At the Ballet

Casey at the Opera House

One of the great benefits of living in Oakland is that it affords us easy access to world class venues for music, art, theatre, and dance. I hopped on BART this evening and met Casey at the SF Opera House. We bought standing room tickets for the SF Ballet production of Swan Lake. Of course it was great. I was totally out of the habit of watching a classical story ballet, and it takes a bit to wrap your mind around some of the conventions (anachronisms?), but by the fifth act I was in the swing of things.

Helgi Tomasson’s staging is different than I had expected. The choreography is very traditional — no surprise there — but the sets and costumes were surprising. He added some video sequences of flying swans (I assume they use Isadora to control the projections) and used projected scenery on the scrim behind the main set pieces. It was beautifully done and delightfully danced. There’s a sequence in the first act with child dancers and even they looked polished and professional.

The orchestra played beautifully. The strings were lush, and the harpist was sensational. As I was listening I recalled that my brother and I studied conducting with a former music director and conductor of the SF Ballet, Denis de Coteau. He was a terrific teacher, and I know that his encouragement was especially inspirational to Jon. Hearing the orchestra tonight reminded me that I will not be able to see Jon conduct the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Carmina Burana next week. I’m sad to miss that — I’m proud of Jon. I would have enjoyed singing the Carmina Burana with him, too.

Since we stood throughout the performance, Casey and I found a place to give our legs a rest during intermission. The ballet is a great occasion for people watching. During the second intermission we ran into George Schultz and Charlotte Maillard and said “hi.” That was fun. She looks great as ever. And of course she never let on that she had no idea who we were. (We’ve met before but I harbor no illusions that she would remember.)

Tuesday January 26, 2010 — Mark — culture news


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