Producers' Showcase: Season 2, Episode 4

The Sleeping Beauty (14 Dec. 1955)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Musical | Comedy
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Tchaikovsky's ballet, with Margot Fonteyn in the title role, presented on TV in color. Only a black-and-white kinescope of this production seems to survive.

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
...
Himself - Host
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Frederick Ashton ...
Philip Chatfield
Pauline Clayden
Leslie Edwards ...
King
...
Princess Aurora
Beryl Grey ...
Rowena Jackson ...
Dennis Kohler
Gerd Larsen ...
Queen
Rosemary Lindsay
Jada Rowland ...
Child
Sadler's Wells Ballet ...
Themselves
Brian Shaw ...
Michael Somes ...
Prince Charming (as Michael Soames)
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Storyline

Tchaikovsky's ballet, with Margot Fonteyn in the title role, presented on TV in color. Only a black-and-white kinescope of this production seems to survive.

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ballet | See All (1) »


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14 December 1955 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first color television presentation of a ballet. See more »

Connections

Version of Cinderfella (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not the most beautiful production of Sleeping Beauty but a treasure, a must for Margot Fonteyn fans
16 November 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

There were many reasons to see this production in the first place, Margot Fonteyn who is/was one of the greatest ballerinas of all time(a contender for the most unique too, the curved hand at the top of the head when Aurora is introduced was not done before and has been a touch that has been used a lot ever since); Frederick Aston who was one of the better choreographers of his day; and the ballet itself, while my least favourite of Tchaikovsky's three ballets- which is actually saying very little at all- it is still among the best of the ballet medium and I do have an immense soft spot for it.

And this is still a performance to treasure, but unfortunately it was deserving of a much better DVD. The picture quality is blurry too often and the sound could have had much more clarity. The black and white is quite nice and some of the shots let us enjoy the choreography and have intimacy with what's going on(the trick photography for when the Lilac fairy leads the Prince to the castle didn't work out as well as it could have done though), but for such a colourful ballet and story complete with magical music it was crying out for colour. The production values do look great though with sets that are opulent and atmospheric and generally wonderful costumes(Aurora's wide crown and the Prince's suede boots excepted). Particularly good were the authentically furry masks used for the cats in the Puss in Boots number and those for the court. The TV effects are okay particularly for the time, though those in the Vision scene are on the hokey side.

Musically it still has its magic. There are too many positive adjectives to sum up Tchaikovsky's score, and while the sound is not great even that can't hinder the impact the music has. The orchestral playing is playful, powerful, stylish, nuanced and beautiful, pretty much exactly how the music should be played. The conducting is accommodating and efficient. Ashton's choreography doesn't disappoint, with the Rose Adagio still dazzling in how graceful it is, it is throughout very musical and elegant without trying to do anything too complicated. And the dancing adds to that, apart from some occasional untidiness in the Corps-De-Ballet. The fairytale divertissements are delightful. Beryl Grey is charming as the Lilac Fairy and dances with such control and poise, and Ashton himself is deliciously wicked and sometimes funny as Carabosse.

In the role of the Prince, Michael Sommes is not in the same league as Rudolf Nureyev(whose partnership with Fonteyn is the most iconic of all ballet partnerships), but that is not to be expected, he is still expressive and has a lot of power in his dancing. Best of all is Fonteyn, her acting is remarkably youthful and warm(after having other signature roles like Odette where the opposite is required) and she is faultless technically. Ballerinas who make the Rose Adagio look easy, when it actually is one of the most difficult scenes in the whole of Sleeping Beauty, should be envied. All in all, a treasure especially for Fonteyn, it's just a shame that the DVD doesn't do it justice. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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