Thursday 23 April 2015

Royal Ballet new season - Carmen, Frankenstein and a new conductor

Liam Scarlett (image credit Royal Opera House)
Liam Scarlett whose new Frankenstein premieres in 2016
(image credit Royal Opera House)
Like the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet's 2015/16 season is a balance between revivals of old warhorses and new work. There is an admirable support for continuing new three act ballets, and my only real grouse is that the revivals of core repertoire from Kenneth Macmillan and Frederick Ashton play it rather safe.  So the notable news is the new Frankenstein from Liam Scarlett and the revival of Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale. The season will also be the first with Koen Kessels as the music director of the Royal Ballet.

A slightly more worrying feel, is the sense that the number of performances in the house is not keeping pace with the number of opera performances, partly this is because Kasper Holten and his team have been very adept at using the Linbury for smaller performances which complement the main house season, and there are many new operas being performed there in 2015/16 (see my preview of the 2015/16 opera season). Though the new Royal Ballet season does something similar, with performances from company's such as Québécois company Cas Public, and Martha Clark, the numbers are far smaller. Not for the first time, you feel that ballet just isn't quite as important as opera. Still, there is much to look forward to.

New productions include Carlos Acosta's Carmen, a one-act ballet based on Bizet's music arranged by Martin Yates. A new Christopher Wheeldon ballet, to music by Mark-Anthony Turnage is in a triple bill with two more of the choreographer's works, After the Rain (to Arvo Part) and Within the Golden Hour (to Ezio Bosso). There is also a new Wayne McGregor ballet to music by Esa-Pekka Salonen, his 2011 orchestral score Nyx.

Liam Scarlett's new full-length ballet Frankenstein premieres in May 2016 and uses music by Lowell Liebermann. Liam Scarlett has used Lowell Liebermann's music before, in Viscera, but this time the composer is writing a complete original score for the ballet.

Will Tuckett's Elizabeth gets an outing in the Linbury. This was commissioned in 2013 for a performance in Greenwich Palace, the birthplace of Elizabeth I, and Will Tuckett uses a mixture of dance, and theatre, with actress Lindsay Duncan playing Elizabeth and a score by Martin Yates which re-imagines Tudor music.

Notable revivals include Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale (to a score by Jody Talbot), Wayne McGregor's Raven Girl (his first narrative ballet for the Royal Ballet, to music by Gabriel Yared), Alastair Marriot's Connectome (music by Arvo Part), Liam Scarlett's Viscera (which uses Lowell Liebermann's piano concerto).

Warhorses include MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet,  Ashton's Monotones, Two Pigeons and Rhapsody, plus The Nutcracker, and Giselle. Perhaps less of a warhorse, MacMillan's early, disturbing The Invitation is also revived.

And a note on the music choices, the modern generation of choreographers seem to be making some rather interesting selections when it comes to music. This means that the 2015/16 seasons includes Lowell Liebermann's First Piano Concerto, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Nyx, music by Arvo Part,  Mark-Anthony Turnage, Ezio Bosso, Martin Yates and film composer Gabriel Yared, along with specially written scores by Liebermann and Joby Talbot. Not a bad tally.

My preview of the 2015/16 opera season.

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