Prologue: The Christening
King Florestan and his Queen celebrate the christening of Princess Aurora with members of their court. The godmotherly Lilac Fairy arrives with her ensemble of fairies and consorts to present the baby Princess with gifts of beauty, grace, wit, music, dance, and temperament; but before she can bestow her blessings upon Aurora, the Fairy Carabosse, whose invitation has been overlooked by Catalabutte, the Master of Ceremonies, arrives in a rage. Vengeful for not having been invited to the christening, Carabosse pronounces that Aurora will one day prick her finger on a needle and die. The King and Queen are horrified and beg mercy. The Lilac Fairy reappears to confound the evil curse with a promise that Aurora will not die but rather fall into a deep sleep from which she will be awakened one hundred years later by a prince bestowing first love's true kiss upon the sleeping princess. Carabosse storms from the palace and the King banishes sharp objects from the kingdom in hopes of protecting the princess from her fate.
Act I: Aurora's Birthday
It is Princess Aurora's sixteenth birthday and the court gathers in the castle garden to celebrate with a garland dance. Carabosse, arriving unnoticed and in disguise, presents Aurora with a gift that enamors the princess—a long and glistening needle. Aurora dances with the wondrous needle and pricks her finger—after a panic, she falls lifeless to the ground. Carabosse reveals herself and victoriously leaves the castle yard. The Lilac Fairy then emerges to remind the King and Queen of her promise that Aurora will not die, but will lay in slumber. She casts a spell of sleep over the kingdom; at her command, the palace is covered by a forest until the promised awakening.
Act II: Scene I: The Vision
One hundred years have passed. Prince Désiré is hunting with members of his court. Strangely unhappy, he seeks solitude to reflect on his ideal love. The Lilac Fairy and her Naiads appear, presenting Prince Désiré with a vision of Aurora. The Prince is enchanted and pleads with the Lilac Fairy to take him to the place where the lovely vision sleeps.
Act II: Scene II: The Awakening
After a journey, the Lilac Fairy leads the Prince to an overgrown palace at the edge of a sleeping kingdom where the Prince finds Aurora and awakens her with a kiss. The spell is broken; Aurora and the court rise in splendor.
Act III: The Wedding
The Court is jubilant for the wedding celebrations of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré. The guests masquerade as fairy tale characters and dance in honor of the radiant couple. Their joy is complete when the Lilac Fairy gives her blessing for a happy union ever after.