American Ballet Theatre
The Sleeping Beauty
Metropolitan Opera House
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 21, 2008
(Read More ABT Reviews)
The Sleeping Beauty (2007): Choreography after Marius Petipa, Additional choreography and staging by Kevin McKenzie, Gelsey Kirkland, and Michael Chernov, Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, Scenery by Tony Walton, Costumes by Willa Kim, Additional Costume Design by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Richard Pilbrow and Dawn Chiang, Assistant Scenery Designer: Kelly Hanson, Assistant Costume Designer: Richard Schurkamp.
Cast on June 19, 2008:
Conductor: David LaMarche
Sarah Lane as Princess Aurora, Herman Cornejo as Prince Désiré, Maria Riccetto as The Lilac Fairy, Maria Bystrova as The Fairy Carabosse, Victor Barbee as King Florestan, Susan Jaffe as His Queen, Isaac Stappas as Catalabutte, The King’s Chief Minister, Melanie Hamrick as The Fairy of Sincerity, Kristi Boone as The Fairy of Fervor, Renata Pavam as The Fairy of Charity, Jacquelyn Reyes as The Fairy of Joy, Simone Messmer as The Fairy of Valor, Blaine Hoven, Jared Matthews, Carlos Lopez, Sascha Radetsky, Luis Ribagorda, Craig Salstein as The Fairy Knights, Blaine Hoven as The Russian Prince, Roman Zhurbin as The Spanish Prince, Craig Salstein as The Indian Prince, Sascha Radetsky as The Celtic Prince, Jessica Saund as The Countess, Craig Salstein as Gallison, The Prince’s Aide, Misty Copeland and Mikhail Ilyin as The Cat and Puss-in-Boots, Mary Mills Thomas and Eric Tamm as Red Riding Hood and The Wolf, Karen Uphoff and Alexandre Hammoudi as Cinderella and Prince Charming, Yuriko Kajiya and Gennadi Saveliev as Princess Florine and The Bluebird, and the Company as Herald, Lilac Fairy Attendants, Carabosse’s Minions, The Courtiers, Princess Aurora’s Friends, Village Gossips, The Villagers, The Prince’s Friends, The Hunt Couples, and Lindsay Karchin and Drew Nelson as The Village Children.
Cast on June 21, 2008:
Conductor: David LaMarche
Michele Wiles as Princess Aurora, David Hallberg as Prince Désiré, Maria Riccetto as The Lilac Fairy, Martine Van Hamel as The Fairy Carabosse, Victor Barbee as King Florestan, Melissa Thomas as His Queen, Wes Chapman as Catalabutte, The King’s Chief Minister, Maria Bystrova as The Fairy of Sincerity, Isabella Boylston as The Fairy of Fervor, Gemma Bond as The Fairy of Charity, Jacquelyn Reyes as The Fairy of Joy, Misty Copeland as The Fairy of Valor, Grant DeLong, Alexandre Hammoudi, Alejandro Piris-Niño, Craig Salstein, Arron Scott, Cory Stearns as The Fairy Knights, Vitali Krauchenka as The Russian Prince, Alexandre Hammoudi as The Spanish Prince, Grant DeLong as The Indian Prince, Patrick Ogle as The Celtic Prince, Karen Uphoff as The Countess, Craig Salstein as Gallison, The Prince’s Aide, Hee Seo and Alexei Agoudine as The Cat and Puss-in-Boots, Mary Mills Thomas and Eric Tamm as Red Riding Hood and The Wolf, Leann Underwood and Vitali Krauchenka as Cinderella and Prince Charming, Yuriko Kajiya and Sascha Radetsky as Princess Florine and The Bluebird, and the Company as Herald, Lilac Fairy Attendants, Carabosse’s Minions, The Courtiers, Princess Aurora’s Friends, Village Gossips, The Villagers, The Prince’s Friends, The Hunt Couples, and Meghan Brulé and Branden Reiners as The Village Children.
Among the best news of the 2008 ABT Season was notice about the debut lead roles for Principal, Herman Cornejo, and tonight, also a lead for Soloist, Sarah Lane. Mr. Cornejo, short in stature and tall in stage presence, has been performing the second string roles for some years, always to incredible acclaim and bursts of bravos. I had written, at least once, of a desire to see him in lead roles, and tonight had my wish realized. The new production of The Sleeping Beauty has an extensive dance segment for Prince Désiré, and on June 19, Mr. Cornejo got to shine. But, let’s not forget that this production is about the Beauty, Princess Aurora, and Sarah Lane, in a debut role, mastered the requisite Rose Adagio, in which she stands en pointe, over and over, endlessly, as each of four suitors walks around her in a circle, holding her hand. She then lets go, and, in the second round, she hands off one rose to each. This watershed moment, that makes or breaks a ballerina, takes place when Aurora arrives for her sixteenth birthday, before she pricks her finger on the forbidden spindle. Throughout the June 19 performance, Ms. Lane danced with refreshing ease, confidence, and engaging personality, at once the ingénue and the enchantress.
