Boston Ballet: The Sleeping Beauty

Boson Ballet has brought a classic fairytale to life, with a performance of Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty. Like the story itself, the ballet was charmed, with lush period outfits, mesmerizing dances, and a spellbinding symphony.

“This is my favorite production of The Sleeping Beauty, and I am excited to share it with Boston audiences again. It is a fantastic introduction for the first-time ballet goer, as well as a true pleasure for connoisseurs,” said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen in a press release. “The Sleeping Beauty is ingrained in ballet history, and I am proud that Boston Ballet continues this legacy. The tradition, emotion, and atmosphere created by the superb dancing, costumes, and sets have made audiences fall in love with it again and again.” 

The Sleeping Beauty is split into three acts with a total run time of just under three hours—I will admit that the time was a bit of an issue and left me fidgeting or yawning in my seat at times. Not a commentary on the performance itself, but just the fact that sitting that long in the dark is hard for me, let alone the gaggles of kids that come to see their favorite princess on stage.

Act I is to be expected, the christening ceremony of the baby princess. She is blessed by six good fairies—read six and not three, while reminiscent to the cartoon version we all know and love, the ballet is slightly different—which is outlined through an array of solo performances meant to express the personality of each fairy. Some were definitely more memorable than others; the Songbird Fairy in particular was cheeky and elicited several laughs from the audience.

This is all interrupted by the evil fairy Carabosse. She appears—in a magnificent (get what I did there, Maleficent) green hued gown—with her creatures and gifts the princess the curse of death by the spinning wheel.  But have no fear, the Lilac Fairy saves the day and turns the death sentence to a magical sleep, broken by true love’s kiss. The Lilac Fairy continues to drive the narrative and execute graceful solos.

One of the most impressive moments of the night was the Rose Adagio—which is famous in the dance world. Now a beautiful teenager, Aurora is presented with four princely suitors. She stands on pointe and spins as the princes take turns holding her hand as an anchor. The moments when they briefly let go stole my breath, afraid that when they let go she would wobble. But she executed the move with ease and only slight pause.

But then of course, Aurora pricks her finger and the whole kingdom falls into an enchanted sleep.

Act II includes Prince Desire—about like 100 years later—guided by the Lilac fairy to rescue Aurora, his true love. The ballet concludes with their wedding, which is attended by an ensemble of fairytale characters. Puss’n Boots and the White Cat quickly became audience favorites, with an extra-feline performance that left everyone smiling.

Boston Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty makes for an enchanting night. Its familiarity makes it perfect for ballet newcomers (or even children). And its beauty and masterfulness makes it a treat for dance aficionados. Never has this city been more magical.

“The Sleeping Beauty” will be presented by the  Boston Ballet through May 27 at the Opera House, 539 Washington St. $35 and up. 617-695-6955, bostonballet.org.

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