COMPOSED BY

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (May 1840 – November 1893) in 1889

DURATION

Approximately 160 minutes (total 3 acts)

Instrumentation

Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 cornets, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussions, piano, harp, strings

SUMMARY OF THE COMPOSITION

The Sleeping Beauty, first performed in 1890, is a ballet with a prologue and three acts set in Europe during the Baroque era. It was based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant, with the original scenario conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky. 

1

Prologue: The Christening

The court of King Florestan XXIV is celebrating the christening of Princess Aurora. The courtiers assemble around the princess’ cradle, and the king and the queen enter, followed by six fairies and their cavaliers. Each fairy dances and offers her special gift to the princess. Suddenly, the wicked Fairy Carabosse interrupts the ceremony and casts a curse upon the princess – that the beautiful princess will prick her finger and die before her 16th birthday. Lilac Fairy intervenes and promises that the princess will only be asleep until awakened by the kiss of a prince.

2

Act 1: The Spell

It is Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday. Her king father wants her to select one of the four visiting princes as her husband. Aurora dances with the princes, each of whom offers her a rose and declares his love to her. Carabosse, in disguise, hands Aurora a bouquet with a hidden spindle. Aurora pricks her finger and falls. Lilac Fairy appears and casts her spell to put the entire court to sleep.

3

Act 2: The Vision

100 years later, Prince Desiré and his hunting party stop by a lake. When the prince is left alone, Lilac Fairy appears and conjures a vision of Aurora. Enchanted, he begs Lilac Fairy to lead him to Aurora. As they reach the princess’ castle, they are confronted by Carabosse. The prince battles the wicked fairy with Lilac Fairy’s help. Prince Desiré enters the castle and awakens the sleeping princess with his kiss.

4

Act 3: The Wedding

The court and the fairytale characters from all over the kingdom celebrate the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Desiré.

WHO IS ... PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY?

Suprising fun facts

  • Tchaikovsky was said to be a homosexual. 
  • Tchaikovsky was just four when he began composing.
  • Many of his compositions were inspired by Shakespeares’ plays, such Hamlet, The Tempest, and Romeo & Juliet.
  • While he was conducting, he thought his head was going to fall off. He even held his head up with one hand while standing in front of the orchestra.
  • He was diagnosed with cholera in 1893 and died a few days later.

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