Never before has a ballet sent a chill down my spine, but last night’s performance of Sleeping Beauty at the Royal & Derngate definitely gave me the shivers.
To be more specific, the spine chilling moment came when the evil fairy Carabosse entered the stage. Angry at not being invited to Princess Aurora’s christening, Carabosse vindictively puts a curse on the kingdom so that when the baby is 16 she will prick her finger and die.
This curse is quickly revoked by the good Lilac Fairy who weaves her own magic so the princess will not die but will fall asleep for 100 years, only to be awakened by the kiss of a handsome prince.
Of all ballet villains I have witnessed, Kiril Kasatkin as Carabosse is definitely the most frightening. Complete with a false hooked nose, a hunched appearance and sweeping capes covered with mystical symbols, Carabosse made me feel like a child once more reading a scary fairytale by the brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen.
But the sign of a good ballet is the quality of its acting as well as its dance and, with this particularly evil character, the Moscow City Ballet certainly delivered.
I would not say that the acting was at quite this level throughout the company and I did get a bit lost with the story in the second section after the interval, but the dancing and costumes were so exquisite, I think that made up for everything.
Elena Kotelina really shone as the Fairy of Goodness, as did Lilya Orekhova as Princess Aurora and Talgat Kozhabaev as Prince Florimund.
Last but not least I should mention the Moscow City Ballet Orchestra which played beautifully and brought Tchaikovsky’s wonderful score to life.
The company is currently at the Royal & Derngate performing until the weekend, with the Sleeping Beauty run ending tomorrow night and then performances of The Nutcracker taking over from Thursday until Saturday. For more information log on to www.royalandderngate.co.uk