The Royal Opera House have launched a programme of online content that audiences can access at home, for free. The programme sees many classics from the Royal Ballet streamed via YouTube. As the most recent streaming, Christopher Wheeldon’s The Winter’s Tale strips back Shakespeare’s classic tragicomedy and packs a powerful punch.
The Winter’s Tale was a hit with audiences when it first premiered in 2014. Since then, it has been revived for the company in 2016, and 2018. Wheeldon’s adaptation is strong and brings to the stage a Shakespeare classic that hasn’t been overworked or over-adapted for ballet lovers.
The relationship between Edward Watson, who plays Leontes, and Lauren Cuthbertson, playing Hermione, is fierce. Their connection pours through their movements, with a portrayal that’s as powerful, as it is heart-breaking. It’s a revival with superb casting, as we also witness Steven McRae take on the role of Florizel. His commitment to the character is certainly note-worthy, as he has a way of making the most intricate movements appear so effortless.
The first act of the Royal Ballet’s The Winter’s Tale is one of pure tragedy. The choreography perfectly coins the score and the portrayal of Leontes and Hermione leaves audiences astonished. In stark contrast, a burst of joy explodes onto the stage at the beginning of Act Two, set 16 years later, in the Kingdom of Bohemia. It showcases the love between young Perdita and Florizel, in a springtime festival. Sarah Lamb is well-cast as Perdita, as she naturally lifts spirits with her poise and innocence. Joby Talbot’s score is lively, joyful, and full of folk melodies.
Audiences can expect a much shorter and stripped back Act Three. It almost feels as though the power that was felt in the first two acts gets lost, as the choreography becomes much calmer. This is, of course Wheeldon’s intention and credit must be given to his unique adaptation.
The Royal Ballet’s The Winter’s Tale strips back the complexity of the classic story and so eloquently portrays its narrative. The strong casting and dynamic choreography unite, to create a revival that’s loved by audiences.
You can watch The Winter’s Tale on YouTube for a limited time.