Matthew Bourne’s “Sleeping Beauty” featured on Great Performances
Perhaps you saw Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Proctor’s last fall … live, in person. Pretty cool, huh?
Now you can see it through your television set thanks to the PBS Great Performances series.
Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty sees the popular choreographer return to the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of the composer’s ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker! and, most famously, in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake.
The fairytale of “The Sleeping Beauty” by Charles Perrault or “Little Briar Rose” by the Brothers Grimm is a classic involving a beautiful princess, enchantment of sleep, and a handsome prince. Perrault’s tale, about a young girl cursed to sleep for one hundred years, was turned into a legendary ballet by Tchaikovsky and the “father of classical ballet;” French-Russian ballet dancer, teacher, and choreographer, Marius Petipa in 1890.
As choreographer and director Matthew Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballets first performance; the height of the fin de siècle period when fairies, vampires, and decadent opulence fed the Gothic imagination. As Aurora grows into a young woman, we move forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long Summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any Fairy story!
Bourne’s haunting new scenario is a Gothic romance for all ages, yet fairytale at its core; the traditional tale of good vs. evil and rebirth is turned upside-down, creating a supernatural love story, across the decades, that even the passage of time itself cannot hinder.
Matthew Bourne also introduces several characters not seen in Petipa’s famous Ballet or Grimm’s fairy tale. The Royal Family is headed by King Benedict and Queen Eleanor. Princess Aurora’s romantic interest is not a Prince, but the royal gamekeeper, Leo. Representing the central forces of good and evil are Count Lilac (“the King of the Fairies”) and the Dark Fairy Carabosse. In another innovation, Bourne has created the character of Caradoc, the sinister but charming son of Carabosse. Princess Aurora’s Fairy Godparents are named Ardor, Hiberna, Autumnus, Feral and Tantrum.
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