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Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky   Opus 66

The Sleeping Beauty

Ballet 1876.
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Important Ballets & *Revivals of Marius Petipa
Marius Petipa -1898.JPG

*Paquita (1847, *1881)
*Le corsaire (1858, 1863, 1868, 1885, 1899)
The Pharaoh's Daughter (1862, *1885, *1898)
Le Roi Candaule (1868, *1891, *1903)
Don Quixote (1869, *1871)
La Bayadère (1877, *1900)
*Giselle (1884, 1899, 1903)
*Coppélia (1884)
*La fille mal gardée (1885)
*La Esmeralda (1886, 1899)
The Talisman (1889)
The Sleeping Beauty (1890)
The Nutcracker (1892)
Cinderella (1893)
The Awakening of Flora (1894)
*Swan Lake (1895)
*The Little Humpbacked Horse (1895)
The Cavalry Halt (1896)
Raymonda (1898)
The Seasons (1900)
Harlequinade (1900)

The Sleeping Beauty (Russian: Спящая Красавица, Spyashchaya Krasavitsa) is a ballet in a prologue and three acts, first performed in 1890. The music was by Pyotr 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.

The premiere performance took place at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890. The work is widely regarded as Tchaikovsky's finest ballet score, and has become one of the classical repertoire's most famous ballets.[1]



Composition history

Tchaikovsky was approached by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky on 25 May 1888 about a possible ballet adaptation on the subject of the story of Undine. It was later decided that Charles Perrault's La Belle au bois Dormant would be the story for which Tchaikovsky would compose the music for the ballet. Tchaikovsky did not hesitate to accept the commission, although he was aware that his only previous ballet, Swan Lake, met with little enthusiasm at that stage of his career. The ballet scenario that Tchaikovsky worked on was based on the Brothers Grimm's version of Perrault's work entitled 'Dornröschen'. In that version, the Princess's parents (the King and the Queen) survived the 100-year sleep to celebrate the Princess's wedding to the Prince. However, Vsevolozhsky incorporated some of Perrault's characters from other stories into the ballet, such as Puss in Boots and Little Red Riding Hood. Regardless, Tchaikovsky was happy to inform the Director of the Imperial Theatre that he had great pleasure studying the work and had come away with adequate inspiration to do it justice.[citation needed]

The choreographer was Marius Petipa, ballet master of the Imperial Ballet, who wrote a very detailed list of instructions as to the musical requirements. Tchaikovsky worked quickly on the new work at Frolovskoye; he began initial sketches in the winter of 1888 and began orchestration on the work on 30 May 1889.

The ballet's focus was undeniably on the two main conflicting forces of good (the Lilac Fairy) and evil (Carabosse); each has a leitmotif representing them, which run through the entire ballet, serving as an important thread to the underlying plot. Act III of the work, however, takes a complete break from the two motifs and instead places focus on the individual characters of the various court dances.

Performance history

Ballets by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Swan Lake (1876)
Sleeping Beauty (1889)
The Nutcracker (1892)

List of all compositions

St. Petersburg premiere (world premiere)

Moscow premiere

Other notable productions

  • 1896, Milan, La Scala, staged by Giorgio Saracco, Carlotta Brianza as Aurora
  • 1921, London, Alhambra Theatre, as The Sleeping Princess, Dyagilev production, staged by Nikolay Sergeyev, scenes by Léon Bakst
  • 1937, Philadelphia, staged by Catherine Littlefield
  • 1946, London, Royal Opera House. Staged by Dame Ninette de Valois, this production marked The Royal Ballet's debut at the Royal Opera House, where it has remained as the resident ballet company. A television adaptation of this production was presented in the U.S. by NBC in 1955 as part of their anthology series Producers' Showcase. A revival of this production, with somewhat revised scenery and costumes, was staged in 2006 and is available on DVD.
  • 1992, Basel Theater Basel reworked by Youri Vàmos with new narrative involving the life of Anna Anderson and her claim to be Grand Duchess Anastasia. The order of musical numbers has been slightly changed, some numbers omitted with other music by Tchaikovsky added and major set pieces of Petipa's choreography retained, but now placed in different narrative context - often performed as Anderson's "memories". This version has been performed by a number of central European ballet companies over the past two decades.

