Hosting an Australian premiere by the national ballet company marks an auspicious start to 2020 for Brisbane audiences. After sometimes missing an annual visit by the Australian Ballet this century due to QPAC’s Lyric Theatre being unavailable, being the first to see a lavish new work by Australia’s best-known and revered choreographer Graeme Murphy is a welcome privilege.

Adam Bull as the Happy Prince. Photograph © Jeff Busby

A collaboration with Murphy is also a fitting way to begin departing Artistic Director David McAllister’s farewell year, since Murphy’s superbly reinterpreted Swan Lake was premiered by The Australian Ballet at the start of McAllister’s acclaimed 20-year tenure.

At the same time, this is the second year in a row that the AB is presenting a family ballet dominated by a bright bold aesthetic in Brisbane. Like Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland , the adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Princeis visually sumptuous. Having already created a theatrical version, Kim Carpenter adapted the story for ballet with Murphy and designed the sets and costume, creating a vivid and diverse world that captures the imagination and fires the senses.

The set-cloth depicting askew, jumbled buildings instantly tells us...

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