The ballet has been restored to its original three-act version by Christopher Newton, a former ballet master under Ashton, the founding choreographer of the Royal Ballet. Newton had to rely on filmed versions of the ballet, in addition to his own memory, in order to reconstruct the work, because Ashton did not use dance notation.
Newton has restored Sylvia, which has not been performed since 1965, to its original three acts from a more recent one-act version, and has used the original set and costume designs by Robin and Christopher Ironside.
Sylvia, set in ancient Greece, tells the story of a chaste nymph who cannot return the affections of Aminta, a shepherd, until the god Eros intervenes. Ashton created the role for Margot Fonteyn in 1952. The revival premiere will feature Darcey Bussell, back from maternity leave, in the title role.
The new production will run at Covent Garden through December 3; American Ballet Theatre will present a two-act version in its Metropolitan Opera season next year, with the United States premiere on June 3.
A new version of the ballet by Mark Morris premiered at the San Francisco Ballet last April.