Queensland Ballet Company with QSO
Review by Krissi Weiss
The Sleeping Beauty, one of ballet’s most seminal works, was a striking choice to end the Queensland Ballet’s 2012 season and a fitting swansong for departing Artistic Director, Francoise Klaus. Klaus was first taught the original Marius Petipa choreography for the Fairies, the Rose Adage, the Bluebird and wedding pas-de-deux by Ballet Master Peter Appel. He is intrinsically connected to the work and this was blindingly evident in every part of the performance. The story is a well-known and well-worn one so there’s no need to go into that apart from to say there are but a few minor alterations in this version.
Ticking off the “outsider” boxes I first must mention tonight’s overwhelmingly beautiful set design and lighting. Obviously stunning, the set somehow manages never to overshadow the skill of the performances despite its artistic meticulousness.
Guest conductor, Andrew Mongrelia, paces the Queensland Symphony Orchestra through a measured and sublime delivery of Tchaikovshy’s stunning work and their presence lifts the performance beyond what one would expect. It’s hard to realise recorded music detracts from the beauty of ballet until an orchestra has filled the pit with their impeccable interpretation of the score.
At every corner of the stage, there is beauty, flow and form – whether from the principals or corps de ballet – yet there is the odd moment where the notion of synchronicity seems to be completely forgotten. Somehow, all is forgiven thanks to the intense performances and the complex emotional story each performer conveys. Eleanor Freeman’s Carabosse brings a dramatic intensity and effortless skill that threatens to steal the show until Act 2 sees the arrival of Hao Bin’s Prince who appears to be able to float as well as fly. Act 2 has ironed some of the synchronicity issues out and the dramatic energy builds to a startling level of engaging precision falling down in just one simple way – it goes on for two long. Towards the end it’s hard to ignore the fact the story is no longer being served and at times, the performance near gratuitousness. Still, once the beauty has awoken, the marriage has been had, and the house lights go up, the audience is left speechless.
SLEEPING BEAUTY runs at the Playhouse, QPAC, until 19 December, 2012. Book here.
KRISSI WEISS is a writer, musician, wannabe filmmaker and science student — bores easily. A Rave regular, Krissi also writes about music and the arts for a number of interstate and international publications.