The Dream and Marguerite and Armand at Sydney Opera House
Two ballets come to life in one sitting at the Sydney Opera House through November, under the auspices of The Australian Ballet.
Featuring two classic love stories by great British ballet dancer and choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, the company will take on both The Dream and Marguerite and Armand in the span of one evening – the latter an Australian premiere.
A whimsical ballet inspired by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Dream is a folky tale of unrequited love, mistaken identity, and supernatural elements including magic, fairies and dancing donkeys.
First performed in 1964, The Dream is set in an enchanted wood and is designed to conjure a space of imagination away from the everyday, helped by a gentle score from German composer Felix Mendelssohn.
Where The Dream leans into elements of fantasy, the second performance – Ashton’s 1963 ballet, Marguerite and Armand – is a semi-autobiographical tale inspired by the famous partnership of dancers Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.
Based on the novel and play, La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias), by 1800s French novelist and playwright, Alexandre Dumas, Marguerite and Armand is said to reflect the passion Fonteyn and Nureyev embodied. It follows the scandalous romance of escort Marguerite with her young lover Armand. Told through a series of flashbacks, the ballet rockets along with an emotional intensity and a dramatic score from Frank Liszt.
This double-bill is both the final production in the Australian Ballet’s diamond anniversary season, and a celebration of Ashton’s influence. Credited with creating an “English style” of ballet, which was notable for the way in which the head and shoulders are held, Ashton even had a step named after him: the “Fred step”.
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