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The Royal's "new" staging of the 1946 Sleeping Beauty


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#1 bart

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:49 AM

In today's Links, dirac has posted an article from the Times of London, previewing the Royal's revival of the 1946 Valois-Sergeykev staging of Sleeping Beauty. Here's the LINK:

http://www.timesonli...2156676,00.html

A 60-year-old Sleeping Beauty is reawakened at Covent Garden

It was a night that everyone loves to remember, even if they werenít there. February 20, 1946, the night that The Sleeping Beauty reopened the Royal Opera House. Everyone who was anyone was in the audience: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, the Prime Minister Clement Attlee, a host of other VIPs and celebrities. On stage were Margot Fonteyn and the rest of Sadlerí s Wells Ballet, newly catapulted into the limelight as Britainís national dance company.

The Opera House seats had to be dusted off for the occasion (they had spent the Second World War in storage, while the venue was converted into a dance hall), dinner jackets had to be rescued from mothballs. Backstage they were still rushing to finish the costumes even as the first notes of Tchaikovskyís music sounded in the auditorium. But when the curtain rose on Oliver Messelís lavishly designed Sleeping Beauty, the splendour of this fairytale enterprise cheered the postwar spirit like nothing else.

You could say that this was the night the Royal Ballet (as Sadlerís Wells Ballet was later christened) came of age. From then on, the company would be resident at the Royal Opera House; from that day forth The Sleeping Beauty would be its signature work.

If I had a time machine, February 20, 1946, would certainly be on my radar. So when the Royal Ballet announced that, as part of its 75th birthday celebrations, it was going to revisit the iconic Messel Beauty, my heart was thrilled. Now, at last, we would see what all the fuss was about.

Given the history, this seems llikely to be an extraordinary event. The opening night is May 15. Who's going to be there? What do Royal fans think?

#2 Natalia

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 12:07 PM

Thanks, bart. Don't forget that this production is headed to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center in mid-June, including an opening night with Cojocaru/Kobborg. I'm sure that we'll be hearing two 'salvos' worth of reviews -- from London, then from DC.

#3 Solor

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 01:29 PM

Anybody know if there are any photos of this production available online?

So the Royal Ballet doesnt perform the Maria Bjornson-designed production anymore ?? (for those who dont know, this is the rather ultra-modern production that was filmed with Viviana Durante)

I heard that they also had another production that was staged after the Maria Bjornson/Dowell production.

When did Dowell stop being director of the Royal Ballet?


Regarding the article provided by Bart, I always find the "I dont want to dance in a museum" comment made by many dancers/directors, etc. to be interesting....even contradictory if you will....is not a museum filled with old works of art as well as new ones? What is ballet without the old 'classic' works?

#4 Helene

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 01:38 PM

When did Dowell stop being director of the Royal Ballet?

2001.

#5 art076

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 03:24 PM

So the Royal Ballet doesnt perform the Maria Bjornson-designed production anymore ?? (for those who dont know, this is the rather ultra-modern production that was filmed with Viviana Durante)

I heard that they also had another production that was staged after the Maria Bjornson/Dowell production.


The Bjornson/Dowell production has not been performed for quite some time, yes. Though the choreographic text has been widely praised, the designs were rather jarring for a ballet that has been such a prized part of the RB repertory.

Then, there was Natalia Makarova's production staged only a few years ago, though that production was heavily Russian influenced - both choreographically and stylistically. The sets returned to a more traditional storybook nature, but the spirit of the production was much more Russian than English.

Thus the decision to restage the Messel production for the RB's 75th Anniversary, as mentioned in the article, because Mason felt it that they needed a return to the more traditional RB production of it.

#6 kfw

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 04:08 PM

Don't forget that this production is headed to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center in mid-June, including an opening night with Cojocaru/Kobborg.

