Reviewed by Nigel Chester
We were lucky enough, once again to enjoy an evening out at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre, whose central location, excellent public transport links and choice of parking makes for an easy journey to this splendid Rococo theatre. We drove, and chose to park at Charles Street, a Q car park, less than five minutes’ walk from the venue, because, if you ask at the box office, you are given a ticket that reduces the cost of an evening’s parking; last night we paid £7.50.
Surrounding the theatre are many bars and restaurants to allow you to start or end your evening with a meal or a drink – on production of your ticket, you can save 10% at the Crucible Corner a venue directly opposite the Lyceum. We chose to have a pre-show drink at the theatre bar and settled down with the programme of the Moscow City Ballet, it wasn’t cheap at £7, however, I still feel it was worth it as the photographs are beautiful, the information it contained was invaluable and if you plan to see any other of the current four productions of the Moscow City Ballet, the programme is a one-off purchase.
The Moscow City Ballet was founded in 1988, but the founder, Victor Smirnov-Golanov wanted to reflect back to the great Russian choreographers of the 19th and 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 parts.
Beginning with the Prologue, we see the christening of the new Princess Aurora taking place with each fairy bestowing gifts upon the baby, in turn to be interrupted by the evil Carabosse (Kirill Kasatkin), who, taking exception at being left off the guest list, curses the princess to die when she pricks her finger on a spindle.
Fortunately, the lilac fairy appears, to temper the curse so that the princess and the court will sleep.
Moving to Act One, the palace gardens and another celebration, this time, Princess Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, how quickly they grow!
The costumes and accessories were exquisite and were a joy to behold. We were introduced to Aurora (Lilia Orekhova), the favourite of Victor Smirnov-Golanov and the face of the company. She has danced with the Moscow City Ballet for the last decade, and it is easy to see why she has held this coveted position. Lilia is exquisite as Aurora, she is tiny and looks like a porcelain doll, but moves like an ephemeral spirit – perfect in every way and utterly mesmerizing to watch.
Aurora dances with her four suitors, lovingly watched by her parents and the court. In disguise, Carabosse, as malevolent as any villain ever written, produced the gift of a spindle and, having never seen one before, Aurora refused to part with it, despite the protestation of her parents and the assembled court, the resultant prick to the finger leads us to the descent into sleep and the end of act one.
The interval gave us time to reflect and talk about the sheer beauty of what we had experienced, each note of the orchestra, perfectly in time with the movement of the dancers, we were in awe. The costumes, perfect in every, tiny, detailed way, this was classical ballet at its very best
Suitably refreshed, following the interval, we took our seats and act two opened, one hundred years later. Here, Prince Florimund is introduced and, while out with a hunting party, wishes to be alone, in a vision, 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.
Falling instantly in love, the story continues with the final act, the wedding celebration, in a joyful storybook twist a host of fairytale characters join the celebrations, performing for the newly-weds, firstly, Puss in Boots dances with the White Cat, every move, feline in nature. Red Riding Hood stalked by the not-so menacing Wolf. Finally, the Bluebirds with their light and airy movement, each brilliant, but with their own style.
As the company took their bows, the audience showed their obvious appreciation. The dancers received their applause, Carabosse received boos, it could have been panto – it most certainly was not!
Whether you are a fan of ballet or not, if you get the opportunity to see this magical, mesmerising ballet, treat yourself, you will not be disappointed.
Tickets cost from £20 (booking fees may apply).
Moscow City Ballet – The Sleeping Beauty is at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield from 8-12 January 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call the box office on 0114 249 6000.
Lyceum Theatre, Norfolk St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1DA | 0114 249 6000