The Paris Opera Ballet brings Nureyev’s Swan Lake and works by Forsythe, Robbins and Pite to Australia

The Paris Opera Ballet will return to Australia in July next year at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane.

Following a gala on 1 July, the company will perform Nureyev’s Swan Lake from 4-12 July, followed by a triple bill from 16 -19 July.

The Paris Opera Ballet’s previous tours to Australia included a gala at the Sydney Opera House and a season of Nureyev’s Swan Lake and Balanchine’s Jewels at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney in 2007.

In 2013 the Paris Opera Ballet returned to the Capitol Theatre for a season of Giselle.

In between the two Sydney tours the company performed La Bayadere at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in 2009.

The Paris Opera Ballet’s next residence at QPAC will begin with a gala starting with the company’s famous defile, danced to the score of Hector Berlioz’s La Marche des Troyens, followed by classical and contemporary pas de deux, among them Serge Lifar’s Variations, Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky pas de deux and a duet from Ab [intra], a work recently choreographed by the artistic director the Sydney Dance Company, Rafael Bonachela.

Last September the Ab [intra] duet was performed at a fund raising gala at the Paris Opera Ballet by two company dancers.

The centrepiece of the Brisbane season will be Nureyev’s Swan Lake that premiered in 1984 at the Palais Garnier in Paris.

At the time Nureyev was the Paris Opera Ballet’s artistic director.

It wasn’t his first Swan Lake. In 1964 he staged a Swan Lake in Vienna where he played the role of Prince Siegfried.

His 1984 interpretation took that role further. Seigfried became the centre of the story while the dual role of Odette/Odile were figments of the prince’s imagination.

The ballet begins with a prologue in which the prince sits in an armchair.

He dreams that a bird of prey captures a young girl who transforms into a swan that he carries away into the sky.

The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation website explains: “Siegfried experiences an obsessive feeling of guilt as he is refusing what his mother is lovingly offering him: the power (having come of age, he is going to reign) and the freedom to choose himself a fiancée (as he is of an age to get married).

“Not wanting neither one nor the other as both scare him, deep down he does not want to grow up or become part of the adult world, he takes refuge in his dreams.
We could believe Siegfried to be an autistic teenager.

“In addition, Rudolf asked the set designer, Ezio Frigerio, to build a prison area, a sort of sanctuary, a stage design for “imprisonment” (from these high, white “gothic” walls, sometimes allowing a glimpse of some of Claude Monet’s white water lilies: the lake of a better hereafter).”

The works of three exceptional choreographers will end the QPAC season – William Forsythe’s Blake Works I, with music by James Blake; In the Night, by Jerome Robbins, set to the nocturnes of Frédéric Chopin; and The Seasons’ Canon by the Canadian choreographer, Crystal Pite, with music set to Max Richter’s adaptation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Following The Seasons’ Canon premiere in Paris in 2016, Roslyn Sulcas, The New York Times’ critic, wrote:

“Working with 54 dancers, Ms Pite has created massed blocks of movement that focus on large-scale patterning to often thrilling effect.

“Bodies ripple in waves across the stage; complex formations swirl headily as multiple groups run in different directions, taking up sequential positions, then abruptly running again.

“Dancers fall like dominoes; line up and windmill their arms down; stop suddenly and twitch heads, necks and upper bodies in abrupt, robotic unison.

“It’s tribal, futuristic and a bit like an opening ceremony for a post-apocalyptic Olympics”.

Pite’s work may well be the highlight of the POB season.

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The Seasons’ Canon, choreographed by Crystal Pite, Paris Opera Ballet, photo © Agathe Poupeney

Gala d’ouverture et défilé, Paris Opera Ballet, 20 September, 2019, photo © Agathe Poupeney

Le lac des cygnes, Paris Opera Ballet, photo © Julien Benhamou

Blake Works 1, Paris Opera Ballet, photo © Isabelle Aubert