A nursery tale from the French "La Belle au Bois Dormant", by Charles Perrault. The princess is shut up by enchantment in a castle, where she sleeps for a hundred years. During that time an impregnable wood springs up
around the castle. Ultimately she is released by a kiss of a young prince, who marries her.

Disney Animated Features
<< Lady and the Tramp | 101 Dalmatians >>

Release Date: 29 January 1959

For the studio's next animated feature film, Disney turned once again to a traditional fairy tale and added a new princess to the studio's 'royal court' (after Snow White and Cinderella, of course).

The story: In a peaceful kingdom, a baby girl (Aurora) is born to the reigning monarchs. An evil witch places a curse on her, condemning her to die from the prick of a spinning wheel. A good fairy manages to commute this sentence to a long, deep sleep. Still, to avoid their daughter's fate, the King and Queen place her in the care of three good fairies, who raise the girl, now known as Briar Rose, anonymously in the forest. But of course, one cannot change one's destiny...

The Princess Aurora is perhaps the least known of Disney's princess heroines. The music was mostly adapted from a Tchaikovsky work based on the same tale; the only notable additional song is "Once Upon a Dream." Perhaps the lack of hummable songs contributes to its relative obscurity.

Another factor may be the flatness of the characters. The main villainess, Maleficent, seems to have as her only motive revenge for not being invited to a party. Aurora herself is the typical pretty heroine, and doesn't add much flavor outside of her singing voice.

The prince, Phillip, however, is a welcome departure from the previous two 'princess' films, in that he actually has some decent lines. Plus, he actually gets to defeat the film's antagonist! A significant change from Snow White's unnamed prince and Cinderella's Prince Charming.

For his work adapting the Tchaikovsky music, George Bruns was nominated for the Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture Academy Award, breaking a multi-year drought by Disney's animated features.

Sleeping Beauty is a good film. It's solid in nearly every respect, but not outstanding in any, and so is often -- unfairly -- overlooked.

Information for the Disney Animated Features series of nodes comes from the IMDb (www.imdb.com), Frank's Disney Page (http://www.informatik.uni-frankfurt.de/~fp/Disney/), and the dark recesses of my own memory.

The Sleeping Beauty is a ballet by Tchaikovsky, with choreography by Marius Petipa, first performed at the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg on 16 January 1890.

In this the princess is called Aurora, and the prince who comes to rescue her is either Florimund or Désiré. The wicked fairy is Carabosse, and the good fairy who leads Prince Florimund to the entangled castle is the Lilac Fairy, the fairy of wisdom. The king, Aurora's father, is Florestan XXIV.

The prologue is the reception of the fairies at the princess's birth. Those who bring her gifts are

  • Candide (Candour), the fairy of purity
  • Coulante, Fleur de Farine (Wheat Flour), the fairy of vitality
  • Miettes qui Tombent (Breadcrumbs), the fairy of generosity
  • Canari qui Chante (Canary), the fairy of eloquence
  • Violente (Temperament), the fairy of passion
  • La Fée des Lilas (the Lilac Fairy), who reserves her gift till last

Act I contains Aurora's Rose adagio; and has national dances (Swedish, Russian, Spanish, and French) from the princes who come to woo her. Act II concerns itself with the Prince's search for the Princess. The wedding celebrations in Act III include dances of other fairy-tale characters such as Puss-in-Boots, Red Riding Hood (dancing with the Wolf), and the Bluebird.

The productions I've seen by the Royal Ballet had variations choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, and by the producer Anthony Dowell. It is one of the most sumptuously beautiful ballets I've seen.

Tsar Alexander III attended a closed dress rehearsal on 2 January 1890, and a public dress rehearsal on the 15th was attended not only by the Tsar but by the seven-year old Igor Stravinsky. The role of Aurora was created by Carlotta Brianza, the Lilac Fairy by Maria Mariusovna Petipa, and Carabosse by Enrico Cecchetti.

It was presented in Milan in 1896 and Moscow in 1897. Pavlova danced it a shortened version in New York in 1916, and Diaghilev presented it in London in 1921 (under the title of The Sleeping Princess). Margot Fonteyn danced Aurora in the Sadler's Wells production, starting 2 February 1939, and on 9 October 1949 she first appeared in the United States, in that role (at the Met).

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.