During the first Covid lockdown the Royal Opera House devised a mixed schedule of streamed opera and ballet under the tagline #OurHouseToYourHouse. And as the second lockdown again closes the theatre, the streaming programme continues to ensure we can at least watch recordings of some of the ROH's recent performances.
The next scheduled ballet is choreographer Frederick Ashton's Enigma Variations, created in 1968 and last performed at Covent Garden in 2019. With Julia Trevelyan Oman's designs meticulously reproducing the visual style of Edwardian England, Enigma Variations is a loosely narrative atmospheric ballet set in the home of the composer Edward Elgar at a crucial point in his life.
It was last performed at the ROH in 2019, and this is how Culture Whisper reviewed it then:
'Set to Elgar’s musical variations of the same name, and bathed in the golden light of an idealised English countryside, Enigma Variations 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.
'Royal Ballet dancers take to Ashton as easily as breathing, with Laura Morera as Elgar’s patient and supportive wife a pleasure to watch, her soft arms, épaulement and meticulous footwork a lesson in Ashton style. Christopher Saunders was Elgar, his Nimrod variation with Bennet Gartside detailing an eloquent friendship; and Francesca Hayward, vivacious and captivating as ever as the young girl in the Dorabella variation.
'And yet the variations that breathe Ashton’s profound musicality and wistfulness sit uneasily with those that verge on Edwardian music hall and show the work’s age. Enigma Variations is a deliberately backward-looking work.'
Ashton's Enigma Variations is a quintessential English ballet, a period piece from the Royal Ballet's founder choreographer, which guarantees it a place in the company's wide-ranging repertoire. It's well worth viewing.
|What||The Royal Ballet streams Enigma Variations|
|Where||Online | MAP|
04 Dec 20 – 25 Dec 20, 19:00 and available for four weeks after first stream. Dur.: 36 mins approx