Authorship of the original story of Sleeping Beauty is credited to Charles Perrault who penned the fairytale in seventeenth century France. Sleeping Beauty, the ballet, is a magical, medieval tale of royalty, romance and good versus evil. It first premiered in Russia in 1890 at the historic Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.
The score was composed by Tchaikovsky who described writing it ‘improbably quickly’. Musical Director of Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Nigel Gaynor has successfully re-orchestrated the three hour composition into a performance completed in two acts.
This performance was choreographed by Greg Horsman for the Royal New Zealand Ballet in 2011, bringing it to the Queensland Ballet in 2015. London born, Gary Harris is to be credited for creating the sets and costumes that both set and stole the scenes.
His visionary ‘biggest dragon possible on stage’ did not disappoint fantasy fans. Along with some of the other outfits, it was made at the WETA workshop in New Zealand. WETA made the special effect costumes for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Notably, those ogre heads were ghoulishly ugly amidst enchanting beauty and grace.
From the commencement to the conclusion of the ballet, those moody, gorgeous cats brought great delight to the audience. Catalabutte, (First Company Artist, Rian Thomson) is private secretary to the king. He also has his feline eye on his female cat counterpart, Lady Florine, the Queen’s Lady in Waiting, danced by First Company Artist, Sophie Zoricic. The dancers were wonderful in their portrayal of these exquisite characters.
The birth of a little princess into the kingdom is much welcomed by the royal couple. Good fairies will be her lovely godmothers giving gifts: Beauty, Wit, Grace, Song and Wisdom. Their pastel costumes and delicate dancing reflected the attributes represented by their names. Principal, Yanela Pinera performed the role of the Wisdom and Lilac Fairy.
Understandably, the good king and queen have omitted the evil Carabosse from the christening party guest list. This omission enrages the bad fairy who intervenes in the celebrations with punitive intent. A strong, intense performance was given by Soloist, Georgia Swan who was magnificent in this dark, dominant role. Carabosse returns later to continue wreaking evil havoc when Aurora turns sixteen and is eventually woken by her prince.
Newly promoted principal, Neneka Yoshida flawlessly performed the role of Princess Aurora. Principal male dancer, Victor Estevez, was as always, exceptional. Principal, Lucy Green partnered by Senior Soloist, Kotei Iwamoto were the Bluebird pair and excellently paired.
This ballet with its multitude of characters, enables many of the company dancers to showcase their abilities. Varying the cast throughout the season furthers opportunities for dancers to step up and rests the principals. There were numerous times during the night when different dancers gave notable performances and did the company very proud.
Special commendation is given to Nigel Gaynor and the exquisite calibre of our current state orchestra which he conducts. Lately, I’m frequently finding myself listening to their recorded performances being featured on the classical ABC radio station and feeling proud.
In a filled theatre of well-dressed audience members, along with more ushers, life in the artistic sector felt once again, normal. ‘Normal’ however, is a fragile state not to be taken for granted or as a given.
A wonderful Sleeping Beauty opening night performance. Well done Queensland Ballet Company!
The Sleeping Beauty
Lyric Theatre – QPAC, Corner Grey and Melbourne Streets, South Bank (Brisbane)
Performance: Friday 4 June 2021
Season continues to 19 June 2021
For more information, visit: www.queenslandballet.com.au for details.
Image: Victor Estevez and Neneka Yoshida in The Sleeping Beauty – photo by David Kelly
Review: Michele-Rose Boylan