Sheng is New York City Ballet's composer-in-residence and The Nightingale and the Rose is his first original score for dance, having previously collaborated with other choreographers using extant music. "Christopher Wheeldon (the Resident Choreographer) chose the story," Sheng shares, "and we worked together on this piece for the last year or so. This is my first ballet score and his first-commissioned narrative ballet from a living composer. It is inspired by a short story by Wilde, who wrote it for his children." The tale tells of a Nightingale who befriends a young student who is in love with his professor's daughter. The Nightingale ultimately decides to sacrifice herself in order for the student's love to be fulfilled. Sheng adds, "However, as typical of Wilde, the story is atypical for children, as the tragic twist at the end reveals very much [about] Wilde's view of life and the society in which he lived." In July, New York City Ballet tours to its summer home at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (New York), where Sheng conducts three more performances of The Nightingale and the Rose.
Sheng's next ballet to premiere at New York City Ballet comes in 2008, with a half-hour original score to be choreographed by Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins.
"She said that she would dance with me if I brought her red roses," cried the young Student; "but in all my garden there is no red rose."The Nightingale and The Rose
opening lines from Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the Rose "I've always loved Oscar Wilde's stories. They're ‘fairytales' without the ‘fairytale' happy ending. They can be quite tragic really."
Duration: c. 20'