The Sleeping Beauty

Dancers Angelina Sansone & Geoffrey Kropp. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancers: Tempe Ostergren and Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studio.

Music by Peter I. Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Devon Carney with sections after Marius Petipa
Costume & Scenic Design by Peter Farmer
Lighting Design by Trad A. Burns

King Florestan XXIV and his Queen have welcomed their first child Princess Aurora, named after the dawn, and decree that a grand christening ceremony shall be conducted in her honor. Six magical fairies have been invited to the festivities to bestow gifts upon the newborn. Each fairy represents a virtue of royalty, such as beauty, generosity, charm, song and good temperament. The most magical of the invited fairies, the Lilac Fairy, makes her arrival accompanied by her attendants, but before she can grant her gift to the royal princess, the palace grows dark and eerie. With a strike of lighting and a crash of thunder, the evil fairy Carabosse arrives in her carriage with her grotesque creature-like attendants. In a rage, Carabosse demands from the King and Queen an explanation why she had not been invited to the christening. It is discovered that Cattalabutte, the Master of Ceremonies, who was in charge of the guest list made the error. Carabosse releases her fury upon him by tearing his wig off and publicly embarrassing him, before placing a vile curse upon the newly born princess as revenge: Aurora will indeed grow to become a radiant young princess but on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle from a spinning wheel and immediately die. The King and Queen are mortified and urge Carabosse to reconsider, but she shows no mercy in her uncontrolled outrage. At this the ever-kind Lilac Fairy intervenes. Even though she does not possess strong enough powers to completely undo the mortal curse, she can change it, allowing the moment in which Aurora is harmed by the spindle to therein cause a peaceful sleep for the princess, rather than death. She may only be awakened by the singular kiss of a handsome prince with a pure heart. The assembled courtiers and fairies are all put at ease by this wonderful news that Aurora’s life will be spared. At the conclusion of the prologue the King bans all knitting and spinning needles from the kingdom in hopes of sparing his daughter, Princess Aurora, from the imminent long slumber that awaits her.

Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday has finally arrived. Celebrations ensue with a grand garland waltz and Princess Aurora and her friends then arrive. The King and Queen have invited four suitors, all princes from various other kingdoms, for Aurora to meet and perhaps choose one for her to marry. Aurora and her handsome suitors then dance the Rose Adagio. From out of nowhere, a mysterious stranger enters and offers a beautiful bouquet of flowers as a birthday gift. Aurora accepts the floral arrangement and in joy dances with them. Suddenly she pricks her finger with the bouquet only to realize that hidden within it is the dreaded spindle. Aurora momentarily regains her composure but ultimately collapses in the arms of one of the suitors and appears to no longer have any life left in her. The disguised stranger suddenly is unveiled revealing Carabosse, who misguidedly believes that her curse still stands and that the princess is dead. In resplendent, vengeful joy Carabosse leaves the palace. The Lilac Fairy appears and reassures the King and Queen that their daughter Princess Aurora is not dead but simply has fallen asleep. The princess is carried off to lay in repose and await her yet unknown true love, and the Lilac Fairy conjures a gentle slumber enchantment over the entire kingdom, now suspended indefinitely in time until Aurora awakens.

One hundred years have passed and the handsome Prince Désiré is out on a hunting party with his companions far from his homeland. He is in a melancholy mood so the Countess and their friends try to bring good cheer to him with some refreshments and a series of dances. As the hunting party heads out into the surrounding woods, the Prince stays behind still unsettled. The Lilac Fairy appears to him and reveals a vision of the beautiful princess, and the prince immediately falls in love. He then dances a beautiful pas de deux with this vision of Aurora surrounded by magical woodland nymphs. As the vision fades away Désiré asks the Lilac Fairy to be taken to this beautiful princess. The Lilac Fairy leads him through a mysterious, dark and dense forest until finally they reach the hidden castle overgrown by vines. Here, Carabosse lays in wait for any unsuspecting suitor that might attempt to enter. Upon seeing the Prince she attempts to take his life, but the Lilac Fairy and the Prince manage to mortally defeat her. As the vines now fall away and reveal the actual Princess Aurora laying in repose, Désiré awakens her with a single kiss of true love. As the royal court wakes, Aurora introduces Désiré to her parents, the King and Queen. The Prince proposes marriage to the Princess who joyfully accepts.

All the wedding day preparations are complete and now in the royal ballroom the festivities are underway. All the guests arrive followed by the grand entrance of the King and Queen. The invited wedding guests include the Lilac Fairy and many fairytale characters, including Princess Florine and her Bluebird, Puss in Boots and the White Cat, a beautiful Pas de Trois and Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. Princess Aurora and her Prince Désiré perform a grand wedding pas de deux, and in celebration of their union, amid much dancing and merriment, Désiré and Aurora are married and blessed by the Lilac Fairy. Now they will succeed to the throne, rule over the kingdom in peace and kindness and all shall live happily ever after.

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: Friday, March 31, 2017 Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
World Premiere: St. Petersburg, Russia at the Mariinsky Theatre, January 15, 1890
Devon Carney’s Original Adaption Premiere: Cincinnati Ballet, 2010

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