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Peter Martins' The Sleeping Beauty 2007 at New York City Ballet

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 11, 2007
Lincoln Center
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc.
140 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
212.875.5456

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New York City Ballet
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New York City Ballet
The Sleeping Beauty 2007
(NYC Ballet Website)

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children's Ballet Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Marketing and Communications, Managing Director, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center
www.lincolncenter.org
(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

(See February 26, 2004 The Sleeping Beauty Review).

Conductor, Richard Bernas

The Sleeping Beauty (1991): Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky, Libretto by Marius Petipa and A. Vsevolozhsky, after stories by Charles Perrault and others, Choreography by Peter Martins (after Marius Petipa) (Garland Dance by George Balanchine), Scenery by David Mitchell, Costumes designed by Patricia Zipprodt, Costumes executed by Barbara Matera, Make-up, Hair, and Wigs designed by Michael Avedon, Lighting by Mark Stanley.

Performed by: Sterling Hyltin as Princess Aurora; Jonathan Stafford as Prince Désiré; William Yin-Lee as King Florestan; Saskia Beskow as The Queen; Sara Mearns as The Lilac Fairy; Kyle Froman as Catalabutte; Melissa Barak as The Fairy Carabosse; Ashley Laracey as The Fairy of Tenderness; Lauren King as the Fairy of Vivacity; Faye Arthurs as The Fairy of Generosity; Rachel Piskin as The Fairy of Eloquence; Ellen Bar as The Fairy of Courage; Tyler Angle, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Edwaard Liang, and Henry Seth as The Suitors; Gwyneth Muller as The Countess; Giovanni Villalobos as His Attendant; Stephen Hanna, Rebecca Krohn, Abi Stafford, and Tiler Peck as The Jewels; Alina Dronova and Seth Orza as The White Cat and Puss in Boots; Ana Sophia Scheller and Vincent Paradiso as Prince Florine and The Bluebird; Maria Gorokhov and Christian Tworzyanski as Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf; Antonio Carmena, Austin Laurent, and Allen Peiffer as The Court Jesters; the Company as The Cavaliers, The Lilac Fairy's Attendants, The Court, The Maids of Honor, The Garland Dance Villagers, The Hunting Party, The Nymphs, and The Courtiers, and students from School of American Ballet.

Sleeping Beauty was premiered at Maryinsky Theater, St. Petersburg, January 15, 1890. George Balanchine made his ballet debut in Sleeping Beauty, as a dancer in the Garland Waltz and as a cupid. For NYC Ballet's 1981 Tschaikovsky Festival, George Balanchine choreographed the Garland Dance. Peter Martins included this Garland Dance in his 1991 staging. This production includes more than 100 dancers, including students from School of American Ballet, and 250 costumes. David Mitchell's scenes create a mystical world and fairy tales. Patricia Zipprodt's costumes follow paintings of the courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. (NYCB Notes).

Tonight, a star was born, so to speak. Sterling Hyltin, a young soloist with City Ballet, made her debut as Aurora, and she was glowing. She held her own and more in those quintessentially difficult moments, that for any balletomane decide the success level of the performance, much like the 32 fouettés in Swan Lake. Those moments occur in the Act II sixteenth birthday celebration, as four suitors (Europe, America, Asia, and Africa) take turns, once with their hands, and once with hands and long-stem roses, and Aurora must hold her own, en pointe, throughout. In fact, in the Rose Adagio, she turns en pointe, never resting, and Ms. Hyltin was formidable and impressive. Her Prince Désiré, Jonathan Stafford, was elegant and elevated, in leaps and spins, but tonight was Ms. Hyltin's to own, with her rapturous exultation. The second star of the evening was Sara Mearns as The Lilac Fairy, smooth as silk. Never once did she look away from the cast or audience, always focused, always purposeful.

