Christopher Wheeldon’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s play The Winter’s Tale, for The Royal Ballet, will be shared with audiences the world over as it streams online this evening, 1st May.
Created as a co-production between The Royal Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada, The Winter’s Tale – scored by Joby Talbot, with designs by Bob Crowley – is now regarded as a modern ballet classic, praised by both critics and audiences, and receiving a standing ovation at its World Premiere at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on 12th April, 2014.
The Winter’s Tale – a tale of jealousy, passion and forgiveness – was written between 1609 and 1611, and produced at the Globe Theatre in London. It tells of King Leontes of Sicily who is convinced that his wife, Hermione, is having an affair with his childhood friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia. Leontes has Hermione imprisoned, where she gives birth to their daughter, and subsequently dies. On Leontes’ instructions, the baby is exiled and taken away by Antigonus, the husband of one of Leontes’ courtiers, Paulina. The child, Perdita, is raised by shepherds for sixteen years, and ultimately falls in love with the son of one of Leontes’ friends. She returns home, a statue of Hermione seemingly ‘comes back to life’, and all are reconciled and forgiven.
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet, trained at The Royal Ballet School, and danced for the Company in the early 1990s, since when he was created the first Resident Choreographer for New York City Ballet and has become one of today’s most successful choreographers. He has choreographed works for leading international ballet companies, and is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including a London Critics’ Circle Award, an Olivier Award, a Tony Award for Best Choreography for the Broadway production of An American in Paris, and, for The Winter’s Tale, was the winner of both the Best Classical Choreography award and a Benois de la Danse – regarded as the ‘Oscar of dance’ – in the Choreographers’ category in 2015. Christopher Wheeldon is President of the Benesh Institute, and was made an OBE in 2016. The Winter’s Tale is his second full-length work for The Royal Ballet, the first having been Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 2011.
The score for The Winter’s Tale is by English composer Joby Talbot, who also received a Benois de la Dance in the Composers’ category. An interesting touch to his score is the inclusion onstage of a group of Bohemian folk musicians, providing the musical accompaniment to a village springtime festival, during which Perdita is crowned Queen of the May. Talbot made his debut for The Royal Ballet in 2006 with Chroma, created by then Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor, and also composed the score for Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 2011.
The Royal Ballet’s production of Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale premieres free on the Company’s YouTube and Facebook channels this evening, 1st May, at 7.00 pm BST, and will be available to watch for 14 days.
For more information, visit The Royal Opera House website
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