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The Winter’s Tale
Photograph: Johan Persson

The Royal Ballet is streaming ‘The Winter’s Tale’ tonight for free


Cultural live streams from the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House have been a godsend in these lockdown times. On Thursday and Friday nights, when it really dawns on you that you used to have plans, you can lose yourself in a production of the ‘Twelfth Night’, or watch an opera for the first time. 

What makes these experiences different from simply streaming a film, is that they really feel like an event. They give us access to spaces that normally require a £20-£50 ticket, entirely for free, in an environment where you (hopefully) feel completely comfortable. This is especially true of the Royal Opera House’s #OurHouseToYourHouse initiative. If you love the theatre, but have never quite made it to the more intimidating surrounds of the Covent Garden opera house, you can try watching one of its productions from home, every Friday at 7pm. 

The #OurHouseToYourHouse programme has so far streamed a production of ’Peter and the Wolf’ and ‘The Metamorphosis’, a balletic adaptation of Kafka’s buggy novella. Tonight, it’s The Royal Ballet’s 2014 performance of Shakespearean tragicomedy ‘The Winter’s Tale’, adapted by artistic associate of The Royal Ballet, Christopher Wheeldon. Critics raved about it (including us, we gave the production four stars). 

It’s a story of male jealousy, filled with intense psychological drama that’s beautifully translated through Wheeldon’s choreography. King Leontes is paranoid that his pregnant wife Hermione is having an affair with closest friend King Polixenes, and lets his unfounded suspicion rip his family apart. His baby daughter is abandoned, left to be rescued by a shepherd. As an adult, she falls in love with the son of Polixenes. If none of this sounds familiar, you might recognise ‘The Winter’s Tale’ as the Shakespeare play with the famous stage direction, ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’. 

The ballet recreates two very different worlds on stage, expertly crafted by designer Bob Crowley: the folksy fairytale of Bohemia and the dark, destructive pageantry of the Sicilian court. 

It’s a glorious, colour-saturated spectacle, so if you are lucky enough to own a projector, now is a good time to bring it out. Watch it in your PJs, or use it as an excuse for some highbrow lockdown glamour. 

Find ‘The Winter’s Tale’ streaming tonight on the Royal Opera House Facebook and YouTube channels at 7pm. Next week, on Friday May 8, it’s the Royal Opera’s production of ‘La Traviata’. 

Looking for theatre streaming options? Find out what’s coming up here

You have until next Friday (May 8) to catch the National Theatre production of ‘Frankenstein’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch. 

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