The Royal Opera House (ROH) will for the first time relay a live full-length ballet tonight. Swan Lake, danced by the Royal Ballet, will be broadcast onto a huge screen set up in the Covent Garden piazza, adjacent to the Opera House, from 7.30pm. Tickets are not required and the performance is free of charge to spectators.

Though a bold step for ballet, live relays from ROH into the Piazza are nothing new for opera. They began in 1987 with the Royal Opera presenting Placido Domingo in La boheme. Since then, a total of 18 operas have been broadcast to the public outside. For the ballet event, spaces are for standing room only, with a limited number of spaces for wheelchair access and the elderly.

Danced to Tchaikovsky’s famous score, Swan Lake recounts the love of Prince Siegfried for Odette, who as a result of the sorcery of an evil magician, is transformed into a swan by day, though she’s allowed to return to her human form by night. Only absolute fidelity in love can destroy the spell.

Swan Lake is directed by Anthony Dowell and designed by Yolanda Sonnabend (inspired by Faberge). The cast for the open-air performances includes Royal Ballet principal dancers Miyako Yoshida and Jonathan Cope. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia is conducted by Andrea Quinn.

During the interval, audiences in Covent Garden piazza will be shown the world premiere of 3 reflections, Terry Braun’s digital film of Duo:logue, the Random Dance/Royal Ballet collaboration commissioned by ROH Artists’ Development. There will also be exclusive documentary footage of the Royal Ballet in rehearsal and preparation for the performance, including interviews with Sir Anthony Dowell and Royal Ballet principal dancers.

- by Terri Paddock