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Cheat Sheet: The Australian Ballet’s Sylvia

Meet Sylvia — she’s a legend.

The Australian Ballet

Sylvia is an epic journey, combining the stories of three superheroines in all the splendour of Ancient Greece. Join the fierce goddess Artemis, the adventurous nymph Sylvia and the mischievous Psyche as they navigate desire and deception in the realm of short-tempered gods and fantastical creatures.

This exciting revival of a rarely staged ballet was first performed in Paris over 150 years ago. The delightful Delibes score, which drew a rave review from Tchaikovsky, has since attracted some of the world’s leading choreographers, including Ivanov, Ashton, Balanchine and Neumeier.

Stanton Welch, who recently staged his versions of La Bayadère and Romeo and Juliet on The Australian Ballet’s stage, is a resident choreographer of the company, the artistic director of Houston Ballet and one of the art form’s great storytellers. His full-length Sylvia revolves around three intertwining love stories and features a striking new design by Jérôme Kaplan (sets and costumes) and Wendall K. Harrington (projections), the creative dream team behind The Australian Ballet’s Cinderella.

Experience this bold retelling of a classic ballet, promising all the passion and humour of Greek myth, tangled love affairs and sword fighting ballerinas.

Meet Sylvia: she’s a legend. 

Our leading ladies 

In the full glory of her armour, our heroine is a member of Artemis' warrior army and ready for anything. The surprise of her life? Love! Sylvia is a sword-wielding nymph under the command of the goddess Artemis. She grapples with her position in the hunting party and unwittingly falls in love with a mortal Shepherd, an act strictly forbidden by her leader.

Sylvia is symbolised on-stage with the colour white through her own pristine garments and the toga of the Shepherd she falls in love with.

The mighty hunter goddess leads her hunting party with fierce strength and stubborn pride. She's in perfect control of everything, including her emotions. Her friendship with Orion, who becomes immortalised among the stars as a constellation, brings out her softer side and challenges her strict rules.

Artemis is represented on-stage with shades of blue through her striking armour and Orion’s hunting outfit.

This vivacious mortal has a curious streak that gets her into trouble. She enrages Aphrodite for surpassing her divine beauty. The wrath of a goddess is nothing, however, compared to her own dangerous curiosity, which causes grave trouble with Eros, the god of love, on their wedding night.

Psyche lights up the stage with pink tones with her flowing dress and floral motifs.

Keep an eye on Eros ... 

The winged Love God is a mischief-maker who uses his heart-fluttering arrows to make Sylvia fall in love with the first man she sees, a lowly shepherd. He meets his own heart's destiny when he's sent by his mother Aphrodite to kill Psyche. Instead, he marries her. But their road to happiness is rocky ...

Eros is an essential character in Sylvia, not only as the lover of Psyche, but as an anchor to tie the three intertwining storylines together. 

Follow the God of Love's arrow with this handy guide to Sylvia.


Eros teases Artemis and Orion, so Artemis shoots an arrow at him. Meanwhile, Apollo tricks Artemis into killing Orion, because he is jealous of their bond, leaving her devastated.

Aphrodite asks Eros to kill Psyche for being more beautiful than her, but instead he falls in love with her. However, when Psyche betrays Eros’ trust, he leaves her.

Eros casts a spell on Sylvia to make her fall in love with the first person she sees. He guides her to look at a nearby Shepherd, beginning their love story.



In her plan to get Eros back, Psyche opens Prosperina’s box, despite being warned not to do so, and dies. Eros knows that only an Olympian can bring her back to life and begs Sylvia to call on Artemis for help.

When Artemis arrives, she is furious with Sylvia for running away with the ShepherdEros then admits to casting a love spell on her and removes it. Sylvia returns to the army, leaving the Shepherd heartbroken. Artemis then brings Psyche back to life.



At a celebration for Eros and PsycheZeus turns Psyche into a Demi-God. Sylvia, realising that she is still in love with the Shepherd, chooses to spend her life with him. Eros transforms the Shepherd into a Demi-God as well. Finally, Zeus allows Artemis to be reunited with Orion in the stars, bringing this epic ballet to a close.

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