A SUMMARY OF THE
LIBRETTO, BALLETMASTER'S PLAN, MUSICAL SCENARIO, AND ACCOUNTS
OF THE FIRST PERFORMANCE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY.
PROLOGUE - The Christening
Scene: a Great Hall in the Palace
of King Florestan XIV.
Preparations have all been made
for the presentation of the newborn Princess Aurora. Guests from
all over the kingdom have been invited to present gifts to the
baby, especially the powerful Fairies of the kingdom. Cattalabutte,
the King's Chamberlain, makes sure the guest list is correct,
and escorts all the arrivals to their proper places at court.
The king and queen enter last, of course, and receive the honors
of the assemblage.
The Fairies arrive with their entourages,
and begin to bestow their gifts upon the Princess. But before
the most powerful of those present, the Lilac Fairy, can make
her bestowal, a clap of thunder is heard, and a terrified soldier
runs in, announcing the arrival of the most powerful Fairy in
the whole kingdom, Carabosse. The King demands the guest list
and finds that she was not invited! "What is the meaning
of this," he demands of Cattalabutte? "Sire, no one
has heard from her in a long time, and I thought she was dead,
she is so old!"
The King throws down the list in
a rage, just as Carabosse's attendants, rats and gnomes, arrive,
frightening the guests. She herself arrives, riding in a chariot
made from a wheelbarrow, and drawn by rats. She is the ruin of
what must have been a glorious and majestic woman, and she is
in a fury!
Carabosse attacks Cattalabutte,
pulling out his hair and feeding it to her rats, and pronounces
her gift. The Princess Aurora will grow to young womanhood, full
of charms, beauty and attainments, but one day, she shall prick
her finger, and she shall die! The court is horrified, the Queen
begs for her daughter's life, but the old woman is adamant. She
is about to charge the cradle with her rats, when her way is
blocked by the Lilac Fairy.
"Stay away, O Eldest Sister"
says the powerful Lilac, "I cannot undo the terrible curse
you have laid upon this child, but I can do this - all that you
have said will come true, even to her pricking her finger, but
she shall not die, but only sleep for a long time, until a noble
and handsome man shall come to her out of love, kiss her on the
forehead, and then she shall wake."
Carabosse is enraged, appeals to
her sister Fairies, who rebuff her; she returns to her chariot
and drives off in a cloud of wrath. The King and Queen and the
entire court form around the cradle, vowing to protect the Princess
Aurora from any further harm as
THE CURTAIN FALLS.
Act I - The Spell
Time: Twenty years later
Scene: The castle gardens
It is the birthday of the Princess
Aurora, and the festivities are well on their way to completion
when some women are discovered within the castle precincts carrying
knitting and spinning tools. Cattalabutte discovers them, and
tries to send them away before the King can discover their presence.
King and Queen enter, discover the women and their contraband,
which has been forbidden in the kingdom, and the King flies into
a rage, and declares that they must be executed! Four princes,
coming from foreign lands to pay homage and court the Princess
Aurora, intercede with the King to have mercy, and he relents.
The crisis averted, the villagers dance a waltz with garlands
they have prepared.
The whole court awaits breathlessly as the Princess Aurora comes
to greet her parents and the visitors. She dances with each of
the Princes in turn, and charms each of them with her great beauty
and accomplished dancing.
The celebrations continue until a mysterious figure shrouded
in black appears, offering a gift for the Princess. It is a set
of needles! The Princess has never seen such things before, having
been protected by her father's decree, and begins to play with
them. Before anyone can stop her, she pricks her finger, and
begins to feel the effects of the spell take over. She dances
dizzily, then collapses. The King and court are horrified; the
figure who gave her the needles throws off her cloak and reveals
The old woman laughs at the distress of those who had done her
wrong; the Princes draw their swords and pursue her, and she
disappears into smoke and fire.
As Carabosse vanishes, the Lilac
Fairy appears and assures the King and Queen that the Princess
has not died, but is only in a deep sleep. "Carry her to
her chamber," she commands, "for now it is time for
my gift." As the unconscious Aurora is carried up to her
bed, the Lilac Fairy turns to the assembled populace in the garden,
waves her wand, and the spell begins. The entire kingdom falls
into a deep sleep as great vines and leaves grow up about it,
shielding it from the eyes of the curious, and the mischief of
evildoers. The Lilac Fairy is a revolving dot of pink and lavender
in the midst of the thicketty wood as
THE CURTAIN FALLS
ACT II -
Scene 1 - The Vision
Scene: A distant kingdom, the forest
Time: One hundred years later
A hunt arrives at a clearing in the forest, led by Prince Desire'.
None of the diversions of his noble friends nor of the friendly
villagers can dispel his gloom, and they leave him to his reveries.
Just as the moon comes out from behind the clouds, the Lilac
Fairy appears and sends the Prince a vision
of the sleeping Princess Aurora. The Prince is overcome with
her beauty, and asks the Lilac Fairy who she is, and where she
can be found. "Behold," she says, "I can make
it seem as if she were right here with us!" The Fairy waves
her wand, and the forest spirits appear, and suddenly in their
midst is the very image of the Princess. She dances with the
Prince in the midst of the spirits and then vanishes with them.
The Prince is truly eager to find
Aurora for real, and the Lilac Fairy beckons to him to join her
in her shell-boat as they voyage the river together to the kingdom
of King Florestan.
As the Lilac Fairy and Prince Desire'
glide smoothly down the river, visions of the Castle, the King
and Queen, the Fairy Carabosse, and the Princess Aurora herself
appear, as the Fairy explains to the Prince what has happened.
Scene 2 - The Awakening
Scene: The Castle
Prince Desire' and the Lilac Fairy
come upon the castle garden with all the guests still asleep;
they enter the courtyard and discover the servants all asleep
at their work; they make their way to the Princess' chamber,
covered in dust and cobwebs. "There she is," gestures
the Fairy. "But what shall I do now," he asks? "Just
think a moment," she replies. He does, briefly, then rushes
impetuously to her bedside -- and kisses her on the forehead,
just as the Fairy had predicted he would.
The King, Queen, and court wake
as all the spiderwebs, dust and vines vanish. Prince Desire'
asks the King for his daughter's hand in marriage, and he immediately
THE CURTAIN FALLS
scene: The Esplanade of Castle
All the fairy tale characters from
Charles Perrault's stories come to celebrate the wedding of Princess
Aurora and Prince Desire'.
The Fairies' Glory -- a grand tableau
before a scene of the Versailles gardens, over which Apollo presides.
AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER