The Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty
Although my only qualification is enthusiasm, I lead a ballet appreciation group and recently sent the following to members. Thought it might interest Forum members.
In the last Act of The Sleeping Beauty Puss-in-Boots and Little Red Riding Hood appear, these characters being from Charles Perrault’s fairytales, published in 1697. The Act also includes the Bluebird and Princess Florine. Although I’ve seen the ballet many times I’ve not understood why a Bluebird and a Princess Florine appear. Having watched various parts of the recent streaming by the Royal Opera House – I enjoyed Fumi Kaneko’s performance as Aurora – I turned to the internet to find out about these two characters, having only come across bluebirds flying over Judy Garland’s rainbow.
Evidently, in mythology, the bluebird is a sign of happiness, prosperity, good health, and the arrival of Spring, the blue plumage being associated with the sky and eternal happiness. I found what I consider a possible connection between a bluebird and the ballet in Wikipedia’s ‘The Blue Bird (fairy tale)’. This fairy tale was published by Baroness d’Aulnoy in 1697 (the same year Perrault published his stories), the Baroness being the person who in 1690 first coined the phrase ‘fairytale’. Very briefly the plot is: widower King, who has beautiful daughter Princess Florine, marries not very nice widowed Queen who has ugly, selfish daughter Truitonne. Visiting the kingdom, Prince Charming falls in love with Florine, Queen and daughter do all they can to prevent Prince Charming and Princess Florine marrying so that he marries Truitonne instead, and as a last resort Truitonne’s fairy godmother turns the Prince into a bluebird. But all ends happily ever after for the Prince and Princess Florine. So, perhaps an explanation of why the Bluebird and Princess Florine appear in the ballet. As a child Aurora would have known this story along with those of Puss-In-Boots and Little Red Riding Hood.
To round off, back to Judy Garland’s song, the second verse:
Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow,
Why, oh why can’t I?
In the film The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is told by her Aunt to find a place where she won’t get into more trouble. Dorothy muses, ‘is there a place where there isn’t any trouble?’. Thinking there must be, but you cannot get there by a boat or a train, she imagines such a place being ‘far, far away ... beyond the rainbow’. At their wedding to their Prince, both Princess Florine and Princess Aurora would of course be ‘over the rainbow’ with happiness.