Dynamic ballet “of love and rage” inspired by an ancient Greek novel
NEW YORK — American Ballet Theater (ABT) returns to the Metropolitan Opera House for the first time in three years for its summer season, June 13-July 16. Of Love and Rage, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky with music by Aram Khachaturian, arranged by Philip Feeney and lighting by Duane Schuler, wowed audiences when it premiered in New York on June 20 with eight performances through Saturday June 25.
Set in ancient Greece, this exciting new production is based on Callirhoe de Chariton from Aphrodisias, one of the first novels ever written. Of Love and Rage weaves the epic story of legendary beauty Callirhoe, her lover Chaereas, and the daunting odds they overcome, including a seemingly untimely death, pirates, powerful rivals for Callirhoe’s affections, and war. Award-winning designer Jean-Marc Puissant creates a backdrop evoking Greek ruins and Mediterranean landscapes to frame lovers’ hectic adventures.
ABT’s talented dancers dazzled in this emotionally charged story with Ratmansky’s wonderful choreography. The Greek inspiration was evident throughout the production, not only in the sets and costumes, but also at certain points in the choreography. Beautiful and moving, this dynamic ballet is an action-packed adventure that will hopefully also be performed in Greece at some point in the near future.
The music, conducted by David LaMarche, was moving and included the famous sword dance in the rousing battle scene. The music of Gayaneh, Khachaturian’s complete ballet score from the late 1930s, proved perfectly suited to this dramatic story.
The scenes between Christine Shevchenko as Callirhoe and Thomas Forster as Chaereas at the June 23 performance which the reviewer attended were beautifully acted from the start of love’s first blush to the final denouement, their journey emotional rang with authenticity and power. The performances of the entire company were equally impressive, whose immense talent and dedication was clearly evident in every graceful move as they worked together seamlessly to bring this ancient Greek story to life so vividly while putting highlight timeless themes of human nature in relation to our most volatile emotions.
The company received a standing ovation from the appreciative audience acknowledging the true artistry they witnessed that evening. Everyone was looking forward to the rest of ABT’s summer season.
Main dancers for the Metropolitan Opera House 2022 season include Joo Won Ahn, Aran Bell, Isabella Boylston, Skylar Brandt, Herman Cornejo, Thomas Forster, Gillian Murphy, Calvin Royal III, Hee Seo, Christine Shevchenko, Cory Stearns, Devon Teuscher, Cassandra Trenary, and James Whiteside.
It should be noted that Of Love and Rage, Ratmansky’s 17th work for ABT, had its world premiere on March 5, 2020 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California.
More information about ABT and the 2022 summer season at the Metropolitan Opera House is available online: https://www.abt.org/.