The Royal Ballet, Covent Garden will appear at the Metropolitan Opera House, July 18-27, in a co-presentation of Lincoln Center Festival 97 and the Metropolitan Opera Association. Highlighting the spectacular 11-performance engagement will be the New York premiere of Kenneth MacMillan’s The Prince of the Pagodas and the revival of Frederick Ashton’s classic Cinderella. Also scheduled is an all-Ravel program featuring Ashton’s La Valse and Daphnis and Chloë, MacMillan’s La Fin du jour, and the New York premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Pavane pour une infante défunte. This engagement marks the British troupe’s first New York season since 1994.
Set to the Benjamin Britten score of the same name, MacMillan’s The Prince of the Pagodas, which was premiered in 1989, is the story of Princess Rose, a compassionate, young heroine who falls in love with the salamander-Prince. The ballet tells of Princess Épine’s sibling rivalry with Rose and the transformation of Rose’s lover from a salamander to the prince who rescues her father’s empire. The Royal Ballet Director Anthony Dowell will perform the role of the Emperor in this lushly told spectacle about the power of compassion, love and loyalty to triumph over jealousy and greed.
Combining romance, elegance, delicate wit and poetry with great humanity, Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella presents the beloved fairy tale figure not only as a romantic dreamer, “but also,” according to Ashton “as a person feeling, experiencing and moving among us.” The role of Cinderella, which was alternately performed by Moira Shearer and Margot Fonteyn in its 1948 premiere, will be danced in New York by Leanne Benjamin, Darcey Bussell, and Miyako Yoshida. Set to Sergei Prokofiev’s 1945 score, Cinderella was the first full-length classical dance staged by a British choreographer. The ballet has not been seen in New York in over 20 years.
Offering a look at three generations of British choreographers, the all-Ravel evening presents four dramatically different ballets created over the past forty-five years. Ashton’s Daphnis and Chloë, which was premiered in 1951, offers a re-telling of the romantic Greek myth, while his La Valse, choreographed in 1958, transforms Ravel’s musical intention of creating “a kind of apotheosis of the Viennese waltz” into dance. Set to Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, MacMillan’s La fin du jour was inspired by the fashion plates of the 1930’s. Dressed in costumes reflecting the style of the period, the dancing couples suggest a denial of the encroaching darkness of the coming war. Christopher Wheeldon’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, choreographed in 1996, is a radiantly sensual pas de deux for Darcey Bussell and Jonathan Cope.