Reviewed by Nigel Chester
It was a very cold Friday night in Nottingham and the car park close to the Royal Concert Hall was almost full. The Concert Hall is conveniently situated next to the Theatre Royal, so we didn’t have to worry about getting lost. The concert hall itself is a large modern theatre, with huge seats and leg room to match. The staff were helpful, and the audience seated in a very efficient manner.
We settled down in our seats and could hear the Hungarian Alba Regia Orchestra, conducted by Igor Shavruk, warming up, I think that knowing the evening of ballet is to be accompanied by a full orchestra is so exciting.
The Moscow City Ballet was founded in 1988, but the founder, Smirnov-Golanov wanted to reflect back to the great Russian choreographers of the 19th & 20th centuries and even today, the company holds the traditional ideas and ballets to the heart of its performances.
The evenings performance was split equally into two, one hour acts.
The curtain opened in perfect synchronisation to the first notes of the orchestra, and as the music soared, so did the breath taking lone figure of the lilac fairy (Ekaterina Tokareva), en pointe. It was a perfect moment, she was beautiful in every way, her pancake tutu a little girls dream. So we open with the prologue.
Knowing the story of Sleeping Beauty is a distinct advantage, I understand the concept of the music and dance telling the story, however, some of the subtleties were lost. Other parts were beautifully interpreted, I particularly enjoyed the almost comic dance of Catalabutte, the master of ceremonies, when he realised that he had omitted to invite fairy Carabosse (Kirill Kasatkin) to the christening celebration, at the moment Carabosse appears, we were in no doubt that this was a character of great importance and as malevolent as any villain ever written. A crooked witch, holding an elaborate staff that was choreographed into the dance. Carabosse had an entourage of dark henchmen and their high energy and grace were among my favourite moments.
The audience clapped in appreciation of each breathtaking moment – of course, baby Aurora was cursed to die, but the lilac fairy appears to temper the curse so that she and the court will sleep.
Moving forward to Princess Aurora’s sixteenth birthday party, once again the costumes and accessories were exquisite, the garlands and baskets of flowers, which were incorporated into every fine movement, were a joy to behold. We were introduced to Aurora (Liliya Orekhova), who led her four comic suitors on a merry dance.
The Corps de Ballet danced with aplomb and it’s thanks to Disney’s use of the Tchaikovsky score, that I knew where we were in the plot. Not everyone was as ignorant as me, I overheard a father explain to his daughter of around four years old, that she would know Tchaikovsky, as it was what they listened to in the car. She was not the only young child in the audience, and it is testament to the glorious show, that every one of them remained riveted.
Inevitably, Aurora received the gift of a spindle from Carabosse and, despite the protestation of her parents and the assembled court, refused to part with it, the resultant prick to the finger leads us to the descent into sleep and the end of act one.
Suitably refreshed, following the interval, we took our seats and act two opened one hundred years later. The visual clues were a changed court and a dramatically different costume style. Here, Prince Florimund (Talgat Koshbaev) is introduced and in a dream sequence, he dances with Princess Aurora. The lilac fairy, on seeing this, helps the prince to defeat Carabosse and find the sleeping beauty, who he awakes with a kiss.
The story continues with the wedding celebration, in a joyful storybook twist a host of fairytale characters join the celebrations, firstly, Puss in Boot dances with the White Cat, every move, feline in nature. Red Riding Hood stalked by the menacing Wolf. Finally, and for me, among the finest dancing of the performance came the Bluebirds, the highest lifts and the lightest touches. The closing scene, with fifteen couples dancing gracefully and apparently effortlessly, bought the performance to its glorious ending.
As the company took their bows, the audience showed their obvious appreciation.
If you get the opportunity to see this magical, mesmerising ballet, treat yourself, age is no barrier here.
For other shows at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND | 0115 989 5555