The Sleeping Beauty ballet. Music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Directed by Kevin O'Hare. Choreography by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell, and Christopher Wheeldon (based on tradition of Marius Petipa). This is a revival production (based on the original Oliver Messel 1946 production at Royal Opera House) by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton after Ninette de Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev. Stars Marianela Nuñez (Princess Aurora), Vadim Muntagirov (Prince Florimund), Kristen McNally (Carabosse), Claire Calvert (Lilac Fairy), Christopher Saunders (King Florestan XXIV), Elizabeth McGorian (The Queen), and Alastair Marriott (Cattalabutte). A huge number of other dancers from the ROB are credited in the the nice keepcase booklet. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Peter Manning). Original designs by Oliver Messel and Peter Farmer; lighting by Mark Jonathan; staging by Christopher Carr. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A+
There were many improvements made in subject 2017 revival over the performance filmed in 2006 (that the ROB published in 2009). However, in the first screenshot below we see that the opening set is about the same as earlier. Apparently all the sets were reused but tweaked in various ways:
Almost all the costumes were reworked to move from the old pastel colors to deeper and more “modern” tones. The keepcase booklet discusses in some detail how the costume shop would salvage what they could of the old costumes while giving them a like-new look. Ross MacGibbon had improved cameras and other gear, so PQ here is state-of-the-art. All of this you can see in the beautiful shot below of Cattalabutte (Alastair Marriott) and members of the court:
The Lilac Fairy (Claire Calvert) has a much more bold and fresh look:
Kristen McNally is the best Carabosse ever —- you have to get this disc just to see her in action:
Isn’t the picture of the harvest dancers below just wonderful?
And here’s Marianela Nuñez as Princess Aurora. Marianela, always ready, reliable, and impervious to injury, is now Queen of the ROB hive and dances with absolute authority while always seeming to be having the most joyous experience of her life:
You wouldn’t think of SB as something profound, but the dancing and acting of Vadim Muntagirov as Prince Florimund makes it so:
28% of MacGibbon’s images are full-stage like the one below:
We have to show you the kiss:
39% of MacGibben’s views are part-stage, full body like this one of the White Cat (Leticia Stock) and Puss-in-Boots (Paul Kay):
From the Grand Pas De Deux and the Finale:
SQ is also improved from the 2006 show and is about as good as it gets. Lighting and stage direction of all the dancers is improved. We ran a Wonk Worksheet. MacGibbon’s pace for this recording is 10.2 seconds per clip. This is somewhat slower (and better) than the 2006 film (which we also sampled on the Wonk Worksheet). Probably the better pace stems from the fact that MacGibbon had better cameras in 2017, which allowed him to make more full stage and other large-scale images than before. Summing up then, this disc is a terrific new addition to the canon that gets an A+ grade. But the mediocre pace of 10.2 seconds per clip keeps us from giving this a special flare designation.
Here is an official clip: