Release Date:

Sep 2013

Number of Discs:



2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 Anamorphic



Catalog Number:


Ashton Celebration (The Royal Ballet)

Leanne Benjamin (Méditation from Thaïs); Valeri Hristov (Méditation from Thaïs); Yuhui Choe (Voices of Spring); Alexander Campbell (Voices of Spring); Edward Watson (Monotones I and II); Marianela Nuñez (Monotones I and II); Sergei Polunin (Marguerite and Armand); Marianela Nuñez (Marguerite and Armand); Hikaru Kobayashi (La Valse); Ryoichi Hirano (La Valse); Samantha Raine (La Valse); Vasko Vassilev (Solo Violin (Méditation from Thaïs));

Frederick Ashton, Founder Choreographer of The Royal Ballet, was one of the 20th century’s most influential choreographers, whose musical, subtle and graceful style and extraordinary gift for storytelling had a profound impact on the development of British ballet. This special programme, performed at the Royal Opera House to mark the 25th anniversary of Ashton’s death, presents five works that showcase his astonishing versatility, from compelling abstract ballets – such as the exuberant Voices of Spring and the radically modernist Monotones – to the tragic love story Marguerite and Armand, brought to life with ‘performances of heart-wrenching intensity’ (The Observer) by Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin.

LA VALSE - Hikaru Kobayashi, Ryoichi Hirano, Samantha Raine, Bennet Gartside, Helen Crawford, Crian Maloney
‘MEDITATION’ FROM THAÏS - Mara Galeazzi, Rupert Pennefather
VOICES OF SPRING - Emma Maguire, Valentino Zucchetti
MONOTONES I AND II - Emma Maguire, Akane Takada, Dawid Trzensimiech, Marianela Nuñez, Federico Bonelli, Edward Watson
MARGUERITE AND ARMAND - Tamara Rojo, Christopher Saunders, Sergei Polunin, Gary Avis

Artists of The Royal Ballet
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Conductor: Emmanuel Plasson

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, February 2013


"... performances of heart-wrenching intensity ... Polunin stalks the stage like a panther, his every breath and gesture a cry of longing for Rojo's ailing, consumptive Marguerite ... and while his dancing is faultless, it's the other things that you remember. His burning gaze. The ferocious tenderness of his touch. The terrible desperation with which he buries his face in her neck ... Rojo has never been more incandescently beautiful, nor more vulnerable. Voices of Spring [is] deftly performed by Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell. They're a well-matched pair, his Tiggerish bounce nicely complemented by her understated technique and knowing smile. Monotones I and II see Ashton in minimalist mood. In this plotless two-part work we see his fundamental beliefs about ballet laid out with limpid simplicity to piano music by Erik Satie. It's exquisitely performed, Emma Maguire's quietly perfect line compelling the eye in the first section, and Marianela Nuñez lunar and inexorable in the second." (The Guardian)

"As Marguerite, Rojo has blazing presence and a voluptuous flow to her dancing. She gives vivid weight to the drama’s still moments. Leanne Benjamin and Valeri Hristov have strong presence in the swooning “Meditation” from Thaïs. Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell are adorable in the Voices of Spring pas de deux, purring through the floating steps, musical and funny and having fun." (The Independent)

"... a performance of such dramatic intensity that the audience sat in silence, as if afraid to breathe. Ashton turned the story of the tubercular courtesan Marguerite into a one-act ballet, set to Liszt, designed by Cecil Beaton, to show off the partnership of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev; its headlong rush from first love to deathbed reconciliation requires dancers of similar charisma. In Polunin and Rojo it has them. Polunin’s talent doesn’t just lie in the elegance of his arabesques, the speed of his pirouettes, or the height of his jump - all of which are fully displayed here - but in the way he can make you believe he is living the part he plays. Here he traces Armand’s story with spellbinding clarity: his stillness when he first sees Marguerite, the ferocity of his public renunciation of her, the tenderness of his love - each step has meaning. His passion is more than matched by Rojo, whose emotions are not only etched on her face, but in every muscle of her expressive body. She is simply wonderful. Their magnificent performances brought to a close a bill which revealed the variety of the Royal’s founder choreographer from the perfumed sway of La Valse, to the lyrical loveliness of the Thais pas de deux, and the audacious joy of Voices of Spring. Monotones I and II, on the other hand, show his geometric modernism and his ability to conjure a kind of mysterious beauty by the simplest of means... the performances throughout the evening made the choreography look as fresh and important as ever." (The Daily Telegraph)

"Variable offerings from choreographer Frederick Ashton ... all impeccably executed. Worth seeing for stars including Tamara Rojo." (BBC Music Magazine ★★★★)