Zenaida Yanowsky and Roberto Bolle in Marguerite and Armand ©2017 ROH. Photograph by Tristram Kenton

Marguerite and Armand (2017)

15 January14 February 2021
Online only
Ballet and dance

Marguerite and Armand was created for Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in 1963 by founding choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Frederick Ashton. The story draws from the same inspiration as Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La traviata – the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils. Fonteyn herself recalled the intensity of the choreography, claiming that the tragic love story was 'a passion more real than life itself’.

The ballet is set to Franz Liszt’s La lugubre gondola and his famous Piano Sonata in B Minor. It depicts the burgeoning love between Marguerite and Armand, movingly expressed through passionate and daring lifts and lustful pas de deux. But the lovers’ happiness is threatened. Marguerite's social position and the ‘gilded cage’ in which she lives is evoked by Cecil Beaton in his elegant stage designs. The final pas de deux, as Marguerite lies dying in Armand’s arms, is among the most moving in Ashton’s repertory for The Royal Ballet.

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

Generous philanthropic support from

Julia and Hans Rausing

The 2020/21 Ballet Season is generously supported by

Aud Jebsen

Streaming generously supported by The Foyle Foundation



Marguerite lies on her deathbed, recalling her tragic love affair with Armand in a series of feverish flashbacks.


Conductor: Emmanuel Plasson

Marguerite: Zenaida Yanowsky

Armand: Roberto Bolle

Armand's Father: Christopher Saunders

Duke: Gary Avis

Admirers: Matthew Ball, Reece Clarke, David Donnelly, Nicol Edmonds, Kevin Emerton, Erico Montes, Tomas Mock, Fernando Montaño

Maid: Mica Bradbury

Piano: Robert Clark

Concert Master: Vasko Vassilev

Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House


ChoreographyFrederick Ashton

MusicFranz Liszt

OrchestrationDudley Simpson

DesignerCecil Beaton

Lighting designerJohn B. Read


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