Elizabeth Harrod as the White Cat and Paul Kay as Puss-in-Boots dance in Act III of The Sleeping Beauty, The Royal Ballet 2011/12 Season.
The Sleeping Beauty holds a special place in The Royal Ballet’s repertory. It was the ballet with which the Company reopened the Royal Opera House in 1946 after World War II, announcing its move from Sadler’s Wells to Covent Garden. Margot Fonteyn danced the role of the beautiful princess Aurora in the first performance, with Robert Helpmann as Prince Florimund. Sixty years later, in 2006, the original 1946 staging was revived, returning Oliver Messel’s wonderful designs and glittering costumes to the stage once again.
Marius Petipa’s classic 19th-century choreography is combined with newly created sections by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell and Christopher Wheeldon. The ballet contains many memorable moments, from the iconic Rose Adagio, when Aurora meets her four royal suitors, to the vigorous hunting dances and the famous waltz for Aurora and her Prince. Throughout, Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s score conveys passion and intensity.