Boston Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty Awakens The Fairy Tale Lover In Us All

Posted April 26, 2017 by Cheryl Fenton in Theater & Arts
Sleeping Beauty Boston

While the world is going on and on about the cinematic debut of Beauty & The Beast, starring the lovely and strong Emma Watson as Belle, there’s another story made popular by Disney opening in Boston. This enchanting story of spells and princesses, curses and kisses, comes to life through ballet, with nary a movie screen in sight.

The Boston Ballet presents the coming-of-age fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty for a long engagement at the iconic Boston Opera House from April 28 through May 27. Hailed as Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen’s favorite production of The Sleeping Beauty, this work was choreographed by Marius Petipa (1818–1910), who was considered to be the “father of classical ballet,” with additional movements designed by Great Britain’s Sir Frederick Ashton. The soaring music is of course by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, while the sets and costumes are designed by Emmy Award-winning designer David Walker.

The original story was published by Charles Perrault in 1697. This production is based on the version of the story by the Brothers Grimm, one that begs retelling. And it will always be followed up with a collective sigh/smile. The Sleeping Beauty begins with the christening of baby Princess Aurora, a cherub with her life ahead of her. Since you can’t have a fairy tale without fairies, three attend the party to bestow gifts upon the princess. Nursing a case of FOMO, the uninvited Carabosse crashes the celebration and, as punishment for being left out, announces Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle on her 16th birthday and die. Since the Lilac Fairy has yet to give her gift, she undermines the curse by promising Aurora will fall into a deep slumber until kissed by a prince. A century later, enter Prince Desiré. The rest is history.

This spring brings a fresh take on The Sleeping Beauty, as the Company tackles the challenging roles coached by Ballet Master and former Principal Dancer Larissa Ponomarenko, who has previously performed Aurora. One dancer will also be performing her swan song with the Company. Erica Cornejo, a principal dancer since 2006, reprises her role as Carabosse.

While the familiar fairy tale is part of most childhood memories, The Sleeping Beauty also has its own rich memories. Petipa and Tchaikovsky worked on the performance, which premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1890.  Then its music and movement traveled west with Nicolai Sergeyev, Petipa’s assistant, when he left Russia in 1918 carrying notebooks full of choreography for over 20 ballets. He staged Petipa’s production of The Sleeping Beauty for the first time in 1921 for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and again in 1939 for what would ultimately become The Royal Ballet. The years (and other performances) went on, and eventually the production was revived again when Walker was tapped to design the new sets and costumes. This version premiered in Boston in 2005, and twice more since.

This glorious three-act performance of The Sleeping Beauty boasts a score that’s captivating, costumes that are lavish, and you’re sent off believing in the power of true love’s first kiss. With apologies to Belle and her beast, you just can’t top that.

Performances are on April 28 at 7:30pm, April 29 at 1pm and 7:30pm, April 30 at 1pm, May 4 at 7:30pm, May 6 at 1pm, May 7 at 1pm, May 12 at 7:30pm, May 13 at 1pm, May 19 at 7:30pm, May 20 at 1pm and 7:30pm, May 25 at 7:30pm and May 27 at 1pm. For more information, visit bostonballet.org or call 617-695-6955.

Boston Opera House is located 539 Washington Street in Boston.