Se­duc­tion, pas­sion, ob­ses­sion - RNZB’s first ballet of 2017

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY -

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2017 sea­son be­gins with two New Zealand pre­mieres of French mas­ter chore­og­ra­pher Roland Petit’s land­mark works L’Arle´si­enne and Car­men, which will be staged at the Re­gent on Broadway on March 17 and 18 at 7.30pm.

The sea­son opens in Christchurch on Fe­bru­ary 16 ahead of tour­ing to In­ver­cargill, Dunedin, Blen­heim, Ro­torua, Palmer­ston North, Welling­ton, be­fore clos­ing in Auck­land on April 1.

This is the first time that the RNZB has per­formed works by Roland Petit (1924 – 2011), one of the great chore­og­ra­phers of the 20th and 21st cen­turies. Renowned for his uniquely the­atri­cal vi­sion of ballet, he cre­ated works for many of the world’s finest dancers in­clud­ing Mar­got Fonteyn, Ru­dolf Nureyev, Mikhail Barysh­nikov, Zizi Jean­maire (who be­come his wife), Alessan­dra Ferri and Natalia Makarova to name a few.

His col­lab­o­ra­tors in­cluded artists such as Pi­casso, writ­ers Jean Cocteau and Or­son Welles, de­signer Yves Saint Lau­rent, and mu­si­cian Serge Gains­bor­ough. He also spent four years in Hol­ly­wood, as chore­og­ra­pher on films that in­cluded Daddy Long Legs with Fred As­taire and Les­lie Caron (1954), and

Any­thing Goes (1955) with Zizi Jean­maire and Bing Crosby. His bal­lets con­tinue to be per­formed by the world’s lead­ing ballet com­pa­nies.

RNZB Artis­tic Di­rec­tor Francesco Ven­triglia was a 19-year-old dancer with La Scala in Italy when he first met Roland Petit.

"Mae­stro Petit had an ex­traor­di­nary im­pact on me as an artist. He not only cast me in my first ma­jor roles but he also be­came my men­tor. I feel very hon­oured to be in­tro­duc­ing his ge­nius to the dancers of the RNZB and to nur­ture them as artists through this ex­pe­ri­ence," Francesco says.

"I re­ally be­lieve that Mae­stro Petit’s works should be seen by ev­ery­one who loves the arts, and I am thrilled New Zealan­ders now have the op­por­tu­nity to see these master­pieces," says Francesco.

Car­men has be­come Roland Petit’s sig­na­ture work and is in the reper­toire of ballet com­pa­nies through­out the world. It was cre­ated for Les Bal­lets de Paris, and pre­miered in Lon­don in 1949 with Zizi Jean­maire in the ti­tle role, and Petit him­self as Don Jose´. Petit cre­ated L’Arle´si­enne in 1974 for the Ballet Na­tional de Mar­seille, a com­pany he founded. Both bal­lets are set to the well-known and pow­er­ful mu­sic of com­poser Ge­orges Bizet and are sto­ries of pas­sion and ob­ses­sion.

Artis­tic Di­rec­tor of the Roland Petit reper­toire, Luigi Bonino, who danced for many years in Petit’s bal­lets and who went on to be his as­sis­tant, has trav­elled to New Zealand es­pe­cially to teach the RNZB dancers these two master­pieces with the as­sis­tance of Gil­lian Whit­ting­ham.

Francesco Ven­triglia has in­vited two guest artists to join the com­pany for the sea­son. Natalya Kusch, orig­i­nally from the Ukraine and a former dancer with The Aus­tralian Ballet will be one of the dancers in the lead role of Car­men, and dancer Daniel Gaudiello who also joined the RNZB for 2016’s ac­claimed Giselle re­turns to New Zealand to be one of the dancers in the lead role of Don Jose´.

In the ballet and opera story Don Jose´ meets Car­men as she fights with an­other wo­man at the cig­a­rette fac­tory. De­spite ini­tially be­ing sent to ar­rest her, he is at­tracted to her and in­vites her to meet him at a tav­ern later that evening. At the tav­ern, Car­men dances for Don Jose´. When he has eyes only for her, her ban­dit friends rob him. Car­men and Don Jose´ leave and spend the night to­gether.

Driven by pas­sion and a de­sire to prove him­self to Car­men, Don Jose´ kills a man. Nonethe­less, she aban­dons him for the glam­orous Tore­ador, leav­ing Don Jose´ bro­ken and de­spair­ing. Don Jose´ can­not bear to see Car­men with an­other man. As the Tore­ador fights in the arena, the lovers meet one last time, and Don Jose´ stabs Car­men to death.

The RNZB gives two per­for­mances in Palmer­ston North on March 17 and 18.

DancerMayuTani­gaito as Car­men. Photo: ROSSBROWN

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