Kisses and Fairies: A Review of Boston Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

Boston Ballet Sleeping Beauty

Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Disclosure: The Boston Ballet provided me with two complimentary tickets to this performance.

My daughter and I were recently the guests of the Boston Ballet at its sumptuous production of The Sleeping Beauty at the Boston Opera House.

This ballet had at its world premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1890, and first came to the Boston Ballet in 2005. This new production features the gorgeous music of Tchaikovsky and memorable choreography of Marius Petipa (with additional choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton).

No matter how many ballets I see, I know I will never cease to be awed by the ballerinas dancing en pointe (i.e., on their toes) across the stage. It’s a stunning example of athleticism and grace. The dancers make it look so easy, as the saying goes, but it’s clear there are years of dedication and skill in those moves. It’s why I love the ballet; what looks so effortless has its foundation in hard work.

Ashley Ellis danced the lead role of Princess Aurora in the performance my daughter and I saw, and she was the quintessential ballerina, all elegance and long lines. She did a terrific job and commanded the stage. My daughter was captivated by Carabosse, the evil fairy, played by Rachelle Buriassi, who brought drama and conflict to poor Aurora’s life. Kathleen Breen Combes wonderfully assumed the role of the Lilac Fairy, the lovely creature who saves Aurora from death, instead placing her in a long sleep, to be saved by a kiss from Prince Desire played by Eris Nezha.

The set design and costumes, designed by David Walker, with production by Ninette de Valois (based upon a 1939 production), immerses the audience in a distant European kingdom where magic and fairies are commonplace. From the first strands of music, conducted by Jonathan McPhee, my daughter and I were swept away into the classic story of a princess cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and fall asleep for 100 years.

The Sleeping Beauty has three acts and two intermissions, and is infused with romance. It’s a great ballet for all ages, and it is so engaging that the nearly three-hour performance slips by quickly. My seven-year-old daughter thoroughly enjoyed herself, though she wasn’t a fan of the kissing. (“Mom, the prince really shouldn’t have been kissing the princess. He didn’t even know her!”) Kissing, notwithstanding, she looks forward to returning to the ballet, and so do I.

Boston Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty runs through May 27. Tickets can be purchased at

sleeping beauty

Boston Ballet in Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty; photo by Liza Voll, courtesy of Boston Ballet