Vienna Festival Ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, White Rock Theatre, April 11. Review by Marrion Wells.
Well-reproduced music, glittering costumes, modern presentation of the original Petipa choreography and accomplished dancers told how the wicked Carabosse, furious at being omitted from Lord Chamberlain Cattalabutte’s guestlist for Princess Aurora’s christening, put a spell upon the infant Princess that one day she would prick her finger and die.
The Lilac Fairy immediately assured the Queen that though she could not take away the spell, she could lessen its power.
Though Princess Aurora might prick her finger she would not die but would sleep for one hundred years. Then she would be awakened by a handsome Prince.
Sixteen years passed and four princes arrived to ask for the Princess’s hand in marriage.
This led to what is considered the most difficult sequence in the whole ballet repertoire when the Princess on pointe receives a rose from each prince.
So indeed Princess Aurora did prick her finger on a thorn of the rose, and fell asleep within the forest, with the Lilac Fairy putting everyone in the palace to sleep.
One hundred years later, the Prince left his courtiers in the forest, and came upon the sleeping Princess. As the Lilac Fairy declared, so the Princess was awakened by a handsome Prince for the happy ending.
The Vienna Ballet company reverted the prince’s name from today’s usual Florizel, to Tchaikovsky’s original, Desiré.
Sequences were included which though thoughtfully devised and cleverly executed were not from the traditional story.
Would not the young audience expect the Princess to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel?
Did not the Lilac Fairy cause a thorn hedge to grow round the Castle to keep everyone safe, the Prince needing her magic to find it.
Did not the appearance of the storybook characters Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, the Bluebird, the White Cat and the rest lose impact by being seen in the ballroom before their solos?
And why when the costumes were so varied, fresh and sparkling, was the Queen wearing the same dress as at the Princess’s christening a hundred years before?
These are but niggles in an entertainment which provided colour, action, drama and glorious music.