#Throwback Thursday: Marguerite and Armand

This week's #ThrowbackThursday features Ashton's ballet Marguerite and Armand.

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, Royal Ballet, 1963

Marguerite and Armand was created in 1963 by choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, to music by Franz Liszt, specifically for dancers Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. The ballet's inspiration was La Dame aux Camelias (The Lady of the Camellias), by Alexandre Dumas (son of the famous Dumas who created The Three Musketeers), and it was influenced by another adaptation of the story, Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata.

Fonteyn and Nureyev

The story follows Marguerite Gautier, a Parisian courtesan, who reminisces about her love affair with Armand as she slowly dies from tuberculosis. She remembers how they met at a party, and how despite her happiness she was forced to leave him without explanation because of her illness. In the final scene, as Marguerite is about to die, Armand shows up, having learnt the truth from his father; their reunion is brief but ensures that Marguerite does not die alone.

Fonteyn and Nureyev

The mood of the tale is necessarily tragic, with audience members later commenting about the death scene that it felt 'like a private moment they didn't want to intrude on'. The ballet was only one of the signature pieces of Fonteyn and Nureyev, who are often called the greatest pairing of the 20th century. They performed it in their farewell performances Fonteyn & Nureyev on Broadway. When they died, it was decided to forbid anyone else to perform it. In recent years this has been relaxed, with revivals of the ballet starring Sylvie Guillem & Nicolas Le Riche, Zenaida Yanowsky & Federico Bonelli, Tamara Rojo & Sergei Polunin, and Svetlana Zakharova & Sergei Polunin.

Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin, Royal Ballet

Here's Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin, courtesy of The Royal Opera House:

And of course, the exquisite Fonteyn and Nureyev, in this little clip:

Thanks for reading!

- Selene

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