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Which Aurora came first?


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#1 ronny

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 07:50 AM

We have Aurora Indiana (a sleeping beauty of a town) and we have aurora borealis (beauty in the nightime sky) and of course we have Princess Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty? So which one came first?

I am a bit partial to the notion that the princess came first and that she was such a sensation that the others followed. But what do you think?

#2 Estelle

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 09:26 AM

ronny, "aurora" is the Latin work for "dawn". In French it is "aurore", which also is a female first name, and that's the name of the princess in Petipa's ballet. I thought it was her name too in Perrault's tale, but I have just had a look at it:

http://www.contes.ne...lt/labelle.html

and in the tale the princess' name isn't mentioned; it is her daughter who is called Aurore (but it is in the second part of the tale, which doesn't appear in the ballet). By the way, the Prince has no name either.

"Aurora borealis" means "northern dawn" in Latin, so it probably has nothing to do with the Sleeping Beauty. But I have no idea of the origin of the name of the city of Aurora... Perhaps there are beautiful dawns there? By the way, is Aurora a first name in English too?

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 01:07 PM

Estelle, I went to college with an Aurora smile.gif I think, today, nearly any combination of letters is a name in English -- at least, it is in American English.

I always assumed they used the name Aurora for symbolic reasons -- the king and queen wanted a daughter, her birth was a new beginning for them (curious, since in Russia, they desperately needed a SON for the monarchy to survive).

Estelle, never having read the story in French, I didn't realize that Aurora was the Prince and Princess's daughter's name. In a dance history class, when we were told the whole story (those children were eaten by the Queen Mother, I believe?) we were told they were "Dawn" and "Day." I always assumed (stupidly, obviously) that Aurora and Prince Whatsit had named their children Dawn and Day.

I wonder where "Florimund" came from? "Desiré" at least makes sense.

#4 Estelle

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 06:57 PM

I've found a site with statistics about the first names in France since 1900; and it says there have been about 51000 "Aurore" born in France since 1900, nearly all of them born after 1970 (by the way, there are about 8000 Giselle, nearly all of whom born before 1960, with the highest numbers in the early 1920s- on the other hand there are about 150000 Gisèle, nearly all of whom born before 1970, with the highest numbers around 1930 and 1950. There are about 1800 Florimond, born either before 1950 or after 1980. That was the statistical silly stuff of the day biggrin.gif )

In France, there used to be some rather strict laws about which first names were admissible, but I think it was modified in the 1980s and 1990s and now people can give almost any name to their kids.

About the second part of the story: the ugly Queen Mother tries to eat the princess's kids, but fortunately she finds a way to hide them (and to have the Queen Mother eat a young lamb and a young goat insteed- and also a young deer instead of the princess herself). The kids actually are called "Aurore" and "Jour", so the translations as "Dawn" and "Day" are accurate (it is even mentioned that the boy was called "Day" because he was even more handsome than his sister, in French there's an expression "beau comme le jour").

I don't know where "Florimond" comes from... As you wrote, "Désiré" makes sense (but given the beginning of the story, actually it is the princess who should have been called "Désirée"!)

Reading Perrault's tale again, I've noticed that there were quite a lot of humorous or bizarre details that I had forgotten (and that are absent from the ballet), like the dwarf with seven-league boots warning the good fairy (Lilac fairy) who was
twelve thousand leagues away when the princess fell asleep, the fact that the prince is more embarrassed than the princess when they meet because she had had plenty of time to think about what she would tell him thanks to nice dreams sent by the good fairy, the fact that the prince finds that she has clothes looking like those of his grandmother but of course doesn't tell her so, or that they don't sleep much during their wedding night because the princess doesn't really need it... That's really pleasant to read.

By the way (perhaps it'd deserve a separate topic), I wonder which tales of Perrault have been adapted as ballets, and which haven't but would give interesting plots.

(A really off-topic note: I've also discovered that the stupid princess in "Riquet a la Houppe" had no name either- in the book I had as a child, she was called Estelle... rolleyes.gif )

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 07:11 PM

Estelle, that was above and beyond the call of duty -- but thank you for doing it smile.gif What a lovely post!

About the names being restricted, that may have had religious origins. Catholics were (perhaps still are) directed to choose only saint's names. You have to pick a certified, well, canonized saint. I wonder if that became a civil law as well, in France? I have a vague memory from my high school "French language and civilization" class that there were several laws of religious origin?

I was struck, watching the ballet's divertissements, of how many of Perrault's tales involved people eating people, or avoiding being eaten by beasts. Does this have a psychological significance, or is it that the 18th century is not too far from the time when people stayed out of dark forests for a very good reason? The Giant with the seven-league boots is in the ballet (Tom Thumb, or Hop o' my Thumb, in some productions). He's threatening to eat seven little boys, but they steal his boots and get away. There's Little Red Riding Hood, of course. And the omitted portion of the story (the mother wanting to eat Dawn and Day). Substitution is another theme -- not Perrault, but Grimm, I think, has Hansel and Gretel tricking the nearsighted witch with chicken bones; they're too skinny to be worth eating.

