Only restored in its entirety in 2004, Frederick Ashton’s Sylvia at once showed itself a fine combination of all the ingredients of the best of classical ballet.
The story, from Greek myth, has Sylvia at the centre of dramatic events that have a statue come to life, Sylvia’s abduction by the evil hunter Orion, and her dead lover Aminta restored to life through the intervention of the god Eros.
The title role – created for Margot Fonteyn – requires a technical skill and classical elegance to challenge any ballerina to the full. But the accompanying host of characters and ensembles also allow the Company the chance to draw on its full range of dance and dramatic experience.
The music by Delibes, who is maybe better known today for Coppelia, is considered one of the finest of 19th-century ballet scores. It was much admired in its own day, and rightly so for its sheer variety and melodious appeal.
Rich classical designs for this production were inspired by the art of Lorrain, Poussin and others to create a beautiful setting for the story. Lovely to look at and delightful to hear, Sylvia is a complete experience of classical ballet at its best.