Tuesday 21 June 2016

Bintley and Beamish's Birmingham Tempest ballet

The Tempest - credit Zena Holloway
Birmingham Royal Ballet will be opening its 2016/17 season with a new ballet by David Bintley based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. The ballet will have a specially commissioned score by Sally Beamish. Shakespeare's play is one that has long fascinated artists, Rudolph Nureyev choreographed a version using music by Tchaikovsky in 1982, whilst Glen Tetley's version for Rambert in 1979 used a score by Arne Nordheim, and in 2012 Ballet Cymru did a version by Darius James using Sibelius' incidental music to the play, not to mention the recent opera by Thomas Ades. And of course Derek Jarman's film, with Heathcote Williams as Prospero, featured Elizabeth Welch as the goddess in a glorious masque scene where she sang 'Stormy weather'.

The ballet debuts at the Birmingham Hippodrome on 1 October 2016, with performances until 8 October, and then goes on tour to Sadler's Wells Theatre (13 to 15 October), the Sunderland Empire (20 to 22 October) and the Theatre Royal, Plymouth (27 to 29 October).

Choreographer David Bintley has a history of commissioning interesting composers for his scores, John McCabe wrote the scores for Bintley's King Arthur (a full length ballet over two evenings) and Edward II (full length in a single evening) McCabe successfully transformed the music for Edward II into a symphonic work too.

This will be Beamish's first dance/ballet score and she has described writing the music as 'a bit like writing a film score, but having to imagine the pictures', as Bintley provided her with a storyboard and timings for each scene.  The work is scored for symphony orchestra, with vibraphone, celeste and bells. In the second act Masque, there are dance forms which Shakespeare would recognise, and the music overlaps with Beamish's recent A Shakespeare Masque for Ex Cathedra (see Ruth's review on this blog).

Full details from Birmingham Royal Ballet's website.

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