Four World Premières feature in the line-up for the Royal Ballet's 2015 – 2016 Season and, for the first time, all three of The Royal Ballet's associated choreographers present new works for the main stage. Liam Scarlett will choreograph his first full-length ballet for Covent Garden's main stage based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Wayne McGregor and Christopher Wheeldon will create new one-act ballets, and The Royal Ballet has commissioned a production of Carmen by Principal Guest Artist Carlos Acosta in his 17th year with the company.
Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet was created in 1965 so will be present in the next season to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons will return to the repertory after, surprisingly, 30 years.
Wayne McGregor's Raven Girl and Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale will both be revived for the first time.
2015/16 sees Koen Kessels taking up his position as Music Director succeeding Barry Wordsworth who becomes Principal Guest Conductor.
The Royal Ballet's Director, Kevin O'Hare, announced a series of choreographic opportunities to encourage and nurture talent within the Company. 18-year-old Charlotte Edmonds will join The Royal Ballet for this Season as the first choreographer to participate in the new Royal Ballet Young Choreographer Programme mentored by Kevin O'Hare and Wayne McGregor. The Young Choreographer Programme is a 12-month position for an emerging choreographer to shadow Royal Ballet and visiting choreographers and utilise the Company resources to create work. Edmonds choreographed the short film The Indifferent Beak for The Royal Ballet as part of Deloitte Ignite.
Draft Works, the platform for dancers of The Royal Ballet to create new short choreographic pieces, will appear as a series of shorter, informal performances throughout the year. The Royal Ballet will also host an Annual Summer Choreographic School, with other ballet companies from the UK and beyond, to explore the balletic art form. While the Linbury closes for refurbishment as part of the Royal Opera House Open Up project, The Royal Ballet Studio Programme will continue to develop and grow its choreographic network programme.
The extremely successful 2014 World Ballet Day, watched by two million viewers worldwide, returns on Thursday 1 October with more insights and access behind the scenes in another online live stream in collaboration with other ballet companies.
2015/16 SEASON in detail
The Season opens in September with the 50th anniversary celebration of Kenneth MacMillan's landmark production of Romeo and Juliet, one of the Company's 20th century masterpieces. Originally created in 1965 on Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable, Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev danced the premiere, receiving 43 curtain calls. This production will include a number of exciting debut performances and is the first work in the Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season 2015/16.
Carlos Acosta's first production for The Royal Ballet was the full length Don Quixote which premiered in 2013 and will receive its US premiere in June. For his second work for the company, he is adapting the Spanish classic Carmen. Set to Bizet's score, in a new arrangement by Martin Yates, the ballet centres on the story's themes of drama, revenge and tragedy. Acosta will dance the lead roles of Don Jose and Escamilla at certain performances. Set and costume designs are by Tim Hatley, well known for his award-winning theatre designs, with lighting by Peter Mumford. Carmen is part of a mixed programme including Liam Scarlett's Viscera, Jerome Robbins's Afternoon of a Faun and George Balanchine's Tchaikovsky pas de deux and is also part of the ROH Live Cinema Season, the first live screening of a mixed programme.
Royal Ballet Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor's modern fairy tale Raven Girl premiered in 2013 and receives its first revival in October. It will presented in a double bill with Alastair Marriott's Connectome, which premiered in 2014. Based on Audrey Niffenegger's graphic novel, Raven Girl tells the story of a girl with the body of human but the soul of a bird. In May 2016 McGregor premieres his new one-act ballet created to Nyx, a one movement orchestral work by renowned Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. Salonen is delighted that McGregor is creating a ballet to his score and he himself will conduct at certain performances. This programme also includes a major revival of Kenneth MacMillan's The Invitation. An early milestone in his career, the ballet was created in 1960 and was seen as a shocking deviation from the convention of the ballet stage as the sexual and emotional dynamics between an adolescent girl and boy and an older couple are exposed.