On June 21, Michele Wiles and David Hallberg, more seasoned leads, were equally enthralling, but in a predictable sense. Ms. Wiles executed her Rose Adagio with intensity and focus, and each arm lift was accompanied by an extra emotional affectation, one of Ms. Wiles’ trademarks. Her wedding dance with Mr. Hallberg, full of joyous leaps and luscious still imagery, was energized and effervescent. Mr. Hallberg, the penultimate Prince, can steal the stage, with his seething sensuality and acute theatricality, but today he was generous in showcasing Ms. Wiles, in their romantic pas de deux, a true Prince. In both performances, Maria Riccetto was a persuasive Lilac Fairy, replete with grace, balance, and poise, but lacking in the effusive warmth from which this role could benefit. After all, it’s the Lilac Fairy who takes on the wicked Fairy Carabosse. On June 19, Maria Bystrova was a humorous and slightly fiendish Carabosse, but on June 21 Martina Van Hamel (a retired ABT Principal) could not have been more perfectly cast, with her dramatic nuance and seasoned, ripe approach.
Victor Barbee, retired ABT Principal and now Assoc. Artistic Director, who seems to appear in every story ballet as a King of some sort, was King Florestan, Aurora’s father. The King wants to punish Catalabutte, the Minister who forgets to invite Carabosse to Aurora’s Christening, and then to punish the town girls who bring a banished spindle to his daughter’s sixteenth birthday. But, his warmth shines through, as he is dissuaded from cruelty by his Queen, Susan Jaffe (another retired ABT Principal) on June 19, and on June 21, Melissa Thomas. Ms. Jaffe looked the part of Aurora’s mother, and seemed to relish the role. Ms. Thomas, in the Corps, is being cast these days in theatrical roles, and she glows every time. As Catalabutte, the dizzy Minister, who loses some hair to Carabosse, in her fiery tantrum, Isaac Stappas on June 19, and Wes Chapman (Artistic Director, ABT II) on June 21, were equally entertaining and bumbling. In non-dance roles, it’s more riveting to cast retired dancers, who have dramatic stage experience.
Five Fairies have extensive dances in this production, much more extensive than necessary. In fact, the almost three-hour ballet seemed to be all consumed by second string dances, Fairies of Sincerity, Fervor, Charity, Joy, and Valor. It was astounding that they seemed to have more stage time than the Princess Aurora. After awhile, they even began to look alike, so we had to concentrate on one or the other to remember the intended quality. Of the five Fairy roles, only Jacquelyn Reyes had a repeat performance for these two dates, as The Fairy of Joy. Her affectations were adorable and enthused, but she could work on dance speed and elevation. Of the remaining eight Fairies, Kristi Boone, as The Fairy of Fervor on June 19, and Misty Copeland, as The Fairy of Valor, on June 21, caught my eye. Both Ms. Boone and Ms. Copeland, Soloists, made the most of their appearances, to captivate the imagination in the endless string of Fairy solos. Of the four international Princes, who participate in the Rose Adagio, Roman Zhurbin and Craig Salstein, on June 19, and Alexandre Hammoudi, on June 21, stood out with extra persona. There is not much dancing to this role, but the fate of the Aurora ballerina’s success lies in their strength and timing. Craig Salstein was also a characteristic Prince’s Aide, in the Vision Scene.
Of the Fairy Knights, so important in the Hunt-Vision scene, Carlos Lopez, Craig Salstein, and Luis Ribagorda caught my eye, with their muscular abandon and limb extensions. And there’s more, the Wedding Celebration. Misty Copeland and Mikhail Ilyin were The Cat and Puss-in-Boots, on June 19, with Hee Seo and Alexei Agoudine in these roles on June 21. Both sets of dancers brought wit and nuance to these shortened roles. To my dismay, the Wedding was reduced in the requisite guest dances, and that was a serious flaw in this revised production. I was looking forward to more dance from Princess Florine and The Bluebird (Yuriko Kajiya and Gennadi Saveliev on June 19, and Ms. Kajiya with Sascha Radetsky on June 21), but Ms. Kajiya brought riveting ornamentations to her buoyant and bubbly performance, while Mr. Radetsky was most suited physically to the partnering and rapid spins. In addition, Red Riding Hood and The Wolf, as well as Cinderella and Prince Charming, have cameo appearances, compared to previous productions, and that was probably a disappointment, especially to the numerous children in the audience. I would suggest re-inserting those renowned passages.
The Grand Pas de Deux on each performance brought vocal accolades. In future ABT Galas and Fall Season shorter excerpts, I would like to see these Grand Pas de Deux repeated with these two sets of partners. David LaMarche conducted with pizzazz and attention to detail in both performances, and the Ballet Theatre Orchestra exuded with deep tonal resonance under his baton. The sets and costumes delighted adults and children alike, including my four year-old niece, who met the dancers at the stage door after the June 21 matinee.
Sarah Lane and Herman Cornejo
in The Sleeping Beauty
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor.
Michele Wiles and Ballet Fan, Camille
At the Met Opera Stage Door
David Hallberg and Ballet Fan, Camille
At the Met Opera Stage Door
Misty Copeland and Ballet Fan, Camille
At the Met Opera Stage Door