The Silver Rose | The Australian BalletLeft - Lucinda Dunn and Ty King-Wall. Cover - Artists of The Australian Ballet in The Silver Rose. Photos - David Kelly

Dance darling Graeme Murphy is back with The Australian Ballet’s lavish new production The Silver Rose based on Richard Strauss’s beloved opera Der Rosenkavalier.

Set in turn of the century Vienna this gorgeous-looking three act ballet follows the romantic intrigues of The Marschallin, an aging actress (Lucinda Dunn), her young lover Octavian (Ty King-Wall), his sweetheart Sophie (Juliet Burnett) and her admirer, the villainous Baron Ochs (Andrew Killian). The plot, lifted from Hugo von Hofmannsthal's vision of Strauss’s opera, is a convoluted affair involving mistaken identity, jealousy, betrayal and a large dose of Benny Hill style slapstick.

And herein lies the problem. Murphy is quoted as saying that comedy is a much maligned and underused element in ballet. However, Murphy’s use of farcical humour undermines many of the tragic elements of the story, principally The Marschallian’s narrative journey from object of desire to obscurity.

The combination of Murphy’s sinuous choreography, Carl Vine’s anachronistic score and the rather outmoded and irrelevant plot is an uncomfortable one. This is a ballet in the midst of an identity crisis, albeit a very beautiful one.

The set and costumes by Roger Kirk are stunning and like the rest of the production, slightly jarring. The jazz age rubs coyly against Klimt-inspired art nouveau curlicues to create images that are both memorable and unsettling.

Lucinda Dunn is magnificent as The Marschallian, bringing dignity and wit to what otherwise could have been a one note role. Delicately beautiful Juliet Burnett shines as Sophie, the Marschallian’s naïve young rival for the affections of Octavian.

Young Ty King-Wall, making his debut in a principal role, is less impressive as the young lover, seeming to struggle with both the interpretation of his character and Murphy’s choreography. However I would suggest that this was less to do with ability and more to do with the flawed re-interpretation of Strauss’s original opera.

Perhaps it was the maudlin Brisbane weather but I came away from The Silver Rose feeling as though I had missed the point entirely. I had witnessed a lavish spectacle and yet felt strangely unmoved by the beauty of it. However, it seemed I was the only audience member who felt that way as the curtain closed to a standing ovation from the enthusiastic Brisbane audience.

The Australian Ballet presents
based on Der Rosenkavalier by Hugo von Hofmannsthal

Choreography Graeme Murphy

26 February – 3 March, 2010
Lyric Theatre, QPAC with The Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Bookings: or 136 246

19 – 30 March, 2010
the Arts Centre, State Theatre with Orchestra Victoria
Bookings: or 1300 369 741

9 – 29 April, 2010
Opera Theatre, Sydney Opera House with Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra
Bookings: or 1300 369 741

13 – 17 July, 2010
Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Bookings: or 131 246

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