Former Royal Ballet Principal Sergei Polunin will partner Natalia Osipova in June, when he returns to dance in Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand. Other casting sees another former Royal Ballet Principal, Alessandra Ferri, together with her fellow Italian Federico Bonelli, and the third Italian in the lineup is Roberto Bolle who will be partnering Zenaida Yanowsky. These performances will mark Yanowsky's retirement as Principal at the Royal Opera House after a 23 year career with the Company.
Yanowsky and Bolle will also dance on Wednesday 7 June as part of the ROH Live Cinema and BP Big Screen performance.
Marguerite and Armand – created for Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in 1963 – will be part of an all-Ashton evening, with The Dream and Symphonic Variations completing the programme.
Sergei Polunin, who dramatically left the company in 2012, returned in 2013 to dance Armand with Tamara Rojo as Marguerite. Rojo had left (less dramatically) to direct the English National Ballet a few months earlier; it was her farewell performance with The Royal Ballet.
Other Royal Ballet Principals performing in the Ashton evening include Alexander Campbell, Lauren Cuthbertson, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Vadim Muntagirov, Laura Morera and Marianela Nuñez, with role debuts in The Dream by Francesca Hayward as Titania and Alexander Campbell and Marcelino Sambé as Oberon.
The Dream was created in 1964 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. Ashton distilled the play into a single act and cast two young dancers, Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley, as Oberon and Titania which proved to be the start of one of the most celebrated partnerships of 20th century ballet. Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae will perform the roles at opening night and at the live cinema relay.
Symphonic Variations, one of Ashton's greatest works, is a homage to pure dance. The ballet was the first work that Ashton created for the Company when they took up residence in the Royal Opera House after the war in 1946. Leading the ballet are two casts including Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov, who feature in the live cinema relay, and Lauren Cuthbertson and Reece Clarke.
The Dream / Symphonic Variations / Marguerite and Armand
Tuesday 2 – Saturday 10 June 2017
BP Big Screen and ROH Live Cinema Screening Wednesday 7 June
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.