LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS
Boston Opera House
February 26 through March 8
Ms. Hen loves ballet, as all hens do. She went to see LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS, and she was swept away by the dancing. She had read the book and reviewed it previously here on this blog, and she knew that the story wouldn’t be the same because a viewer of the dance isn’t able to get all the back story that a novel will give. But she wanted to see how it would be interpreted.
The ballet is about Marguerite, a courtesan in Paris in the nineteenth century. In the opening scene, she is having a party with her friends. She meets a new gentleman, Armand, and he is discouraged from becoming acquainted with her because she is the lover of someone else. The dancers use wine glasses, and mock being drunk, which Ms. Hen found amusing. She had never seen ballet dancers pretending they were drunk, and it was refreshing to see something different. This isn’t a ballet for children. There weren’t any children in the audience.
Some unique choreography was used in this production. In the second act, in the garden party scene, three men and two women had their arms around each other, and the men dragged the women with one toe behind them. This appeared as if it could be fun, but it could also be painful. In the same scene, the dancers play catch with little brown balls, or possibly hacky sacks. Whenever a game like that is played on stage, inevitably there is a chance a ball could be dropped and one was dropped. The dances in the second act were playful, and showed the feistiness of the situation in which the characters were involved.
This ballet was not the lavish production that Ms. Hen saw last year of Swan Lake, with the special effects and the large amounts of dancers on the stage. This is more of a romantic, psychological ballet, meant to heighten the senses and pierce the heart. It’s tragic to watch what happens to Marguerite at the end.
In the last scene, Anais Chalendard, who plays Marguerite, dances barefoot in a nightgown with her hair down. It’s not often a dancer is barefoot in a ballet, which is difficult. The idea is to convey that she is sick and dying, and she is in bed, and she dances to try to save what is left of her life. Marguerite was a tortured soul, and she suffered.
The music of LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS is Chopin, and Ms. Hen knew a lot of it because she was into Chopin in her tumultuous youth. There were also vocal soloists, which made the sad parts more morose.
Ms. Hen enjoyed this ballet because she takes pleasure from beauty and she likes a sad story. If you’re into upbeat entertainment, LADY OF THE CAMELLIAS might not be for you. But if you love a heartrending love story and passionate dancing, go to the ballet. You might see Ms. Hen sitting on a chair in the balcony, flapping her wings together in approval.