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OPERA ATELIER.

OPERA ATELIER ELGIN THEATRE TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA OCTOBER 27, 29-31, 1999 REVIEWED BY LEWIS HERTZMAN

The program was billed as "Pygmalion & Galatee: Three Acts of Creation," a mixed bag of work spanning two centuries on the classic theme of the artist and his creation. Opera Atelier, primarily a company devoted to baroque music theater, presented an opera-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau, a dramatic dialogue ("scenelyrique") by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, both mid-eighteenth century, in juxtaposition to a Roland Petit choreography of 1946. It was an inspired combination, with the graceful artifice of baroque dance to start, and all the dark elements and psychological intensity of contemporary ballet to end.

Opera Atelier has for some time trained its own dancers in the dancing styles and ballet techniques of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century France. Rameau's Pygmalion was replete with dance airs suited to the steps and gestures of theatrical choreography as it was developing. In a central dance suite Galatea, the statue-come-to-life, learned the dances of the day as an essential social grace. While the chorus sang "Love triumphs," and Pygmalion reveled in his creation, Galatea (Sandra Simon) moved across the stage in the company of Cupid, several Graces, and a colorful collection of charmingly artful, even flirtatious, shepherds and shepherdesses. It was all deliberately and cleverly artificial, adapted from the notations of eighteenth-century dancing masters. Particularly delightful were the characters of Games and Mirth danced by Kevin Law, Jeremy Nasmith, and Luke Scheuer.

Most dramatic was Roland Petit's stark Le Jeune Homme et la Mort (The Young Man and Death), performed by Andrew Kelley of the Dutch National Ballet and Evelyn Hart of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, who proved to be a remarkable combination. A delicate five feet four inches tall, in the role of lover, muse, and ultimately death itself, Hart had to dominate Kelley's strapping six-foot stature, and ultimately, drive him to perdition. She met the challenge and then some with a triumphant look, in a performance that proved totally mesmerizing.

Kelley danced a memorable interpretation of an artist lost in his fantasies and erotic compulsions. He, sped across the stage, muscles tensed, his face a picture of despair and disarray. His lifts were powerful and his movement strong, yet the girl who appeared in his life attached herself to his being and inexorably drove him to suicide on a symbolic scaffold. The final moments were a moving, almost medieval dance of death as she led him allegorically across the roofs of the city.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:HERTZMAN, LEWIS
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Words:411
Previous Article:CORRECTIONS.
Next Article:MUSSORGSKY THEATRE & OPERA BALLET.
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