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Mary Costa is Sleeping Beauty in the 50th Anniversary Edition

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No matter what age you are, I hope you’ve seen or your parents have shown you cartoons from the past when they used to portray the ultimate battle between good and evil. When I was little I didn’t watch Disney for the glossy finish of a red racing car. Disney, with each beautifully hand-drawn frame, used to make productions that gave me nightmares. You won’t find that kind of setup today. Today the sharks in Finding Nemo will hold funny addict meetings instead of stalking menacingly after Ariel in The Little Mermaid.

I’ve always wondered what changed in our society that forced Disney to take the dragons and demons from their cartoons. But thank goodness for anniversaries that bring back the oldies. Today, October 7, we celebrate the return of one of these masterpieces in Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition. The picture and sound have been re-mastered, but the horror and beauty remain intact.

However, even growing up watching this sometimes frightening, mostly enchanting movie, I understood that I was watching fantasy. I never went to bed wondering if Maleficent was going to appear as a glowing green orb above my head. Or at least that’s what I told myself. I also would have never guessed there could possibly be someone as beautiful, as graceful, and who could sing like Briar Rose, the sleeping beauty. In my naïve childlike state, my sister Christy was that person in the same way that I was weirdo, outsider Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

But all along, even without the sister rivalry, Aurora was real. Her beauty, charm, and grace existed outside of fantasy in Mary Costa, world renowned operatic star.

Marc Davis and Mary CostaBorn in 1930, Costa worked from her humble beginnings in Knoxville, Tennessee to become an internationally known soloist. Some of her stage credits include Leonard Bernstein's Candide and Jules Massenet’s Manon. She graced the silver screen in The Great Waltz, and of course, Sleeping Beauty. Her achievements go on and on, including her 2003 nomination by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Council on the Arts until 2006.

Mary Costa is sleeping beauty — the charming, beautiful woman captured in this masterful film. For me, growing up with her, she has become the idol of a little girl’s dream. Her soaring voice is the one I wish I had. And her soft, delicate character is one I admire.

So whether you’re reading this as an adult, remembering the realms of fantasy and horror from your youth, or you’ve never seen Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, go buy the newly released 50th anniversary edition. And remember that the woman gracing your ears and eyes is the one and only Mary Costa.

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About Janica Unruh

  • Daphne

    Beautiful introduction to Mary Costa who as you said is the living idol behind Sleeping Beauty, your words brought my childhood rushing back from the past. Thank you for sharing this and hopefully Disney will try and get back to its original power which is evident in Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame…