Not everyone celebrates a 55th anniversary, but if you are a national ballet company at the peak of its form, then you are entitled to celebrate; in 2018 the Australian Ballet is doing just that. The company has announced a season for next year which will feature nine works created uniquely for the company over its 55-year history, showcasing its versatility and achievement. These will include a new production of Spartacus to be created by Lucas Jervies to the popular and dramatic score by Khachaturian, a revival of the company’s acclaimed Cinderella, and a work conceived as a homage to Graeme Murphy titled simply Murphy: a selection from his choreographic output and acknowledging his remarkable 50 year career.
There is much to enjoy in this season but nothing more than the old favourite The Merry Widow, the first full-length ballet commissioned by the company in 1975, just 13 years after its formation. Since then it has become a modern classic entering the repertoire of ballet companies around the world, having also served as a brilliant calling card on the company’s international tours. Sir Robert Helpmann, then the company’s co-artistic director and a supreme showman, had the imagination to turn Franz Lehar’s operetta into a ballet. He secured the jealously guarded copyright; the score was adapted by the musical director, John Lanchbury with Alan Abbott, choreography was by Ronald Hynd and design by Desmond Heeley. They created a beautiful, enduring masterpiece.
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