Prologue – The Christening
In the fairytale court of King Florestan and his Queen, a gathering has assembled to celebrate the birth of the royal Princess Aurora. Catalabutte, the master of ceremonies, greets the fairies as they arrive bestowing gifts of beauty, temperament, purity, joy, wit, generosity, and wisdom.
Suddenly the sky darkens, and malevolent music announces the arrival of Carabosse, an evil fairy who had not been invited to the christening. Enraged over her exclusion, she attacks the terrified Catalabutte and mocks the benign fairies who have assembled. Her gift to the infant is a curse: at the age of 16, Aurora will prick her finger on a spindle and die. But the Lilac Fairy, who has withheld her gift until now, decrees that the young Aurora will instead fall into a deep sleep lasting one hundred years, only to be awakened by an ardent young prince with a promise of marriage.
Act I – The Curse
Catalabutte greets the peasants who are allowed to present flowers on the occasion of Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday. An old hag enters with a spinning wheel to the horror of Catalabutte, who warns her that spindles are banned in the Kingdom; any infringement is punishable by death. The King arrives and sentences her to be hung. But the Queen intercedes and the hag is hurried away.
The princess arrives and is courted by four visiting dukes, who lead her in the famous Rose Adagio. The hag re-enters and presents the princess with a spindle. Enchanted by her gift, Aurora dances joyously until she pricks her finger. The curse of Carabosse has been achieved. The Lilac Fairy returns to prepare the Princess and her court for the hundred-year sleep. Thick vines and foliage rise around the palace to protect it from intrusion.
Act II – The Vision and Awakening
A hundred years have passed. Prince Florimund of a nearby kingdom has joined his friends for a hunting party in the forest. The aristocratic group dances a series of rustic rounds before taking off for the chase, but the contemplative prince lingers to enjoy his solitude. The Lilac Fairy and her nymphs appear. She tells the prince of the beautiful princess asleep in the forest, awaiting the kiss of a prince. She conjures up a vision of Aurora, who enchants the young man with her dance. He joins the Lilac Fairy in a panoramic pilgrimage to the palace, where they find Aurora asleep in her bower. One kiss, and she and her sleeping court are restored to life.
Act III – The Wedding
For the marriage of Aurora and Florimund, a grand celebration is held in the palace to which fairy tale characters are invited. They arrive bearing precious jewels, and each entertains the guests with a divertissement. Aurora and Florimund affirm their love in a grand pas de deux. At the climax of the festivities, the Lilac Fairy and her nymphs are revealed in the sky blessing the happy couple.