The story of the slumbering princess goes back several centuries and went through numerous versions before Perrault was inspired by an Italian tale to write what would become the Sleeping Beauty that we know today. The day of her christening, an infant princess receives a curse from the fairy Carabosse, whom no one invited to the fete; the fairy wishes for Aurora to prick her finger and die on the day of her 16th birthday. Fortunately, another fairy succeeds in easing the princess’ plight by having her fall instead into a deep sleep of 100 years. Only true love’s kiss will awaken her.
In the staging presented by Les Grands Ballets, choreographer Marcia Haydée has gone back to the original version by Marius Petipa and retains the essence of the 19th-century classical ballet. However, the role of the evil fairy plays a much more important role than in the original. Carabosse as reimagined by Haydée becomes a central and Manichean character, nuanced, personifying Evil – but Good as well, since no being is totally Evil.