I don't know of any other ballets made to Perrault's stories. Does anyone else?

#6 Estelle

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 07:43 PM

About the names: I think that the law restricted the first names to names of saints and names of famous characters of Greek and Latin Antiquity, and probably also well-known foreign names, but will have to check that to be sure.

So the last part of the story is in the divertissements? I didn't know that.

After some further thinking (and web-browsing)... Another Perrault tale is "Cinderella" (Cendrillon)- what a pity Petipa's version was list! Roland Petit made a ballet after "Le chat botté" (Puss-in-boots) in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but it didn't last much. Fokine did a "Bluebeard" in 1941. Perrault's book of tales was called "Contes de ma mère l'Oye", but the music by Ravel (used by Robbins) was inspired in fact by tales by several authors (for example "Beauty and the Beast", by Madame Leprince de Beaumont). Also "L'Oiseau bleu" (Bluebird), which appears in "The Sleeping Beauty", is by Mme d'Aulnoy...

I wonder if "Peau d'Ane" (Donkey skin) would make a good ballet? The name "Lilac fairy" comes from there. At least the costumers would have some interesting job to do to create "sun-colored",
"weather-colored" and "moon-colored" dresses...

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 25 February 2002 - 07:49 PM

How could I have forgotten "Cinderella?"

Estelle, the attempted child eating isn't in the story; I didn't mean to imply that. I was just listing it, the omitted part of the story, after the two examples that were in the divertissements. It was in Perrault's tale, but not the ballet -- but the theme is a concern in those old folk tales.

"Bluebeard" just might be able to be revived. Not that anyone would want to. ATM, did you see that one?

[ February 25, 2002: Message edited by: alexandra ]



#8 Helena

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Posted 26 February 2002 - 05:58 AM

In something I was reading recently I discovered that when Diaghilev brought The Sleeping Princess to England in the 1920s the Prince was called Charming, as he often was (and is still) in the English pantomimes. He was also often called Desire in pantomimes, which I think is the reason the Sadlers Wells ballet changed the name to Florimund for their production in the 1930s. Pantomimes were considered a downmarket form of entertainment, so the association was considered undesirable for a true art form like ballet. (I think I've said this before somewhere on this board.) Fonteyn very Britishly described the name Desire as "a bit much".

Florimund presumably means "flower of the world", from Latin. These "flower" names were associated with royalty, or at least aristocracy, in European tradition - there is a Florismart in the Charlemagne romances, and the name Florizel was used by George the Fourth in his correspondence with his the actress Mary Robinson - he took the name from Shakespeare. There is also Florestan, of course. It was considered romantic. I've never come across Florimund other than in this ballet. (I've known a Florian, though!)

Aurora is used in English, but very rarely. It is listed in books of names, but I've never met one. Dawn is used quite a lot.

[ February 26, 2002: Message edited by: Helena ]



#9 Estelle

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Posted 26 February 2002 - 06:16 AM

In French the tales often call the prince "le prince charmant", but that's an adjective, not a name...

In some versions, "Florimond" is the name of the King (for example in Nureyev's version, he's "Florimond XIV", I think. Probably the "XIV" is for Louis the XIVth?), not that of the prince. What is the name of the king in the original Petipa version?

After some further searching on that web site about first names, there actually were some Désiré born in the 20th century in France (and also some Hilarion, Bathilde, Berthe, Zulma, Albrecht, Albert, Paquita, Odile, Odette, Siegfried, Clara- but no Myrtha, nor Moyna, nor Raymonda...)

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 February 2002 - 08:08 AM

Yes, Estelle, the King in the original Petersburg version was Florimund XIV, and the "fourteenth" is there for a very good reason, as the whole ballet has the rightness of absolutism as a major theme. After all, that theme that many people think is a Russian melody in the apotheosis is actually "Vive Henri IV", the leading exponent of divine-right absolute monarchy in his day!

#11 Helena

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Posted 26 February 2002 - 08:24 AM

I have just remembered that there was a famous English poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning called "Aurora Leigh", so the name was obviously known to her. It was published in 1856, well before Sleeping Beauty. When I was checking this I found that the poet Byron had also used the name in "Don Juan" for "a beautiful and innocent young heroine". That was even earlier, in the 1820s. Aurora was the goddess of the dawn, I think, in mythology.

I don't know the name of the King in the original Petipa - it would be interesting to know. Then there's "Florestan and his Sisters", a pas de trois introduced by Diaghilev....this was included in some RB versions, where the King was also called Florestan (XXIV) but was not the Florestan in the pas de trois...I'm getting more and more confused!

#12 Helena

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Posted 26 February 2002 - 08:30 AM

Thanks, Mel! We must have overlapped. So the English ballet just took the name of the original King and transferred it to the Prince.


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