The Royal Ballet opens its Spring Season at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden this week, with a glorious production of the enchanting Tchaikovsky ballet, The Sleeping Beauty.
Produced by Monica Mason (former Director of The Royal Ballet) and Christopher Newton, it features additional choreography by Anthony Dowell, Frederick Ashton and Christopher Wheeldon, with original designs by Oliver Messel, and additional designs by Peter Farmer.
The Sleeping Beauty, which Tchaikovsky completed in 1889, was the second of his three ballets – Swan Lake having been the first, in 1876, and The Nutcracker following in 1892. The original scenario was conceived by Ivan Vsevolozhsky, then Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, and based on Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant. The original choreography was by Marius Petipa, Balletmaster at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, where the ballet had its premiere in 1890. Although it wasn’t initially a great success, The Sleeping Beauty has, over time, become one of the most famous and most popular ballets in the classical repertoire.
The Sleeping Beauty has a special place in the history of The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera House. The first production was staged at Covent Garden in 1946 by Ninette de Valois – founder of the Vic-Wells Ballet, which became The Royal Ballet after the granting of a Royal Charter in 1956. This new full-length performance of The Sleeping Beauty heralded the reopening of Covent Garden as a theatre following its closure during World War II. It starred Margot Fonteyn as Princess Aurora and Robert Helpmann as Prince Florimund (and Carabosse), and marked The Royal Ballet’s debut at the Royal Opera House, where it has remained the resident ballet company ever since.
The current production runs from 19th March to 9th April, but for ballet enthusiasts unable to attend a mainstage performance in London – or who live in other countries – the opening performance is being screened live in cinemas around the world on 19th March. Sarah Lamb dances Aurora and Steven McRae is Florimund. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House is conducted by Valery Ovsyanikov.
To find out more about these screenings, follow this link, where you can enter your location to find the nearest showing.
The Royal Opera House has also made available an online Digital Guide – containing specially selected films, articles and exclusives – to tell you everything you need to know about this production. It can be downloaded via this link.