Song of the Earth / La Sylphide
English National Ballet presents a double bill featuring Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece Song of the Earth and Frank Andersen’s recreation of La Sylphide.
Song of the Earth
Inspired by Mahler’s haunting song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, MacMillan brings music, poetry and choreography together to capture the fragility of life, and its constant renewal. Three central figures portray the bittersweet reality of love, loss, and mortality: a Woman, a Man and an enigmatic Messenger.
First performed in 1965, Song of the Earth was a point of departure for MacMillan’s choreography, surprising and captivating audiences and critics. English National Ballet is honoured to add this revered MacMillan work to its repertoire.
A piercing work of artFinancial Times on Song of the Earth
On the morning of his wedding to his sweet fiancée Effy, James awakens from a dream to see a mysterious and tantalising Sylphide before him. His obsession with her sets off a fateful sequence of events where joy turns to sorrow, love to betrayal and infatuation to tragedy.
August Bournonville’s classic Romantic ballet is devotedly recreated by Eva Kloborg and Frank Andersen in this captivating production, and is accompanied by an enchanting score, played live by English National Ballet Philharmonic.
One of the jewels of Romantic balletThe Independent
Song of the Earth
John B. Read
Anne Marie Vessel Schlüter
Herman Severin Løvenskiold
Song of the Earth
Three central figures portray the bittersweet reality of love, loss, and mortality: a Woman, a Man and an enigmatic Messenger. Inspired by Mahler’s haunting song cycle Das Lied von der Erde, Kenneth MacMillan brings music, poetry and choreography together to capture the fragility of life, and its constant renewal.
Young James is shortly to marry his betrothed, Effy. He slumbers in his armchair. The Sylphide sits by his feet. She is in love with James and wakes him by kissing his forehead before vanishing through the chimney in the fireplace. James is spellbound and searches for the Sylphide, and his preoccupation with an invisible world confounds him. He barely notices Effy, who is courted by another young suitor, Gurn.
Preparations for the wedding are under way but are brought to a standstill when the sorcerer Madge suddenly appears. Despite James’s protest, the young girls including Effy, have their fortune told. According to the soothsayer, Gurn rather than James is to wed Effy. This rouses James’s anger and he sends the sorcerer on her way.
When James is alone in the living room, the Sylphide appears again. She lets him know that her destiny is forever tied to his and declares her love for him. James hesitates but only for a moment and is once again infatuated by her charm. Gurn has witnessed the scene and seeks to reveal the nature of James’s true love to the wedding guests. They brush his accusations aside and the ceremony, James has disappeared. He has left for the woods with the Sylphide and the poor bride-to-be is heartbroken.
Madge has summoned the witches for a gathering in the misty forest. They concoct a magic potion and weave a pink veil. Meanwhile the Sylphide has led James to her kingdom in the woods. When she asks James if he loves her, he hesitantly declares his love. The Sylphide’s many sisters dance for him.
The wedding guests search for James in the woods. Gurn finds his cap while Madge tells him of James’s infidelity. Gurn then plucks up the courage to propose to Effy who reluctantly accepts.
James is alone in the forest. He is torn between the Sylphide and Effy. Madge appears and promises to make the Sylphide return. She gives him the pink veil and tells him that the veil is to be used to capture the Sylphide. When the Sylphide returns, James follows Madge’s instructions. He wraps the Sylphide round in the veil and her fate is sealed. She has lost her freedom, loses her wings, and dies. Madge is delighted, and while Gurn leads Effy to the alter, the Sylphide is carried through the air by her sisters. James is shattered and sinks to the ground.
“This double bill delights in delicious contrasts. It is the perfect showcase for the versatility and ever-growing confidence of ENB”
“A rewarding double bill... [Song of the Earth] is danced with assurance and sensitivity”
“No praise too high for this scrupulous, heartfelt, eloquent account”
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