The Sleeping Beauty | Pëtr Il'ič Čajkovskij
In 1890, the story of The Sleeping Beauty emerged from the illustrated pages of fairy tale books to appear on the stage of the Mariinskij Theatre in St Petersburg and has since become one of the most popular romantic ballets of all time. The credit for this prodigious transformation should go to Tchaikovsky, who composed, with an ease somewhat unusual for him, a series of enchanting dances, such as the waltz that opens Act I and the famous Rose Adage.
The story of Princess Aurora, who falls into a deep, hundred-year long sleep only to be wakened by her true love, tells of the eternal struggle between good and evil through the clash between the Lilac Fairy and the wicked Carabosse.
It was precisely this character who most fascinated the choreographer Márcia Haydée, prompting her to re-read the fairy tale through different eyes. After dancing in The Sleeping Beauty dozens of times during her career as a ballerina, the Brazilian artist chose this ballet as her debut as a choreographer in 1987: since then, her work has been performed continuously by leading dance companies. In 2021 the work entered the repertoire of the Prague National Theatre Ballet which successfully performed it on its tours after preparing it under the supervision of its creator.
Czech National Ballet
Artistic director: Filip Barankiewicz
Lecture: Wednesday 6 December at 6 pm - Piccolo Regio Puccini
Ballet in three acts
based on the fairy tale La belle au bois dormant by Charles Perrault
It is the day of Princess Aurora's sixteenth birthday. Celebrations are underway, though the King is still unsettled by Carabosse's omen. The master of ceremonies discovers several peasant ladies frolicking about with knitting needles and alerts the King, who initially sentences the women to a harsh punishment. The Queen gently persuades him to spare the innocent citizens, and he agrees. An elaborate waltz is performed and Princess Aurora arrives. She is introduced to four suitors by her doting parents. Aurora and the suitors perform the famous Rose Adagio. Presently, a cloaked stranger appears and offers a gift to the princess: a spindle. Having never seen one before, Aurora curiously examines the strange object as her parents desperately try to intervene. As predicted, she pricks her finger. While initially appearing to recover quickly, she falls into a swoon and collapses. The cloaked stranger reveals herself to be Carabosse, who believes that her curse still stands and that the princess is dead. Once again, the Lilac Fairy quells the hubbub and reminds the King and Queen that Aurora is merely asleep. The princess is carried off to bed, and the Lilac Fairy casts a spell of slumber over the entire kingdom, which will only be broken when Aurora awakens. A thick layer of thorny plants grows over the palace, hiding it from view.
One hundred years later, Prince Désiré is attending a hunting party. Though his companions are lighthearted, the prince is unhappy and eventually asks to be left alone. On his own in the forest, he is met by the Lilac Fairy, who has chosen him to awaken Aurora. She shows him a vision of the beautiful princess, and the prince is immediately smitten. The Lilac Fairy explains the situation, and Désiré begs to be taken to the princess. The Lilac Fairy takes him to the hidden castle. Carabosse makes one last attempt to cement her vengeful curse, but the Lilac Fairy and the prince manage to defeat her together at last.
Once inside the castle, Désiré awakens Aurora with a kiss. The rest of the court wakes as well, and the King and Queen heartily approve when the prince proposes marriage and the princess accepts.
The royal wedding is under way. Guests include the Jewel Fairies: Diamond, Gold, Silver and Sapphire, and of course the Lilac Fairy. Fairytale characters are in attendance, including Puss in Boots and The White Cat, Princess Florine and the Bluebird, and others. Aurora and Désiré perform a grand Pas de Deux, and the entire ensemble dances. The prince and princess are married, with the Lilac Fairy blessing the union.