Marcelino Sambé and Lauren Cuthbertson in Cathy Marston's The Cellist, The Royal Ballet ©2019 ROH. Photograph by Gavin Smart

The Cellist

28 May10 June 2020
29 May – 11 June 2020
Ballet and dance

Online premiere: Friday 29 May 2020 at 7pm BST, broadcast free online as part of the Royal Opera House's #OurHouseToYourHouse series.

Cathy Marston's first work for the Royal Opera House Main Stage is a lyrical memoir of the momentous life of the cellist Jacqueline du Pré, from her discovery of the cello through her celebrity as one of the most extraordinary players of the instrument to her frustration and struggle with multiple sclerosis.

Rich and poignant, joyous and tragic, The Cellist draws on the talents of The Royal Ballet's Principals, Character Artists, Soloists and Corps to tell the moving story of the cellist's life. Composer Philip Feeney incorporates some of the most moving and powerful cello music of Elgar, Beethoven, Fauré, Mendelssohn, Piatti, Rachmaninoff and Schubert into an exquisite score that is itself an homage to the cello.

The Cellist was first performed in February 2020 and this recording was broadcast live to cinemas on 25 February .

With warm thanks to

Season Principal Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, The Kirsh Foundation, Julia and Hans Rausing, The Cellist Production Syndicate and all the supporters of The Royal Ballet.


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The instrument lies unplayed.

Awoken by echoes of past performances, the instrument is inspired to tell the story of a great player.

How a little girl heard the sound of the cello and fell in love with it.

How her mother started to teach her, until her abundant talent far outgrew her mother's teaching.

How a new teacher opened the way to a community of peerless music-makers, where she met a conductor, who became her colleague and soulmate: their love impelled by music.

How they became celebrities, their fame amplified by many recordings.

How they married and embarked upon a whirlwind circuit of touring and concerts.

Until the cellist found herself begining to flag, unable to keep up and the couple's relationship started to unravel.

Because the cellist was battling more than tiredness: she was sick, an illness that would destroy her nerves, cut short her career and in the end her life.

How then the cellist fought to keep playing and when she could fight no more, shut away the instrument and fell silent.

How she lost her voice, but inspires still: the music she made resonating onward, etched in the memories of those who heard her and the recordings she left behind.

Edward Kemp (Dramaturg)


The Cellist: Lauren Cuthbertson

The Instrument: Marcelino Sambé

The Conductor: Matthew Ball

The Cellist (as a young girl): Emma Lucano

Her Sister (as a young girl): Lauren Godfrey

Her Mother: Kristen McNally

Her Father: Thomas Whitehead

Her Sister: Anna Rose O'Sullivan

Her Cello Teachers: Gary Avis, Nicol Edmonds, Benjamin Ella

Her Musical Friends: Luca Acri, Paul Kay, Joseph Sissens

A Chorus of Narrators: Artists of The Royal Ballet

Solo Cello: Hetty Snell


CompanyThe Royal Ballet

ChoreographyCathy Marston

ScenarioCathy Marston and Edward Kemp

MusicPhilip Feeney

Set designerHildegard Bechtler

Costume designerBregje van Balen

Lighting designerJon Clark

DramaturgyEdward Kemp

Choreographic collaboratorJenny Tattersall


An audio described version of this performance is also available. Watch now on Youtube.