Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
To open its third and final week at the Kennedy Center Opera House Tuesday night, the Stuggart Ballet unveiled its ambitious new production of "The Sleeping Beauty," premiered in its home city just last month. Tuesday night's performance thus represented the American premiere of the production, staged by Rosella Hightower after Bronislava Nijinska's earlier version and the traditional choerography of Marius Petipa.
The Stuttgart ballet is known for its excellence in "story ballets," and "Sleeping Beauty" is the model story ballet of the classical tradition. Nevertheless, the chemistry was not quite right Tuesday night, and although it is too early to appraise the staging on the basis of a single, not particularly propitious execution, it is clear there are problems.
To begin with, there's the basic question of whether the company, numbering about 60, really has the strength in ranks equal to the demands of a ballet that taxes the dancing resources of even the largest, most capable international troupes. There is no doubt of the Stuttgart's ability oto perform "Sleeping Beauty" in competent fashion, but that isn't the same as doing justice to the majestic and elation of the ballet, and its magnificient Tchaikovsky score.
Tuesday night's evidence wasn't immensely encouraging. In Vladimir Klos, the performance had a Florimund of impressively noble demeanor and line, in not quite the heroic brilliance one might wish. As Aurora, however, Birgit Keil left quite a bit to be desired. As she's demonstrated on numerous occasions, she can be an inspired, intense dancer, in the Cranko repertoire and other modern hallets.
A few individual contributions stood out - most notably Eileen Brady's crisp, precise Primrose Fairy, and Richard Cragun's Bluebird, uneven but exciting. Otherwise, no one seemed really on top of their roles, technically or stylistically. Melinda Witham's Lilac Fairy was neat enough, but pallid, and lesser parts were, at best, respectably dispatched.