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Martin Schläpfer makes an attempt to reawaken Sleeping Magnificence for the 2020s in Vienna – Seen and Heard Worldwide


Austria Vienna State Ballet’s Sleeping Magnificence (Dornröschen): Dancers of Vienna State Ballet, Orchestra of Vienna State Opera / Patrick Lange (conductor). Livestreamed (directed by Balázs Delbó) from the Vienna State Opera, 24.10.2022. (JPr)

Hyo-Jung Kang (Princess Aurora) in Vienna State Ballet’s Sleeping Magnificence

Manufacturing:
Music – Piotr Iylich Tchaikovsky and Giacinto Scelsi
Choreography – Martin Schläpfer and Marius Petipa
Stage designer – Florian Etti
Costume designer – Catherine Voeffray
Lighting and Video – Thomas Diek
Dramaturgy – Anne do Paço

Forged included:
The Queen – Olga Esina
The King – Masayu Kimoto
Princess Aurora – Hyo-Jung Kang
Prince Désiré – Brendan Saye
Catalabutte -Jackson Carroll
The Lilac Fairy – Ioanna Avraam
Carabosse – Claudine Schoch
The Blue Chook – Davide Dato
Princess Florine – Kiyoka Hashimoto
Faun – Daniel Vizcayo
The Forest Girl – Yuko Kato

I have to admit how, for me, no manufacturing of Sleeping Magnificence has surpassed that by Rudolf Nureyev for London Competition Ballet in 1975 and Martin Schläpfer is director of Vienna State Ballet and his reinterpretation of the fairy-tale ballet for the corporate will come pretty low on the checklist of the very best variations I’ve seen. I admire it’s 2020 and I’ve lengthy advocated that classical ballet should respect its legacy whereas showing to maneuver ahead and never change into mummified. So in a way I’m arguing towards myself however there’s a acquainted story to Sleeping Magnificence everybody is aware of, and it shouldn’t simply be became a sequence of dance set-pieces in want of a coherent storyline. Schläpfer has the 1890 authentic of Petipa and Tchaikovsky reoccur once in a while however with now many of the second act that might be principally unrecognisable to them as it’s to us who’ve seen the ballet a number of instances.

The highlights are there together with the doorway of Aurora and the Rose Adagio, the Blue Chook pas de deux, the cats duetting, in addition to the marriage pas de deux (although with a twist). One thing of Aurora’s awakening stays although prefaced by Giacinto Scelsi’s 1965 Anahit a fairly tuneless piece for violin and orchestra (heard in a 1999 recording by Klangform Wien performed by Hans Zender and performed by Annette Bik). At this level we watch a few of Schläpfer’s famed trendy choreography in a trio for Prince Désiré who’s led to the sleeping princess by a faun and a ‘Forest Girl’ who brandishes a violin. Analysis means that ‘Anahit was the goddess of fertility and therapeutic, knowledge and water in Armenian mythology’ although what this has to do with Sleeping Magnificence solely Schläpfer may clarify.

There may be not a lot to explain in the best way of units (from stage designer Florian Etti) and no recurrent stage furnishings apart from some chairs. The Prologue is pretty darkish, however we see the silhouettes of thorny roses on the again and once more in the course of the first act, then there’s something of a woodland glade in Act II and for the marriage a tree cover is seen via some slit-like wall openings. Catherine Voeffray’s vibrantly colored costumes veer from one thing worn at an high fashion style present or posh cocktail celebration to probably a carnival.

Because the music begins, we see the King (Masayu Kimoto) and Queen (Olga Esina) praying for a kid and shortly grasp of ceremonies Catalabutte (colourfully costumed and equally extravagantly danced by Jackson Carroll) is welcoming friends to the christening of Princess Aurora. Right here the importance of the gift-bringing fairies (Sinthia Liz, Alexandra Inculet, Anita Manolova and Alaia Roger-Maman) is far diminished with Aurora in her crib up excessive above the stage like a chandelier. Catalabutte is distraught when he realises he has left the evil fairy, Carabosse, off the visitor checklist. When she is available in together with her two henchmen she makes use of the normal mime to curse Aurora. On her sixteenth birthday she is going to prick her finger on a spindle and die, although that is commuted by the Lilac Fairy right into a sleep of 100 years till awoken by a prince.

