-, -, Nationwide, United Kingdom
Online premiere: Friday 27 March 2020 at 7pm GMT.
The Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School perform Matthew Hart's Peter and the Wolf, choreographed to Prokofiev's charming music, broadcast free online as part of the Royal Opera House's #OurHouseToYourHouse series.
Young Peter is playing outside his garden, warning the bird and the duck that his cat is stalking them. Peter ignores his grandfather’s warnings that it isn’t safe outside: ‘What if a wolf comes out of the forest?’
Peter ignores this advice, and sure enough a wolf does appear. And although the bird and cat escape, the duck gets swallowed up. From a tree branch, Peter manages to lasso the wolf. Hunters arrive ready to shoot it, but Peter stops them, and instead leads the wolf in a triumphant parade to the zoo.
Prokofiev wrote the music and the narration for Peter and the Wolf in 1936 for the Moscow Children’s Theatre. The first concert performance was given by the Moscow Philharmonic on 2 May, with the Children’s Theatre premiere three days later. This charming entertainment was conceived not just for its theatrical storytelling, but also as an introduction to the sounds of the orchestra, and it has become familiar to so many generations round the world through hearing it first at school for just this reason. Prokofiev writes different themes for the characters and has made them the more captivating through their instrumental characterizations: bird (flute), duck (oboe), cat (clarinet), wolf (horns), grandfather (bassoon) and – triumphantly – Peter with a whole melodious string section.
Matthew Hart’s ballet version was created for students at The Royal Ballet School in 1995. It was first performed on 15 July 1995 with Anthony Dowell as the narrator and Martin Harvey as the Wolf. For that first outing, it was playfully titled Sir Peter and the Wolf as a tribute to Sir Peter Wright on his retirement as director of Birmingham Royal Ballet. From the first performance, the invention, detail and sheer energy of Hart’s choreography was critically acclaimed. He conceived the work so that it would involve as many of the young dancers as he could, which led to his Busby Berkley-inspired presentation in which even the meadow, the pond and the forest are all danced into life.