The Sleeping Beauty


Jillian Vanstone with Artists of the Ballet in Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Sian Richards.

June 2015
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Prologue: A Room Inside the Palace 

The scene opens on a lavish court setting of the mid-16th century where King Florestan and his Queen are celebrating the christening of their baby daughter, Princess Aurora. Beautiful fairies arrive, bringing gifts and good wishes to the baby Princess. Catalabutte, the master of ceremonies responsible for compiling the guest list, remembers that he has forgotten to invite the evil fairy Carabosse who suddenly arrives during the festivities. Carabosse is furious at being slighted and declaring that she will be avenged, predicts that one day Princess Aurora shall prick her finger and die. At that moment, the beautiful Lilac Fairy appears and alters the curse by promising that the Princess shall not die but fall asleep for 100 years, only to be awakened by the kiss of a Prince. Still distraught, the King forbids anyone to bring sharp needles into the court for fear that Princess Aurora will come to harm.


Act I 

As the court prepares for Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday, Catalabutte discovers some old women knitting with sharp spindles. The King orders they be executed for breaking his decree but the Queen persuades him to spare them.

The birthday celebrations begin and young girls dance with their partners, carrying beautiful garlands of flowers. Princess Aurora descends the grand staircase and is presented to four princes who are seeking her hand in marriage. She dances with each of them and they in turn present her with a gift of roses.

Carabosse, disguised as an old woman, arrives at the birthday celebration and gives Princess Aurora a bouquet of flowers in which a spindle is concealed. She pricks her finger on the sharp spindle and collapses. Guided by the Lilac Fairy, Princess Aurora is carried into the palace by the courtiers. There the Lilac Fairy casts a spell over the entire court, causing everyone to fall asleep and a thick forest to grow around the palace.



Act II 

Scene 1: 100 Years Later 

Prince Florimund and his courtiers are in the forest hunting for deer. He becomes melancholic and sends everyone away so that he may be alone. In his solitude, he is visited by the Lilac Fairy who learns that he is looking for love. She tells him of an enchanted palace and the sleeping Princess who lies there. A beautiful vision of Princess Aurora appears before Prince Florimund and she dances for him. He falls in love with his vision of the Princess and boards a magical boat to search for her.

Scene 2: The Awakening 

Carabosse, now old and grey, continues to spin her wicked web on a spinning wheel. With the arrival of Prince Florimund, her thread breaks and she finally collapses, overpowered by goodness and virtue.

Inside the palace, Prince Florimund passes immobile courtiers, still asleep in the same positions as when they were put under the spell 100 years earlier. Coming upon the sleeping Princess, Prince Florimund recognizes his true love and kisses her. Magically, she awakens from her 100-year sleep and the entire court is restored to its earlier splendour. The King and Queen approve the betrothal of Princess Aurora to their hero, Prince Florimund.


Act III: The Wedding in the Palace Ballroom 

Catalabutte is once again busy, arranging the court for the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund. The scene opens with a glorious Sarabande led by the King and Queen. This is followed by dances performed by fairy tale characters, including the Pas de Cinq of the Jewels: Gold, Silver, Emerald and Diamonds, the Bluebird and Princess Florine and Puss in Boots with the White Pussycat. Descending the grand staircase, Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund arrive and declare their love with a romantic Grand Pas de Deux.


“This Sleeping Beauty is a grand jewel in the National Ballet of Canada’s repertoire. Not only does it feature a treasure trove of classical riches it once again proves why this company is among the best in the world.” — National Post

“Dazzling… the National Ballet glitters in this gem of a production.” — The Globe and Mail

“Nureyev’s production for the NBC is blessed with beautiful choreography, intelligent drama, and visual opulence. Nicholas Georgiadis’ designs look as sumptuous today as they did when the company premiered it in 1972. Karen Kain, herself and lovely Aurora, has staged the ballet with an understanding of everything needed to make it sparkle.” — Ballet Review

“A stunning success… this truly classical ballet is a triumph for the company.” — The Globe and Mail

“Canada’s Beauty is a reminder that Tchaikovsky’s music was, after all, made for dancing.” — Dance Europe

Background Notes

Learn about the history of The Sleeping Beauty with our Virtual Museum >
Each exhibit surveys the history of the ballet through archival material including
programmes, set and costume sketches, photographs, press items,
correspondence, footwear, costumes, artifacts and more.

Ballet Talks

The National Ballet invites you to attend The Sleeping Beauty Ballet Talk one hour before every show. 

Our hugely popular Ballet Talks take place in R. Fraser Elliot Hall in the Four Seasons Centre one hour before every performance. All ticket holders are welcome. Seats for everyone!

Enhance your experience and learn more about our productions from Lindsay Fischer, Artistic Director, YOU dance/Ballet Master.

“This Sleeping Beauty is a grand jewel in the National Ballet of Canada’s repertoire... and proves why this company is among the best in the world.” — National Post