Angelina Atlagić: It sometimes seems as though we are living in a dream
"When Nacho Duato asked me to work with him on The Sleeping Beauty, I first began to question the meaning of this fairy tale. And I immediately found several answers. It is a story about awakening, about growing up, about the fact that it sometimes seems as though we are living in a dream. It shows that we have to fight for our happiness, and that being a princess does not mean being happy.
I remember when I first read the story of Princess Aurora. I took a book of fairytales out of the school library, but... there were no pictures in it. So I had to think them up myself, to imagine what the fairytale characters looked like. I have based my design for the ballet on the image that I formed in my mind at that time. Childhood memories, impressions, hopes, dreams — it was important for me to try to recreate the fairytale world that lives in every child’s imagination.
My work draws on styles from the baroque and rococo periods. I am inspired by the 17th and 18th centuries. It also seemed to me a good idea to use the decorative features of the Mikhailovsky Theatre itself: the ornamental mouldings, the embroidery on the curtain, the abundance of gilding and crystal. I want to echo all of that in the scenery, to create the impression that the stage is a continuation of the auditorium. I think it will help the audience to feel part of the fairytale.
The costumes will be in a different style in each act. In the prologue, which I render in shades of beige, they will be in a ‘sculptural’ style, with lots of embroidery and adornments. Nacho Duato compares these costumes to moving sculptures. The fabulous world of fairies provides the backdrop to the scene of the princess’ coming of age. The costumes will be reminiscent of shapes from nature: the characters will resemble birds, butterflies, and flowers. The basic palette will be formed of yellow and rose-pink colours — rich, vivid and cheerful. If you were to compare the scenes in the ballet to the seasons, this would be spring. After that, the style will change to be more like the austere classicism of the 19th century and the colours will be more subdued, autumnal. In Act 3 we will be back in the fairytale castle, with gold and pearls everywhere, as though it were a ceremonial occasion at the court of Louis XIV.
The Sleeping Beauty is by no means just a story for children. Nacho Duato, as far as I am aware, does not want direct, unambiguous expressions. He wants every member of the audience to understand and feel something personal; it is as though he is trying to appeal to their subconscious. I think adults need fairytales nowadays. They help us to go back to something important and precious — to the child within us, if you like.