. Unfortunately, Haydée does not provide the character with sufficient choreography to sustain the role, however. It requires a truly charismatic performer such as its creator, the great Richard Cragun, to pull it off. I am sure watching on film doesn’t help but, here, Jason Reilly, despite much flapping of arms and cloak, and some malevolent glaring, often struggles to convey much threat. I found it all somewhat camp, and that it too often put a brake on the impetus of the ballet.
Elisa Badenes certainly glitters as Aurora, although her eventual appearance as a 16-year-old heralds a rather tentative, nervous-looking Rose Adagio with balances snatched rather than assured. As Prince Desirée, the ever-reliable Friedemann Vogel showed all the fine leaps and turns that we have come to expect. I just wish I felt more that they were in love. Even the grand pas de deux didn’t excite as it should, although Aurora’s wedding tutu is particularly lovely, fringed by embroidered roses.
At that Act III wedding, Adhonay Soares da Silva is a lively Bluebird, Dana Ionescu is a particularly charming Little Red Riding Hood is particularly charming, as are Louis Stiens and Aurora de Mori as Puss in Boots and the White Cat. Interposing Ali Baba into the fairy tales divertissements jars, however.
It’s all very grand and of course provides some of Tchaikovsky’s greatest music but I found myself fidgeting rather a lot and longing for some truly spectacular dancing.