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The Sleeping Beauty in Oslo

Posted on September 12, 2008

This was my second visit to the wonderful new Opera House in Oslo. My first was to attend the opening of the National Ballet season in May when the company presented an all Kylián programme and I now wanted to see them perform a classical work. The Sleeping Beauty is a challenge for any ensemble and was not part of the repertoire when I directed the company in the late 1970s.

This was a stylish and accomplished performance, as one would expect from the Norwegian National Ballet. The fairies acquitted themselves well as did the corps de ballet. Hedda Staver Cooke was a very convincing Carabosse with strong, clear dramatic mime with more than a hint of Bette Davis about her. Maiko Nishino danced the role of Princess Aurora with assurance and ease.

I was particularly impressed with Richard Suttie as Prince Florimund. For the Prince there is a great deal of walking around with the Lilac Fairy in Act II, and here was a performer who made it all believable. His dancing and partnering were superb throughout.

Much of the Prologue, Act I and Act II were very similar to the version I knew during my years with The Royal Ballet in London, but the introduction of a front cloth scene before Act I, with Carabosse and attendants brewing up spells in a cauldron, suggested we might have slid unwittingly into a performance of La Sylphide. Act III had some spirited dancing, much enjoyed by the audience.

This lively production was mounted by Cynthia Harvey and Janek Schergen, who were also responsible for much of the additional choreography. Of serious concern, however, was the fact that the beautiful solo for Aurora in Act II was not credited to Sir Frederick Ashton who created it.

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