Christopher Wheeldon, Artistic Associate of The Royal Ballet, created his adaptation of Shakespeare's late romance The Winter's Tale for The Royal Ballet in 2014. It received ecstatic praise at its premiere, acclaimed by critics and audiences alike for its intelligent and emotionally powerful storytelling through exquisite dance. With striking designs by Bob Crowley and atmospheric music by Joby Talbot, The Winter's Tale is widely considered a modern ballet classic
The story follows the destruction of a marriage through consuming jealousy, the abandonment of a child, and a seemingly hopeless love. Yet, through remorse and regret – and the apparent miracle of a statue coming to life – the ending is uplifting as it brings forgiveness and reconciliation. The two lands between which the drama unfolds are vividly portrayed in movement, sound and image. The Sicilia of King Leontes grows in threatening coolness and darkness, while the Bohemia of King Polixenes is a pastoral idyll of lyricism and sun-saturated colour.
King Leontes is increasingly overpowered by unfounded jealousy, believing his pregnant wife Hermione to be having an affair with his childhood friend King Polixenes. Leontes's actions tear the two friends' families apart across generations. Hermione's baby daughter is abandoned and Hermione is believed to have died of distress. But the baby Perdita is rescued by a shepherd, and grows up to fall in love with Florizel, son of Polixenes. The young couple is reunited with the remorseful Leontes, and Hermione is miraculously returned to life.