Ballet Opera. More Delicious (and Healthy) Than Reality TV.

Drink in intoxicating elixirs of storytelling and performance, such as on stage now at the LA Opera with the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, featuring the Joffrey Ballet … instead of the rather bland, one-note sodas of reality TV.

While everyone is up in arms at the outcome of the 9 ½ weeks televised romance of the love triangle between Arie, Becca and Lauren, there are stories of love that carry all of the drama – with higher themes that resonate more deeply in our consciousness and spark more than outrage. And that is the glory of art – something that the magic of storytelling has over reality TV – flashes of insight and inspiration that we might embrace in our own lives, which are sung and danced in melodies, battements and batteries. Orpheus and Eurydice is a simple love story – one of the oldest in Western civilization. But it’s themes of love and loss, of heaven and hell, of the torment of trying to simply keep love alive, are as relevant today as they were in ancient Greece – particularly in the modern-day interpretation on stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles now through March 25, 2018.

Dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, in LA Opera’s 2018 production of Orpheus and Eurydice. (Photo: Ken Howard) © LA Opera. Used with permission.

Who better to commission a marriage of ballet and opera than the insatiable Marie Antoinette, who first asked Christoph Willibald Gluck to come up with a lighter version of his opera for French audiences? And who better to interpret that secret wish of so many of us than the LA Opera and the Joffrey Ballet. John Neumeier’s modern, inspired production of Orpheus and Eurydice is a seduction of the senses. I’m still a bit drunk from it. Imagine the best of ballet and opera, with a riveting story of love, devotion, the depths of hell and Elysian fields, all updated to be relevant to today. If you’ve ever wanted to try opera, this is an excellent introduction. If you are an opera-phile, there is a youthful blush to the performance of Maxim Mironov (Orpheus), Lisette Oropesa (Eurydice) and Liv Redpath (Amour) that plunges us deeply into this tragic love story and rivets us as we traverse in and out of modern day and the underworld. The sets are intentionally minimalist, to great effect, so that the visions of heaven and hell can be sculpted in dance – a terrific and fresh take on ballet with a modern influence.

Lisette Oropesa (Eurydice) and Maxim Mironov (Orpheus) in a scene from LA Opera’s 2018 production of Orpheus and Eurydice. (Photo: Ken Howard) © LA Opera. Used with permission.

The story behind Gluck’s 1774 Parisian version of his classic opera Orpheus and Eurydice is that he wanted to create a “noble simplicity.” The tragedy was given a happier ending. While staying true to Gluck’s French revision, John Neumeier, the director, choreographer and designer of Orpheus and Eurydice, also gives the audience the haunting themes of the original myth.

Maxim Mironov as Orpheus, with dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, in LA Opera’s 2018 production of Orpheus and Eurydice. (Photo: Ken Howard) © LA Opera. Used with permission.

Orpheus and Eurydice is a marriage of ballet and opera that is made in heaven… and hell. It is a delight for the eyes and ears that resonates in the heart. I am not exaggerating when I say that this performance, and its intentionally minimalist design and storyline, where the vocals and pas de deux soar to the heights of artistic ensemble mastery, was one of the most enjoyable performances of my life. It is one that I feel resonating in my heart as I write, with endorphins dancing through my veins and visions of grand écart en l’air still playing, as I ponder on a love so true, as Orpheus had for Eurydice.

Temur Suluashvili and Victoria Jaiani, two dancers from the Joffrey Ballet, as Orpheus and Eurydice in the “Imaginery Ballet” that concludes LA Opera’s 2018 production of Orpheus and Eurydice. (Photo: Ken Howard) © LA Opera. Used with permission.

This is so very different from what we drink in daily on reality TV, and so much more delicious and nutritious.

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