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On Stage

On Stage: Sleeping Beauty


Tchaikovsky was commissioned by the Director of the Imperial Theatre to compose the music for the ballet The Sleeping Beauty, with ballet master of the Imperial Ballet, Marius Petipa, as choreographer. This was Tchaikovsky's second ballet, following his first collaboration with Petipa, Swan Lake. It includes a prologue and three acts, and is the longest of Tchaikovsky's works, running nearly three hours without intermissions, and as such, it is frequently edited for time.

The version of the fairy tale used as the basis for the ballet was the Brothers Grimm adaptation of the edition written by Charles Perrault, in which the parents of the Princess survive the curse of the 100-year slumber, and the Princess is awakened by her true love's kiss. Added to the ballet were other characters from different Perrault tales, including Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, and Puss in Boots.

The Sleeping Beauty premiered at Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 15th, 1890, and has since become a beloved classic. Following the debut performance, Tsar Alexander III sent for Tchaikovsky to appear before him in the Imperial box, and when the composer arrived, the Tsar announced that the work was “very nice.” Tchaikovsky was reportedly annoyed by this underwhelming praise.

The Wichita Grand Opera is presenting The Russian National Ballet Theatre's production of The Sleeping Beauty for one night only, on April 23rd at Century II, with tickets already on sale. The Russian National Ballet Theatre is using Petipa's original choreography, with additional choreography by Iryna Kovalova.