Strapless is Christopher Wheeldon's latest work for The Royal Ballet and is inspired by the scandalous Portrait of Madame X painted by John Singer Sargent in 1884. Strapless is part of a Wheeldon mixed programme that also includes two works new to the Company: After the Rain and Within the Golden Hour.
Strapless is Wheeldon's eighth work for The Royal Ballet and is inspired by Deborah Dan's book which explores the background to Sargent's infamous painting of Madame X unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon. With one strap painted hanging suggestively off her shoulder, the portrait shocked Parisian society and humiliated the beautiful and sophisticated society belle Virgine Amélie Gautreau.
Sargent hastily repainted the portrait, but by that point Gautreau had been outcast by society, her reputation in ruins. Featuring a new score by Mark-Anthony Turnage, designs by Bob Crowley and lighting by Natasha Chivers, Strapless follows Wheeldon's critically acclaimed productions of The Winter's Tale and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Royal Ballet Principal Dancers Edward Watson and Natalia Osipova lead the cast as John Singer Sargent and Virginie Amélie Gautreau. Casting also includes Federico Bonelli and Matthew Ball. Lauren Cuthbertson and Valeri Hristov lead the second cast.
The all-Wheeldon celebration also includes two works originally created for American ballet companies and which now enter The Royal Ballet repertory for this first time. After the Rain, created for New York City Ballet in 2005, is a ballet in two halves with an intricate sextet set to Arvo Pärt's Tabula Rasa and a hauntingly nuanced pas de deux set to Pärts Spiegel im Spiegel.
Within the Golden Hour was created for San Francisco Ballet in 2008. Set to music by Ezio Bosso the ballet presents a series of intricately crafted duets and ensembles of contrasting colours and tones.
After the Rain / Strapless / Within the Golden Hour
Friday 12 February – Friday 11 March, Royal Opera House
Friday 12 February, Tuesday 16 February, Wednesday 17 February, Friday 19 February. Thursday 10 March, Friday 11 March at 7.30pm
Saturday 13 February at 12.30pm
Box Office: 0207 304 4000 – www.roh.org.uk
Tickets £4 – £67
Choreography – Christopher Wheeldon
Music – Mark Anthony Turnage
Designs – Bob Crowley
Lighting Design – Natasha Chivers
12 Feb / 16 Feb / 19 Feb / 11 Mar with Natalia Osipova, Edward Watson, Federico Bonelli, Matthew Ball
13 Feb (mat) / 17 Feb / 10 Mar with Lauren Cuthbertson, Valeri Hristov, Nicol Edmonds, Calvin Richardson
AFTER THE RAIN
12 Feb / 16 Feb / 19 Feb / 11 Mar with Marianela Nuñez, Thiago Soares, Claire Calvert, Nehemiah Kish, Itziar Mendizabal, Eric Underwood
13 Feb (mat) / 17 Feb / 10 Mar with Zenaida Yanowsky, Matthew Golding, Olivia Cowley, Tomas Mock, Tierney Heap, Nicol Edmonds
WITHIN THE GOLDEN HOUR
12 Feb / 16 Feb / 19 Feb / 11 Mar with Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Lauren Cuthbertson, Matthew Golding, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Vadim Muntagirov
13 Feb (mat) / 17 Feb / 10 Mar with Akane Takada, Tristan Dyer, Francesca Hayward, Laura Morera, Alexander Campbell
After the Rain, Strapless and Within the Golden Hour are conducted by Koen Kessels with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
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.