Both Ballet Comique De La Reine and Sleeping Beauty have some similarities of the royal French Court such as costumes, some social dancing, mannerisms and scenery. They were both very expensive and lavish ballets. The first act of Sleeping Beauty is a portrayal of what the royal French courts were like around the same time as Ballet Comique De La Reine. But, both ballets have differences, especially in the time and location of the ballets. Besides the fact that Ballet Comique De La Reine was five hours long and Sleeping Beauty was approximately 1 hr and 47 minutes, there is a difference in time periods as well. There is approximately a 209-year difference between the choreography of the two ballets.
Ballet Comique De La Reine of 1581 was choreographed in France while Petipa choreographed Sleeping Beauty of 1890 in Russia. Ballet Comique De La Reine was held by the actual real French court while Sleeping Beauty was an imitation. Since Sleeping Beauty was supposed to resemble the court life of the Renaissance / Baroque period, the cast were only performers who played the roles of royalty. Ballet Comique De La Reine was done in 1581 when ballets were participatory. The performers interacted with the audience (including royalty). When Petipa choreographed Sleeping Beauty, the performers had become separate from the audience where they sat and watched the ballet without participating.
Because of the change in interactions between the audience and performers, the first noticeable difference is the construction of each of the stages. The introduction and conclusion to the performances begins differently in that Sleeping Beauty opens and closes with the large curtain revealing the stage. In Ballet Comique De La Reine, curtains to the stages hadn't been introduced yet. The stage was a reconstructed ballroom floor whereas the royal court stayed on the floor while the audience stood in th balconies. The audiences during the Renaissance didn't have a choice of seating such as the royal court. The royal court always had the best seats on the floor, in the center.
Instead of the proscenium stage being raised drastically as in Sleeping Beauty, in Comique De La Reine, royalty were only on a slightly raised platform (dais); on the ballroom floor. The dais was located in the exact center on the far end of the stage. The way in which the performers narrated and told the story of the ballets were considerably different. The performers in Ballet Comique De La Reine communicated to the audience and royalty not only through dance, but also in song, spoken verse and music.
The character dancers in Sleeping Beauty were silent, but they narrated their parts of the ballet through mime along with strong gestural movements of the upper torso. The ballet dancers narrated Sleeping beauty through a lot of virtuosic movements instead of vocally. The challenging and advanced technique of the dancers was highlighted. For example, women could dance on their toes and do very athletic dancing. The female dancers, played very important roles unlike the female who was restricted in movement and unable to place her arms above her head in Ballet Comique De La Reine. The star of Sleeping Beauty, "Princess Aurora" had a challenging role by dancing in all three acts.
During the time of Ballet Comique De La Reine, it would be the male who danced the most, not the female. But, in Sleeping Beauty, the males mostly supported the ballerina's instead of dancing. The only male who had a challenging role of dance material was the prince. Although, the corps de ballet dancers formed designs in unison in Sleeping Beauty, there was at least a little variation when the dancers got a chance to come out independently as soloist to show off their virtuosity skills unlike in Ballet Comique De La Reine.
By this 1890, females outfit of a long and bulky skirt and long sleeves shirt had changed to a short tutu with a tight bodice which exposed her body and line more. The woman had become an ethereal and angel like character who seemed unreal. While the emphasis being placed on one star dancer such as Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, it was more on the beauty of what the whole ballet created, in Ballet Comique De La Reine. The emphasis was more on the beautiful geometric designs that the dancers could form together as a unified group. While in Sleeping Beauty, the group formations were very symmetrical, forming a lot of straight or diagonal lines that were perfectly even such as military line formations. The inspirations of the two ballets were different also.
The characters in Ballet Comique De La Reine were based on Greek Mythological figures. The ballet, Sleeping Beauty was based on a fairy tale by Perrault. Unlike Ballet Comique De La Reine. Sleeping Beauty was inspired by the lifestyle of the Renaissance and Baroque period.
After the princess had awoken after 100 years of sleep, the construction of the second and third act paid homage to the French Baroque period. There were dances included such as the Mazurka and Sara bond. Both ballets had a different kind of political undertone. Ballet Comique De La Reine had the most obvious political motivation. It was a celebration of a political marriage in order to unite the Protestants and Catholics.
The couple of opposing religions who had married were Catherine De Medic's sister Margaret of Lorraine to the Duc of Joyeuse. It was hoped that this marriage would restore peace between the two religions. On the other hand, Sleeping Beauty by Petipa was only a few of the fairy tale ballets that were in the curriculum of what the czars of Russia demanded. Under the command of the higher political authority, self-expressionism and realism were not accepted in Petipa's choreography. Fantasy ballets were a safe way to pleases the Czars of Russia. The fairy tales were a glamorous cover for what was not a glamorous life for all in Russia.
Overall, Sleeping Beauty is definitely a fairy tale on stage. The proscenium stage frames the ballet like a live storybook away from the real world and audience. The angelic ballerina's appear too perfect to be real. Although Ballet Comique De La Reine was made to distract Queen Medici's royal court from fighting, the ballet is more realistic.
The audience isn't so distant especially since they could dance with the performers.