The second mixed bill of the Mariinksky’s London season is tribute to the genius of the great George Balanchine.
The programme starts with a London premiere : the Mariinsky’s own 2012 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream , performed for the first time outside Russia.
Set to music by Mendelssohn , it dates from 1962 and is the choreographer’s first original full-length ballet . Act I tells Shakespeare’s familiar story of lovers and fairies, illusion and magic, while Act II presents a strictly classical dance wedding celebration , summoning the spirit of great 19th-century ballets such as Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty.
British audiences, more familiar with Frederick Ashton’s later treatment of the same theme, will find Balanchine’s Dream markedly different in tone and style. For Balanchine , Bottom is an unwilling visitor to the fairy realm. Titania can only coax him into partnering her by proffering handfuls of grass. This disparity – the unwillingness of the ugly ass to dance with the fairest of the fairies – is what makes their pas-de-deux so sweet and so funny.
The second piece in the programme contrasts vividly with the first. Apollo , half an hour of dazzling modernism, was created in 1928 to a score commissioned from fellow Russian émigré Igor Stravinsky , and was the first Balanchine ballet to be brought into the Mariinsky’s repertoire. Its title role, the young Greek god Apollo , shown receiving the gifts of poetry, music and dance from three female muses , has become a coveted role for the company’s male stars, for the display of brilliance required by the choreography.
The costumes are sparse, austere even – white tights for the male dancer, short white fitted tunics for the women - leaving to the dancing to tell the story in a stylised classical fashion .
|What||Mariinsky Ballet's The Dream and Apollo, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
08 Aug 14 – 09 Aug 14, 7:30pm; Matinees at 2pm
|Website||Click here to book via Royal Opera House|