Latest Review – The Sleeping Beauty (Birmingham Royal Ballet) [The Lowry, Salford]

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY (Birmingham Royal Ballet)

The Lowry, Salford Quays

Until Saturday 9 March 2024

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Sir Peter Wright’s enchanting staging of The Sleeping Beauty, one of the most celebrated productions in the Birmingham Royal Ballet repertoire, now returns to the UK stage after an absence of six years to mark the classic production’s 40th anniversary year, and it is a revival that remains as rich and sumptuous as ever.

Taking its queue from Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s influential original choreography, Wright’s production epitomises the opulence and grandeur of Nineteenth Century classical ballet at its Imperial best, and is further enhanced by Philip Prowse’s glorious set and costume designs, both key to its enduring success.

One of Tchaikovsky’s longest works, The Sleeping Beauty contains some of the composer’s most irresistibly glorious music, composed with such emotion and delicacy, and majestically performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, under the baton of conductor Paul Murphy. Those familiar with Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) will of course be familiar with much of the music already as composer George Bruns used portions of Tchaikovsky’s ballet score as the basis for many of the songs and score featured in the film.

Long-time principal Momoko Hirata, now in her eleventh season with Birmingham Royal Ballet, takes on the role of Princess Aurora, one of the more technically demanding of all classical ballerina roles, and gives us yet another magnificent performance, reprising the role she performed during the last tour six years ago. Hirata is, simply put, a sublime dancer, flitting about the stage with such lightness and performing the most challenging routines with effortless ease and grace.

We have to wait quite a while before we see the arrival of Prince Florimund – over half the ballet in fact – but recently promoted principal Max Maslen certainly makes the most of the role with a strong and commanding perfomance. His performance is more tender than outwardly muscular, though Maslen dances with great confidence and assurance, and his Act III Pas de Deux with Hirata – complete with three superb fish dives – is beautifully executed.


Gabriel Anderson as Fairy Carabosse in Birmingham Royal Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty © Tristram Kenton

Elsewhere, Daria Stanciulescu does great work as the dark fairy Carabosse – a character that would later evolve into the evil Maleficent in the Walt Disney classic – but it’s a character that is sadly underused, and her ultimate demise seems rushed and underwhelming.

The ballet’s third act (technically fourth overall with the prologue) has always felt rather drawn out with its numerous showcases for the various fairytale characters attending the wedding of Aurora and the Prince, though the performances here are of such a high standard that you can forgive the extended duration.

Wright’s lavish staging – said to be as true to the original as it is possible to be – retains that timeless and seemingly ageless quality, and it is fascinating to see new artists inject fresh energy into this now seminal production.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 40th anniversary tour may only run to the end of April but it surely won’t be too long before we see it back on UK stages once again. Five years, perhaps?


Running Time: 2 hours and 50 minutes (approx.), including two 15-minute intervals.

Final Performance at The Lowry, Salford Quays: Saturday 9 March 2024

For more information, and to book tickets, please CLICK HERE.


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