In February a mixed programme of work by Associate Artist Christopher Wheeldon features a world premiere alongside two works originally created in America, After The Rain and Within The Golden Hour. After The Rain was created for New York City Ballet in 2005 and is set to Arvo Part's Tabula Rosa which includes a hauntingly nuanced pas de deux set to Part's Spiegel in Spiegel. Within the Golden Hour was created for San Francisco Ballet in 2008 with a score by Ezio Bosso. For his new ballet Wheeldon will work to a commissioned score by Mark-Anthony Turnage who previously collaborated with him in 2012 for The Royal Ballet's production Trespass as part of Metamorphosis: Titian 2012. Designs will be by long-term collaborator Bob Crowley (The Winter's Tale and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and lighting by Natasha Chivers.
Christopher Wheeldon's production of The Winter's Tale was greeted with huge acclaim in 2014 and receives its first revival in April. Regarded as one of his finest works, the ballet was nominated for an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and won the Critics' Circle Award for Best Classical Choreography. The ballet is also nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance. This revival coincides with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.
In May 2016 Liam Scarlett presents his first full-length narrative work for the Company based on Mary Shelley's gothic classic Frankenstein in which he explores the very essence of human nature. The ballet has a new commissioned score by Lowell Liebermann with designs by John Macfarlane and lighting design by David Finn. Frankenstein will be broadcast live to cinemas on Wednesday 18 May. Scarlett's recent work for the Company includes The Age of Anxiety (2014), Hansel and Gretel (2013) and Sweet Violets (2012).
Frederick Ashton was the founding choreographer of The Royal Ballet whose work is celebrated for its great lyricism and variety. He is regarded as one of the most influential dance figures of the 20th century. This Season includes two mixed programmes of his work, both of which include the major revival of The Two Pigeons, which returns to the repertory after an absence of 30 years. Created in 1961 for Lynn Seymour and Christopher Gable, The Two Pigeons is a fable about love and lost innocence in which a young painter only comes to understand the depth of his love for his fiancée after a disastrous flirtation with a gypsy girl. In November, The Two Pigeons forms a double bill with Monotones I and II, a plotless ballet created in 1966 set to Erik Satie's score Trois Gnossiennes and Trois Gymnopedies. The Two Pigeons returns in January 2016 in a second Ashton double bill alongside Rhapsody created for Lesley Collier and Mikhail Baryshnikov in honour of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for her 80th birthday. For this revival, Rhapsody will be restored to its original designs with sets by Ashton and with costumes based on William Chappell's designs. This programme will be shown in cinemas on Tuesday 26 January.
Peter Wright's production of The Nutcracker, with its wonderfully traditional designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, makes a welcome return at Christmas. February sees the return of his hallmark production of Giselle, the most famous ballet of the Romantic era and a signature work in the Company's repertory.
In 2016 The Royal Ballet will tour to Japan for its annual international summer tour.
BALLET IN THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE LIVE CINEMA SEASON
An unprecedented six programmes, including two mixed bills, are part of the Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season.
Tuesday 22 September 2015 at 7.15pm
Romeo and Juliet
Thursday 12 November 2015 at 7.15pm
Viscera – Afternoon of a Faun – Tchaikovsky pas de deux – Carmen
Liam Scarlett – Jerome Robbins – George Balanchine – Carlos Acosta
Wednesday 16 December 2015 at 7.15pm
Production by Peter Wright
Tuesday 26 January 2016 at 7.15pm
Rhapsody – The Two Pigeons
Wednesday 6 April 2016 at 7.15pm
Marius Petipa, production by Peter Wright
Wednesday 18 May 2016 at 7.15pm
ROYAL BALLET LINBURY STUDIO THEATRE PROGRAMME
- Alessandra Ferri in the London premiere of Cheri
- Debut appearances by Cas Public and Royal New Zealand Ballet
- Phoenix Dance Theatre present Itzik Galili co-commission by The Royal Ballet as part of a mixed programme
- Linbury Studio premiere of Will Tucket's Elizabeth with Carlos Acosta and Zenaida Yanowsky
- Choreographic Platforms to nurture Royal Ballet talent
This Season The Royal Ballet Studio Programme hosts an exciting variety of dance including Cas Public, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Phoenix Dance Tjeatre and Cheri, featuring former Royal Ballet and American Ballet Theatre Principal Alessandra Ferri.
