Saturday 20 May 2006

Sleeping Beauty

Friday night's Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House was our first view of the new/old Oliver Messel/Peter Farmer designed production. The sets are very handsome and reminded me of a number of other Beauty's that I've seen over the years; a tribute, presumably, to the influence of Messel's original production. Act 2, with its layer upon layer of gauzes representing the magic forest covering the castle, was most atmospheric and effective. Farmer has re-worked Messel's costumes, changing them to a rather more pastel palette. The original costumes for the 4 princes (in Act 1) were used in the re-opening gala and I remember them as having a far stronger colour palette, much more reminiscent of Leslie Hurry's rather strong colours for his Swan Lake from a similar period. Still the results were undoubtedly effective.

Roberta Marquez was tiny and made a most effective Princess, with plenty of charm and technical ability; her rose adage was lovely. Rupert Pennefather made a noble prince.

The ballet was conducted by Valeriy Ovsyanikov, a name unfamiliar to me. Though he and the orchestra produced a fine, big boned sound in the louder moments, I felt that in general the account of the score was a little too understated for my taste. Perhaps Ovsyanikov's conducting was just a little too careful.

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