And that ought to be unforgettable. :tiphat:

From the Times article Bart linked:

ďIt was only when all of us had seen what [Makarova] had done that we realised she had given us a production that didnít feel as if it was ours. It came with a different set of values, both musically and dramatically, and it absolutely wasnít the Royal Ballet,Ē

Different values? Is Mason just being diplomatic and trying not to offend Makarova? I hope someone who saw that production will say more about differing values between the Royal and the Kirov. Also, given the Royal's gaudied-up new production of Cinderella, I find the following hard to understand:

ď[Messel's] style of costuming was not to have a harmonious palette; instead, he designed very strong individual costumes. Todayís designers donít see it like that and I didnít want the costumes to look quaint.Ē



#7 atm711

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 03:25 AM

:tiphat: :clapping: :clapping:

This is the production that captured New York (and me) in 1949. It remained my number 1 favorite until the recent Kirov restoration---but number 2 'ain't bad'. I could never understand a company that could give us the Messel production giving us the Maria Bjornson debacle. :dry:

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 03:44 AM

In a way, this step is the most revolutionary thing a company can do with its productions of classics. Back to square one! There has been so much tinkering, that the basic structure and content of the great works have been compromised, and audiences aren't "getting" what the basic show is all about.

#9 rg

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 05:14 AM

it's worth recalling that when ABT 'revived' messel's production for its skeaping-staged SLEEPING BEAUTY, the spectacle proved far less 'impressive' than it was said to look in its royal ballet heyday.
i know messel's scheme is being re-furbished and that this is said to be the 'standard' n.sergeyev text, choreographically, with tweaks here and there, including wheeldon's valse villageoise, but it remains to be seen if the result will meet nostalgic expectations and in turn engage today's audiences.

#10 Bill

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 06:39 AM

...this production is headed to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center in mid-June, including an opening night with Cojocaru/Kobborg. I'm sure that we'll be hearing two 'salvos' worth of reviews -- from London, then from DC.



Looking forward to the London reviews. I have tix for opening night at the Kennedy Center, and I have convinced (I think) my teenaged kids to attend. The next generation and all that. I'll try to give some impressions -- totally unqualified to give a review. Can't wait!

#11 whitelight

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 06:43 AM

This may be a naive question, but what are the chances the DC shows will sell out? I don't usually travel for performances, but I might be in Virginia then anyway, and I feel like I shouldn't miss this...

#12 Kanawha

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 08:40 AM

Does anyone know if there is somewhere I can find full casting for the Royal's Kennedy Center run in June? I saw the Kirov's on the KC website but couldn't find it for the Royal - at least as of Sunday.

#13 Kate B

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 08:50 AM

I'm going on the 3rd of June. I will tell you what I think. I'm really looking forward to it.

#14 carbro

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 10:11 AM

This may be a naive question, but what are the chances the DC shows will sell out? I don't usually travel for performances, but I might be in Virginia then anyway, and I feel like I shouldn't miss this...

I know that in the past, Standing Room has been available in the Opera House. I never used it, but I have friends who did. You might want to contact the KC if you're willing to keep that last-minute option open.

Meanwhile, you can pretty well track ticket sales on their website by starting the Buy Tickets process.

#15 Alymer

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Posted 07 May 2006 - 06:31 AM

"it's worth recalling that when ABT 'revived' messel's production for its skeaping-staged SLEEPING BEAUTY, the spectacle proved far less 'impressive' than it was said to look in its royal ballet heyday."

I was quite familiar with the "Messel" production which lived on with the touring section of the Royal for some years after the Covent Garden company abandoned it. I didn't see the ABT version live, but I have seen photographs and what struck me immediately was that the fabrics were wrong. Messel designed for tarlatan while ABT seemed to be using nylon net, or some other kind of softer fabric, so the tutus lacked structure. Some of the colours looked a bit strident too, but that may well have been colour reproduction.
However, Peter Farmer has redesigned most of the costumes it seems, as well as the decors for the vision scene. The one tutu I've seen photographed looked a bit dowdy to my eyes, but we shall see.
The de Valois/Sergeyev text was admirable I thought, a view which was reinforced when I saw the Kirov reconstruction. It was amazing how close the two were. The only things I would really wish to see changed in the new "Messel" version are Nijinska's "improved" version of the fifth fairy variation plus, I think Aurora and her Prince should have the coda to the Grand Pas - I find innocent Ivan and his brothers are a poor substitute.
But anyway, we don't have long to wait in order to find out.


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