There’s a buzz of excitement and speculation about the Royal Ballet’s latest offering of a new narrative ballet based on Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The excitement is because the creative team is the same as for the successful Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, much in demand; composer Joby Talbot; designer Bob Crowley – all experienced in collaborating on new ballet productions.
The speculation is whether The Winter’s Tale will work as a wordless ballet. It’s a tricky play, which contrasts the potentially tragic destruction of a marriage through all-consuming jealousy with merry goings-on in a very different context. Though all ends well, lessons have to be learnt on the way, as politicians always say. But Shakespeare’s requirements in the play for rustic revels and formal celebrations should suit dancers better than actors, who struggle with choreographed movement.
Wheeldon, now 40, started his career as a dancer with the Royal Ballet before moving to the United States. He was appointed resident choreographer of New York City Ballet in 2001 and has created ballets for many other companies. His Alice’s Adventures in 2011 was the Royal Ballet’s first new three-act ballet for more than 20 years, co-produced with the National Ballet of Canada (as is The Winter’s Tale). Wheeldon made his reputation with plotless one-act works, usually to music by contemporary composers. But he’s always been intrigued by the challenge of narrative ballets. As a youngster, he danced in such works by Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan, as well as Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.
He has mounted his own version of Swan Lake (for Pennsylvania Ballet) and of Cinderella (for Dutch National Ballet and San Francisco Ballet). He says that by structuring the stories more like a film than a conventional ballet, and filling them with today’s dynamic and energy, they’ve proved a great introduction to ballet for many people. He enjoys working on a grand scale, with spectacular designs, as a contrast to his shorter ‘abstract’ works. For now, he’s keeping his plans for The Winter’s Tale close to his chest.
Booking opens for member on December 10th.
Tickets: : £5-£95
Address and Map: Covent Garden, London WC2E 9DD
Underground: Covent Garden , Holborn
|What||The Winter’s Tale - Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
10 Apr 14 – 08 May 14, 7.30pm
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Opera House|