Original interpreters

Original cast members costumed for Act I. At center is Carlotta Brianza as Aurora.
(Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1890)
Role St. Petersburg 1890 Moscow 1899
King Florestan Feliks Krzesiński
Queen Giuseppina Cecchetti
Aurora Carlotta Brianza Lyubov Roslavleva
Lilac Fairy Marie Petipa M. Grachevskaya
Carabosse Enrico Cecchetti[2] Vasiliy Geltser
Prince Désiré Pavel Gerdt Ivan Khlyustin
Bluebird Enrico Cecchetti [2]
Princess Florine Varvara Nikitina

The ballet's premiere received more favorable accolades than Swan Lake from the press but Tchaikovsky never had the luxury of being able to witness his work become an instant success in theatres outside of Russia. He died in 1893. By 1903, The Sleeping Beauty was the second most popular ballet in the repertory of the Imperial Ballet (the Petipa/Pugni The Pharaoh's Daughter was first), having been performed 200 times in only 10 years.

A production mounted at the La Scala in Milan did not arouse much interest and it was not until 1921 that, in London, the ballet finally gained wide acclaim and eventually a permanent place in the classical repertoire. In 1999, the Kirov Ballet reconstructed the original 1899 production, including reproductions of the original sets and costumes. Although the 1951 Kirov production by Konstantin Sergeyev is available on DVD/Video, the 1999 "authentic" version is only available in short excerpts as of 2007.

The Sleeping Beauty is Tchaikovsky's longest ballet, lasting nearly four hours at full length - counting the intermissions. Without intermissions (as it appears on several CD sets), it lasts nearly three hours. It is nearly always cut.

At the premier Tsar Alexander III summoned Tchaikovsky to the royal box. The Tsar made the simple remark 'Very nice,' which seemed to have irritated Tchaikovsky, who had likely expected a more favorable response.[3]


  • Strings: Violins I, Violins II, Violas, Cellos, Double Basses
  • Woodwinds: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, Cor Anglais, 2 Clarinets (B-flat, A), 2 Bassoons
  • Brass: 4 Horns (F), 2 Cornets (B-flat, A), 2 Trumpets (B-flat, A), 3 Trombones, Tuba
  • Percussion: Timpani, Triangle, Tambourine, Side Drum, Cymbals, Bass Drum, Tam-tam, Glockenspiel
  • Other: 2 Harps, Piano


The Royal Court:

  • King Florestan XXIV
  • Queen
  • Princess Aurora, their daughter
  • Catalabutte, the master-of-ceremonies
  • Courtiers, maids of honor, pages, lackeys

The Fairies:

  • Candide (Candor)
  • Coulante, Fleur de farine (Flowing, Wheat flour)
  • Miettes qui tombent (Falling breadcrumbs)
  • Canari qui chante (Singing canary)
  • Violente (Force)
  • The Lilac Fairy
  • Carabosse
  • The Gold, Silver, Sapphire, and Diamond Fairies

The Four Suitors:

  • Prince Chéri
  • Prince Charmant
  • Prince Fortuné
  • Prince Fleur de Pois

The Prince's Hunting Party:

  • Prince Désiré (Florimund)
  • Gallifron, Prince Désiré's tutor
  • The Prince's friends, duchesses, baronesses, countesses, and marchionesses

Fairy-Tale Characters:

  • Puss-in-Boots
  • The White Cat
  • Princess Florine
  • Bluebird
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Gray Wolf
  • Cinderella
  • Hop-o'-My-Thumb, his brothers, and the Ogre



  • Time: Fairy-tale time
  • Place:
The wicked fairy Carabosse by Léon Bakst, who created the décor and about 300 costume designs in 2 months for Diaghilev's lavish 1921 production of The Sleeping Princess in London.

