The Sleeping Beauty
Covent Garden Royal Opera House – October 31, 2011
The Observer by Luke Jenning
…..however, a ballerina decides to risk making the sequence even harder – as Tamara Rojo did on Monday. Holding her arms above her head en couronne, she ignored her final suitor, and just balanced, statue-still. The moment stretched and stretched, and when the final chord sounded and Rojo’s leg coolly unfurled from attitude into high arabesque, the audience went wild. It was an expression not just of supreme technical mastery, but of theatrical calculation. This Aurora, Rojo was telling us, breathes the heady air of independence.”
October 30, 2009: theartsdesk by Ismene Brown
And then Friday – the skies blazed and the sun rose on a blessed Aurora, Tamara Rojo, whose dancing poured light upon us all, first softly and dewily, and then with increasing brightness and grandeur. This is a true ballerina of exquisite mastery in all departments, who understands every demand not only for herself in meeting the role’s phenomenal limits, but the magical warmth that she must generate for the whole production.
You could rhapsodise on about her time-stopping balances and spun gold of her pirouettes, but better to notice the wafting silk of her ports de bras, the generosity of the garlands she weaves with her arms around everyone on stage, from her parents to the wooing princes to the guests at her wedding. In a piece of luxury casting her partner was Johan Kobborg. He is rarely seen with Rojo, since he is firmly established with Alina Cojocaru, but the two did first dance in the UK together at Scottish Ballet, and as the company’s two supreme classicists I was intrigued whether we would see the ne plus ultra of Sleeping Beauties.
Well, they were, most of the way through, a sublime and masterly match, a pairing intent on casting the greatest of balletic enchantments over us – until strangely the coda of the wedding pas de deux felt suddenly colder than required, a technical triumph rather than a mutual offering of their happiness…
The New York Times
“…..at Covent Garden on Monday night, Tamara Rojo offered a technically sensational execution of the Rose Adagio. So long did she balance — perfectly still, without upper-body rocking to maintain equilibrium — that after her third suitor had walked away, the fourth didn’t bother to come forward. She simply held the position, and time stood still until the triumphant extension into arabesque that is the end of the dance…..”
From Evening StandardMarch 19, 2008 The Sleeping Beauty Crowning glory: Tamara Rojo as Princess Aurora with Federico Bonelli as her prince
“RE: Royal Ballet, Sleeping Beauty, Spring 2008”
Bruce 27-03-08, 03:16 PM Ballet.co.uk
A near perfect princess
By Sarah Frater, Evening Standard 18.03.08
The Sleeping Beauty is the standard by which we judge classical ballet companies. The reasons are many, but in a nutshell Beauty is one of the biggest and most difficult ballets to stage, and if you can get it right, no one doubts your artistic credentials.
By getting it right I don’t just mean tip-top designs and proper dancing, although these do matter as anyone who has seen a second-rate production will know.
Getting it right also means dancers who reveal not only the ballet’s prettiness but also its paradox. Beauty is a thing of fairytale splendour, the story of a princess who sleeps for 100 years and is awoken by the kiss of a prince.
It has cracking tunes and fab dancing, yet it’s also a reminder that the romantic harmony we want is the thing we don’t have.
You hear it in the music, and see it in the best dancers who phrase the steps with both innocence and longing. Tamara Rojo is undoubtedly one of the best. She was almost perfect as Princess Aurora, both a young girl and an unattainable ideal.
Federico Bonelli’s Prince Florimund was not far behind, although his is a less complex role. Much of the time he only has to walk around looking aristocratic, with a little romantic yearning on the side. Bonelli does this a treat, plus his leaps and spins are pretty faultless.
However, Beauty is the ballerina’s ballet and you can’t peel from Rojo.
Even the excellent Marianela Nunez as the Lilac Fairy and the precise Sarah Lamb in the Bluebird pas de deux couldn’t dim her appeal.
This Sleeping Beauty dates from 2006 when company director Monica Mason commissioned a new production to mark the Royal’s 75th anniversary.
It is based on the 1946 production that Royal Ballet founder Ninette de Valois, Russian big-wig Nicholas Sergeyev, and designer Oliver Messel created.
Together they made a new British tradition from an old Russian one, and this incarnation looks wonderful. Which is just as well, as the economics don’t bear thinking about.
The Sleeping Beauty at Covent Garden
The Royal Ballet’s triumphant 2006 restaging of The Sleeping Beauty – based on its landmark postwar production – is going to be a welcome sight at Covent Garden for years to come. As staged so immaculately by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton (after Ninette de Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev), it’s a gorgeous, rapturously classical spectacle, brimming with the opulence of the French court and sparkling with the magic of fairydust. Who can resist its grand 19th-century Russian traditions filtered so lovingly through the refinements of 20th-century English sensibilities? The designs (Oliver Messel’s 1946 originals with additions from Peter Farmer) are ravishing, albeit the sets more than the costumes.
There are seven casts in total for this revival, although it’s hard to imagine the Royal Ballet dancing it better than on Monday night. Throughout every layer of this ballet – from character artists to Aurora and her Prince – the company danced with a radiant sense of presentation and respect for the choreography (mostly Petipa, but with additions from Ashton, Dowell and Wheeldon).
Aurora’s friends were utterly delightful; the Fairies were models of poise and grace; from the principals it was a lesson in impeccable classical dancing. And the ROH Orchestra supported the whole wondrous affair with fine playing under the baton of guest conductor Valeriy Ovsyanikov, a man who has Tchaikovsky’s greatest ballet score in his blood.
Credit must go to Alexander Agadzhanov, who coached the superb star pairing of Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli at the head of Monday’s cast. As Princess Aurora, Rojo’s composure and command of the stage are complete, her dancing exceptionally creamy and precise, all of it beautifully unhurried and decorated with pleasing musical flourishes. In the Rose Adagio she lingered tantalisingly over the balances (as if enjoying the prospect of each potential suitor) and somehow Ovsyanikov kept the orchestra from coming to a complete halt as Rojo stretched the music to breaking point.
Bonelli, who is noble to the core, is the perfect fairytale Prince. His dancing is as effortlessly strong as it is winningly handsome. And with a heart bursting with love for his Princess, Bonelli’s Florimund gave the Vision scene and Aurora’s awakening a rare human relevance.
As the Lilac Fairy, Marianela Nuñez is the ballet’s good luck charm, and lucky is any Sleeping Beauty that has her in its cast. She shimmered with luminous beneficence, wielding her magic wand with tremendous joy, while showing that with every gracious step she takes she is a princess in her own right.
The moral of a tale of two companies
Sunday March 23, 2008
Royal Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty
Royal Opera House, London WC2
Several New York City Ballet members came to Monday night’s performance of The Sleeping Beauty by the Royal Ballet. The casting was luxurious, with Tamara Rojo and Federico Bonelli as the leads, Marianela Nuñez as the Lilac Fairy, and Sarah Lamb as the Bluebird.
Rojo’s reading of the role of Aurora is at once restrained and spectacular. She is so precisely centred that she seems supported on a current of air, and this gives her pirouettes and her ‘Rose Adagio’ balances an air of pensive rapture. It’s possible to read this as coolness, particularly when contrasted with Nuñez’s radiance, but I think it’s closer to the near-expressionlessness of the dream-state. For Rojo, this is not a role to be ‘acted’, like Giselle or Juliet. Aurora’s realm is an insubstantial one, a collision of sunbeams that can exist only as long as it can be imagined. In place of her character, we are offered a flicker-book of idealised feminine traits. So what Rojo gives us in Beauty is simply herself, transported by dance.