The Prince of the Pagodas opens this weekend
MacMillan’s fairytale ballet returns to Covent Garden after a 16-year break
The Royal Ballet is to perform The Prince of the Pagodas after a 16 year absence from the stage of the Royal Opera House.
A mix of traditional fable and oriental fairytale, the ballet was originally choreographed by John Cranko in 1957 before being restaged in 1989 by Kenneth MacMillan and travel writer/novelist Colin Thubron.
The ballet is a magical fantasy, often described as a combination of King Lear, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. It includes some of MacMillan’s most demanding choreography, ranging from the reptilian twists of the Salamander-Prince to the entrancing pas de deux finale with Princess Rose and her Prince.
Watch Royal Ballet Principal Marianela Nuñez rehearsing the first act solo with Director of The Royal Ballet Monica Mason and notator Grant Coyle, filmed during Royal Ballet Live:
John Cranko’s The Prince of the Pagodas had its premiere at Covent Garden on New Year’s Day 1957, and ran for 23 performances over the subsequent three years. View archive photography of this production:
The 1989 production featured 19-year-old Darcey Bussell in her first lead role. After a spectacular first performance alongside Jonathan Cope, she was offered the position of youngest ever principal with The Royal Ballet. View a gallery of costumes worn by Darcey and Jonathan
The ballet is set to an inventive score specially commissioned by Benjamin Britten, who was partly inspired by his trip to Bali in 1956. Britten’s only ballet score includes the exotic sounds of Balinese Gamelan music. Next year marks the centenary of Britten’s birth. Listen to excerpts of the music: