The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet in a prologue and three acts, first performed in 1890. The music was composed by Pyotr Ilyich 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 Perraults 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 on January 15,1890, the work has become one of the classical repertoires most famous ballets. Tchaikovsky was approached by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg and it was later decided that Charles Perraults 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, the ballet scenario that Tchaikovsky worked on was based on the Brothers Grimms version of Perraults work entitled Dornröschen. In that version, the Princesss parents survived the 100-year sleep to celebrate the Princesss wedding to the Prince, other French fairy tale characters to be featured are Beauty and the Beast, Pretty Goldilocks and The White Cat. 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. The choreographer was Marius Petipa, ballet master of the Imperial Ballet, 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. Act III of the work, however, takes a break from the two motifs and instead places focus on the individual characters of the various court dances. St. Petersburg premiere Date,15 January 1890 Place, Imperial Mariinsky Theatre and this version has been performed by a number of central European ballet companies over the past two decades. By 1903, The Sleeping Beauty was the second most popular ballet in the repertory of the Imperial Ballet, in 1999, the Mariinsky 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 Sleeping Beauty is Tchaikovskys longest ballet, lasting nearly four hours at full length - counting the intermissions. Without intermissions, it lasts three hours. At the premiere Tsar Alexander III summoned Tchaikovsky to the imperial box, the Tsar made the simple remark Very nice, which seemed to have irritated Tchaikovsky, who had likely expected a more favorable response. Six fairies are invited to the ceremony to bestow gifts on the child, each fairy represents 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, with a clap of thunder, 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 to Catallabutte, the Master of Ceremonies who was in charge of the guest list
Original cast members costumed for Act I. At center is Carlotta Brianza as Aurora. (Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1890)
The bad 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 Beauty in London.
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)