The Sleeping Beauty
The malevolent Fairy Carabosse curses Princess Aurora to 100 years’ slumber, by a single prick of her finger on her 16th birthday. Doomed by fate, only a Prince’s sweet kiss can break the spell and awaken the sleeping beauty.
The bewitching and dark fairy-tale is brought to life in Kenneth MacMillan’s exquisite production; “a masterclass in classical style” (The Guardian), with “some of the most ravishing steps in the 19th century repertory”.
Visually stunning with Peter Farmer’s sumptuous set, and elaborate costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis, this gorgeously classical production features Tchaikovsky’s ravishing score played live by English National Ballet Philharmonic.
This revival coincides with the recent anniversary of MacMillan’s death, and follows the Company’s performances of MacMillan’s masterpiece Song of the Earth in the autumn/winter.
The best Beauty in Britain, with a warmth and confidence that make the tale’s magic sing outThe Independent
As near perfect a Sleeping Beauty as one could ask forThe Sunday Express
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Prologue – The Christening
King Florestan and his Queen are holding a celebration for the christening of their baby, Princess Aurora. Amongst their guests are her fairy godmothers who each bestow a magical gift on the child: beauty, temperament, purity, joy, wit and generosity.
Before the Lilac Fairy can present the final gift another fairy is seen approaching, Carabosse, who is in a rage because the Master of Ceremonies forgot to invite her to the ceremony. As revenge for being overlooked she pronounces that Aurora will one day prick her finger and die. The Lilac Fairy, unable to completely overturn the curse confounds it instead by promising that Aurora will not die but rather fall into a deep sleep from which she will be awakened by a prince’s kiss.
Act I – The Spell
It is Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday and four princes arrive to seek her hand in marriage at the celebration. All sharp objects have been banned at court and so when three women are found to have knitting needles the King sentences them to death for endangering Aurora’s life. The Queen intervenes and persuades the King to spare their lives. The celebration resumes with the townspeople dancing the Garland Waltz.
Aurora enters and is introduced to the four princes. She dances with each of them in turn, the Rose Adage, as she decides which one to marry.
A mysterious cloaked guest arrives with a gift for Aurora, a spindle. Having never seen a sharp object before Aurora dances with it, fascinated. She pricks her finger on the spindle and the hooded guest reveals herself as Carabosse, reiterating her curse before disappearing. The Lilac Fairy appears and to protect Aurora, casts a spell over the palace and its entire people, sending them to sleep. At her command a forest covers the Palace until the promised awakening.
Act II – The Vision
One hundred years have passed. Prince Désiré is hunting with members of his court. Strangely unhappy he seeks solitude to reflect on his ideal love.
The Lilac Fairy appears and presents a vision of Princess Aurora to him. He pleads with her to take him to where the lovely vision sleeps. They journey together through the forest to the overgrown palace where, following a confrontation between good and evil, the Prince awakens Aurora with a kiss. The spell is broken and Carabosse and her attendants disappear vanquished.
Act III – The Wedding
The Court is jubilant with the wedding celebrations of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré. The guests include the fairytale characters Puss in Boots and the White Cat, the Bluebird and Princess Florine, Red Riding Hood and the Wolf all of whom pay their respects to the radiant couple. Their joy is complete when the Lilac Fairy arrives and gives her blessing to their happy union.
“All airiness and light”
“The production is one to savour. The orchestra does full justice to Tchaikovsky”
“I love how the whole company gets caught up in both story and dancing in this production”