Music – Peter Tchaikovsky
The Sleeping Beauty ballet is an ingenious fusion of Charles Perrault’s fairy tales. Its two enchantress characters, the Lilac Fairy and Fairy Carabosse, represent the perpetual conflict between good and evil, while beauty arising from slumber symbolizes the power and glory of love. The fantastical scenes and magical transformations make the performance truly impressive and full of poetry.
P. I. Tchaikovsky was inspired by this tale to such an extent that as he worked on the score, the music came streaming from under his pen as if on its own. The Sleeping Beauty has preserved its original choreography nearly unchanged. The premier production was choreographed by the legendary Marius Petipa. Although since then choreographers from various countries, cities and regions worldwide have added to it their personal touch, partially changing the overall pattern or individual moves, Petipa’s signature style remains recognizable in each new production. Today The Sleeping Beauty is an example of classical dance.
In his palace, King Florestan XIV is celebrating the birth of his baby daughter, Princess Aurora. Catalabutte, the master of ceremonies, is checking if all the guests on the invitation list are present. Together with the courtiers and guests, The Lilac Fairy and the Good Fairies arrive to congratulate the King’s family. The fairies present their gifts and endow the baby girl with the fairest personal attributes. Suddenly a rattling noise is heard: the carriage of the powerful wicked Fairy Carabosse, accompanied by her abominable retinue, storms in. Catalabutte forgot to include her on the invitation list. Infuriated, Carabosse predicts that Aurora will die young from a prick on a knitting spindle. But the Lilac Fairy manages to counter the dreary curse. She foretells that the evil spell will be overpowered by virtue and goodness. With an authoritative gesture, she orders Carabosse out.
Celebrations of Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday are under way. Four princes have arrived from oversees to seek her hand in marriage. In the midst of the festivities, Aurora notices an old woman standing at her side with a knitting spindle. The princess credulously takes the spindle from the old woman’s hands, holding it as she continues to dance. Suddenly she stops dancing and stairs in horror at her hand. She has accidentally pricked it on the spindle. A wave of deadly chill numbs her and she collapses. The old woman throws off her cloak to reveal herself as Fairy Carabosse. The curse has been fulfilled. Twirling round diabolically and roaring with laughter, Carabosse disappears. But the Lilac Fairy comes to modify the deadly curse: Aurora does not die but falls asleep, to awaken from a tender kiss of a handsome prince. With a spell, the Lilac Fairy submerges the entire kingdom in sleep, too.
Prince Désiré and his courtiers are enjoying their leisure in the royal park. Gradually the prince becomes melancholic. Like a response to his call for an undiscovered dream, the Lilac Fairy appears before him. She summons a vision of Prince Aurora, which appears surrounded by divine creatures, the Nereids. The prince is enchanted and is about to chase the alluring image when the fairy signals the visions to vanish. Désiré implores to find the beautiful princess, and the fairy invites him to follow her to the bewitched palace.
The sleeping kingdom looks gloomy and abandoned, with the wicked Carabosse on its guide. The Lilac Fairy is swiftly approaching the palace in company with Prince Désiré. The evil enchantress tries to hide Aurora, but the prince manages to sight her. Enthralled, he tenderly kisses the sleeping beauty and the spell gives way. Carabosse vanishes. As Princess Aurora awakens, the entire kingdom emerges from sleep. Once the princess sets her eyes on her savior, she feels love burgeoning in her heart. Désiré pleads with the King and Queen for permission to marry their daughter.
Fairy tale characters have arrived at the wedding feast of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré, including Princess Florine and the Bluebird, the White Pussycat and Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Cinderella and Prince Fortune. The harmonious and solemn duet of the bride and groom make their appearance. The Lilac Fairy and her attendants give them their blessings.
The spell is conjured away and peace and goodness prevail.