Synopsis: Sleeping Beauty

March 24, 2006

The ballet The Sleeping Beauty premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 14, 1890.

Music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Marius Petipa


The King and Queen are celebrating the birth of their daughter, Aurora. Three good fairies, along with Lilac, the fairy of wisdom, have come to the celebration bringing gifts for the newborn.

Suddenly, the evil fairy Carabosse appears. She is furious for having not been invited.  She puts a curse on the Princess swearing that someday, the girl will prick her finger on a spindle and die.

The Lilac Fairy, however, has a gift of her own. Though she cannot break the curse, she alters it. When Aurora pricks her finger, she will not die. She will instead fall into a deep sleep until she’s awakened by the kiss of a Prince.

Act I
Aurora’s 18th birthday arrives and the kingdom is full of color and joy. Royal guests arrive at the palace as suitors bring Aurora roses.

The Princess is given a bouquet by a mysterious stranger. Hidden in the roses is a spindle on which Aurora pricks her finger. The evil Carabosse reveals herself and the Princess collapses.

The Lilac Fairy appears and reminds the distraught King and Queen of her promise to alter the spell. Aurora is only sleeping, she says. The Lilac Fairy then puts the entire kingdom to sleep and hides them with an overgrowth of trees.

Act II
Scene 1

One hundred years have passed since Aurora pricked her finger. Prince Desire is hunting in the forest with his court. He sees a vision of Princess Aurora and falls in love with her. The Lilac Fairy then guides him to his true love.

Scene 2
Carabosse controls the land surrounding the palace. But her evil is no match for the Lilac Fairy's goodness or the Prince who fights his way to reach the Princess. The Prince awakens Aurora with a kiss and the spell is broken.

The royal guests, fairies and fairytale characters, such as the White Cat, Bluebird, and Little Red Riding Hood, gather at the palace for the wedding of Aurora and the Prince. The guests all dance in the couple's honor and to celebrate the joy that has come upon the kingdom.

See also:

Upcoming performances of Sleeping Beauty

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