King Florestan the XXIVth declares a grand christening ceremony to be held in honor of the birth of his daughter, Princess Aurora named after the dawn. An entourage of six fairies are invited to the Christening to be godmothers to the child. They are the Candide Fairy, the Coulante Fairy, the Miettes Fairy, the Canari Fairy, the Violente Fairy and—most importantly—the Lilac Fairy, who is the last to arrive (the names of fairies and their gifts vary in productions). As the fairies are happily granting gifts of honesty, grace, prosperity, song and generosity, they are suddenly interrupted by the arrival of the wicked fairy Carabosse, who is furious at the King's failure to invite her to the ceremony. The King and Queen begin to remonstrate, and the Master of Ceremonies, Catallabutte, intervenes to take responsibility, whereupon Carabosse rips off his wig, laughing. With spite and rage, Carabosse declares her curse on Princess Aurora: she will prick her finger on her sixteenth birthday and die. But all is not lost: the Lilac Fairy, fortunately, has not yet granted her gift to the Princess. She acknowledges that Carabosse's power is immense and she cannot completely reverse the curse. However, she declares, though the Princess shall indeed prick her finger, she will not die, but instead sleep for 100 years until she is awakened by the kiss of a prince. Carabosse departs, and the curtain falls as the good fairies surround the cradle.

Act I
It is Princess Aurora's sixteenth birthday. Celebrations are already underway: the atmosphere is festive, made complete with a waltz danced by the villagers with garlands. There are women knitting close by: Catallabutte orders them taken away to prison lest their needles precipitate calamity. The king angrily agrees, as he has decreed. After entreaties by the four princes, the women are reprieved amidst rejoicing. Aurora receives her four royal suitors and their gifts of exquisite roses. Soon after, Aurora is presented with a spindle as a gift from a disguised Carabosse—an object which she has never before seen. Carelessly, she dances with it despite her mother and father's warnings before accidentally pricking herself. She faints. To the horror of all, Carabosse immediately reveals her true wicked self triumphantly, vanishing before the princes can vanquish her. The princes and their attendants depart for their native countries in fear. At that very moment, the Lilac Fairy appears as she had promised. She reminds the remaining guests and the King and Queen of her gift—Aurora will not die, but merely sleep. She then casts a spell of slumber upon the entire kingdom so that they will only awake when Aurora does.

Carlotta Brianza as Princess Aurora and Pavel Gerdt as Prince Désiré, costumed for the Grand Procession of Act III in Petipa's original production of The Sleeping Beauty.
(Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1890)

Act II
One hundred years later, Prince Florimund (in the original production, it is Désiré) is at a hunting party with his companions. He is not happy and his hunting party try to cheer him up with a game of blind man's bluff and a series of dances. Still unhappy, he asks to be alone and the hunting party depart. Suddenly, Florimund sees the Lilac Fairy who presents him with a vision of Aurora and he is entranced by her beauty. The Prince pleads with the Lilac Fairy to bring him to see Princess Aurora, to which the latter consents. The Prince discovers the castle, which is now overgrown in thick vines. His first act is to defeat Carabosse. Once past her and inside the castle, the Prince finds Aurora and awakens her with a kiss. The entire kingdom awakes with her. The Prince then declares his love for Aurora and proposes to her. The King and the Queen are happy to give their blessings.

Preparations for the wedding are made. On the day of the festivities, different fairies are invited. These are the fairies to bless the marriage - The Gold Fairy, the Silver Fairy, the Sapphire Fairy and the Diamond Fairy. The Lilac Fairy also makes an appearance. Many fairytale characters, such as Puss in Boots and the White Cat, are also among the guests. A golden chain of dances is held, including a Pas de Quatre for the four precious jewel and metal fairies, a dance for Puss in Boots and the White Cat, a Pas de Deux for the Bluebird and Princess Florine, a dance for Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, a dance for Cinderella and Prince Fortune (usually omitted), a Sarabande (usually omitted), a Pas de Deux for Aurora and Florimund and finally a mazurka. The Prince and the Princess are wed, and the Lilac Fairy blesses their marriage. The ballet ends with an apotheosis (apothéose) where all the characters make a final bow.


Alexandra Ansanelli as Princess Aurora and David Makhateli as Prince Florimund in a Royal Ballet production of Sleeping Beauty, 29 April 2008.

Titles of all of the numbers listed here come from Marius Petipa's original scenario, as well as the original libretto and programs of the first production of 1890. Major changes which were made to the score for Petipa's original production are mentioned, and help explain why the score is often heard in different versions in theatres today.

All libretti and programs of works performed on the stages of the Imperial Theatres were titled in French, which was the official language of the Emperor's Court, as well as the language in which balletic terminology is derived.

