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Les Enfants Terribles

The Royal Ballet

Javier De Frutos directs a new production of Philip Glass’s dance opera inspired by Cocteau’s surrealist tragedy, featuring Royal Ballet dancers and leading lights of the contemporary and classical dance scene.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Les Enfants Terribles. It was last on stage 27–29 January 2017 as part of the Autumn 2016/17 season.

The Story

Siblings Paul and Lise, isolated together as children, begin a game. As they grow up, the real world intrudes on their childish fantasies.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)


Les Enfants Terribles is the third in Philip Glass’s trilogy of works inspired by the writings of Jean Cocteau. In the first parts, Orphée and La Belle et la bête, Glass experimented with film and music – but for Les Enfants Terribles Glass ‘envisioned something different… singers and dancers would share centre stage’. This new production of Glass’s 1996 dance opera, part of the global festivities celebrating Glass’s 80th birthday, is choreographed and directed by the acclaimed choreographer Javier De Frutos – who himself has often found inspiration in Cocteau.

For Glass, Les Enfants Terribles is Cocteau’s ‘tragedy… it articulates Cocteau’s belief in the power of imagination to transform the ordinary world into a world of magic’. Thus a snowball becomes a ball of poison and a childish game a fierce struggle to the death. Principals of The Royal Ballet and leading lights of the classical and contemporary dance scene join celebrated singers, including members of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, to tell their versions of a world that has come unhooked from reality.

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