Not long now – eep – until the world premiere tour of Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty arrives at the Empire, for a short run from April 30 to May 4.
His latest show sees the choreographer return to the music of Tchaikovsky to complete the trio of the composer’s ballet masterworks that started in 1992 with Nutcracker!, and, most famously in 1995, with the international hit Swan Lake.
As usual, there is a twist. Matthew Bourne’s new scenario introduces several characters not seen in Petipa’s famous ballet or Grimm’s fairy tale. Princess Aurora’s romantic interest is not a prince, but the royal gamekeeper, Leo. Representing the central forces of good and evil are Count Lilac (“the King of the Fairies”) and the Dark Fairy Carabosse, and in another innovation, Bourne has created the character of Caradoc, the sinister but charming son of Carabosse. Princess Aurora’s fairy godparents are named Ardor, Hiberna, Autumnus, Feral and Tantrum.
Perrault’s timeless fairy tale about a young girl cursed to sleep for one hundred years was turned into a ballet by Tchaikovsky and choreographer, Marius Petipa, in 1890. Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballet’s first performance; the height of the fin-de-siecle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination.
As Aurora grows into a young woman, the ballet moves forwards in time to the more rigid, uptight Edwardian era; a mythical golden age of long summer afternoons, croquet on the lawn and new dance crazes. Years later, awakening from her century long slumber, Aurora finds herself in the modern day; a world more mysterious and wonderful than any fairy story…
Matthew Bourne’s new scenario is described as a gothic tale for all ages; the trailer alone is thrilling: