Dance Delight: Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House
What does one do with an unexpected day off? Mooch about town? Grab a coffee somewhere? Watch an entire series of Gossip Girl in a day? WELL luckily for me when that rare and evasive mistress named ‘Day Off’ called my name on Wednesday, I managed to blag a cheeky freebie to attend the schools matinée of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at the Royal Opera House.
I’d never been to the ROH before, and now I have been I am aching to go back. It’s a theatre at its most absolute lushest. Red velvet everywhere, curtains that actually swing up as they part and raise, costumes on display everywhere for ones eyes to gaze at and huge paintings tower above you as you pad up and down the stairs.
Of course, being a schools matinée, I was also surrounded by one bazillion small children in high-vis jackets excitedly clutching at fruit pastilles and programmes which I gather isn’t usually part of the ROH experience. However, to see their excitement and delight was just infectious. The ROH do six schools matinées per season, offering schools and colleges a chance to see some world-class ballet performances at just £7.50 per ticket, with free programmes and even some stylish BADGES to take away. Anything that allows kids who wouldn’t usually have access to these arts is an absolute winner by me.
As the kids settled into their seats, there was an audible buzz in the auditorium, and to hear their reactions to the ballet was just gorgeous. As the conductor came on there were whoops and cheers worthy of a rock concert and as the curtain raised and each different set was brought into view all you could hear were gasps of amazement. The ballet itself was charming, very classical in style which is something I rarely see, but to see it through the eyes of the kids was so blooming cool. It’s actually very long, about three hours in total (SPOILER ALERT: I mean the Prince kisses the Beauty and wakes her from her spindle-induced slumber in Act 3, then there’s a WHOLE other forty minutes of Act 4, which is just like a Grimm Tales edition of OK Magazine as different characters appear for the wedding. Also, in a slightly confusing turn of events, Red Riding Hood turns up at the wedding on the arm of the Wolf. PRETTY SURE she licked her lips, one eyelid flickered and she whipped a pistol from her knickers but hey, whevs.) and I suspected that nearing the end there would be noise as the kids got a little restless, but this wasn’t the case at all. Captured by what they were seeing in front of them, the spell lasted right until the curtain finally fell, and the rock star whooping and standing ovation lasted all through the pomp and ceremony of the never-ending Ballet Bows.
One other thing that rocked my world at this performance was the exhibition showcasing some of the shortlisted entries for the Royal Opera House Design Challenge. This scheme allows college students to submit entries of their own designs for ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in set design, costume, marketing, digital learning resources, and make-up/wigs. If they are shortlisted, the work is displayed at the ROH and students receive feedback from senior production staff. If they win, they’re then given the opportunity to spend time in their chosen department at the ROH, gaining invaluable training and networking experiences. And I was absolutely blown away by some of the incredible talent on show. Check these out:
All in all my first Royal Opera House experience was just a sheer delight, and I’m now utterly desperate to go back to see some bitching opera. Hooray hooray and a huge hoorah to those arts establishments creating opportunities for young people to experience the arts first hand- what with the way the current curriculum is going, these opportunities are now more essential than ever. GET KIDS INTO THE ARTS! BECAUSE THE ARTS ARE COOOOOOL!
‘Sleeping Beauty’ runs at the Royal Opera House until April 9th.
For tickets and more info visit their website here and follow them on twitter at @RoyalOperaHouse.
Royal Opera House
Tel: 020 7304 4000