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Festival Ballet
Presents
SCHEHERAZADE



Festival Ballet Providence
Presents Scheherazade
& Con Amore
Performing Arts Center
Veterans Memorial Auditorium
1 Avenue of the Arts
Providence RI
February 11 & 12, 2005 at 730pm
and
February 13 at 230pm
Prices: $16.00 to $51.00*
Festival Ballet 401-353-1129
VMA Box Office: 401-272-4862
* $5.00 off on Friday Tickets!
Also student half price rush tickets one hour before curtain ID required




Scheherazade & Con Amore
Festival Ballet Providence celebrates Valentine's Day weekend at VMA Arts & Cultural Center with a double bill of two wildly different aspects of love: the world premiere of Gianni Di Marco's Scheherazade, and the Rhode Island premiere of Lew Christensens Con Amore.

Festival Ballet Providence Artistic Director Mihailo Djuric has crafted a thrilling evening of dance, with a commissioned ballet (Scheherazade) by an exciting, young, emerging choreographer, and the acquisition of one of the ballet repertoire's most favorite comedies (Con Amore). The program portrays love at its most intense and at its most ridiculous.

The program opens with Scheherazade, the story of a jealous sultan who fears his harem is unfaithful in his absence. Choreographer Gianni Di Marco brings his own unique movement style to this exotic and sensual world premiere. Based on the original Ballet Russes storyline that caused a sensation when it premiered in Paris in 1910, and set to Rimsky-Korsakov's evocative masterpiece, Scheherazade is a visual feast with harem girls, slaves, love, infidelity and revenge.

Scheherazade concerns Sultan Shayhryar, who leaves his harem under the pretense of going on a hunting trip with his brother Zeman, who has implied that the sultan's favorite, Zobeida, is unfaithful. Soon after their departure, the ladies of the harem urge the chief eunuch to open the doors to the slaves. The most handsome of them, dressed in gold, is chosen by Zobeida, and together they become the central point of a frenzied orgy. As it rises to its climax, the revelry is interrupted by the Sultan's unexpected return. He orders all to be killed, and no one escapes. Zobeida asks for forgiveness, and the Sultan in return asks if she has been unfaithful. Finding herself to be in love with the Golden Slave, she stabs herself with a dagger and falls at the Sultan's feet.

DiMarco notes that he will remove the mime incorporated in traditional productions of Scheherazade, replacing it with movement to physically express the narrative. He will introduce the characters at the outset of the story to better establish their relationships to each other, and to bring more stirring drama to the ballet's conclusion. Sets will be designed by Alan Pickart (who designed last season's Carmen sets) and original costumes will be designed by Ka Yan Can, who created the designs for The Widow's Broom.

Con Amore was created by former San Francisco Ballet Artistic Director (from 1951 to 1984) Lew Christensen, and has been the most widely performed of that company's one act ballets. Set to three effervescent Rossini overtures, Con Amore is an irresistible and bubbling romp, surely a comic masterpiece to be enjoyed with delight.

Con Amore was set on Festival Ballet Providence dancers in January (January 10 - 19th) by former principal artist and Ballet Mistress for San Francisco Ballet, Virginia Johnson, Choreologist and Representative for the Christensen Collection.

The ballet is a whimsical tale featuring a young bandit who rejects the advances of the beautiful captain of a military force of Amazons, and a flirtatious bride who entertains an entourage of admirers while her husband is away. Cupid flies to the rescue with comical and unexpected results. As noted in The New York Times, Con Amore is &quo;...genuinely fine and funny...ingenious, theatrical and eminently Rossinian."

Con Amore and Scheherazade premiere February 11-13th at the VMA Arts & Cultural Center, 1 Avenue of the Arts, with performances at 7:30 pm Friday, 7:30 pm Saturday, and 2:30 pm Sunday. This season Festival Ballet Providence is offering a special Five Dollar Off Fridays promotion, to encourage our audience to experience the excitement of opening night. Reserved tickets (priced from $11 to $51) and subscriptions to the remaining season are available by contacting www.tickets.com online or at 800.919.6272; Festival Ballet Providence, 401.353.1129; the VMA Arts & Cultural Center (401.272,4862) during box office hours. Email inquiries may be directed to info@festivalballet.com. Group, senior and child discounts are available.

CHOREOGRAPHERS:
Gianni Di Marco
Gianni Di Marco, a native of Venezuela, began his dance training in 1981, in the Professional Division of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in Canada. He has also studied with The National Ballet of Canada, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and in Banff under the direction of Laura Alonso. After becoming a member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1988, Di Marco was the first recipient of the Arnold Spohr Scholarship.

At Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Gianni was promoted to second soloist in 1990 and then first soloist the following year. Prior to joining Boston Ballet in 1995, he danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. In 1997, Di Marco took a leave of absence from Boston Ballet to dance with Germany's Oper Leipzig Ballet under the direction of Uwe Scholz. He danced in many of Scholz's new works.

