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A celebratory showpiece set to sweeping music by Rachmaninoff – Frederick Ashton’s ballet is a tribute to virtuoso dance.

Most recent performance

There are currently no scheduled performances of Rhapsody. It was last on stage 16–30 January 2016.


Rhapsody closely follows the movement of Rachmaninoff’s score – by turns playful, romantic, elegiac and elegant.


Rhapsody was created in 1980 and is one of Frederick Ashton’s final works – a virtuoso conclusion to his series of non-narrative ballets. It was created on acclaimed Russian dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who requested the Ashton commission and whose personality is at the heart of the work. The male Principal role is characterized by exceptionally fluent leaps, turns and lightness of movement. It is twinned with the strength and grace of the ballerina, a role created on the pure, fleet-footed style of former Royal Ballet Principal Lesley Collier.

The ballet is set to Sergey Rachmaninoff’s well-known Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which moves from stormy passages to calmer interludes. The premiere of Rhapsody was given at the Royal Opera House in honour of Ashton’s close friend Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, on the occasion of her 80th birthday.

Frederick Ashton created more than one hundred works during his lifetime (1904–88). For further information, please visit

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