Pyotr Tchaikovsky "The Sleeping Beauty" (Ballet in three acts)
World premiere: Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Premiere of this production: 28 Oct 2016
The performance has 2 intermissions
Running time: 3 hours
Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Libretto by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, Marius Petipa, and Jean-Guillaume Bart
Choreography by Marius Petipa and Jean-Guillaume Bart
Set and costume design by Olga Shaishmelashvili
Lighting design by Evgeny Ganzburg, Honoured Cultural Worker of the Russian Federation
The Sleeping Beauty ballet is Leonid Yacobson Theatre's first-ever collaboration with Jean-Guillaume Bart, a world-famous French dance teacher and choreographer who also performs at at the Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris. Mr. Bart already has some experience of working in Russia: in 2007, he oversaw the production of the Corsair ballet at the Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre. But when he came to Saint-Petersburg, it was Sleeping Beauty that he chose to put on stage; not in the least because he earned the honorary title of Danseur Etoile for playing the part of Prince Désiré in this very same ballet.
Sleeping Beauty premièred in Saint-Petersburg in 1890. And from that point onward, this choreographic masterpiece has been firmly associated with France. The reason behind this, first and foremost, is the original choreography by the renowned Marius Petipa. Inspired by one of Charles Perrot's fairy-tales, he staged his new production in the style of Louis XIV, reminiscent of the Golden Age of classical dance and permeated with the splendour of Versailles.
However, the original ballet has undergone some drastic changes over the years that have passed since the first performance. These include changes in the audience's expectations, the ballet techniques, and the physical shape of the dancers. This is why the show that is being staged today by the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre aims to revive the spectacular production of the past, in a way that would interest the modern public.
The choreographer's main goal has been to avoid turning the ballet into a synthetic art form, and to shift the focus from technical mastery, so that the dance does not become overly acrobatic. Jean-Guillaume Bart treats ballet as storytelling through body language. He believes that the combination of classical choreography and music has its own dynamic, expressive, and narrative capabilities. One good example of such storytelling tools will be the evil fairy Carabosse, who will dance instead of miming (as she did in the 1890 production). This character will be played by two dancers: female (who will portray her as an antipode to the Lilac Fairy) and male.
In addition, the audience is in for a special surprise: a pre-prologue, which will explain the backstory behind Carabosse's hatred, as well as behind many other events described by Perrot and Petipa.
The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet in a prologue and three acts, first performed in 1890. The music was by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. 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.
The premiere performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890. The work has become one of the classical repertoire's most famous ballets.
In the palace of King Florestan XIV the wedding of his daughter, Princess Aurora, is being celebrated. Master of Ceremonies Catalabutte is checking the invitation list. The Lilac Fairy and Good Fairies appear among the courtiers and the guests coming to congratulate the Princess. They bring the newborn infant gifts, endowing her with the finest human attributes. Suddenly, a great noise is heard. The evil and powerful Carabosse Fairy drives into the ballroom with her repulsive suite. They forgot to invite her to the wedding. An irate Carabosse predicts that Aurora will die young from pricking her finger with a knitting spindle. But the Lilac Fairy intervenes: she predicts that the forces of good will neutralize the sinister spell. With a peremptory gesture, she forces Carabosse to leave the palace.
It is Princess Aurora’s sixteenth birthday. Four foreign princes have come to ask for her hand. At the height of the festivities, an old woman with a knitting spindle appears at the Princess’s side. Trustful Aurora takes it and continues to dance. Suddenly, she stops dancing and looks with horror at her finger which she has accidentally pricked with the spindle. Overcome by deadly cold, Aurora falls to the ground. The unknown old woman throws off her hood — it is the Carabosse Fairy! Her curse has come to pass. Whirling around maliciously, she disappears with a cackle. But the Lilac Fairy appears on the scene — she has the power to mitigate the evil spell. Aurora is not dead — she has fallen asleep. She will be brought back to life by the passionate kiss of a handsome Prince. The Lilac Fairy plunges the whole kingdom into a deep sleep.
Surrounded by grandees, Prince Desire is whiling away the time in the royal park. He is overcome by melancholy. And, as if in answer to his call, the Lilac Fairy appears before him. She summons up a vision of Aurora, surrounded by divine beings — the Nereids. The enchanted Prince hurries after the beautiful image but, at the wave of the Lilac Fairy’s wand, it vanishes. Désiré implores the Lilac Fairy to search for the beautiful maiden. And the Lilac Fairy invites the Prince to sail in her magic craft to the bewitched castle.
Gloom and desolation reign in the sleeping kingdom. It is guarded by the evil Carabosse Fairy. The Lilac Fairy and Prince Desire rapidly approach the castle. The wicked old woman and her suite try to conceal Aurora but, in vain — the Prince catches sight of the sleeping beauty. Completely won over by her charm, the Prince tenderly kisses the Princess — and the evil spell is broken! Carabosse and her suite vanish. Aurora wakes up and the royal kingdom comes to life too. As soon as the Princess sets eyes on her deliverer, love is born in her heart. Desire asks the King and Queen for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Fairy-tale characters have come to Aurora and Desire’s wedding: Princess Florine and Blue Bird, The White Cat and Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood and The Gray Wolf, Cinderella and Prince Fortune. The Prince and Princess dance in a harmonious and solemn duet. The Lilac Fairy and her suite bless the happy couple.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky "The Sleeping Beauty" (Ballet in three acts)
on the playbill
1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
Bol'shaya Dmitrovka Street, 4/2, Moscow, Russia