Everyone is so familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty, with thanks to the Disney version. The ballet version is based on the tale from The brothers Grimm, and has slight differences.
The music was written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and first performed in 1890, originally called ‘The Sleeping princess’. King Florestan and the QUEEN are celebrating the christening of their daughter PRINCESS AURORA. Among the guests are 6 magical fairies (the names of the fairies change from production to production) with the most important one being the LILAC FAIRY. They each give a gift, but as the Lilac fairy goes to give hers, the evil fairy CARABOSSE arrives, angry at not being invited. The King blames his Master of ceremonies, who Carabosse beats with her stick before placing a curse on the baby, on her 16th birthday, she will prick her finger on a spindle and die! The lilac fairy intervenes, and although unable to undo the curse, she is able to alter it, so that the Princess falls into a sleep for 100 years to be woken by a kiss from a prince. Everyone is out at ease and the festivities continue.
Aurora’s birthday arrives and there’s lots of dancing and potential suitors for her to meet! A cloaked stranger offers her a gift, a spindle, and as she has never seen one, she’s curious and takes a closer look. She pricks her finger and falls to the floor. Carabosse reveals herself from under the cape and is satisfied she is dead. The Princess is carried off to bed and the Lilac fairy goes about putting a spell over the castle and it’s people to also put them in a deep sleep, only to awake when the Princess does.
Fast forward 100 years and we meet PRINCE DÉSIRÈ out in a hunting trip. The Lilac fairy appears to him, having chosen him to awake Aurora, and takes him to the castle. Carabosse has one last attempt at stopping them, but fails. The prince finds Aurora, kisses her and she wakes, as do the rest of the people. The King and Queen are ecstatic with the Prince, and he proposes to Aurora, which she accepts.
The final act is the wedding. The Lilac fairy, along with the other fairies and some recognisable guests from other fairy tales are in attendance. The prince and princess are wed with the Lilac fairy blessing the union. Then all the guests gather and create a tableau to end the ballet.
Did you know that Walt Disney actually bought some of the rights to the music from Sleeping Beauty, which is why some of it appears in the film. Some people claim that fact inhibits some productions of the ballet due to copyright laws.
Sleeping Beauty was always my favourite story growing up. I think it’s that love can overcome evil. I have yet to see this in production, but it’s down on my list!