Virtual Museum

The Sleeping Beauty

About the Ballet

Though based on what may seem to be a rather simple children’s fairy tale, The Sleeping Beauty was one of ballet’s most distinguished and sophisticated works of the late 19th century and remains today a staple of the ballet repertoire. The Sleeping Beauty is based on a fairy tale of the same title, written in 1697 as one of the Mother Goose Tales by the French writer Charles Perrault. The work first inspired famed choreographer Marius Petipa who commissioned an original score from classical composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The Sleeping Beauty was premiered at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890 and Petipa’s production surpassed all previous theatrical displays in its grandeur and extravagance with the third act reminiscent of the dazzling French palace of Versailles. At the time, all things French were the rage in Russia so this French fairy tale which celebrated the Sun King’s court became a favourite in Russia. Since Petipa’s famed production there have been many different versions of the work and most classical ballet companies hold a version in their repertoire.

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Ballet Notes

Get more insight into the production - Ballet Notes are detailed guides to the company's dynamic repertoire. Read the synopsis and articles and view more photos in The Sleeping Beauty Ballet Notes.

Read the 2012 Ballet Notes

Rudolf Nureyev Exhibition

Explore the life and work of the legendary dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev through the exhibition Rudolf Nureyev: A Life in Dance at the de Young Museum located in San Francisco, California from October 6, 2012 - February 17, 2013.


Production Chronology 

Dances from the Classics 
Premiere date: November 26, 1953
Choreography: Marius Petipa/Lev Ivanov 
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Set and Costume Design: Kay Ambrose

Dances from The Sleeping Beauty 
Premiere date: July 23, 1957
Choreography: After Marius Petipa
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Set and Costume Design: Kay Ambrose

Princess Aurora 
Premiere date: October 24, 1960
Choreography: Marius Petipa, additional choreography by Celia Franca
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged by George Crum
Set and Costume Design: Kay Ambrose

The Sleeping Beauty 
Premiere date: September 1, 1972
Choreography: Rudolf Nureyev, after Marius Petipa
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Set and Costume Design: Nicholas Georgiadis
Lighting Design: David Hersey

Top image credit: The National Ballet of Canada tutus on display. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.