Reposted from The Stage

Bolshoi Ballet — The Sleeping Beauty — Royal Opera House

The Stage — 6 August 2013
Neil Norman


Few would accuse the Bolshoi of reticence in their productions. Minimalism is not in the company’s vocabulary. Grigorovich’s revised version of the greatest classical ballet in existence is consequently a production on a grand scale, designed with the wow factor very much to the fore.

On an extraordinary set of towering gold and cream columns and wrought iron palace gates this spectacular production explodes into life from the moment the orchestra bombards us from the pit with ear-splitting volume. Subtlety and nuance is swept away in a tsunami of sound and vision and the only response is absolute submission.

Following a regimented opening, the entry of the individual Fairies proves delightful, with Anna Tikhomirova once again stealing the scene as the Fairy of Audacity. As Princess Aurora, Krysanova brings an easy and credible adolescence to the role, her pliant grace and chirpy demeanour outgunning her technique which suffers from a parsimony of gesture; she is just too neat. As if to compensate, other dancers go completely over the top. Biktimirov’s Catalabutte is a flamboyant fop, his limbs and body moving in camp extravagance while Loparevich’s Evil Fairy Carabosse (the Russians adhere to the tradition of the role being danced by a man) is an operatically panto villain, swirling his cloak and gurning like a madman.

The arrival of Prince Desire (Ovcharenko) brings a much-needed burst of drama to the stage in the second act. A fabulous dancer, with floating leaps and a superb finish, he is every inch the Bolshoi Prince and it is only a pity that the role has such limited stage time.

Grigorovich’s revisions are pretty and well-mannered without being exceptional or, indeed, contributing much to the narrative flow. And he messes up the awakening of Aurora - the dramatic highlight of the piece - by distracting us with Carabosse.

The final parade of Fairytale Characters is nicely done, with Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf plus a half dozen dancing pine trees and an exceptional contribution from Kristina Kretova as Princess Florine and Denis Rodkin, standing in at the last moment as Bluebird.

What is lost in dramatic energy is more than adequately compensated for by sheer spectacle.

Photo © Damir Yusupov — Anna Nikulina as Aurora and Artem Ovcharenko as Prince in "Sleeping Beauty", The Bolshoi