This non-narrative ballet darts between different moods and tempos to match Verdi's tuneful and varied score.
George Balanchine choreographed ballets for several Verdi operas at the start of his career, in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1978, he returned to Verdi for one of his final ballets. Balanchine created exhilarating choreography for the ballet music from the original production of Don Carlos. He was inspired by the warmth and bold technique of the ballerina Merrill Ashley, for whom he created the work. Ashley brought Ballo della regina to The Royal Ballet in 2011.
Ballo della regina begins with an entrée for the ballerina and her partner, dressed in white and pale blue, and the corps de ballet. This is followed by an adagio, several virtuosic solo variations and a spirited coda. The lead ballerina's role offers many challenges, with precision leaps and fast-paced, elaborate steps, which gather in intensity as the work progresses. Ashley described it as a combination of strength and delicacy: 'my role is like a powerhouse, but you also have to make it look light, airy, effortless, refined … like fragile cut glass.'
News and features
5 May 2011
The Ballet Bag catch up with legendary American ballerina Merrill Ashley