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The Sleeping Beauty review at Royal Opera House, London – ‘a banquet of a ballet’

Sarah Lamb and Vadim Muntagirov in The Sleeping Beauty at Royal opera House, London. Photo: Bill Cooper
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With contributions from no fewer than four choreographers the Royal Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty certainly gives you more bang for your bucks. Marius Petipa’s original work has been augmented in such a way by Frederick Ashton, Christopher Wheeldon and Anthony Dowell that it seems made of whole cloth.

Similarly, Oliver Messel’s designs – towering arches, fairytale forests – have been deliciously heightened by Peter Farmer to the point of timelessness. The costumes never fail to amaze, reflecting three different eras with the exception of the Master of Ceremonies who remains above – or beneath – fashion.

At three hours, the ballet can sometimes seem like a bit of an ordeal; but not tonight. Such was the bravura playing both on stage and in the orchestra pit that it simply flew by. Individual moments shone like jewels in a perfect setting – Kristen McNally’s femme fatale Carabosse, Helen Crawford’s razzle dazzle showgirl Fairy of the Golden Vine and Francesca Hayward’s dragonfly dancing as the Fairy of the Song Bird.

The corps de ballet are in their element in Wheeldon’s Ashton-inspired laurel dance. Sarah Lamb gives a fine account of Princess Aurora, her hands caressing the air like a lover’s skin while her languid extensions and dreamy not-quite-there presence provide a perfect foil for Vadim Muntagirov’s magnificently lovestruck Prince. Their grand pas de deux with three perfectly executed swan dives was a moment of ecstasy; even the horn section got over-excited. A sumptuous banquet of a ballet, beautifully presented.

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