ballet by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Duration 2:45 Intermission 1


The ballet “Sleeping Beauty” is romance and in it everything is possible

Masha Ilieva is a cheerful person, even though it doesn’t show. She likes the fairy-tale world, which she sometimes opposes to reality. One of the children from her ballet school told her: “I would like to watch spectacles-fairy-tales like “The Nutcracker”, but this ballet is being played only around Christmas. And when can I see a ballet after the fairy-tale “Sleeping Beauty?” Masha replied that she would be welcome to the premiere spectacles of this ballet in November. The prima-ballerina is sure that each of her girls would like to become a great ballerina. To play Sleeping Beauty, and after that to receive a long applause.

Maria Ilieva was educated in love for ballet. Her mother was born in St. Petersburg and as a child she had danced and taken part in theatre spectacles. Her great dream was her girl to become a ballerina. And her dream came true.

“Since I was a little child I started visiting the spectacles of the International Ballet Competition in Varna and of the Opera in Sofia. Then came the lessons in ballet. My fate was predetermined”, tells Masha. If she hadn’t become a ballerina, maybe now she would be a painter, because till today it is her favourite art. Her hobby is drawing. “All my notebooks were drawn. And now, sidelong the written rows, I always draw some sketches. But I’m not drawing very well”, behaves demurely the ballerina.

At the Choreography school she enrolled among the first ones in the list. She had luck that still the next year arrived specialists from the Choreography school in St. Petersburg (at that time still Leningrad) and they liked three children. Among them was Masha. There she studied 7 years.

“I still remember my first appearance on the stage – shares the ballerina. I was terribly afraid. In one moment I even had a conflict with one of the girls. That is why now, as a teacher, I put the children in front of audience since very small, so that they could overcome this fast panic horror from the unknown.

”As strange as it may sound, Masha Ilieva was never attracted by international competitions. “It was enough for me that I won a prize in Varna. Since that moment it stopped to be interesting for me.”At Sofia Opera she was accepted in the standard way – with a competition, as all the rest. Masha, however, turned out to be not like all the rest. Still since the first year she received solo parts. “In spite of that I passed through all stages of development. I have played absolutely everything”, tells the prima ballerina, who is now producer and choreographer of the ballet „Sleeping Beauty”. This is the ballet which the small girls want to play when they grow up.

“Romance never goes away from my soul, says Masha Ilieva, because without it is possible no one of my steps in real life! The ballet in “Sleeping Beauty” is romance, and romance is ballet.  For this reason in it everything is beautiful and possible!


History of the creation of "Sleeping Beauty"

Thirteen years separate the premiere of "Swan Lake" from the first performance of "Sleeping Beauty".

In Tchaikovsky's work there is no other case when two works of the same genre were written with such a big difference in time. The reason for this is the failure of the first production of "Swan Lake", but fortunately this didn't affect the composer's interest in the ballet genre. Tchaikovsky repeatedly mentioned that he intended to write a ballet. He returned several times to his idea for a ballet based on the fairy tale from his childhood "Undine", but he never fully realized his idea.

Tchaikovsky was invited by the director of the Imperial Theatre in St. Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky – the date was 25 May 1888, with a proposal to write the music for the ballet "Sleeping Beauty", based on the tale by Charles Perrault. "I want to make a Louis XIV-style mise-en-scène. Here you can play your musical fantasy and compose a melody in the spirit of Lully, Bach, Rameau, etc. In the last act you will definitely need a quadrille from all of Perault's fairy tales – here must be the Cat in Boots, Little Thumb and Little Red Riding Hood...”” Tchaikovsky enthusiastically embraced the idea.

Vsevolozhsky worked on the libretto together with the choreographer Marius Petipa. According to the planned mise-en-scène, the king was given the name Florestan XIV. While writing the music, Tchaikovsky was also in constant contact with Petipa. Marius Petipa wrote Tchaikovsky a very detailed list of instructions for his musical requirements. Tchaikovsky quickly worked on the new ballet at his home in Frolovsk, where in the winter of 1888 he outlined the original musical sketches and from 30 May 1889 he began to work on the orchestration.

He finished the enormous ballet score in August.

The premiere of the ballet "Sleeping Beauty" was at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on 15 January 1890. The production was prepared very carefully – with rich scenography, attracted the were best soloists of the theatre.