In September ballerina Alessandra Ferri makes her Linbury debut in Cheri. Directed and choreographed by Martha Clarke, Cheri is inspired by the classic novella by French author Colette and tells the tragic story of forbidden love between a young man and an older women. Cheri is a fusion of theatre, live music and dance and features American Ballet Theatre Principal Herman Cornejo. This will be Ferri's second appearance at the Royal Opera House in
2015 following Wayne McGregor's Woolf Works for The Royal Ballet which opens in May.
Quebecois dance company Cas Public makes its Linbury debut in September. With a reputation for bringing dance to a youthful audience Cas Public presents Symphonie Dramatique, a modern dance drama inspired by Romeo and fuliet which is programmed to coincide with The Royal Ballet's production of Romeo and juliet on the main stage.
Royal New Zealand Ballet is renowned for its contemporary work and the company, under the direction of Francesco Ventriglia, makes its ROH debut in the Linbury with a mixed programme including a world premiere by Andrew Simmons. The programme also includes The Anatomy if a Passing Cloud by Javier de Frutos, Seton Desir by Andonis Foniadakis and Passchendaele by Neil Jeremia inspired by New Zealand's military involvement in the First World War.
Phoenix Dance Theatre returns to the Linbury with a mixed programme. Until.With/Out.Enough choreographed by Itzik Galili is a co-commission by The Royal Ballet. Phoenix Dance Theatre Artistic Director Sharon Watson presents TearFall, in a collaboration with The Wellcome Trust, in which she explores the complexities of crying. 2014 New Adventures Choreographer Award winner Caroline Finn completes the programme with Bloom, a piece which examines a surreal universe with tragi-comic characters.
Will Tuckett's latest creation for The Royal Ballet, Elimbeth, was first performed in 2013 at The Royal Navel College, Greenwich and now makes its Linbury debut. This full length work is based on the life and loves of Queen Elizabeth I. Featuring Carlos Acosta and Zenaida Yanowsky the piece is set to a score by Martin Yates derived from variations used by Elizabethan composers Dowland, Tallis and Morley.
THE ROYAL BALLET 2015/16 SEASON AT A GLANCE
Romeo and Juliet – Kenneth MacMillan
Saturday 19 September – Wednesday 2 December 2015
* Live Cinema Screening Tuesday 22 September 2015
Tuesday 6 – Friday 23 October 2015
Connectome – Alastair Marriott
Raven Girl– Wayne McGregor
Monday 26 October – Thursday 12 November 2015
* Live Cinema Screening Thursday 12 November 2015
Viscera– Liam Scarlett
Afternoon of a Faun – Jerome Robbins
Tchaikovsky pas de deux– George Balanchine
Carmen – New production Carlos Acosta
Frederick Ashton Double Bill
Wednesday 18 November – Saturday 5 December 2015
Monotones I and II
The Two Pigeons
The Nutcracker– Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov
Tuesday 8 December 2015 – Thursday 14 January 2016
* Live Cinema Screening Wednesday 16 December 2015
Frederick Ashton Double Bill
Saturday 16 January – Saturday 30 January 2016
* Live Cinema Screening Tuesday 26 January 2016
The Two Pigeons
Christopher Wheeldon Triple Bill
Friday 12 February – Friday 11 March 2016
After the Rain
NEW BALLET– Christopher Wheeldon
Within the Golden Hour
Giselle– Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli, production by Peter Wright
Friday 26 February – Friday 15 April 2016
* Live Cinema Screening Wednesday 6 April 2016
The Winter's Tale– Christopher Wheeldon
Tuesday 12 April – Tuesday 7 June 2016
Frankenstein – production Liam Scarlett (co-commission with San Francisco Ballet)
Wednesday 4 May- Friday 27 May 2016
* Live Cinema Screening 18 May 2016
Saturday 28 May – Saturday 11 June 2016
Nyx – New production Wayne McGregor
The Invitation – Kenneth MacMillan
Within the Golden Hour– Christopher Wheeldon
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.