Much is made of the fact that this 2006 production of 'The Sleeping Beauty' draws heavily on Royal Ballet tradition. After various attempted revamps over the decades, this version returned for its inspiration to the original 1946 Ninette de Valois production – the ballet the company chose to reopen the Royal Opera House with after the war.
Ten years on from its premiere, and you can’t help thinking it looks a bit fusty. There’s lots of pomp and sparkle (largely due to Peter Farmer’s reimagining of the original costumes), but the set designs feel dated, the staging seems a little cautious, and whether you get a spark rather depends, it seems, on who you see playing the lead roles of Aurora, the cursed princess, and Florimund, the prince who rescues her.
With Matthew Golding out due to injury, Vadim Muntagirov was our dashing hero for the evening – except when he arrived on stage in Act II something about his costume made him look more prepubescent than heroically princely. He gained authority slowly – his flowing line and long limbs perfectly suited to such a lyrical role. But his partnering with Sarah Lamb as Aurora felt a bit tentative: the grand pas de deux fish dives in the last act, for instance, were toned down and tepid.
Lamb is an old hand at playing Aurora, but although her performance was technically efficient (particularly in the fiendish Rose Adagio) she didn’t give us anything in the way of characterisation. It all felt underpowered. Still, this run of performances has plenty of couples taking the lead roles, including a lot of debuts. Look out for Francesca Hayward especially, who lit up this performance as a Fairy brimming with joy in Act I and a delightful Florine with her Bluebird (Alexander Campbell) in Act III.
BY: SIOBHAN MURPHY