English National Ballet: Song Of The Earth / La Sylphide

The English National Ballet presents a double bill of two stunning performances: Song of the Earth (Kenneth MacMillan) and La Sylphide (Frank Anderson).

The Financial Times has called Song of the Earth a “piercing work of art.”

The nearly three-hour performance includes two intervals and an elegant performance that audiences soon won’t forget.

Song of the Earth was inspired by Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde song cycle. MacMillan brilliantly combines choreography, music and poetry in the production to demonstrate the cycle of life, which is fragile and constantly in a state of renewal.

The show features three main characters: A Man, a Woman and a mysterious Messenger. Each plays a role in portraying the reality of mortality, love and loss.

Song of the Earth made its theatrical debut in 1965, and the English National Ballet’s now classic work to its repertoire.
The symphonic work was written by Gustav Mahler around 1909, and has been used for several ballets from many renowned choreographers, including Kenneth MacMillan, Antony Tudor, John Neumeier and Heinz Spoerli.

MacMillan’s version was an instant hit, and charmed audiences in Germany as well as critics. The Royal Ballet quickly picked up the production and ran it under its English name: Song of the Earth. The production made its debut at London’s Royal Opera House in 1966.

La Sylphide follows the lead character James, who awakens from a strange dream on the morning of his wedding to Effy. James finds a mysterious Sylphide beside his bed when he awakens, and quickly falls into a state of obsession. His fixation on the Sylphide sets off a series of events that leads to sorrow, betrayal and tragedy.

The ballet features two acts and takes place in Scotland. When the ballet was written, Scotland was considered an exotic and remote location. It was originally written for Marie Taglioni to dance as the sylph. But the version audiences see today is one created by Bournonville, and is one of the oldest surviving ballets in the world.

The ballet is based on “Trilby, ou Le lutin d’Argail” by Charles Nordier.

Bournonville’s version of La Sylphide has been performed by the Royal Danish Ballet in its original form since its creation. The production debuted in 1836 and is still one of the Bournonville’s most celebrated works.

Frank Anderson and Eva Kloborg recreate this classic romantic ballet, which features a beautiful score played by the English National Ballet Philharmonic.