The Beauty of Walt Disney's The Sleeping Beauty

Recently I acquired the Blu-ray edition of Walt Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty, my favorite Disney movie of all time. I love it not only because I am old enough to have seen it in the theater when it was first released in 1959, but also—actually mainly—because the film soundtrack is based almost exclusively on the music of Tchaikovsky’s ballet. Like everyone, I was enchanted by the singing of the title character, which, I later learned, was dubbed by opera star Mary Costa. So out of curiosity I dug through Ravinia’s archive and learned that the lovely Ms. Costa—who not only provided the voice, but also was the model for the figure of Princess Aurora—made her Chicago area debut here at Ravinia the following year. (Interestingly, she had already performed at San Francisco Opera, where I would work from 1980 until 1994.) For the August 6 concert on which she appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Steinberg, she performed the “Song to the Moon” from Dvořák’s Rusalka, two arias from Weber’s Der Freischütz, “Je suis Titania” from Thomas’s Mignon, and two operetta selections by Johann Strauss, Jr. Had I been aware of this at the time, I would have begged my parents to drive from our home in Milwaukee to attend that concert!


John Schauer
Associate Director of Communications, Publications