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Sleeping Beauty awakes

by Suzanne Yanko

A royal palace, magical fairy tale gardens and an opulent Louis XIV masked ball. These can only mean one thing: the world’s most extravagant ballet – The Sleeping Beauty, in a new production by The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister. The ballet is enjoying its world premiere season in Melbourne this month before touring to Perth from 7-10 October and Sydney from 27 November-16 December.

Classic Melbourne thanks The Australian Ballet for a glimpse of what to expect when the State Theatre curtains part …

Keeping true to the spirit of the traditional Beauty, McAllister will direct a production that gives thrilling rein to the talents of the entire company. Lavish sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova will evoke the splendour of the Imperial court and the glittering otherworldliness of fairies and woodland nymphs.

For McAllister this production is a crowning moment following an 18-year dance career with the company and 14 years as its Artistic Director.

“Our new production of The Sleeping Beauty will be a classical retelling, based on Marius Petipa’s ballet, but shaped to reflect the concerns and responsibilities of a modern-day monarchy,” said McAllister.

“To reveal a deeper, more meaningful story, the ballet will showcase the drama and double-cross of twists and turns, of characters we can relate to, of the sense of triumph that resonates when the human spirit prevails. Aurora is strong and independent and aware of her responsibilities as princess and future monarch. She connects with her prince and their hearts are united, their future destiny entwined with love’s first kiss.

“The choreography will reflect the glory of the art form and majesty of the music. The design, in keeping with the story’s opulent court setting, will be in the style of the French Louis XIV period.”

Audiences the world over have marvelled at the inspired creative artistry of renowned set and costume designer Gabriela Tylesova. Following international acclaim, a long list of awards and a highly successful collaboration with The Australian Ballet in 2006 on the sets and costumes for Scheherazade, Tylesova now brings her magic touch to The Sleeping Beauty.

Tylesova says, “I am thrilled to be working with David creating the grand theatrical versions of the Royal Palace, with its gardens dramatically transformed, and the masked ball inspired by Louis XIV’s court. There will be hundreds of costumes: bejewelled, enchanting tutus; ornate robes; layered period dresses; sparkling headdresses; wings, and more. This is the world of fairies, woodland nymphs, the royal court and various fantastical characters from the famous Grimm fairytales.”

Changing the face of ballet in the 19th century, Tchaikovsky’s orchestration and use of new and unorthodox instrumental combinations for The Sleeping Beauty has continued to inspire the greatest ballet composers of our time, according to Nicolette Fraillon, Chief Conductor and Musical Director of The Australian Ballet.

Tchaikovsky was so inspired to compose the score that he completed this great work in just 40 days. Collaborating with principal choreographer Marius Petipa, Tchaikovsky wanted his score to mirror the dramatic growth and development of each character to ensure their journeys could be heard as much as seen on stage.

“While many see the story as a fairytale of good versus evil, Tchaikovsky’s score is as much a psychological study of human nature as it is a philosophical one. It’s about the choices we make on our quest to attain something beyond our immediate reach, and how our view of responsibility changes with maturity,” said Fraillon.

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the great classical works and Petipa’s choreography is a pure celebration of the classical art form. With its many commanding soloist roles and exceptional ensemble dances for the corps de ballet, this timeless work is the perfect showcase for the full company.

Information about The Australian Ballet’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty was provided to Classic Melbourne by the company.

The image of Kevin Jackson and Amber Scott is by Kate Longley. 

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