Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Sylvia. It was last on stage 23 November—16 December 2017 as part of the Autumn 2017/18 season.
The shepherd Aminta has fallen for the nymph Sylvia. As a disciple of the goddess Diana, she rejects his advances – until Eros intervenes…
Sylvia and Aminta defy the jealous hunter Orion’s attempts to take Sylvia for himself. Finally the couple is united, their union blessed by Diana.
Sylvia was Frederick Ashton’s second full-length ballet, created in 1952 as a sparkling showpiece for his muse Margot Fonteyn. Ashton used Delibes’ gorgeous 1876 score – famously beloved by Tchaikovsky, who praised its ‘charm and elegance… its riches in melody, rhythm, harmony’. The ballet fell from the repertory but in 2004 was reconstructed by Christopher Newton for Ashton’s centenary –so rescuing from the archives a seminal work of Ashton’s English style.
Delibes’ first-rank ballet music inspired Ashton to create some of his most inventive dance imagery. There is a wealth of detail and fun in every character, and in Sylvia herself Ashton created one of the most surprisingly wide-ranging Principal roles. From the powerful huntress of Act I to the artful, witty woman who schemes her escape from pirates, and the rosy bride of the final scene, she emerges as a marvellously layered character – her challenging choreography a test to each new generation of Ashtonians.
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
24 November 2017
Audience responses to The Royal Ballet's production of Frederick Ashton's sparkling showpiece.
17 November 2017
Frederick Ashton's ballet is a challenge for even the top ballerinas.
1 September 2014
How ancient mythological stories continue to inspire choreographers and dancers.