Bringing the classic Oscar Wilde story of the golden statue with a compassionate heart to the stage, The Australian Ballet presents The Happy Prince in a world premiere season at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre this February.
Australia’s own master storyteller, Graeme Murphy will bring new lustre to this treasured tale in a brand-new work. His witty, poetic and distinctly fresh Australian interpretation of The Happy Prince will enchant adults and children alike.
“Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince stimulated my childhood imagination a lifetime ago,” says Murphy. “This magical story of love and sacrifice will, I hope, inspire and delight another generation of dance-lovers, be they children or adults.”
His production boasts an all-star, all-Australian line-up of creatives. Kim Carpenter, the award-winning artist and theatre director whose theatrical adaptation of Wilde’s story forms the foundation of this work, has created vibrant set and costume designs that will animate the world of The Happy Prince, complete with Australian motifs to combine the classic story with elements of down under. The story unfolds to a specially commissioned score by Christopher Gordon, a renowned composer for film, whose scores include Mao’s Last Dancer and Master and Commander.
Renowned for his reimagined story ballets Nutcracker – The Story of Clara and Swan Lake, Murphy brings to this memorable tale his boundless capacity for invention and stylistic innovation, as well as his signature wit. In his final year as artistic director, David McAllister says that it’s incredibly fitting to have a brand-new Murphy ballet.
“One of my first major steps as artistic director was to ask Graeme Murphy to create a new Swan Lake for my inaugural season,” said McAllister “Graeme has been one of the driving forces of our art form for decades; he embodies the inspirational and transformational powers of ballet. Through his work, he has pushed dance forward as a pioneering, hybrid art form that transports and inspires audiences with universal stories.”
In Oscar Wilde’s lyrical story, a prince who has lived a carefree life behind his palace walls becomes a magnificent golden statue. From his new vantage point he can see his subjects for the first time, and realises that his city is full of poverty and sadness.
Awoken to compassion, he begs his friend the Swallow to take the gold and precious jewels from his statue, fly down into the city and give them to the poor. After a series of colourful adventures, the selfless Prince and the loyal Swallow end up with nothing, but eventually find bliss.
Playful and poignant, The Happy Prince will capture children’s imagination with its vivid spectacle and adults’ attention with its timely message: a kind heart shines brighter than gold.
Choreography: Graeme Murphy Featuring: Artists of The Australian Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra Creative Associate: Janet Vernon Composer: Christopher Gordon Set and Costume Design: Kim Carpenter Lighting Design: Damien Cooper Projection Design: Fabian Astore Adaptation: Kim Carpenter, Graeme Murphy
The Happy Prince
Lyric Theatre – Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Season: 25 – 29 February 2020
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 28 August – 5 September 2020
Joan Sutherland Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Season: 27 November – 16 December 2020
For more information, visit: www.australianballet.com.au for details.
Image: The Happy Prince – courtesy of The Australian Ballet