Prologue — Le baptême de la Psse. Aurore

No.1-a Introduction
No.1-b Marche de salon
No.2-a Entrée des fées
No.2-b Scène dansante
No.3 Grand pas d'ensemble (a.k.a. Pas de six) —
a. Grand adage. Petit allégro
b. Variation - Candide
c. Variation - Coulante–Fleur de farine
d. Variation - Miettes–qui tombent (a.k.a. breadcrumb)
e. Variation - Canari–qui chante
f. Variation - Violente–échevelée
g. Variation - La Fée des lilas–voluptueuse
h. Coda générale
No.4 Scène et final
a. Entrée de Carabosse
b. Scène mimique de Carabosse
c. Scène mimique de la Fée des lilas

Act I — Les quatre fiancés de la Psse. Aurore

No.5-a Introduction
No.5-b Scène des tricoteuses
No.6 Grande valse villageoise (a.k.a. The Garland Waltz)
No.7 Entrée d'Aurore
No.8 Grand pas d'action
a. Grand adage à la rose (opening harp cadenza possibly extended by either the harpist Albert Heinrich Zabel or Riccardo Drigo)
b. Danse des demoiselles d'honneur et des pages
c. Variation d'Aurore (coda edited by an unknown hand, possibly Riccardo Drigo)
d. Coda
No.9 Scène et final
a. Danse d'Aurore avec le fuseau
b. Le charme
c. L'arrivée de la Fée des lilas

Act II

Scene I — La chasse du Prince Désiré
No.10-a Entr'acte
No.10-b Scène de la chasse royale
No.11 Colin-Maillard
No.12 Danses des demoiselles nobles
a. Scène
b. Danse des duchesses
c. Danse des baronesses (likely cut by Petipa from the original production)
d. Danse des comtesses (likely cut by Petipa from the original production)
e. Danse des marquises (likely cut by Petipa from the original production)
No.13 Coda–Farandole
No.14-a Scène et départ des chasseurs
No.14-b Entrée de la Fée des lilas
No.15 Pas d'action
a. Entrée de l'apparition d'Aurore
b. Grand adage (opening harp cadenza possibly extended by either the harpist Albert Heinrich Zabel or Riccardo Drigo)
c. Valse des nymphes–Petit allégro coquet
  • Interpolation: 4 transitional bars for the end of no.15-c composed by Riccardo Drigo to lead into Brianza's variation
  • Interpolation: Variation Mlle. Brianza (No.23-b Variation de la fée-Or from Act III)
d. Variation d'Aurore (cut by Petipa from the original production)
e. Petite coda
No.16 Scène
No.17 Panorama
  • Interpolation: 3 transitional bars for the end of no.17 composed by Riccardo Drigo to lead into no.19, as no.18 was cut in the original production
No.18 Entr'acte symphonique (solo for violin composed for Leopold Auer, cut from the original production)
Scene II — Le château de la belle au bois dormant
No.19 Scène du château de sommeil
No.20 Scène et final – Le réveil d'Aurore
The Bluebird and Princess Florina (Valeri Panov and Natalia Makarova) from the 1965 Russian motion picture featuring artists of the Kirov Ballet.