We attain that fateful day in Act I and it seems one of many attendants has an outlawed spindle, however her life is spared when Catalabutte pleads on her behalf. Aurora is launched to her 4 suitors and she or he dances with the princes who additionally dance on their very own. The disguised Carabosse arrives and Aurora’s finger will get pricked with the spindle she proffers. Aurora’s demise throes are fairly Giselle-like till she collapses within the king’s arms. The Lilac Fairy confirms she is merely sleeping earlier than she confronts Carabosse they usually circle one another.

After the tour into Scelsi in Act II, Tchaikovsky returns when the prince kisses Aurora and she or he wakes up. The court docket are revived too and Catalabutte, the king and queen enter and bless the wedding of Prince Désiré and Aurora as Carabosse (the dramatic Claudine Schoch) begs forgiveness for her wrongdoing. For the ultimate act these attending the marriage are welcomed by Catalabutte and can stay on the fringes of the stage until they’re dancing in numerous mixtures. A characteristic of this Sleeping Magnificence is how a lot dancing the king and queen do and there’s a trio at this level with the Lilac Fairy (the refined Ioanna Avraam). There’s a duet of feline grace from the cats (Eszter Ledán and Marian Furnica) and a pas de deux for the Blue Chook and Princess Florine – from a seriously-underpowered and oddly bare-chested Davide Dato and a charmingly fluttery Kiyoka Hashimoto – which lacked any ‘Wow!’ issue. The Faun (Daniel Vizcayo) and Forest Girl (Yuko Kato) reappear with some ground spinning and Vizcayo strolling on his knees at one level for little motive so far as I may see.

The prince (in fairly inelegant frilly white shirt and blue trousers) brings Carabosse again into the fold and shortly there loads of waltzing by all involved as the marriage celebrations start in earnest. Carrying an beautiful white marriage ceremony gown Hyo-Jung Kang was at her finest within the pas de deux together with her charming variation of gossamer lightness. I used to be unimpressed all through this Sleeping Magnificence by Brendan Saye’s tall and stiff-backed prince, and he was outdanced by Kimoto’s king as Schläpfer has them share the well-known solo. The choreographer provides an epilogue starting with one other solo for the king earlier than, along with the queen, they greet Prince Désiré and Aurora and relinquish their crowns to them. The queen (the all the time regal Esina) doesn’t appear too glad about that and the ballet ends with the court docket bourréeing and receding to the again leaving the Forest Girl to face guard over the king and queen who’ve lain down on the ground.

Masayu Kimoto (The King) and Olga Esina (The Queen) in Vienna State Ballet’s Sleeping Magnificence

Schläpfer’s choreographic language is fairly restricted and angular, there are many straight arms pointing upwards, splayed and prolonged legs, and regimented ensemble dancing in straight traces going through ahead. Sadly, the corporate had been sometimes ill-at-ease on the opening evening and issues may enhance later within the run of performances. (The closeup camerawork was unforgiving highlighting a serious misstep by one of many main dancers and one other who briefly hit the ground.) There can’t be a finer orchestra than that of Vienna State Opera (members of the Vienna Philharmonic) to play Tchaikovsky’s wonderful rating and wonderful it sounded via my loudspeakers; although it seemed like Patrick Lange’s swift tempi challenged a number of the dancers on events.

Sleeping Magnificence doesn’t appear that fashionable in Vienna with the archive suggesting lower than 150 performances earlier than this new manufacturing which succeeds ones by Reinhard Schwarz, Rudolf Nureyev and Sir Peter Wright. How lengthy Schläpfer’s will final solely time will inform.

Jim Pritchard

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