The four movements of Bizet's Symphony no.1 in C Major are matched to choreography that moves through virtuoso displays and romantic pas de deux to end with a spectacular finale.
To music by JACQUES OFFENBACH
Ballet in one act
Choreography MAURICE BEJART
Set and Costume Design THIERRY BOSQUET
Premiere 27 January 1978, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels
Revival Opéra de Lausanne, January 17, 2016
A young man comes to Paris to study dance. He meets a professor who both adores and bullies him.
He constantly escapes into reveries and fills his universe with dreamlike characters.
Some time ago, Jacqueline Cartier presented me with the text of a musical that she had just written about the life of Offenbach. I was seduced by the way the character of the musician was portrayed in relation to the period he lived in. I was fascinated to discover, next to the image of Offenbach, this newspaper from the Paris of the Second Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic.
This project reminds me of vivid memories from my youth and my arrival in Paris.
THE OPERA: a magical and monstrous place, a triumph of the sublime and of the bad taste of Napoleon III.
MADAME, the studios, the filth and misery of the beginners, of those who work.
OFFENBACH (he enchanted my youth) and one of my first choreographies: Répétition au violon was from his music. Aged twenty-one, I had to dance the Gaîté Parisienne ballet in London, in Massine’s choreography. My first experience directing an opera was The Tales of Hoffmann.
PARIS, where I was looking in the alleys for the shadows of a distant past, but could only find Napoleon III and his baron Haussmann.
In a way, this ballet is a mixture between a private diary and a humorous newspaper of the time.
"Symphony in C"
Music by Georges Bizet (Symphony No. 1 in C)
Choreography by George Balanchine (1947)
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
George Balanchine staged one of his most famous ballets for the company of the Opéra de Paris in 1947. Invited from beyond the ocean, the choreographer, in executing the French commission, was absolutely sure of himself: in this new work, as in most mature ballets by Balanchine, there was no plot, there were no human passions behind the dance, and only the music, its rhythm and structure determined the development of the choreographic image. The character of the dance was dictated by Georges Bizet’s youthful Symphony in C Major. Its sparkling lightness provided the name of the work – Le Palais de cristal. It is true that soon after the ballet was brought to New York the invented title became forgotten, and for over half a century many leading ballet companies throughout the world have been proud to have Balanchine’s Symphony in C in their repertoires. This ballet is ideal for showcasing a company’s merits: the four parts of the ballet are staged for four pairs of soloists, and in this ballet dancers can dazzlingly show off their skills and take on the incredibly complex fiorituri of the shading in the allegro, and proudly and majestically “sail” into the adagio.
World premiere: 28 July 1947, Théâtre National de l'Opéra, Paris
Running time: 40 minutes