This 2006 performance and recording of the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty has achieved a level of popular success that it could almost be described as having reached cult status. The only issue to decide is whether it deserves this level of popular support. The short answer, in my opinion, is a resounding 'Yes'!
In greater detail therefore:
Having owned several visual productions of note of this ballet I can truthfully say that this has completely replaced all the others with some ease. The staging is traditionally sumptuous with no expense spared on the glorious costumes. The backdrops and general settings are of the same order. The only similar attention to detail and visual beauty that I have seen previously has been by the Kirov ballet. Perhaps the additions to Petipa's original choreography by such luminaries as Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon provide part of the answer.
As regards the dancers themselves - this particular recording has the benefit of many outstanding artists who perfectly fit their roles. In particular Alina Cojocaru and Marianela Nunez make a perfect coupling of Princess Aurora and the Lilac Fairy demonstrating limitless grace and charm. Genesia Rosato's enthusiastic portrayal of her role as Carabosse is a delight and Alastair Marriott clearly has a great time in his somewhat extravagant costume with spectacular feathery hat! Federico Bonelli lends appropriate support as Prince Florimund.
The corps de ballet and numerous supporting fairies, members of the Court and the character dancers are all equally excellent in their roles which are too many to itemise here. Suffice it to say that this is a state of the art production of the Royal Ballet at its very best.
The imaging is crisp with fully involving camera work providing excellent colour rendition without a trace of movement blur. The sound is provided in faithful PCM 5.1 surround and stereo formats. Initially this may seem a little dry but the ear quickly adjusts to the correct acoustics of a packed theatre with masses of soft clothing to soak up reverberation which fortunately has not been added artificially to compensate.
The bonuses are limited to an illustrated synopsis and a cast gallery. There are interesting sleeve notes giving some historical perspective to the development of the ballet from its inception to the present.
It all adds up to an unbeatable combination which fully warrants its lasting popularity. This will be the dream recording for a great number of purchasers and as such can only be rated with any seriousness as a clear 5 star issue.
Have watched this production by the Royal Ballet from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden over and over. Such a good cast and the production, even though a bit of a throw back to an older production, is still a pleasure.
I bought this blu ray quite some time ago. It dazzled me then... didnt think of writing a review because I then thought I would be one of the 20 or more reviewers giving the same comments. Another reviewer here, I Giles, had already written a very fine review that echoes my views totally. At that time, I foolishly attributed my admiration for this production just because it was in blu ray and featured 2 wonderful dancers in Cojocaru and Nunez.
I have come back to reviewing this 18 months later only because I bought a recent release of Sleeping Beauty by Bolshoi featuring Zakharova in the lead and Allash as the Lilac fairy. (I have separately reviewed that one).
This production TOWERS over the much vaunted Bolshoi production I have mentioned in almost every single respect. The only plus point in the Bolshoi is perhaps the quality of precision of the corps de ballet...
If I were to choose between the two, I would choose this one.
This is one of the best classical ballet productions from the Royal Ballet. It is difficult to transfer ballet onto the small screen but this does it admirably. Then to add Alina Cojocaru to the production, one of the finest ballerinas of today, it does not come much better than this. For any lover of ballet, buy this and treasure it.
I cannot fault this, other than to say I would have appreciated a fuller synopsis of the story. This is a minor point, as it is easy to obtain a comprehensive synopsis on line, and in any case one can readily appreciate the action quite easily. The dancing is. as might be expected, superb.