It may seem odd that Carabosse, the evil fairy who casts the sleeping spell on Princess Aurora, will be played by a man in Columbia Classical Ballet’s performance of “Sleeping Beauty” tonight, but, ironically, it’s not. By casting a man in the role, CCB artistic director Radenko Pavlovich was actually keeping with tradition: In 1890, when the ballet premiered in Russia, a man was chosen to play Carabosse. Since then, the role has gone to both men and women.
Carabosse’s 19th-century gender-bending isn’t the only little-known fact about this romantic tale. Here are five more.
1. Most people associate “Sleeping Beauty” as a Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale, but an earlier version of the tale was written by Frenchman Charles Perrault in 1697. It was part of a volume entitled “Fairy Tales from Past Times with Morals.” Many believe that the original story was a medieval legend. Many believe Perrault used Giambattista Basile’s story, Sun, Moon and Talia, as the basis for his story.
2. Perralt’s tale doesn’t end with the marriage of the prince and princess, but since part two deals with a number of unsavory issues centered around a murderous mother-in-law, it’s easy to see why it’s been ignored.
3. “Sleeping Beauty” was Tchaikovsky’s second ballet (“Swan Lake” preceded “Sleeping Beauty”; the “Nutcracker” followed. Tchaikovsky died before he knew of “Sleeping Beauty’s” success.
4. The original ballet ran nearly four hours with intermissions; tonight’s performance will be about two-and-a-half hours.
5. English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson penned two poems based on “Sleeping Beauty:” “The Sleeping Beauty,” which he wrote in 1830, and, in 1842, “The Day-Dream.”