It is clear that much money was spent on the staging of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, so it is good to have another opportunity to catch this sumptuous production.
In the three years since we last saw this production at The Lowry the sets and costumes have not lost any of their extravagance and splendour. The colours are rich with a dominance of gold, black, peach and blue, with luscious fabrics of velvet, taffeta, layered lace and sequins. It makes for a fairy tale vision, with the Sleeping Beauty, Aurora being the perfect traditional, music-box ballerina.
Taking on the challenging central role of Princess Aurora, Nao Sakuma strikes a wonderful balance of being both delicate and strong. She was well matched with Chi Cao, a commanding Prince Florimund, whose stage presence provides a welcome depth to the technical brilliance of their partner dances.
This is a simple tale of good versus evil, which makes for fantastic contrasts of light and dark in the characters, the music, the costumes and the lighting, none more so than between Marion Tait’s scheming, Fairy Carabosse, who arrives in a puff of smoke, carried high on a sedan chair, and Jenna Roberts’ gentle, almost floating, Lilac Fairy.
The Prologue and Act III are really a show fit for a palace. The individual dances, some with fairy tale characters like Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots, are playful and joyous, while at the same time giving a chance for this skilled company to shine – both the dancers and the orchestra.
The grand finale is danced by the whole assembly with gold confetti adding a final touch of magic to the evening.
The Sleeping Beauty is at The Lowry from 25-28 September 2013.