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.
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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.”