After the original opening night was cancelled in the immediate wake of Melbourne’s sudden lockdown, The Sleeping Beauty has awakened, and Victorian Opera’s long-awaited 2021 season has finally begun. And what better way to begin than with this 80-minute (so no germy interval crush required) operatic gem about a community that faces catastrophe, hibernates, then emerges in happier times.

It strikes a chord now, just as it must have done when Ottorino Respighi composed La bella dormente nel bosco while Italy recovered not only from World War I but also the Spanish flu pandemic. Adapted from the timeless fairytale, it was created for the Teatro dei Piccoli marionette company, which presented the premiere in Rome in 1922.

The cast of The Sleeping Beauty. Photograph © Jeff Busby

After its enthusiastically received 2017 debut, Victorian Opera’s The Sleeping Beauty returns with the same medley of fascinating puppets created by Joe Blanck of A Blanck Canvas.

Evoking the whimsy and slight eeriness of fairytales, they are a mixed bunch, from dainty birds flitting about on flexible rods to an amazing, larger-than-life spider conjured by a stilted...