Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre opens its 45th Anniversary Season with one of the greatest fairy tale classics of all time, “The Sleeping Beauty” with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra, onstage for four performances Oct. 24-26, at the Benedum Center.
“The Sleeping Beauty,” which premiered in 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, combines classic fairy tale elements with a sophistication of technique that set classical ballet benchmarks. Featuring more than 150 performers, including students of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, PBT’s “The Sleeping Beauty” tells Charles Perrault’s classic tale through illustrative scenery and tour de force dancing.
Choreography & Characters
“The Sleeping Beauty” features staging and direction by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr with choreography after Marius Petipa. Considered “the father of classical ballet,” Marius Petipa choreographed more than 60 full-length ballets, including some of the great 19th century classics, Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Don Quixote and The Nutcracker.
Distinguished by its purity and precision, the choreography of “The Sleeping Beauty” is widely regarded as the gold standard for classical ballet technique. Among its highlights, the famous “Rose Adagio,” performed by Aurora and her four suitors, showcases the strength and control of the ballerina through a series of impressive balances and promenades, and the Act III wedding scene captures the elation of the lovers in a grand pas de deux often performed alone as a showpiece. In addition to the leading roles of Princess Aurora and Prince Desire, “The Sleeping Beauty” displays the depth of the cast through the solos of the six good fairies, the soaring male choreography of the Bluebird Pas de Deux and the virtuosity of the Act III variations in the wedding scene. Other notable characters include the infamous fairy, Carabosse (known as Maleficent in the Disney version), and Act III cameos by Puss ‘n Boots and other characters from Perrault fairy tales.
The ballet features one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest and most recognizable scores, including the iconic “Garland Waltz” used as the tune for Disney’s “Once Upon a Dream.” At the time of the ballet’s creation, Tchaikovsky and Petipa collaborated closely to devise the tempo, themes and timing of the score. In a note to a benefactor, Tchaikovsky wrote, “The subject is so poetic, so inspirational to composition, that I am captivated by it.” The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra will perform Tchaikovsky’s famous score under the direction of guest conductor Martin West, who serves as music director and principal conductor for San Francisco Ballet. West made his conducting debut at English National Ballet in 1997, and, in addition to his post with SFB, has went on to guest with some of the top ballet companies in North America, including New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.
Set & Costume Design
Originally created for the Royal Ballet of London, “The Sleeping Beauty” features scenic and costume designs by David Walker, who evokes a 17th century aesthetic with the regal columns and gold finery of the palace that frames the story. Costume styles include the intricate classical tutus of the fairies, elaborate robes of the courtesans and the jeweled snakes and spiders of Carabosse’s costume. Stage effects also enhance the atmosphere, especially with the entrance of Carabosse, whose carriage careens onstage in a swirl of fog and thunder.
Tickets start at $27 and can be purchased online at www.pbt.org, by calling 412-456-6666, or by visiting the Box Office at Theater Square in the Cultural District. Subscription packages also are available by clicking here or by calling 412-454-9107. Groups of 10 or more can save up to 50% off regularly priced tickets by contacting the Group Sales Department at 412-454-9101 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Performance Dates & Times
- Friday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m.
- Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m.
Theater Programs & Educational Events
Audience members are invited to attend the following educational events at the theater.
Friday, Oct. 24, at 10:30 p.m.; Benedum Center
A post-performance discussion with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and other PBT artists
- Family Pointe – “Magical Monsters and Fanciful Fairies”
Saturday, Oct. 25, at 1 p.m.; Benedum CenterAn entertaining pre-performance discussion and demonstration of various aspects of the production
- Insights – “The Pinnacle of Classical Ballet: The Role of Princess Aurora”
Saturday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m.; Benedum Center
An interactive discussion with Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr and former PBT Principal Dancer Erin Halloran
- Talks with Terry
Sunday, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m.; Benedum CenterA pre-performance opportunity to observe the company’s onstage warmup class and hear the artistic director’s perspective on the production
- Audio-Described Performance & Sensory Seminar
Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m.; Benedum Center
Patrons can sign out headsets to hear live, verbal descriptions of the choreography, set and costumes. Prior to the performance, PBT will offer a Sensory Seminar for visually impaired patrons to explore costume and prop samples and poses of signature choreography. For more information, please visit www.pbt.org/audio-description.
About PBT’s 45th Anniversary Season
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre celebrates its 45th Anniversary with a season spanning grand classical ballets and modern masterworks. Presented exclusively at the Benedum Center, PBT’s 2014-2015 Season enters five new works into the PBT repertory. Opening in October with “The Sleeping Beauty,” the 2014-2015 Season continues with “The Nutcracker” in December, the Pittsburgh premiere of Lew Christensen’s “Beauty and The Beast” in February, “PBT Premieres” with the PBT Orchestra in March and “La Bayadère” with the PBT Orchestra in April. For tickets, please visit www.pbt.org. or call 412-454-9107.