As the Britten 100 centenary celebrations come to a close, The Lowry prepares to welcome Benjamin Britten's only commissioned ballet, The Prince of The Pagodas, to its Lyric stage, performed by partner company Birmingham Royal Ballet.
This re-working by David Bintley, which was first performed in 2011 by the National Ballet of Japan, will open in Salford on 30 January.
Bintley's new choreography is only the third version of the ballet to have been produced since it was first written in 1957. Past choreographic versions include the original, three-act ballet created by John Cranko for The Royal Ballet in 1957 and a later version by Kenneth MacMillan in 1989. Bintley's UK premiere will mark 25 years since the MacMillan production opened in 1989, which starred Darcy Bussell in her first leading role.
In his new version of The Prince of The Pagodas, David Bintley alters the traditional Japanese fairytale, transforming a romantic love story into a tale that celebrates the power of family love.
He said: "In the original there's a Beauty and the Beast-type premise where a Princess falls in love with a Salamander, but there really isn't a struggle towards love; there are very few romantic moments in the action … I thought it was far better to make it a different type of love story. Not a man for a woman, but a sister for a brother, and a father for a son – a love for the family".
The ballet tells the story of Princess Sakura, in mourning for the death of her brother and the slow disintegration of her once all-powerful father, the Emperor of the Chrysanthemum Throne. The Emperor, broken by the death of his son, allows his evil new wife to take control of his kingdom.
Presented with a choice of four powerful and wealthy husbands, Sakura's memories of the true love she once felt for her brother gives her the courage to refuse her suitors. When a fifth suitor arrives at the Palace, a scaly Salamander, Princess Sakura throws herself on his the mercy. The Salamander Prince takes her on a long and dangerous journey through the elements of earth, air, fire and water to his magical kingdom, where Sakura's adventure truly begins.
Accompanying Birmingham Royal Ballet will be the company's full-time orchestra the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the Musical Directorship of Koen Kessels.
The Prince of the Pagodas runs at the Lowry from 30 January - 1 February.