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A star role for a ballerina and enchanting choreography from a master-"Ondine" combines both of these--not surprising, as it was created in 1958 for Margot Fonteyn by Frederick Ashton. This 50th anniversary revival by The Royal Ballet brings new stars as the water sprite Ondine and the young mortal Palemon with whom she falls in love to tragic ends.
The whole Company take part in bringing to life the sea spirits and sailors of this Romantic story, with its wonderful scenes beneath the sea, in a Gothic castle and onboard a storm-tossed ship, all magically staged in Lila de Nobili's impressionistic designs.
Through the ballet's three acts the watery imagery pervades the choreography - 'fluid like the rhythm of the sea', as Ashton described it--and Hans Werner Henze's specially commissioned score complements it perfectly with its rippling, flowing textures and translucent orchestrations, here under the baton of The Royal Ballet's Music Director, Barry Wordsworth.
Whether for the technical demands of its solo roles, the famous Shadow Dance or the Act III celebration dances, this is a celebratory revival that brings together Royal Ballet history and Ashton's distinctive style with the talents of today.