The prologue of the film being over, the story flashes forward to Aurora’s sixteenth birthday, though in the story she has been raised under the name Briar Rose by her three “aunts.” The teenage princess is voiced by opera singer Mary Costa, who also stood in as the physical model for Aurora. Being an opera singer, Aurora’s singing style is something of a call back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Costa is a true soprano (as her vocal improvisation at the beginning of “I Wonder” makes perfectly clear.)
On this day, her “aunts” Flora, Fauna and Merriweather need Briar Rose out of the house so that they can make a few surprises for her birthday, so the teenager is shooed out of the house to pick some berries. After Briar Rose leaves, it becomes obvious that the fairies have set a huge (read: impossible) task for themselves. According to Merriweather, Flora “can’t sew” and Fauna “has never cooked.” (Which really makes one wonder who’s been keeping the household running all these years.) Nevertheless, the fairies set out on their task and we’re soon following Briar Rose out into the forest.
Of all the Disney Princesses, Aurora speaks the least, and this scene in the forest marks the opening of her first song, “I Wonder.” In this song, Aurora/Briar Rose summons her animal friends by improvising a clear soprano melody.
It is during this vocal introduction that we also meet the grown up Prince Philip. The prince has no idea that his betrothed is close by, so naturally he’s curious to see the source of this gorgeous melody. This leads to a hysterical moment where Philip spurs his horse on by promising him extra carrots if he’ll help him look for the singer. The excited horse charges off, only to stop short as he accidentally flings Philip into a creek (the disgruntled prince revokes his offer of carrots). As they attempt to find the singer, we go back to Aurora’s song.
I wonder, I wonder,
I wonder why each little bird has a someone
To sing to, sweet things to,
A gay little love melody
I wonder, I wonder,
I wonder if my heart keeps singing,
Will my song go winging
To someone, who’ll find me
And bring back a love song to me.
As her friends gather, the princess muses aloud about why all the animals around her have their own loved ones, but not her. She then wonders, if she keeps singing, maybe she’ll find a lover of her own (ironically the song concludes with Aurora looking wistfully at the royal castle in the distance, not knowing that she’s looking at her birthplace and rightful home.) It would seem that at sixteen years old, Aurora feels somewhat…smothered…by her well-meaning aunts who “still treat her like a child.”
Having grown up knowing no one but her three aunts, Aurora/Briar Rose is understandably feeling lonely and sad because there isn’t anyone new for her to talk to or meet. She has no idea that her entire life is about to be turned upside down in a matter of hours. I really like “I Wonder,” it’s a beautiful, operatic song that reveals in short order the kind of woman Aurora is growing up to be (clearly the gifts of Beauty and Song have done their work). The only thing that disappoints me is that Aurora doesn’t talk more throughout the film.
Let me know what you think about “I Wonder” in the comments below and have a great day!
Sleeping Beauty “Hail to the Princess Aurora” (1959)
Sleeping Beauty “The Gifts of Beauty and Song” (1959)
Sleeping Beauty “Once Upon A Dream” (1959)
Sleeping Beauty “Skumps” (1959)
Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z
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