The audience welcomed "Sleeping Beauty" with great interest. Tchaikovsky admitted that of his works, only the opera "Eugene Onegin" has had such success. A real psychosis was created around the spectacle. Black dealers were buying all the tickets to sell them at double the price. Instead of greeting, people asked, "Have you watched "Sleeping Beauty"? The ballet piano score has been reissued several times. Brass bands and entertainment ensembles were performing excerpts from the work.

In just a few seasons, "Sleeping Beauty" has been performed more than 160 times on the stage of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Tchaikovsky died in 1893. Until 1903, "Sleeping Beauty" was the second most popular ballet in the repertoire of the Imperial Ballet.

The ballet performances at “La Scala” in Milan did not show much interest in this ballet, and it was not until Diaghilev's troupe presented it in London in 1921 that “Sleeping Beauty” entered the classical repertoire of world theatres. In 1999, the Kirov Ballet restored the original version of the ballet from 1899, including a restoration of the original scenography and costumes.

“Sleeping Beauty” is Tchaikovsky's longest ballet, lasting almost four hours. The ballet is almost always presented in an abbreviated version. 
In Bulgaria, “Sleeping Beauty” is one of the first titles staged in Sofia still at the dawn of Bulgarian ballet – the premiere was on 25 February 1938. The choreography was by Max Frohman, the scenography by Evgeniy Vashtenko, conducted by Asen Naydenov.

With the special participation of students from the National School of Dance Art in waltz, violinists, pages and bats.

With the special participation of students from the school of Masha Ilieva.



Act I
Scene 1

There is a big celebration in the palace of King Florestan XIV on the occasion of the baptism of their newborn daughter Aurora. Many guests are present. Aurora's godmother, the Lilac Fairy, has brought the good fairies with her to present their gifts. Shortly before she presented her gift to the princess, the Master of Ceremonies, frightened, announced that he had forgotten to invite the Fairy Carabosse, who came to the palace enraged and offended. Everyone is terrified because they knew her anger. The King and Queen apologized to her, but she was adamant – Aurora will be smart and beautiful, but at her first needle prick she will fall asleep forever. Those present are desperate.

The Lilac Fairy cannot undo the curse, but she tries to mitigate it – the princess will be captive to sleep until the moment when a beautiful prince will wake her up with a kiss. Carabosse leaves, the King is desperate and orders never again to use any needles in the kingdom!

Scene 2
A big holiday is coming up in the royal palace – the eighteenth birthday of the Princess. The curse of the evil fairy has not come true. Despite the strict order that no one should wear anything sharp, the maids in the palace "forgot" to leave the knitting at home.

The master of ceremonies is terrified and arrests them. The king and the queen are approaching and although they are scared, they forgive the women, because today is a big holiday for the kingdom. The celebration begins, to which princes are invited, hoping for the attention of the princess. Aurora enters with her courtiers and pages. As she dances, she notices an old woman holding a spindle. The princess takes it and plays with it. She stops abruptly and blood drips from her hand – she was stung without unnoticing. She falls asleep. Everyone is numb and the old woman throws the rags. It turns out that this is the evil Carabosse. The Lilac Fairy comes and puts everyone to sleep.


Act II
Scene 3

After many years. Prince Désiré and his retinue have fun in the woods before continuing their hunt. The prince must choose his fiancée from among the ladies who accompany him, but his heart is sinking. The hunters continue to search for game, but the prince remains. The Lilac Fairy appears in front of him. She shows him the image of Aurora and he falls in love with the princess. Désiré begs the fairy to help him find his beloved, and she takes him with her to the enchanted kingdom of Florestan.

Scene 4
In the palace. Everyone sleeps soundly. Only Carabosse and her pages play sinister dances. The Lilac Fairy comes and chases her away. Aurora's godmother introduces Prince Desiree, who disperses the evil forces, then approaches the princess and kisses her tenderly. The magic is broken and everyone wakes up. The prince asks King Florestan for Aurora's hand. The king gives his blessing.

Scene 5
A holiday in the palace. At the wedding of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré are invited fairies and many fairy tale characters. They offer their congratulations and do not stop dancing. Everyone is happy. The curse no longer weighs on the princess and she is happy.

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