Christopher Wheeldon’s ‘Cinderella’ returns to San Francisco Ballet

Sasha De Sola and Luke Ingham in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

Continuing its 2023 Season, San Francisco Ballet stages Christopher Wheeldon’s magical interpretation of the story of Cinderella, set to Sergei Prokofiev‘s glorious score.

This co-production with Dutch National Ballet, created and choreographed by Wheeldon, takes its inspiration from the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and the version by Charles Perrault, and differs from the well-known story of Cinderella in that it has no fairy godmother or pumpkin coach. What it does have, though, is a magic ‘living’ tree which serves as a focus for Cinderella after the death of her mother, and four ‘Fates’ to guide and protect her. Wheeldon has, however, retained the comedy which characterizes Cinderella’s stepmother and step-sisters – a lovely touch of humor.

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

The whole production is lavish, colourful and hugely entertaining – from the larger than life creatures who inhabit the woodland, to the magnificent ball scene, and the creation of Cinderella’s coach – which is sheer genius. Following the world premiere in Amsterdam on December 13, 2012, it was described by The Washington Post as “an utterly exquisite production”. The Times (London) described it as .”.. a vibrant piece of theatre and an enchanting love story rolled into a hugely entertaining whole”, and de Volkskrant wrote: “Wheeldon turns ballet into cinematic spectacle”.

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

Cinderella is the result of a collaboration between some wonderfully creative artists, which Wheeldon has used to spectacular effect. The stunning sets and exquisite costumes are by Julian Crouch (the Metropolitan Opera and Broadway) special effects by Obie Award winner and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Basil Twist (the tree and that coach!), with lighting by Natasha Katz, and projection design by Daniel Brodie.

Ellen Rose Hummel and Elizabeth Powell in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

Wheeldon has also retained Prokofiev’s gorgeous score which, although not as well known as that for his Romeo and Juliet, is every bit as lovely, and filled with sumptuous melodies and the full range of variations in the tradition of classical ballet. Prokofiev started writing the score for Cinderella in 1940. It was initially intended for the then Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), but due to the intervention of World War II, he moved it aside and didn’t return to it for two years. When it was finally completed, it was performed by the Bolshoi Ballet, in November 1945.

San Francisco Ballet in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

This San Francisco Ballet presentation of Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella is enchanting, touching, romantic and humorous, brilliantly conceived and a true spectacle. The San Francisco Ballet Orchestra is conducted by Music Director Martin West, and the production opens at the War Memorial Opera House on March 31st, running for 10 performances until April 8th.

Misa Kuranaga and Angelo Greco in Wheeldon’s Cinderella© // © Erik Tomasson

Further information and details for booking are available on the San Francisco Ballet website.

Information sourced from:

San Francisco Ballet Program notes

Christopher Wheeldon

ArtsPreview home page

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