Senior soloist Mia Heathcote is stunning as the Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora). She transfixes the audience with sublime grace in her solo dances and combines with Patricio Reve (Prince Desire) in beautiful pas de deux, particularly in the third Act. Heathcote’s tour de force in this role reminds Queensland Ballet audiences of the magnificent performance of Rachael Walsh as Aurora in the 2009 production of this ballet.
All is joy at the birth to the Queen (Mary Li) of a longed-for baby girl. The King (Ari Thompson) proudly announces that his daughter’s name will be Princess Aurora.
Five fairies (half-sisters to the Queen) are godmothers to the child bringing gifts of Beauty (from the Blue Fairy, Lou Spichtig), Wit (from the Green Fairy, Sophie Zoricic), Grace (from the Orange Fairy, Libby-Rose Niederer), Song (from the the Yellow Fairy, Laura Tosar) and Wisdom (from the awesome Lilac Fairy, Neneka Yoshida).
Then evil enters in the form of Carabosse, the Black Fairy danced with chilling malevolence by Vanessa Morelli. Carabosse casts a spell on Aurora. When the Princess turns 16 she will prick her finger and die.
Everyone is horrified and pleads in vain with Carabosse to take back the evil curse.
Then the Lilac Fairy (Wisdom) uses her magic to change the spell. The Princess will not die, but instead fall into a deep sleep for 100 years. Only the kiss of a handsome prince will break the spell and wake her. This contest between the wicked Carabosse and the wise Lilac Fairy has been at the heart of this ballet’s enduring dramatic force since it was first performed on 15 January, 1890 at the Maryinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. In 1921 the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev brought it to the west through his famous Ballets Russes.
The triumph of the wise Lilac Fairy over the baleful Carabosse is rendered more subtle by the coalition of supporting fairies — Blue, Green, Orange and Yellow. Brisbane-born Sophie Zoricic (the Green Fairy), promoted in 2020 to First Company Artist, dances with the sublime elegance of wit.
The Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor perform the superb music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky with expertise and passion.
The Blue Birds (Chiara Gonzalez and Liam Geck) are a gift from the King and Queen to Princess Aurora and the Prince on their wedding day in Act 3. Arriving in a gilded cage, they come forth to bring a playful nature and technical virtuosity to the wedding celebrations.
This splendid ballet reminds us we all need in our lives a Lilac Fairy to protect us against the deathly Carabosse!
Composer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Lighting design: Jon Buswell
Image: Mia Heathcote as Princess Aurora