Domonique Glover, the male lead, and the cast rehearse ‘Rite of Spring.’ The Toledo Ballet and Toledo Symphony will present the groundbreaking work this weekend at the Peristyle.
When Igor Stravinsky’s new ballet The Rite of Spring opened in Paris on May 29, 1913, it caused rioting in the streets.
As the orchestra sawed viciously at the savage score, the choreographer, Vaslav Nijinsky stood on a chair in the wings screaming instructions to the dancers who could not hear the music over the catcalls of the horrified crowd. Little did all involved know that they were changing the face of classical music forever.
On Friday, the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Ballet will collaborate to explore that world once again. Together they will bring Stravinsky’s score to life in a new vision of the monumental work.
Toledo Ballet Artist Director and Choreographer Michael Lang is faced with a new set of hurdles to be surmounted. Whereas Nijinsky had an entire stage and a company of 50, Lang has been allotted 9 feet of dance space in front of the orchestra and a cast of four principals.
In his words, “I began by asking myself, ‘What can I say that others haven’t?’ The Rite is one of the most choreographed works of the last century. So many different masters have tackled it. Who are the sacrifices today?”
The answer led Lang to an allegorical interpretation of Stravinsky’s masterpiece. There are four characters: Man, Woman, Child, and Equality. The Man (Domonique Glover) represents the haves: those who sacrificed themselves on the altar of achievement in spite of the consequences.
Woman (Semira Warrick) explores the territory of her struggle to define herself against the stereotyping of male dominance.
Child (Lauren Woodward) is born into the middle of this; collateral damage by adult decisions in adult society. Finally Equality (Madeline Rick) steps forward, a symbol of rage against the machine, representing all in the minority, fighting to have a voice.
Director Michael Lang watches the cast rehearse for Rite of Spring at the Toledo Ballet.
Behind these dancers, three actors (Thomas Laboe, Jr., Juliette Morgan Quinlan, Richard Fernandez) form a backdrop of the society which must interact against the four principals. As in Greek tragedy, they bring a realization that every man (and woman) plays a part in the mystery of the sacrificial rite.
Into this mix, add exciting costumes by Doris Piercefield, almost savage make-up by Kelly Heuss, and existential lighting by James Hill.
Finally, undergird the entire dance drama with a Stravinsky score and a symphony orchestra that has been hitting out of the ballpark every concert this season. From the first haunting notes of a stratospherically high bassoon to the raking of string bows and frantically clawing winds, brass, and percussion, a spell is woven promising a gripping evening that may not cause riots in the streets, but will definitely prove a collaboration of the highest artistic magnitude.
Stefan Sanderling will be on the conductor’s podium. Also on the program is a seasonally appropriate work by Tchaikovsky, his Symphony No. 1 “Winter Daydreams.”
The concerts begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, 2445 Monroe St. Tickets $24-$55 are available from the symphony box office, 419-246-8000 or toledosymphony.com.
■ In preparation for a February performance of Porgy and Bess, the Toledo Opera is holding a Tuesday Talk. Associate conductor Sara Jobin will lead a discussion with soprano Laquita Mitchell (Bess) and tenor Robert Mack (Sportin’ Life). The trio will discuss the relevance of the opera to current issues of race and inequality and entertain questions from the audience.
The free event will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Truth Gallery, 1811 Adams St.
More information: 419-255-7464 or toledoopera.org.
■ The Dorothy MacKenzie Price Piano Series presents Jose Lopez, associate professor and coordinator of keyboard studies for Florida International University. He will host a master class at 10 a.m. Saturday and perform a recital at 3 p.m. Sunday. The program includes works by Mozart, Beethoven, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Charles Valentin Alkan. Both events are in the Recital Hall of the University of Toledo Center for Performing Arts, West Towerview Boulevard and West Rocket Drive. More details: utoledo.edu/CoCAevents.
■ The BGSU Concert Series at the Wildwood Preserve Manor House, 5100 W. Central Ave., continues with the BGSU Brass Ensembles under the direction of Bill Mathis in concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The concert is free.
■ The Bent Note Duo, saxophonist Allison Balcetis and pianist Sandra Joy Friesen, perform a free recital at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center at BGSU. Information: 419-372-8171 or bgsu.edu/arts.
■ Toledo-area vocalist Anna Givens and her ensemble perform jazz standards and original compositions in the Cloister in the Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St. The free concert is 6:30 p.m. Friday. More information: 419-246-8000 or toledomuseum.org.
■ The Toledo Piano Teachers Association presents Lynne Long in a program titled “Making Musical Memories.” The talk will take place at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 3620 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo.
■ Organist Michael Gartz, soprano Ann Corriegan, and St. Tim’s Rector Jeff Bunke offer a tour (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) of music associated with death and funerals. The program happens at 3 p.m. Sunday as a part of the St. Tim’s Discovers Series, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 871 E. Boundary St., Perrysburg. More information: 419-874-5704 or saint-timothy.net.
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