Frederick Ashton's delightful full-length classical ballet is a charming feast for the senses, set to Delibes' marvellous score.
Sylvia was Frederick Ashton's second full-length ballet, created in 1952 as a sparkling showpiece for his muse Margot Fonteyn. Ashton used Delibes' gorgeous 1876 score - famously beloved by Tchaikovsky, who praised its 'charm and elegance& its riches in melody, rhythm, and harmony'. The ballet fell from the repertory but in 2004 was reconstructed by Christopher Newton for Ashton's centenary -so rescuing from the archives a seminal work of Ashton's English style.
Delibes' first-rank ballet music inspired Ashton to create some of his most inventive dance imagery. There is a wealth of detail and fun in every character, and in Sylvia herself Ashton created one of the most surprisingly wide-ranging Principal roles. From the powerful huntress of Act I to the artful, witty woman who schemes her escape from pirates, and the rosy bride of the final scene, she emerges as a marvellously layered character - her challenging choreography a test to each new generation of Ashtonians.