Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is an intricate, psychologically complex story of jealousy, forgiveness and conquering love, which Christopher Wheeldon adapted into a full-length ballet of almost miraculous narrative clarity.
Leontes, King of Sicilia, overcome by paranoid jealousy, believes his wife Hermione to have become pregnant by his best friend, Polixenes, King of Bohemia. The friendship ruptures, Leontes orders the baby girl to be ‘disappeared’, and Hermione is presumed dead of grief.
The courtier charged with disposing of the baby can’t quite bring himself to kill her, so he abandons her in a country across the sea that turns out to be Bohemia. She’s found by a shepherd, named Perdita (the lost one), and brought up by him.
Act II takes place 16 years later in Bohemia. Perdita, now a beautiful girl, is madly in love with a boy she assumes to be a simple peasant, but is in fact Prince Florizel, the son of Polixenes.
Daddy doesn’t approve of the match, the young lovers run away and end up in Sicilia, where they throw themselves on the mercy of Leontes. There Perdita is identified by a necklace left with her as a baby; marriage between two social equals is now possible; Leontes and Polixenes reconcile and, to bring matters to a really happy conclusion, Hermione, who was not dead after all, returns and forgives her husband.
Filmed during its initial run in 2014, this performance of The Winter’s Tale boasts a stellar cast. The remarkable dance actor Edward Watson is Leontes: his scenes of mad jealousy in Act I are graphically physical and almost gothic in their agonising intensity.
Lauren Cuthbertson is wronged wife, Hermione, in one of the most compelling performances of her career.
Three more principal dancers take the lead roles of the Bohemians: as Polixenes, Federico Bonelli makes a convincing transition from a lively, uncomplicated character in Act I to angry father of what he sees as his errant son, Florizel, a prince, seemingly cavorting with a peasant girl.
Steven McRae as Florizel and Sarah Lamb as Perdita are the personification of boisterous young love; and do look out for the incomparable Zenaida Yanowsky (since retired) as Hermione’s lady-in-waiting, Paulina.
Wheeldon is backed by a superb team: a specially commissioned score by Jody Talbot and truly eye-filling designs by Bob Crowley.
This is definitely one not to miss!
|What||ROH Online, The Winter's Tale|
|Where||Online | MAP|
01 May 20 – 01 Jun 20, 19:00 an on demand afterwards Dur.: 3 hours approx