Friday, 22 August 2008
Prom 46: A wide-awake beauty
Prom 46’s Sleeping Beauty with the LSO and Gerghiev was a pure feat of theatre. By the end of Act 3, caught up in the tale, my ‘suspension of disbelief’ was absolute.
No smoochie soft-centres or artificial sweeteners where you least expect it. Gerghiev informed it with ‘Russian’ emotionality; occasionally like a grand gesture that almost slapped you across the face. And so tight! The performance was superbly controlled, always with an undercurrent of the darkly threatening which lifted only in Act 3. Shakespeare would have understood that. It was a ‘Winter’s Tale’.
Gerghiev led us through his theatrical reading as a dance of air and light. Even the ‘wicked’ witch Carabosse was no ugly hag; she hovered, light and lethal in the Finale of the first part of Act 1, and our Aurora was sometimes bird, sometimes butterfly. The LSO read his energy and his gestures with exact interpretative ability.
Act 3 (performed complete for the first time at the Proms) was an extended Hollywood happy ending, an essential release, well deserved after the darkness of the foregoing acts. And the evocation of the fairy-tale characters (not just the splendid cat, but Red Riding Hood faced with the Wolf) absolutely true to Perrault.
We do need to indulge once in a while in escapism, joy and laughter, never forgetting that this Master of Ceremonies is Russian to the soul by concluding this three hours of escapism with a hymn to darkness and majesty.
I will carry away with me a sense of operatic, grand, display of Russian sentiment tempered by a cool, accurate, restrained intellect, almost metaphysical.
RAH Live Prom 46: Tchaikovsky: Sleeping Beauty; LSO/Gerghiev