When to see it
This work is being performed as part of a mixed programme:
Characteristic works from three of The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographers – Wayne McGregor, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan – display the diversity of The Royal Ballet and its virtuoso dancers.
Marguerite, a Parisian courtesan, lies on her deathbed. She recalls her tragic love affair with Armand in a series of feverish flashbacks.
Frederick Ashton created Marguerite and Armand for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in 1963, as a celebration of 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 opera 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 La lugubre gondola and his famous Piano Sonata in B Minor. It depicts the burgeoning love between Marguerite and Armand, 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 final pas de deux, as Marguerite lies dying in Armand’s arms, is among the most moving in Ashton’s output.
Frederick Ashton created more than one hundred works during his lifetime (1904–88). For further information, please visit www.frederickashton.org.uk.
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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.