The Sleeping Beauty

Australian Ballet The Sleeping Beauty Justin Ridler

Fairies, bluebirds, a gilded court and a spell-shattering kiss: the world’s most extravagant ballet, The Sleeping Beauty is awakened to new life by The Australian Ballet’s Artistic Director David McAllister.

The Sleeping Beauty, with its Rose Adage, its grand pas de deux, its charming variations and its enchanting Tchaikovsky score, is the zenith of ballet’s golden age. Keeping true to the spirit of the traditional Beauty, David McAllister will direct a production that gives thrilling rein to the talents of the entire company.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was approached in 1888 by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky about a possible ballet adaptation of the story of Undine. It was later decided that Charles Perrault’s La Belle au Bois Dormant (The Beauty Sleeping in the Wood) would be the story for which Tchaikovsky would compose ballet music.

Tchaikovsky did not hesitate to accept the commission, although he was aware that his only previous ballet, Swan Lake, had met with little enthusiasm at that stage of his career. The choreographer was Marius Petipa, ballet master of the Imperial Ballet, who wrote a very detailed list of instructions as to the musical requirements. Tchaikovsky worked quickly on the new work – in little more than a month during the winter of 1888, he sketched out a rough draft of the music.

He began orchestration in June 1889, working at Frolovskoe, the country estate of his mysterious patron, Madame Nadezhda von Meek. The score reveals an unusual and rarely displayed side of Tchaikovsky’s nature. It abounds in gay and tuneful themes that are the antithesis of his more sombre and intense symphonies and tone-poems. Possibly the happier tone of the music was the result of those rare moments of tranquillity which the composer felt while on holiday in the country.

Tchaikovsky was by all accounts highly pleased with his endeavours, placing the music for The Sleeping Beauty amongst his finest work. The ballet’s focus was on the two main conflicting forces of good (the Lilac Fairy) and evil (Carabosse); each is represented by a leitmotif, which runs through the entire ballet, serving as an important thread to the underlying plot. Aurora’s wedding scene, however, takes a complete break from the two motifs and instead places focus on the individual characters of the various court dances.

In this new production, lavish sets and costumes by Gabriela Tylesova, whose work for ballet, opera and theatre includes the much-lauded designs for Love Never Dies, will evoke the splendour of the Imperial court and the magic of fairies, nymphs and visions.

The much-anticipated world premiere of this landmark production will be the crowning moment of the year and perfect for all ages. Don’t miss the moment when this majestic Beauty opens her eyes.

Choreography: Marius Petipa  Production and additional choreography: David McAllister  Music: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  Costume and Set design: Gabriela Tylesova  Design Associate: Kat Chan  Dramaturge: Lucas Jervies  Lighting design: Jon Buswell

The Sleeping Beauty
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 15 – 26 September 2015
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at:

Crown Theatre Perth, Great Eastern Highway, Burswood
Season: 7 – 10 October 2015

Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 27 November – 16 December 2015

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Sleeping Beauty – photo by Justin Ridler