Cabinet of Dr Carabosse
John Gray Hunter Jr. | Wilmington, NC USA | 02/05/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Great great dancing! Fantastic music! But the designs! YIKES!
Alas, design plays a huge part in this ballet, more so than in most. And this production's are crap. Ugly and dark and inexplicable, the sets belong to some German expressionist silent film or an Alfred Hitchcock suspense climax. Where are Kim Novak and Jimmy Stuart when you need them? And Edith Head....who might have saved the show costume-wise.
Y'know part of the fun of this ballet is the sleeping court waking up in styles that are 100 years old. Then everyone is gloriously "up to date" for the whoop-de-do in Act III. In this version the court sees no reason to change. This and utterly bizzare stuff like shaking, floating dinner chairs with Carabosse emerging from under the table just make one moan.
But the fabulous dancing and mime [Carabosse is wonderful....even if she does come from under the table] just make one smile with joy. Definitely worth seeing at least once."
Gorgeous If Not Perfect
K. Boullosa | 11/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD provides a wonderful, if imperfect, evening of ballet. The sets and costumes are greatly flawed but the production still conveys the necessary atmosphere of sumptuousness and magic that one wishes for in The Sleeping Beauty, historically a legendary signature ballet of the Royal Ballet. The DVD is worth having for several reasons, chief among them the amazingly secure and exquisitely danced Aurora of Viviana Durante. This technically fearsome role is beautifully served by Durante's fleetness, line, phrasing, and technical authority. She has at times seemed tiny to the point of meagreness to me, but in this role her fragility works to her advantage, making her command of the technical difficulties of the roles seem that much more effortless. The rest of the roles are nearly as wonderfully danced and mimed - the fairy solos are quite difficult in themselves and are danced with aplomb by the soloists, who display the admirable technical depth that was available in the company in 1994. Some exceptions: Benazir Hussein was unforunately unequal to some aspects of her difficult solo in the Prologue - a shame as she was a lovely dancer for the most part. And Leann Benjamin was simply too big, physically, for Florine in the Bluebird Pas de Deux in the last act. Her partner had trouble lifting her and she can be seen missing her footing once. If lightness and lift are non-negotiable anywhere in The Sleeping Beauty, it is in this demanding pas de deux, and Bejamin's physical unsuitability for the part nearly undermined the whole. The Prince in Sleeping Beauty is a pretty thankless role, the emphasis being on partnering more than solo dancing, but Zoltan Solymosi danced it sincerely and skillfully, partnering Durante gallantly.
The major defects of this production are the awkward stage sets and the hideous costumes by Maria Bjornson, particularly for the courtiers. The Queen looked like nothing so much as a woman struggling under a basket of overturned laundry. The eye simply does not know where to go - it is just ugly and without an iota of beauty or grace. Thankfully, the costumes for the dancing principals are traditional. I'm sure Bjornson thought she was doing something terribly clever with these angled sets and ridiculous costumes, but all she really did was cause the viewer to thank the gods for Tchaikovsky's gorgeous score and Petipa's brilliant choreography - at least Bjornson couldn't spoil those. One can only imagine the horror of the ballerinas alternating in the role of Aurora during that season when they saw the long staircase down which they had to make their entrance just before beginning the Rose Adagio! Really, Dowell should have known better. . .
And speaking of Anthony Dowell, he may have taken a wrong turn with the production design, but he is authoritatively and deliciously evil as Carabosse. The mime, as is almost always the case with those trained by the Royal Ballet, was crystal clear without being overdone. These are true stage people, not just dancers.
Thus, in spite of its flaws, I can recommend this as a worthwhile performance of this deservedly loved ballet."
They are all stars
Margaret Meyer | Melbourne, Australia | 01/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a ballet lover of many years, I was utterly transported watching this superb performance of one of my favourite ballets. Everything about it was absolutely tops: sets, costumes, lighting, music - and of course the dancers. Viviana Durante who I had not seen dance before was technically and dramatically a lyrical and beautiful Aurora. She reminded me of Alessandra Ferri. Solymosi was a to-awaken-for prince - and their partnership in dance was out of this world. The Lilac Fairy (Benazir) was gracious and firmly sent the wicked witch on her way. Carabosse (Dowell) has lost none of his dramatic skill.
The Royal Ballet corps showed its usual precision and excellence.
When I was a child in the 1940s my parents took me to see Sadlers Wells Ballet company - precursors of the Royal Ballet - at the Royal Opera House. It was a signature experience for me. This version of the Sleeping Beauty reawakened that memory. Bravo."
A great resource for any ballet dancer
J. Wiseman | 05/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My ballet students are studying this classical ballet and this video helped them understand the discipline and passion it takes to become a dancer. I appreciate the quality and the short time it took for me to get the video."