This triple bill is all heritage and includes works by the two choreographers, who more than any others contributed to defining the company’s style – Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan – as well by the Russian pioneer of classical ballet, Marius Petipa.
Frederick Ashton’s 1968 Enigma Variations, set to the Elgar musical variations of the same name, is the quintessential English work. Bathed in the golden light of an idealised English countryside, it is a wistful work detailing an imaginary occasion in the life of the composer when he and a group of friends spent time in his Worcestershire home.
Elgar, his wife and friends are each given a variation meant to define their specific personalities. Thus, for example, Elgar’s wife, described as The Lady, has as her theme ‘whose life was a romantic and delicate inspiration.’
By contrast, Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto (pictured above) is set to Shostakovich’s boisterous and playful Second Piano Concerto. Created in 1966, when the choreographer was Ballet Director at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, and adopted by The Royal Ballet 20 years later, Concerto was primarily intended as an ensemble piece for a large number of dancers.
With the constant changes of direction in march rhythms for the phalanxes of dancers in the first and final allegro movements, this work is highly demanding of the corps de ballet; the second andante movement, for its part, consists essentially of an extended duet inspired by class work, with the male dancer acting as a stylised barre that supports the ballerina.
Finally, Raymonda Act III recreated by Rudolf Nureyev from Petipa’s 1898 original, is a Russian classic set to a score by Glazunov. The full three-act work is still performed by many companies the world over; but Act III, with its famous pas classique hongrois, is often performed on its own.
With its variety of divertissement and a sumptuous apotheosis, Raymonda Act III is a glorious showcase for both corps de ballet and soloists; and its return to the Covent Garden stage after a long absence is to be welcomed.
Live cinema relay on Tuesday, 5 November
|What||The Royal Ballet, Concerto/Enigma Variations/Raymonda Act III, ROH|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
22 Oct 19 – 20 Dec 19, 19:30; 18 & 20 Dec at 19:00; mats 2 Nov 12:00, 18 & 20 Dec at 13:30 Dur.: TBC two intervals
|Website||Click here to book|