Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty

Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty

We all know the story… there’s a princess, a king and a queen, there are spells, and pricked fingers, there are decades of sleep and then there is a prince. Maybe you read the book as a child or saw the Disney movie.  Perhaps it is the version your grandmother told you as you fell a sleep at night that you know best.  There is the Brothers’ Grimm version Little Briar Rose based off the French version La Belle Au Bois Dormant, which is inspired by the Italian poet Giambattista Basile’s Sole, Luna e Talia.  With all these versions, pieces of the story that we all know well stay the same, but then there are many parts in between that we don’t recall or remember knowing a different version.  Seeing Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty performed by Boston Ballet brings you back through the stories whichever version you know. 

Lia Cirio and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
Lia Cirio and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
What’s in a Story?

Part of the fun of going to a story ballet is decoding the tale that is being mimed-out on stage.  For parts of it,  you know the story already or the pantomime is clear as day.  For other more subtle moments, you might catch a new detail that you never noticed before.  That is part of the magic of these classic stories that are handed down and shared generation after generation.

If you have read my writing about ballet you know how much I value not only the dancing but the experience of live performance.  Going to the ballet is not just sitting down to watch a story be told through dance.  It is an experience that is created in full by the person doing the lighting during the show, the live orchestra, the ballet masters, the set designers, the costume crew and of course the dancers. 

Boston Ballet performs Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty. This version of The Sleeping Beauty was first performed by the Imperial Ballet in 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg Russia.  Seeing it performed as it was performed then (with slightly more improved pointe shoe technology, newer costumes and sets, and slight tweaks to the movement and staging), is like walking into history and a storybook in one. 

Lia Cirio and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
Lia Cirio and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
What was I thinking?

When I go to the ballet I float between different states of mind: being swept up by the story, getting lost in the movement, feeling the music take me away, and my own thoughts.  Kathleen Breen Coombes is such a fabulous Carabosse.  Breen Coombes embodies the classic fairy tale villain.  From the moment she enters the stage (actually even seconds before she even appears on stage) you feel her presence and are sucked into the story of it all.  The same is true for the Lilac Fairy.  Addie Tapp with her never ending extension and gorgeously long legs.  The choreography fit her like a glove and as the performance went on she became impeccable in the role.  I would have loved to see her have more confidence in the opening act, but beyond that Tapp is definitely a rising star.  As the performance continued, the Lilac Fairy gained power and strength as she lead the prince to the castle and closed out the story of Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty

Kathleen Breen Combes and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
Kathleen Breen Combes and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet

Lia Cirio’s Princess Aurora was stunning.  She is an Aurora that is protected by her worried parents, and saved by a prince, yet she still shows her own strength and sass.  Cirio’s Aurora is not a weak little princess that needs to be rescued, even though that is in fact how the story ends.  There is something about her body language and dancing that makes this Aurora feel more modern.

Boston Ballet’s core group of male dancers continues to become stronger and more unified.  Lasha Khozashvili was a strong Prince Desire and was an excellent partner to Lia Cirio.  Most improved over the past few years has been Junxiong Zhao as the Bluebird.

Whenever I go to a performance, I always have moments of distraction.  Why is there so much coughing and throat clearing going on in the row behind me?  What must it feel like to stop out on the stage and have the audience spontaneously start clapping and cheering, when Lia Cirio stepped out as Aurora.  Wow, when Misa Kuranaga stepped onto the stage as Princess Florine, the entire audience fell silent in awe and anticipation. Who is conducting today and will they do well?  Will this be one of those rare flawless performances or will someone have shoe issues (it happens to everyone) or will a prop topple over or break mid battle?  What will the audience think of the performance as a whole?  Will I agree with them?  Will they feel the same way I do?

Ever since Johnathan McPhee’s retirement from the Boston Ballet Orchestra there have been guest conductors.  Last night’s performance had Ming Luke as the guest conductor.  Luke was by far my favourite of the guest conductors and I hope this is just the beginning of his work with Boston Ballet and we will hear his work beyond Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty

Lia Cirio, Lasha Khozashvili, and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa's The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet
Lia Cirio, Lasha Khozashvili, and Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll Photography, courtesy Boston Ballet

Awaken With A Kiss

Boston Ballet only has 5 performances of Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.  On this rainy day, it is a perfect surprise night out for mom before Mother’s Day.  Tickets are still available for this weekend and can be purchased online here or by calling 617-695-6955. You can also treat mom to tickets for Saturday, May 19th and extend her Mother’s Day celebration. 

Leave a Reply