Set to Leo Delibes’ sumptuous score (the music is considered the best pre-Tchaikovsky dance music), Sylvia is a delightful homage to the traditions and spectacle of nineteenth-century ballet.
The narrative follows a nymph named Sylvia who is a devoted disciple of Diana, goddess of the hunt, the moon and chastity. In a nutshell: Sylvia is loved by a shepherd called Aminta; abducted by Orion, a hunter; and eventually rescued by Eros, god of love.
Sylvia is undoubtedly a feast for the senses, but the ballet lost popularity without Fonteyn in the title role and temporarily disappeared from The Royal Ballet’s repertoire.
The principal who dances the title role must initially portray a fierce huntress who has sworn to reject love. However, as the ballet unfolds, Sylvia transforms. She becomes a love-struck woman; then a witty seductress and, finally, a blushing bride.
Consequently, Sylvia needs an authoritative ballerina who will give a convincing performance – and Fonteyn proved a hard act to follow!
Nonetheless, Sylvia was reconstructed for The Royal Ballet by Christopher Newton in 2004 and the title role has since been memorably performed by the likes of Darcey Bussell, Marianela Nuñez and Lauren Cuthbertson.
Expect to see the brilliant footwork and uninhibited use of the upper body that epitomises the Ashton style. You’ll be impressed by the depth of detail and fun to be found in each character, too.
Related Event: Alexander Whitley Dance Company will take inspiration from Sylvia to present a new production in the Clore Studio Upstairs from Thursday 23 November until Friday 1 December. Looking at the role of Diana, goddess of the moon, this new work is set to Bryce Dessner’s 2014 work for strings, Réponse Lutosławski.
|What||The Royal Ballet, Sylvia, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
23 Nov 17 – 16 Dec 17, 19:30 Dur.: 2 hours and 30 minutes including two intervals
|Website||click here to book through the ROH website|