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Introduction

Walter Sickert is fascinated by a series of sensational murders. When he draws on the killings as inspiration for his paintings, imagination and reality start to blur.

Background

Sweet Violets, Liam Scarlett’s first narrative ballet, had its premiere at the Royal Opera House in 2012. It is based on artist Walter Sickert’s obsession with the Jack the Ripper killings and the murder of prostitute Emily Dimmock, which inspired his ‘Camden Town Murder’ paintings (1908) and Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom (1907). Sweet Violets is set to Sergey Rachmaninoff’s 1893 Trio élégiaque, which expressed the composer’s grief at the death of his friend and mentor Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky.

John MacFarlane’s designs conjure up the shadowy underworld of late-Victorian and Edwardian London: prostitutes’ shabby bedrooms, rundown artists’ studios and East End backstreets. Scarlett’s powerful choreography probingly explores the web of fact and fiction that surrounds the Jack the Ripper legend. The ballet raises questions about obsession, violence and artistic creativity.

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