Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of The Two Pigeons. It was last on stage 16–30 January 2016.
The Young Man, a painter, feels trapped by the Young Girl, his model and mistress. His eye is caught by a Gypsy Girl, and he takes up his sketch-pad to follow the gypsy troupe.
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Frederick Ashton, Founder Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, created Les Deux Pigeons for The Royal Ballet Touring Company in 1961. He restaged the work for the main company later that year as The Two Pigeons. He and his regular collaborator John Lanchbery (La Fille mal gardée) worked together to adapt André Messager’s 1886 score, created for a ballet by Louis Mérante at the Paris Opéra. Like Messager and Mérante, Ashton turned to La Fontaine’s fable of the same title for inspiration – but Ashton tells quite a different story. He explores the nature of love in a work that has deft comic lightness and soulful pathos in equal measure.
Lynn Seymour and Donald Britton created the roles of the central pair (though in the premiere Christopher Gable danced the male role, taking over for an injured Britton). Ashton was drawn particularly to Seymour’s vivacity and effervescence; together they created a personality for the Young Woman that is charming, impetuous and lively, adding character to the ballet’s charming humour. Ashton’s choreography draws a strong distinction between the uninhibited sensuality of the gypsies and the lovers’ interactions, which often – to both comic and heartfelt effect – suggest the movements of birds.
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
28 January 2016
Release details will be announced in due course.
27 January 2016
What did you think of the live cinema relay of these two Frederick Ashton ballets?
26 January 2016
Backstage films from the live relay of Frederick Ashton’s Mixed Programme including rehearsal footage and exclusive interviews.
18 January 2016
What did you think of The Royal Ballet's Mixed Programme of works by Frederick Ashton?
The Poetry of Ashton: Variety and originality in the work of The Royal Ballet’s Founder Choreographer30 November 2015
The ballets of Frederick Ashton share an astounding breadth of imagination.
24 November 2015
Following the first performance of The Two Pigeons at the Royal Opera House for 30 years, which forgotten classics would you love to see again?