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
Marguerite lies on her deathbed, recalling her tragic love affair with Armand in a series of feverish flashbacks.
Armand's FatherChristopher Saunders
Concert MasterVasko Vassilev
OrchestraOrchestra of the Royal Opera House
Lighting designerJohn B. Read
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