In the Christening Scene, five fairies take solos, independent of The Lilac Fairy and The Fairy Carabosse. This scene allowed an ensemble from the corps to shine. Kyle Froman, as the de-wigged servant, Catalabutte, was always on cue. Melissa Barak, as the evil Fairy Carabosse, all in black, haunting lace, accompanied by large-eyed insects, dancing about as creature-cavaliers, was deliciously sadistic and not so easily thwarted by her foe, the very good, Lilac Fairy. As this Peter Martins choreographed version of Sleeping Beauty is synopsized from the Marius Petipa version (which could be another hour, with the extra intermission), some of the encounters have been abbreviated. I would have loved to see a bit more interaction between Carabosse and The Lilac Fairy. I would have also liked the suitors in The Spell Scene (the sixteenth birthday) to have had a solo or two, but they were onstage in highly decorated and beaded costumes as support for Aurora's tours de force. Balanchine's original Garland Dance, with four different female costumes, in peaches and greens, and hoops of flowers as props for symmetrical imagery, is a highlight of Mr. Martins' design. When The Fairy Carabosse returns with the spinning needle, hidden in the bouquet, Ms. Hyltin was quite effective, as she looked out to her audience, realizing her sudden fate. Ms. Mearns was also effective as she explained, in nuanced mime, that sleep would replace death.

The Vision Scene, in which Prince Désiré is given a preview by The Lilac Fairy in the woods (just after the Prince rejects The Countess, in front of their hunting party, with a brush of the hand) of the sleeping princess, was exquisite. The dim, blackened-brown tree trunks, through which the glistening Princess and shimmering nymphs dance about and with the Prince, were ethereal. Mr. Martins added a touch of drama, again evoking a bit of Swan Lake, when the Princess was seen in a far-away vision, just as is the Swan, Odette, only Sleeping Beauty has a happier ending. The Awakening Scene is all too brief, with The Lilac Fairy taking the Prince on a golden boat in misty lakes, all the way to the castle, before his sword is sprung to scatter the twigs and plunge through the thickets to his sleeping ingénue. Speaking of ingénues, Ms. Hyltin was well cast for this role, youthful and enthusiastic. The kiss was all too brief, and Mr. Stafford then embraced Ms. Hyltin, who awakes to accept a proposal, no questions asked.

The Wedding Scene, with the dance of the Jewels, began with dynamic color and humor. Stephen Hanna was an inspired and flawless Gold, but the newly promoted soloist, Tiler Peck, stole the show as Emerald. She glowed from within. Rebecca Krohn and Abi Stafford, as Diamond and Ruby, managed difficult footwork. Alina Dronova and Seth Orza, as the playful cats, were full of mischief and split-timing, while the tiny Maria Gorokhov and Christian Tworzyanski, as Little Red Riding Hood and The Wolf, were light-hearted and adorable. The other newly promoted soloist, Ana Sophia Scheller, was perfection-plus and audience-aware as Princess Florine, and her partner, Vincent Paradiso, as The Bluebird, was propulsive and charismatic. Of the three Court Jesters, Antonio Carmena riveted attention with his mid-air splits and rapid spins. William Yin-Lee and Saskia Beskow, as King and Queen, were always in character, stately and steady.

The final pas de deux, Aurora and Prince Désiré, was filled with excitement, as Ms. Hyltin never lost footing and kept her strength through the final flourish. The sideways lifts and figures were splendid. Guest Conductor, Richard Bernas, was busy all evening, as this long score includes contrasting melodies and some rapid passages, which must be followed closely. Patricia Zipprodt's costumes range from pale ivory tutus, to long, golden gowns, to beaded America, Africa, etc. suits, to cat and wolf outfits and masks, to The Bluebird head-feathers. Michael Avedon is a master at hair, makeup, and wigs, and David Mitchell's scenery is replete with projected castle entrances, that allow the audience to be slowly drawn through the castle door from afar. The disappearing bed and elegant chandeliers were also well conceived. Peter Martins' nuanced and versatile choreography weaves this multi-character, multi-showcase ballet with a magical thread. Kudos to Peter Martins, and kudos also to Tschaikovsky, for such a sweeping score.
Sterling Hyltin in NYCB's The Sleeping Beauty

Sterling Hyltin in NYCB's The Sleeping Beauty

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik


Sara Mearns as the Lilac Fairy in NYCB's The Sleeping Beauty

Sara Mearns as the Lilac Fairy in NYCB's The Sleeping Beauty

Photo © & courtesy of Paul Kolnik

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