Act III — Les Noces de Désiré et d'Aurore

No.21 Marche
No.22 Grand polonaise dansée (a.k.a. The Procession of the Fairy Tales)
Grand divertissement
No.23 Pas de quatre
a. Entrée
b. Variation de la fée-Or (transferred by Petipa to Act II as a variation for Carlotta Brianza in the original production)
c. Variation de la fée-Argent (changed by Petipa in the original production – Pas de trois pour la Fées d'Or, d'Argent et de Saphir)
d. Variation de la fée-Saphir (cut by Petipa from the original production)
e. Variation de la fée-Diamant
f. Coda
  • Interpolation: Entrée de chats (a 10 bar introduction written by Tchaikovsky for no.24)
No.24 Pas de caractère – Le Chat botté et la Chatte blanche
No.25 Pas de quatre (changed by Petipa in the original production – Pas de deux de l'Oiseau bleu et la Princesse Florine)
a. Entrée
b. Variation de Cendrillon et Prince Fortuné (changed by Petipa in the original production – Variation de l'Oiseau bleu)
c. Variation de l'Oiseau bleu la Princesse Florine (changed by Petipa in the original production – Variation de la Princesse Florine)
d. Coda
No.26 Pas de caractère – Chaperon Rouge et le Loup
  • Interpolation: Pas de caractère – Cendrillon et Prince Fortuné
No.27 Pas berrichon – Le Petit Poucet, ses frères et l'Ogre
No.28 Grand pas de quatre (originally arranged by Petipa as a Pas de quatre for the Princess Aurora, Prince Désiré and the Gold and Sapphire Fairies)
a. Entrée (only the first eight bars were retained)
b. Grand adage
  • Interpolation: Danse pour les Fées d'Or et de Saphir in 6/8 (Petipa possibly utilized the music for the Entrée to accompany a dance for the Gold and Sapphire Fairies)
c. Variation du Prince Désiré
d. Variation d'Aurore — Mlle. Brianza (edited by Riccardo Drigo for the original production at Petipa's request)
e. Coda
No.29 Sarabande – quadrille pour Turcs, Éthiopiens, Africains et Américains
No.30-a Coda générale
No.30-b Apothéose – Apollon en costume de Louis XIV, éclairé par le soleil entouré des fées

Versions by other hands

Rachmaninoff's arrangement

In 1890, Alexander Siloti was approached to arrange the music for piano duet. He declined, but suggested his then 17-year-old cousin Sergei Rachmaninoff would be more than competent. This offer was accepted, although Siloti supervised the arrangement.[4]

Aurora's Wedding by Sergei Diaghilev

In 1922, ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev arranged a 45-minute version of the final act for his Ballets Russes, entitled Aurora's Wedding. This abridged version has been recorded by conductor Leopold Stokowski, in one of his last performances, and by Charles Dutoit.

The adaptation takes material from the Act I Introduction of the ballet and combines it with most of the final act, as well as other sections. The selections in this version are listed as follows:

  1. Introduction (Prologue)
  2. Polacca (Act 3)
  3. Pas de Six (Prologue)
  4. Scene; Danse des Duchesses; Danse des Marquises (Act 2)
  5. Farandole; Danse - Tempo di Mazurka (Act 2)
  6. Pas de Quatre (Act 3)
  7. Pas de Caractere - Chaperone Rouge et la Loup (Act 3)
  8. Pas de Quatre (Act 3)
  9. Coda - The Three Ivans (Act 3)
  10. Pas de Deux (Act 3)
  11. Finale - Tempo di Mazurka; Apothéose (Act 3)

Trademark controversy

The Walt Disney Company currently has a trademark application pending with the US Patent and Trademark Office, filed March 13, 2007, for the name "Princess Aurora" that would cover all live and recorded movie, television, radio, stage, computer, Internet, news, and photographic entertainment uses, except literature works of fiction and nonfiction.[5] This has caused controversy because "Princess Aurora" is also the name of the lead character in Tchaikovsky's ballet version of the story, from which Disney acquired some of the music for its animated 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.[6]


  1. ^ Roger Fiske (1973): Eulenberg Edition, Foreword to the complete score of the ballet: "On 2 Feb 1939 Sadler’s Wells presented the ballet in London with Margot Fonteyn in the title role... This was the first successful production outside Russia, and it led to The Sleeping Beauty becoming extremely popular in all countries where classical ballet is cultivated. . . The way in which he developed his themes and the lavish originality with which he scored the music raised his ballets far above those his predecessors had composed."
  2. ^ a b Brillarelli, Livia (1995). Cecchetti A Ballet Dynasty. Toronto: Dance Collection Danse Educational Publications. p. 31. 
  3. ^ Lawrence & Elizabeth Hanson, Tchaikovsky page 269 Cassell London 1965
  4. ^ Talk Classical
  5. ^ "US Patent and Trademark Office - Princess Aurora trademark status". Retrieved March 26, 2010. 
  6. ^ "An Attempt To Stop The Disney Machine". Retrieved March 26, 2010.  Deadline Hollywood / Niki Finke, May 1, 2009

External links

Video Samples

Act III of the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet's reconstruction of Petipa's original 1890 production of The Sleeping Beauty:


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sleeping_Beauty_(Tchaikovsky)". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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