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Review - Royal Ballet’s The Winter’s Tale: powerful and glorious

 

 Right; Francesca Hayward as Perdita and Aussie Steven McRae asFlorizel.

 

The Royal Ballet’s The Winter’s Tale

Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon

Music by Joby Talbot played by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Alondra de la Parra

Scenario: Christopher Wheeldon and Joby Talbot

Lyric Theatre

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank

Brisbane

 

Season runs until July 9. Duration: three hours including two 30 minute intervals. Bookings: www.qpac.com.au or 136 246

 

Absolutely fabulous is one way to describe this amazing work of art and I feel privileged to have seen this Royal Ballet production. It was a rare and wonderful thing which excelled in every department. The narrative was perfectly enacted, the choreography graphic and magical to watch; the dancing sublime and the music was the best modern orchestral ballet score I have heard in

many years. It was powerful and glorious to the extreme.

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and composer Joby Talbot worked hand in glove to create this masterpiece of dance.

Add to that atmospheric sets and costumes designed by Bob Crowley, lighting  by Natasha Katz, and special stage effects by Daniel Brodie and Basil Twist, and the ballet turned multi-dimensional.

The sailing ship and storm sequences were just amazing.

As you can probably tell I was just blown away by the entire production and could sit through the show again without thinking twice. It one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had.

The story follows Shakespeare’s tale of the destruction of a marriage through insane jealousy, the abandonment of a child and a seemingly hopeless love.

Leontes, king of Sicilia believes that his pregnant wife Hermione is having an affair with his childhood friend Polixenes, King of Bohemia and that he is the father of the unborn child.

He orders that Hermione's infant daughter be abandoned. Hermione and their young son Mamillius die of distress, and Leontes is overcome with remorse.

The baby is found by a shepherd in Bohemia and named Perdita ("the lost one"). Sixteen years pass. Perdita falls in love with Florizel, son of Polixenes, who returns her affections and proposes marriage.

Polixenes is furious that his princely son intends to marry a commoner and is determined to stop the marriage, but Florizel and Perdita run away to seek refuge in Sicilia at the court of Leontes.

Perdita is recognized; Hermione returns from the dead; and the family is reunited

This is played out in a powerful ballet narrative that showed all those aspects with great fluency and simplicity through dance and soaring music.

It was mesmerising to watch Edward Watson as he danced the role of Leontes with more and more contorted movements as his unfounded jealousy blossomed into madness. The scene where he followed Hermione and Polixenes was so good it was scary. The king was always out of view of the couple and yet we see what is happening in his own mind. It was wonderful work.

But among this operatic drama there are lighter moments with superb dance from the company.

Lauren Cuthbertson was Hermione and, along with her husband and the gallant Polixenes, performed by Federico Bonelli, yet another brilliant dancer, she performed with grace and power. Her acting too was first rate. I also loved the performance of Zenaida Yanowsky as Paulina, head of Hermione’s household. She created a character of great strength with some superb acting as well as dance.

But the biggest joy for me was the performance of the two young lovers, Perdita, danced with a floating magic by Francesca Hayward and Aussie Steven McRae’s vibrant Florizel. They were uplifting to watch and created the perfect pair of infatuated teens.

I could get technical and talk about line, balance, and movement, but there is nothing to say there except it was ballet perfection.

Go and see it and I guarantee you will enjoy the dance experience of a lifetime.

Edward Watson as he danced the role of Leontes

Lauren Cuthbertson as Hermione.

 

 

 

 

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