Sleeping Beauty on Super Bowl Sunday

February 02 2014

Tchaikovsky wrote three major ballets, Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty. Sunday, I finally got to see Sleeping Beauty, the only one of the three I hadn’t seen yet and also probably the least performed of the three.

I bought tickets for this performance way back in September. Back then, I vaguely remember thinking that Sunday, February 2nd might be Super Bowl Sunday. But then I thought, what are the chances I’ll actually care about the Super Bowl? The Vikings had no shot. Of course, it turns out that the Seattle Seahawks actually made the Super Bowl, and were set to play later that day*. As a result, the audience wasn’t as full as previous performances we’ve seen an PNB. One nice touch was the pit musicians had signs on their stands with “12”, the symbol for the “12th fan”.

* and they won!

Even the pit musicians were cheering for the Seahawks

Sleeping Beauty is in 4 acts. The first one, a prologue, describes the birth of Aurora. The fairies in attendance are all responsible for giving a gift to the newborn. Carabosse, the wicked fairy, crashes the party and decrees that Aurora will die from pricking her finger on a spindle. Then the Lilac fairy (apparently the most powerful fairy) decrees that instead of dying, Aurora will simply sleep. This is basically exactly what was shown in the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty.

The second act has all the interesting music and interesting plot. The famous Adagio is here* - this is where Aurora receives her courters (see below for an excerpt). This is both beautiful music and beautiful dancing. It takes incredible balance and incredible poise to get through this. For our performance, Leta Biasucci, a member of the Corps de Ballet, played the role of Aurora. I thought she was pretty shaky (literally). This was the first time that I’ve really noticed dancing that I thought could be improved (I’m still relatively new to ballet).

* The Adagio is also my favorite piece of music in the ballet

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The third act belongs to the Prince. I actually fell asleep a little bit here. The last movement is a really long, happy celebration. It’s essentially a “dance-off”, as different couples take turns doing solos.

Sleeping Beauty is not quite as enjoyable as the other Tchaikovsky ballets. Nutcracker is great because there are just so many recognizable melodies, and it’s fun and lighthearted. Swan Lake is great because it focuses singularly on the Swan Princess (Odette and Odile), and it ultimately ends in tragedy. Sleeping Beauty straddles the line a little bit. There’s no clear main character - Aurora’s role is definitely not as large as Odette’s, and it also seems less significant. And the ending is a little too happy - there really isn’t any drama or suspense in the plot.

The happy couple takes a bow at the end

I will of course keep listening to the music and I’m glad I finally got to see all three ballets. We’ll be seeing Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s next.

Topics: MusicMusic:ConcertsMusic:Ballet

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