2005 saw the celebration of Hans Christian Andersen’s Bicentenary and what better way was there to celebrate this occasion than with a Double Bill of two of his best-loved fairy tales: The Red Shoes and The Emperor’s New Clothes. These two fabulously popular productions were originally commissioned by the Bulgarian Opera Ballet and were designed to appeal to young and old alike.
Wonderfully imagined and choreographed by Christine Sundt for the Bulgarian Opera and Ballet in Sofia combined with specially created scores arranged by Martin Ward and beautiful sets and costumes by the award-winning designer Bruce French, all came together to create a magical and memorable production of Andersen’s famous tales.
The Red Shoes is presented in a rustic Scandinavian style. With music from Edvard Grieg providing a suitably Nordic ‘soundscape’, the dancers portray a story of youthful folly that ends with the heroine’ making the ultimate sacrifice to be redeemed in the eyes of God.
In contrast, The Emperor’s New Clothes is a lighter and humorous work with a stunning score by Johan Sebastian Bach. This famous story of the vain emperor and his court unfolds in the ruler’s lavish palace as the two confidence tricksters weave their lies and sew their patter behind the scenes. The veils of vanity are eventually publically torn away in by the innocence of youth as a young boy points out the truth about the emperor’s new clothes!
The double bill is designed to appeal to an audience of all ages. The central focus will be on portraying these tales in a way that will draw out the morals that underpin all of Andersen’s works whilst not losing any of the humour, wit and wonderful characterization that have made Andersen’s tales so popular for over 200 years.
The company plans to tour these works in 2012/2013.
Thanks to his fairy tales and stories, Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875), is probably one of the most widely read authors in the world today, but even in his own time he was read and known from Russia in the east to America in the west.
His career from the lowest stratum of society in his native town of Odense via his problematic adaptation to the official and bourgeois circles in Copenhagen and further still until he became a familiar guest in the country mansions of Denmark, the palaces of Kings and Princes and the entire cultural stage of Europe provided him with material for many of his works and for no fewer than three autobiographies, the final version being Mit Livs Eventyr (1855, The Fairy Tale of My Life).
Andersen’s fairy tales and stories (about 190 in all) were written between 1835-1872 and are addressed to both adults and children. Both stylistically and thematically they are deeply original. In addition to these, he wrote novels, travel accounts, poems and works for the theatre (including libretti for operas and ballad operas).
Although Andersen’s work has its roots in Romanticism he is a modern spirit thanks to his social experience, his psychological insight, his belief in progress and industrial development. The special quality in his fairy tales is due to the unique combination of poetry, fantasy tale and everyday reality.