Dante’s The Divine Comedy, written in the 14th century, is considered the greatest literary work in the Italian language. It describes the poet’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, guided first by the poet of Ancient Rome, Virgil, and then by the love of his life, Beatrice.
The Divine Comedy – incidentally, not a comedy in today’s sense of the word – is by turns lyrical, mystical, but also rather graphic in its depiction of the horrors to which unredeemed sinners are subjected in hell.
It is a powerful and wide-ranging work; and it’s a measure of Wayne McGregor’s creative daring that he’s undertaken to turn it into a full evening ballet. The first section, Inferno, premiered two years ago in Los Angeles, where it received enthusiastic reviews.
ROYAL BALLET DIRECTOR KEVIN O'HARE TALKS TO CW ABOUT THE DANTE PROJECT HERE
McGregor will have been buoyed by the success of his previous triptych, Woolf Works, which was loosely based on Virginia Woolf’s life and writings. It premiered to general acclaim at the Royal Opera House in 2015, the choreographer adjudged to have pulled off a difficult coup.
For The Dante Project, Wayne McGregor counts on the collaboration of major names in contemporary music and theatre. The score is by none other than Thomas Adès, the prolific and much-admired composer of orchestral and chamber music, as well as operas such as The Tempest (after the Shakespeare play) and The Exterminating Angel, both performed at Covent Garden, as well as internationally. Adès will conduct the Royal Opera House Orchestra in some performances of The Dante Project.
The lighting designer is the regular McGregor collaborator Lucy Carter, and she will have plenty of scope for her talents to create the very different ambiences of each of the work’s three parts. Paradise, in particular, requires her to respond to the text’s plentiful descriptions of heavenly light configurations.
Visual artist Tacita Dean, a Turner Prize nominee and member of the Royal Academy, works mostly in film, but has used a variety of media in her work. She, too, will bring something very special to The Dante Project.
Finally, dramaturg Uzma Hameed has established a fruitful collaboration with Wayne McGregor since she first worked with the choreographer on Woolf Works. She is tasked with bringing formal and narrative coherence to this mega-project.
The Dante Project is billed as the dancing event of the season… a mouthwatering prospect!
|What||The Royal Ballet, The Dante Project, ROH|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
14 Oct 21 – 30 Oct 21, 19:30, Sat 16 `Oct at 13:00 & 19:00, Sat 30 Oct at 11:30 Dur.: TBC