Ballet in three acts, with prologue. Choreography by Aaron S. Watkin after Marius Petipa
The fairies are visiting the world of mortals to celebrate the long-awaited birth of the infant Princess Aurora. The Lilac Fairy blesses the palace of the royal couple, King Heinrich and Queen Katharina. The three good fairies bring their wishes to the child and bless her with the gifts of beauty, vitality and generosity. Suddenly, the celebration is interrupted by the fairy Carabosse, who, shunned by the fairy world, ekes out an existence on its fringes. Enraged at having been excluded from the happy festivities, she casts a terrible curse: on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will prick herself on a spindle and die. However, the Lilac Fairy has not yet granted her blessing: she makes Carabosse’s curse less severe. Aurora will not die, but fall into a long, deep sleep, from which only a kiss of true love can wake her. The king bans all spinning tools from his kingdom: anyone who does not follow will be punished with death.
Carabosse gives two young peasant girls knitting needles, which they have never seen before. As Carabosse intends, the pair is discovered by guards and taken before the king. Neither the king nor the queen can persuade the girls to admit where they got the needles from, and they are condemned to death. However, the thought of the terrible prophecy of her daughter’s fate moves the queen to mercy. In great despair, they set off to celebrate their daughter’s birthday festivities.
A «Fête Champêtre», a glittering open-air festival, is held in the palace garden. The Lilac Fairy has been invited to watch over the princess and to protect her from Carabosse‘s curse. Aurora receives four royal suitors who come with gifts of the kingdom’s finest roses. Together they dance the »Rose Adagio«. Anxious for the day to end as safely as it has begun, the king unexpectedly breaks off the festivities and bids Aurora and the court to retire.
Aurora is confused by the abrupt end to her birthday party. Alone in her room, she is put into a trance by Carabosse. Helplessly, she faces her fate, as Carabosse appears to her with a spinning wheel and pricks her finger with the spindle. Carabosse’s dark power spreads.
Waking from the trance, Aurora finds herself lost deep in the forest. Weakened, she collapses under the burden of the curse, and falls into a deep sleep. Carabosse and her evil escorts rejoice that Aurora will never be found. But the Lilac Fairy’s promise is stronger. The fairies
guide the royal couple to their daughter for them to sleep there with her until the princess is awakened by the kiss of true love. Rose briars grow up around the place where Aurora, guarded by the three good fairies, lies asleep.
One hundred years have passed. The legend of the sleeping beauty in the forest has become known throughout the kingdom. The young Prince Florimund, fascinated by the story, is determined to find the place where the princess lays. Carabosse appears as a lovely huntress and tries to distract him from his plan. Her henchmen take him off to an unknown place deep in the forest.
The Lilac Fairy sends Florimund a vision of Aurora. Overcome with love, he begs the Lilac Fairy to guide him to Aurora. She warns him, the way will be difficult. She can only guide him and he must be prepared to overcome whatever obstacles lie in his path. Only he alone can make his dreams come true. A long journey begins: the seasons pass. Soon, though, it is spring, and he arrives at the place where Aurora lies hidden. Breathlessly, Florimund dreams of their first meeting.
His dream is rudely interrupted by Carabosse. Her evil sidekicks set upon him, but he easily defeats them. Infuriated, Carabosse calls up the darkest of all her powers. Borne by his love for Aurora, Florimund defeats her in a battle and shatters the power of evil. Carabosse becomes mortal. The Lilac Fairy’s promise is fulfilled by Florimund’s kiss, and Aurora and Florimund declare their eternal love for each other.
Princess Aurora and Prince Florimund have married and swear eternal allegiance to their new kingdom. The royal parents bless the couple. Carabosse, invited to the court, arrives bearing the ancient fairy gifts to the mortal world of corn and bread, symbolic of life and fertility, and swears allegiance to the mortals. The Lilac Fairy is invited as the special guest of honour and to pay homage to her the court is dressed in her colour lilac. The two royal houses are unified and the whole court rejoices in celebration.