Recognized as one of the crowning achievements of classical ballet, Ben Stevenson's The Sleeping Beauty is a Houston Ballet staple, which is why artistic director Stanton Welch made sure it was on the schedule for Houston Ballet's 50th anniversary season.
It's a battle between good and evil on the Wortham stage, as the benevolent yet powerful Lilac Fairy takes on the sinister yet glamorous Carabosse when the evil fairy crashes the christening of Princess Aurora. Doomed to sleep for 100 years, the beautiful princess can only be awakened by a kiss from the handsome prince who loves her. As this fairytale unfolds, the Lilac Fairy acts as the gentle guiding hand, always protecting Aurora and the kingdom from Carabosse's evil plans.
In advance of this spring crowd-pleaser, running February 27-March 8, here are a few facts about its history and what audiences can expect to experience:
A beautiful beginning
Houston Ballet first performed The Sleeping Beauty in 1978, just two years into Stevenson's time as artistic director, with costumes and sets designed by Peter Farmer. Recognized as one of the supreme achievements of classical ballet, Stevenson's production and its famously technical choreography were based directly off the original staging of The Sleeping Beauty by Marius Petipa in 1890.
In honor of the ballet's 100th anniversary in 1990, Stevenson decided to create a lavish new production with the same choreographic inspiration, designed for the newly built Wortham Theater Center, with costumes and sets by Tony Award-winning designer Desmond Heeley. This production has now been performed by the company for 30 years.
A show of skill
There are several famous moments in The Sleeping Beauty, but none are more impressive than "The Rose Adagio." This dance between Princess Aurora and her four potential suitors is widely considered one of the greatest challenges of nineteenth century choreography because of its demands of stamina, technical skill, and mastery of classical style.
Introducing a villainess
While modern audiences might equate the ballet's villain with the Disney's sleekly scary Maleficent, the Evil Fairy was originally played as an old hag and performed by a male dancer outfitted with a humpback and hooded cloak.
Tchaikovsky's ballet was the first reference of the Evil Fairy as "Carabosse," and Stevenson re-envisioned the character as a glamorous, fierce, exciting role for a principal female dancer to play.
The VIP experience
Prior to the 1:30 pm performance on February 29, you can go onstage to meet your favorite dancers in full costume. Indulge in refreshments and pose at a themed photobooth before the show and during intermission, and leave with a commemorative sketch from the production to remember the day. Availability of this $70 experience is limited, so book now to avoid disappointment.
Houston Ballet's production of The Sleeping Beauty will be performed February 27-March 8 at the Wortham Theater Center. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.