Gianni has a great interest in choreography. He has done a number of works for a variety of institutions throughout the region, including many Boston Ballet fundraising galas, The Wang Theatre's 75th Anniversary Generations Gala performance, Dartmouth College, Boston Flute Association, and Dance on the Top Floor. He also has created dances at the Oper Liepzig Choreography Workshop. Di Marco created a new work for Alvin Ailey American Dance Center's Summer Dance Program. He was assistant choreographer in productions such as Aida, La Traviata and Akhnaten for the Boston Lyric Opera, and the Huntington Theatre Company's The Mikado. Di Marco recently created new works for Raw Dance, cutting edge creations by Boston Ballet dancers. Di Marco teaches Boston Ballet's Adaptive Dance Program, created for children with Downs Syndrome. In 2003 Mr. DiMarco's Killing Time was performed for Festival Ballet Providence's inaugural Up CLOSE, on HOPE program to rave reviews.


Lew Christensen
"A tall, blond Adonis steps onto the stage to go into his amazing leaps and turns with all the vitality of an American athlete and the grace of a Nijinsky. This is Lew Christensen of the American Ballet Caravan, leading dancer and ballet master."
So began a 1939 review of the young star of American Ballet Caravan who, despite modest beginnings, would become one of America's most important dancers and choreographers. Credited as being this century's first great American-born danseur noble, Christensen was also the creator of over one hundred and ten ballets, several of which are recognized as seminal works in American dance history. Christensen was a principal dancer and ballet master with Ballet Caravan, The American Ballet Society, the New York City Ballet, and most significantly, Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet from 1951 until his death in 1984. Christensen's ballets are acclaimed for their craft, musicality and wit. His choreography shrewdly yet effortlessly blends the classical legacy with an innate American liveliness. Christensen's ballets are in the repertory of major companies in the United States including San Francisco Ballet, the New York City Ballet.

Con Amore, a work of genuine good humor and deftly simple design, has met with a warm reception from audiences of many ages and background. Like all effective comedy, Christensen's ballet is built on careful timing, and it draws upon a wealth of classic comic principles: uncomplicated characters who are instantly recognizable types, accident meetings, extreme feelings making sudden reversals, the teasing threat of violence, and the disarming of all dangers and resolution of all conflict via the irrational magic of love.

Alfred Frankenstein summarizes the balletic pretext in the following words. "In the first scene a young bandit invades an Amazon's camp, in the second a lady entertains several admirers too many, and in the third the god of love resolves both situations in a pseudo-classic triumph."

"Brilliant, ceaselessly lively and ceaselessly inventive," wrote Alfred Frankenstein in the San Francisco Chronicle"

Immediately after its premier in San Francisco, Con Amore entered the repertory of the New York City Ballet. John Martin, in his review of the opening performance wrote in the New York Times, "Certainly Mr. Christensen never produced more resourceful choreography and James Graham-Lujan has provided him with a most amusing libretto to hang it on...The work makes for first rate entertainment."

Also of the New York performances, Walter Terry wrote,"one can do no less than cheer the addition of the captivating Con Amore to the New York City Ballet's repertory. Many of the elements that have made Christensen's ballets so popular: wit, charm, humor, and brilliant, fast-paced timing are brought together to make Con Amore a Christensen classic."

Synopsis
Scheherazade
Scheherazade concerns Sultan Shayhryar, who leaves his harem under the pretense of going on a hunting trip with his brother Zeman, who has implied that the sultan's favorite, Zobeida, is unfaithful. Soon after their departure, the ladies of the harem urge the chief eunuch to open the doors to the slaves. The most handsome of them, dressed in gold, is chosen by Zobeida, and together they become the central point of a frenzied orgy. As it rises to its climax, the revelry is interrupted by the Sultan's unexpected return. He orders all to be killed, and no one escapes. Zobeida asks for forgiveness, and the Sultan in return asks if she has been unfaithful. Realizing her love for the Golden Slave, she stabs herself with a dagger and falls at the Sultan's feet.

Con Amore
Con Amore was Lew Christensen's first major work after succeeding his brother Willam as San Francisco Ballet's Director in 1951. Con Amore received its premiere in 1953. Set to three bubbling Rossini overtures, Con Amore is a model of clarity - an outstanding light narrative ballet, rich with dance opportunities and choice comic parts.

The first scene, The Amazons and the Thief, opens on a rustic locale: a company of Amazons, handsome and robust girls in smart military uniforms, being drilled under the command of the Captain and her Lieutenants. A bandit invades the camp scene and disrupts their patrol. The handsome Bandit is taken captive, but his gaiety and charm win their hearts. He, however will have nothing to do with them, not even the lovely captain. The Amazons are enraged by his indifference and he is confronted with their muskets and bayonets. Defiantly the bandit bares his chest to receive a fusillade. The Soldiers' guns are raised to take aim, the music suddenly ends, and the stage action is halted.

