Details: Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, WC2E 9DD
Tube: Covent Garden
Ondine recounts the familiar folktale of a water spirit (Ondine) falling in love with a prince (Palemon). Although already engaged, Palemon can't help but fall for her, causing the most tragic of results.
Frederick Ashton's choreography is recognisable, as the fleeting, fish-like movements of Ondine (originally intended for Margot Fonteyn) are transported to Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru and Miyako Yoshida. Hans Werner Henze's score is as easily palpable, dramatising any movement with its bouncy, rolling-wave fragments, and supple edge. It seems that, despite the lengthy hiatus from the Royal Ballet stage, Ondine's rejuvenation is resolute.
The rebirth of this Royal Ballet repertory one in a string of tributes to Frederick Ashton, the Founder Choreographer of the Royal Ballet and one of its largest historical influences, and it has been done in full effort. Rojo and Jonathan Cope (Palemon) reinforce the zeal and giddy humour of Ashton's signature lyricism, while Ricardo Cervera (Tirrenio) is brilliant in a flagrantly immodest role. Henry Roche's solo piano is enchanting, and the orchestra invigorates Werner Henze's score, all behind a dark and flirty design, by Lila de Nobili.
Only the slight wobbles and mistimings of a first night cause this performance harm, but knowing the dramatic humour of Ashton before seeing the performance is necessary, if not to ward off the regular folktale clichés.
- Megan M. Retka