This two-disc set marks the beginning of a new project devoted to Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores. We start the survey with the complete score of The Sleeping Beauty, recorded on SACD. Swan Lake and The Nutcracker will follow in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Tchaikovsky was approached by the Director of the Imperial Theatres in St Petersburg, Ivan Vsevolozhsky, in 1888 about a possible ballet adaptation of Charles Perrault’s La Belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty). The vision was to stage the production in the style of Louis XIV, allowing the musical fantasy to run high and melodies to be written in the spirit of Lully, Bach, and Rameau. This proposal for a fairy-tale ballet rooted firmly in both the rococo and baroque periods appealed to Tchaikovsky, and The Sleeping Beauty was premiered in 1890, with choreography by Petipa, the principal choreographer of his day.
Tchaikovsky’s ballet in a new production for the reopening of the historic Bolshoi Ballet stage. It also celebrates superstar David Hallberg's Bolshoi debut, the first American principal soloist ever to be hired by the Bolshoi Ballet. The choreographer, Yuri Grigorovich presents a new version of his most famous choreography for a breath taking experience in splendid sets designed by Ezio Frigerio and more than 400 new costumes designed by Franca Squarciapino.
Tchaikovsky - almost alone - saw the possibilities of specially-composed music for the classical ballet, which was hugely popular in nineteenth-century Russia. His secret was to work closely with his choreographer and link music and dance routines at the outset: this proved vital to the stage action and the final success of the whole production. Swan Lake was the first, and Nutcracker the last of Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores. Following the success of Sleeping Beauty came the request for another ballet, which eventually formed a double-bill with his opera Yolanta. Tchaikovsky agreed, unusually, that some of the Nutcracker music could be played at an orchestral concert before the ballet opened in St Petersburg. At the concert, an enthusiastic audience encored almost every number.
Matthew Bourne’s SLEEPING BEAUTY 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. Bourne takes this date as his starting point, setting the Christening of Aurora, the story’s heroine, in the year of the ballets first performance; the height of the Fin de siècle period when fairies, vampires and decadent opulence fed the gothic imagination.