Scene Two, The Master's Return, is set in the boudoir of a fashionable lady. In the opening scene, the Mistress is bidding farewell to her husband, whom she obviously is not unhappy to see depart. Immediately, upon his departure, she begins primping for a tryst. Sure enough, a man-about-town knocks at her door. The lady admits him with frank delight, whereupon he attempts to embrace her. The lady eludes him, although it is clear she does not wish to elude him long. But before she can succumb, there is another knock at the door (the Rossini score has several 'knocking' measures which Christensen uses to full advantage). The man-about-town hastily conceals himself in a convenient closet, and the lady admits a sailor, who pursues her headlong about the apartment so heatedly, fire could stream from his nostrils. He has almost worn the elusive lady down when there is yet another knock. The lady thrusts the sailor in her closet (already occupied by the man-about-town), and then admits a young student, his nose in a book. Unlike his predecessors, the student is not eager for the lady's affections: she obligingly makes the advances, which the young man, knees quivering, just manages to escape. The man-about-town and the sailor, who have been watching all this, burst from their hiding place and demand their mistress choose among them. There is still another knock at the door: the husband returns, stunned by the sight of his wife surrounded by a few suitors too many. The scene ends.

Scene Three, A Triumph of Love, opens on the bandit from Scene One, still kneeling at the mercy of the angry Amazons. The women's hearts melt, and each surrenders her firearms to the bewildered bandit. As he flees the forest, we are suddenly presented with the tableau from the lady's boudoir. The errant lady begs forgiveness from her lord and master, but he, unmoved, banishes his lady and her paramours from the house. We are in the forest scene again: the corps Amazons reappear as genial Sylphs, each conveniently carrying a tree. All The lovers from Scenes One and Two enter the woods, some to hide, some to seek. Behind the sylphs' trees, they steal kisses and exchange furtive embraces. Cupid enters, plying her bow resourcefully, letting the arrows fly in all directions; the bandit is smitten with love for the Mistress; the husband is united with the Amazon Captain, the Sailor and the Dandy embrace the Lieutenants; the timid student is struck by love for the Cupid herself.

Like all effective comedy, Christensen's ballet is built on careful timing, and it draws upon a wealth of classic comic principles: uncomplicated characters who are instantly recognizable types, accidental meetings, extreme feelings making sudden reversals, the teasing threat of violence, and the disarming of all dangers and resolution of all conflicts via the irrational magic of love.

Con Amore, a work of genuine good humor and deftly simple design, has met with a warm reception from audiences of many ages and backgrounds.
Tentative Casting:
Scheherazade
Zobeide Jennifer Ricci or Leticia Guerrero
Golden Slave Davide Vittorino or Gleb Lyamenkoff
Sultan Shahriar (King) Piotr Ostaltsov
Shah Zeman (King's brother) Eivar Martinez
Sultan's Wives Emily Bromberg, Heather O'Halloran, Daniela Debrot, Carolyn Dellinger, Karla Kovatch
Or Elizabeth Jessee, Jennifer Young, Caitlin Novero, Marissa Gomer, Courtney Fraga, or Erica Chipp
Soldiers Cameron Baldassarra, Andrew Skeels, Mark Harootian, Davide Vittorino or Gleb Lyamenkoff
Slaves Andrew Skeels, Davide Vittorino or Gleb Lyamenkoff, Cameron Baldassarra, Mark Harootian
Eunich Ty Parmenter

Con Amore
Captain of the Amazons Karla Kovatch
Thief Gleb Lyamenkoff or Davide Vittorino
Lieutenants Carolyn Dellinger, Marissa Gomer or
Daniela Debrot, Elizabeth Jessee
Sergeants Daniela Debrot, Elizabeth Jessee or
Carolyn Dellinger, Marissa Gomer
Privates Emily Bromberg or Heather O'Halloran Erica Chipp, Courtney Fraga, Caitlin Novero, Jennifer Young, Leticia Guerrero or Jennifer Ricci
Mistress Leticia Guerrero or Jennifer Ricci
Master Ty Parmenter
Dandy Cameron Baldassarra or Andrew Skeels
Sailor Mark Harootian or Eivar Martinez
Student Cameron Baldassarra or Andrew Skeels
Amor Emily Bromberg or Heather O'Halloran
This production is made possible in part by 2004/2005 Season Sponsor Sovereign Bank, season television sponsor NBC10, Coast 93.3, Cox Business Services and ongoing operating support from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
Festival Ballet Providence continues it's special Five Dollar Off Fridays promotion, to encourage audiences to experience the excitement of opening night. At all perfromances, there is an additional $5.00 discount for senior citizens and children under 12. Students with a valid ID may also purchase half price tickets one hour before the show. Advanced reserved tickets may be purchased by contacting Festival Ballet Providence at 401.353.1129, ordering online at www.festivalballet.com, www.tickets.com (also 800.919.6272), or through the VMA box office. Email inquiries may be directed to info@festivalballet.com. Group discounts are available.


Deborah Nash at dn@riDance.com
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Photograph by Thomas Nola-Rion with imaging by Antonio Cortez
Courtesy of Festival Ballet Providence
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