Following the premiere of Swan Lake ballet, Burgasians had a chance and the pleasure to enjoy the second of Tchaikovsky’s trilogy of ballets, The Sleeping Beauty, a gem of the world classic ballet heritage!
Burgas Opera House showcased Marius Petipa’s choreography rendered by Hikmet Mehmedov. It was a commendable initiative of Hikmet Mehmedov, a choreographer and Director of Burgas Ballet, to stage in the coastal city classical ballet masterpieces, and brilliantly performed by visiting soloists of Sofia Opera and Ballet too.
It is an established fact that after the 1877 premiere of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s first score for ballet, was poorly received in Moscow, the composer was reluctant to write ballet music for a long time. Nothing prompted him to make another attempt until Ivan Vsevolozhsky, the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg, informed him in a letter that he was planning to write a libretto based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant, ‘allowing the musical fantasy to run high and melodies to be written in the spirit of Lully, Bach, Rameau, and such like. In the last act there needs to be a quadrille made from all of Perrault’s fairy-stories – Puss in Boots, Tom Thumb, Cinderella, Bluebeard, and so on.’.
Tchaikovsky was enthusiastic about the idea and resumed his work on ballet themes. Vsevolozhsky co-wrote the libretto of The Sleeping Beauty with Petipa and Petipa and Tchaikovsky together specified the requirements for the music. Tchaikovsky finished the score in winter 1889 and the orchestration, in August next year.
The Sleeping Beauty choreographed by Marius Petipa had its premiere in 1980, at the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The Sleeping Beauty has ever since then been frequently performed by big ballet companies and their bills always feature the name of Marius Petipa as choreographer, regardless of the minor changes in his score.
Burgas rendition follows almost strictly Petipa’s choreographic score with minor abridgements and redactions though. For example, the emblematic of the ballet and hugely popular Garland Dance (Act I) has been jettisoned for unknown reasons, but that is what director Hikmet Mehmedov has opted for. The moment when the Lilac Fairy meets Prince Désiré, who dances with the ‘imaginary’ Princes, is also a tad too vague. Perhaps more emphases should be sought in the scenography, light designing and directorial solution so that to visualise what is going on in this scene, because it is essential to the storyline, i.e. the Lilac Fairy visits Prince Désiré to conjure up a vision of the sleeping Aurora in Act I and he sets out to meet Aurora in the flesh onboard the Fairy’s boat made of mother-of-pearl.
The sets by Ivan Tokadjiev create a fairytale ambience of a palace, where characters feel like in the days of the Sun King (what Vsevolozhsky’s intention was). It should be noticed that all the costumes by designer Tsvetanka Petkova-Stoinova have been made exclusively for the production: beautiful, offering maximum comfort and exquisite in form, they undoubtedly contribute to the building of the characters, ensuring that perfumers feel at ease and confident.
Princess Aurora is fascinatingly innocent, resplendent and graceful in Vesa Tonova’s interpretation, who is always is in great shape, standing out for impeccable technique.
Emil Yordanov as Prince Désiré is a lovesick young man looking for an undiscovered love. Stage partners for years now, the two visiting dancers have made an admirable team with precise technique, unfailingly winning Burgas audiences’ applause.
Of the fairies, Adriana-Maria Manasieva as the Brave Fairy was the best. Very good was also Yana Ovcharova’s (a graduate of the National School of Music and Stage Arts, Burgas) performance as the fairy of vitality. Iva Ovcharova as the Little Red Riding Hood, delicate and playful (also a graduate of the National School of Music and Stage Arts, Burgas), was a nice surprise with her charming performance.
Prima ballerina Galina Kalcheva, an accomplished ballerina with magnificent skills, interprets the role of the Lilac Fairy with great charm and majestic presence.
Daniel Tichkov impresses with a brilliant delivery of the character of the Bluebird, with his confidence and stability in the leaps, his plasticity and very good stage presence. Unfortunately, the dark colour of his costume’s lower part made it impossible for the audience to follow the performer’s technique and his otherwise brilliant leaps. Besides, it was a strange solution by the costume designer to strip away the bird’s wings, unlike all the rest redactions. In my opinion, it hinders the flight, wittingly sought by both Petipa’s choreography and the original costume solution from St Petersburg.
The production delights spectators with its happy end and fine choreography: a symphony of dances of Perrault’s fairytale characters; a joyful experience for Burgas audiences.
 Gasaev, Lubomir. The Ballet Book, Sofia. Bratia Sagaevi, 2006, p. 365