FIRST PERFORMED ON 15 JANUARY 1890, AT THE MARIINSKY THEATRE IN ST. PETERBURG
The Sleeping Beauty (Russian: Спящая красавица / Spyashaya krasavitsa) is a ballet in a prologue and three acts, first performed in 1890. The music was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (his opus 66). The score was completed in 1889, and is the second of his three ballets. The original scenario was conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, and is based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant. The choreographer of the original production was Marius Petipa.
PROLOGUE (THE CHRISTENING)
King Florestan XXIV and his Queen have welcomed their first child, Princess Aurora, and declare a grand christening ceremony to honor her. Six fairies are invited to the ceremony to bestow gifts on the child. Each fairy brings a gift of a virtue or positive trait, such as beauty, courage, sweetness, musical talent, and mischief. The most powerful fairy, the Lilac Fairy, arrives with her entourage, but before she can bestow her gift, the evil fairy Carabosse arrives with her minions. Carabosse furiously asks the King and Queen why she had not received an invitation to the christening. The blame falls on Catalabutte, the Master of Ceremonies who was in charge of the guest list. Carabosse gleefully tears his wig off and beats him with her staff, before placing a curse upon the baby princess as revenge: Aurora will indeed grow up to be a beautiful, healthy, delightful young lady, but on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a Spindle and die. The King and Queen are horrified and beg Carabosse for mercy, but she shows none. However, the Lilac Fairy intervenes. Though she does not have enough power to completely undo the curse, she alters it, allowing the spindle to cause a peaceful 100-year sleep for the princess, rather than death. At the end of those 100 years, she will be woken by the kiss of a handsome prince. Relieved that Aurora’s life will ultimately be spared, the court is set at ease.
ACT I (THE SPELL)
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.
ACT II (THE VISION)
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.
ACT III (THE WEDDING)
The royal wedding is underway. 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.
ARTSCAPE OPERA HOUSE
17 – 31 AUGUST 2019
Dates for performances with the international guest artists: 17, 18 August – Andile Ndlovu (Washington Ballet), Precious Adams (English National Ballet), Siphe November (National Ballet of Canada). 28, 31 August – Vadim Muntagirov and Sarah Lamb (Principals of the Royal Ballet)
Group, scholar’s and pensioner’s discounts: Enquire Computicket offices and Dial-a-seat
Select performances accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra