Ballet West will return its "picture-perfect" "Sleeping Beauty," with costumes and set designs by Peter Cazalet, to the Capitol Theatre stage for eight performances, Feb. 15-23.
The company first danced the full-length fairy-tale ballet, with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Petipa, almost exactly five years ago, and in September 1986 this production opened the dance season at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.Individual tickets ranging from $8-$30, or a mini-package including "Sleeping Beauty" and the "Romeo and Juliet" scheduled for April, are now on sale at the ballet ticket office in the theater lobby, 50 W. 200 South, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Performances will be Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16 and Feb. 20-23 at 7:30 p.m., plus Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on Feb. 16 and 23.
Season subscribers may use their tickets imprinted "Lord Byron" for this production without exchanging them at the box office. The premiere of "Byron" has been postponed until fall, when it will be part of a festival preceding the company's appearances at the Kennedy Center in October.
"Sleeping Beauty," with its reflection of courtly splendor, premiered at St. Petersburg's Maryinsky Theater in 1890. It was not seen outside Russia until 1921, when the Diaghilev Ballet Russe presented it at the Alhambra Theater in London with a powerhouse of Russian stars, staged by Nicholas Sergeyev with lavish designs by Leon Bakst. From this production stem all subsequent versions outside Russia.
Sergeyev, formerly regisseur general for the Maryinsky Theater, left Russia in 1917, carrying with him voluminous notes about the Imperial Ballet's classical works. In 1939 Sergeyev staged a more modest "Sleeping Beauty" for the Vic Wells Ballet, which was revived following the war in 1946. For a time, several companies were dancing only the last act of the ballet, known as "Aurora's Wedding."
Artistic director John Hart, who has staged Ballet West's current "Sleeping Beauty," has danced more than 200 performances of the full-length work with the Sadler's Wells Ballet, later the Royal Ballet. When Hart became director of PACT Ballet in South Africa, his first season opened with the Royal Ballet's "Beauty," with Margot Fonteyn, his past partner, as its star. And when Hart came to Ballet West, "Sleeping Beauty" staged by Denise Schultze and Louis Godfrey was planned for the 1985-86 season.
Longtime subscribers will remember this "Sleeping Beauty" as perhaps the most lavish and beautiful spectacle ever for Ballet West, with costumes and sets by Peter Cazalet, who also designed the company's "Swan Lake."
The elaborate production utilizes more than 300 costumes, constructed by former company costumer David Heuvel and his staff - a dazzling array of nets, laces, satins and brocades, trimmed in gold and silver braid, lace and intricate beading. It was the third "Sleeping Beauty" for Cazalet, who aimed at a classical French Baroque effect.
"Sleeping Beauty" is based on the famous Perrault fairy tale about the princess cursed by an evil fairy to sleep for 100 years, until she is awakened by the kiss of a prince brave enough to deliver her from her overgrown castle.
Charles Perrault retired from the intrigue of the court surrounding Louis XIV (the Sun King) to write and enjoy his children. And this illustrious member of the French Academy is best remembered not for his scholarly tomes but for the folklore fairy tales he heard the children telling and set down in sprightly prose - "Cinderella," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Bluebeard," "Puss in Boots," "The Tales of Mother Goose" and "The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood."
Indeed, most of these stories have formed the bases of ballet, operas and other works of art. "Puss in Boots" and "Little Red Riding Hood" are to be found among the variations at Aurora's wedding in the present work.
- THE BALLET GUILD invites your attendance at a free "Sleeping Beauty" symposium, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, beginning at 6:15 p.m. in the Capitol Theater lobby. John Hart and members of Ballet West's artistic staff will discuss the production, the audience may watch the prologue and Act I dress rehearsal, and refreshments will be served. - Dorothy Stowe