Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Marguerite and Armand. It was last on stage 12–23 February 2013.
As Marguerite – a Parisian courtesan – lies on her deathbed, she recalls her tragic love affair with Armand in a feverish series of flashbacks.
Frederick Ashton created Marguerite and Armand for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in 1963 as a vehicle for their unique dance partnership. The narrative was drawn from the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils, which also inspired Giuseppe Verdi’s La traviata. Ashton concentrates the play’s tragic essence in choreography of great intensity – Fonteyn recalled that rehearsals for the work contained ‘a passion more real than life itself’.
The ballet is set to Franz Liszt’s romantic Piano Sonata in B Minor and depicts the burgeoning love between Marguerite and Armand, which is movingly expressed through passionate lifts and increasingly free movements. However, the lovers’ happiness is threatened by social convention and the ‘gilded cage’ in which Marguerite lives – evoked by Cecil Beaton in his elegant stage designs. The moment at which Marguerite realizes that she must renounce Armand is one of devastating stillness. The final pas de deux, as Marguerite lies dying in Armand’s arms, is one of the most moving in all of ballet.
Frederick Ashton created more than one hundred works during his lifetime (1904–88). For further information, please visit www.frederickashton.org.uk.
News and features
1 September 2013
As a The Royal Ballet releases an all-Ashton programme on DVD, we publish an Insights event about the choreographer’s early career.
15 July 2013
Mixed programme stars Edward Watson, Marianela Nuñez, Federico Bonelli, Sergei Polunin and others.
5 April 2013
UK audiences can relive Tamara Rojo's final ROH performance on 15 July.
18 February 2013
What being in the studio with Frederick Ashton was really like.
6 December 2012
From The Rite of Spring to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, ballet's specially-created roles.
Marguerite and Armand is a ballet danced to Franz Liszt's B minor piano sonata. It was created in 1963 by British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton specifically for world-famous dancers Rudolf Nureyev and Dame Margot Fonteyn. The ballet takes its inspiration from the 19th-century novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, and other adaptations of the same story such as Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata.