Natalia Osipova as Anna Anderson in Anastasia, The Royal Ballet © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton


15 – 28 May 2020

Kenneth MacMillan created a one-act ballet Anastasia for Deutsche Oper Ballet in 1967. He was inspired by the true story of Anna Anderson, a woman who believed herself to be Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and the only survivor from the assassination of the Romanovs in 1918. Leaving the audience to decide the legitimacy of Anna’s claims, MacMillan created a haunting, expressionist work to Martinů’s Sixth Symphony, in which Anna is visited by confused nightmares of her life from the time of the massacre to her discovery in Berlin in 1920. The ballet won widespread acclaim on its premiere, particularly for the central performance of Lynn Seymour in the anguished title role. As MacMillan said in 1971, ‘I found in [Anna’s] story a theme that has sometimes appeared in my work before: the Outsider figure. Anastasia seems to me to be a supreme example of this’.

One of MacMillan’s first creative acts on becoming Director of The Royal Ballet was to adapt Anastasia into a three-act, full-length work, his first for the Company since Romeo and Juliet. He created two preceding acts to the Berlin act, using music by  Tchaikovsky to explore Anna’s ‘memory’ of events in the Imperial family leading up to the Russian Revolution – providing a powerful context for the disturbed Anna’s nightmares of the final act. The full ballet, first performed in 1971, was a declaration of intent: it showcased MacMillan’s dual influences, of classical, Royal Ballet tradition in the first two acts, and of German expressionism – a style then entirely new to British audiences – in the final. The ballet remains one of MacMillan’s most experimental and poignant works.

With warm thanks to

Season Principal Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Aud Jebsen, The Kirsh Foundation, Julia and Hans Rausing, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman and all the supporters of The Royal Ballet


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Events overtake the young Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov and her family: World War I is declared, and then the Russian Revolution brings their privileged lives to an end.

A woman who believes herself to be Anastasia, sole survivor from the massacre of the Romanovs, is incarcerated in an asylum. Memory and fantasy intermingle; she recalls her rescue, the death of her husband, the disappearance of her child and her attempted suicide. But, despite her nightmares, her faith in her own identity cannot be shaken.


OrchestraOrchestra of the Royal Opera House

ConductorSimon Hewett

Co-concert masterSergey Levitin

Tsar Nicholas IIChristopher Saunders

Tsarina Alexandra FeodorovnaChristina Arestis

Grand Duchess Anastasia / Anna AndersonNatalia Osipova

RasputinThiago Soares

Mathilde KschessinskaMarianela Nuñez

Kschessinska's PartnerFederico Bonelli

The HusbandEdward Watson


ChoreographyKenneth MacMillan

MusicPyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky and Bohuslav Martinu

Electronic musicFritz Winckel and Rüdiger Rüfer

Production realizationDeborah MacMillan

DesignerBob Crowley

Lighting designerJohn B. Read

StagingGary Harris

Directed for the screen byRoss MacGibbon