Sleeping Beauty

The Sleeping Beauty is one of the classical repertoire’s most famous ballets. It was composed by Peter Tchaikovsky and was regarded as his finest ballet scores.

The first performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890. The choreographer was Marius Petipa and is one of his most popular ballets to this day. The interesting thing about this ballet is that many scenes resemble the court ballets in Louis the XIV’s time. This includes the patterns of the corps de ballet, the intricate solos and pas de deux work. Carlotta Brianza became the first Sleeping Beauty. After this performance it was clear to audience members that this production was a masterpiece.

Publicity shot of the original cast of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, The Sleeping Beauty, St Petersburg: Mariinsky Theater, 1890. Carlotta Brianza starred as Aurora.

The Story is based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois Dormant. The plot is rather thin. However the complete ballet is four hours long including intermission. It is almost always cut. Petipa did an amazing job of truly bringing this story to life through movement.

The story begins with a celebration of the birth of Princess Aurora. A wicked fairy, who is upset because she was not invited to the party, places a curse on the Princess. She says that she will prick her finger on her 16th birthday and die. But the Lilac Fairy is able to change the curse so that the Princess will not die but will sleep for 100 years and then awakens when kissed by a prince. The whole kingdom will also sleep with Aurora and awake when she does. On the Princess’s 16 birthday Aurora does prick her finger despite the King trying to rid the Kingdom of all spindles. One is still given to the Princess as a present. Everyone falls asleep to be awaken 100 years later when a Prince finds the Kingdom, sees the beautiful Princess and awakens her with a kiss.