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Arts

Dynamic Ballet “Of Love and Rage” Inspired by Ancient Greek Novel

NEW YORK – American Ballet Theatre (ABT) has returned 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, impressed the audience in its New York premiere on June 20 with eight performances through Saturday, June 25.

Set in ancient Greece, this thrilling new production is based on Chariton of Aphrodisias’ Callirhoe, one of the earliest novels ever written. Of Love and Rage weaves the epic tale of the legendary beauty Callirhoe, her lover Chaereas, and the daunting obstacles they navigate, including, a seemingly untimely death, pirates, some high-powered rivals for Callirhoe’s affections, and a war. Award-winning designer Jean-Marc Puissant creates a backdrop evoking Greek ruins and Mediterranean landscapes to frame the lovers’ fast-paced adventures.

The gifted ABT 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 in a certain moments of the choreography as well. 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.

Christine Shevchenko (Callirhoe) and Thomas Forster (Chaereas) in Alexei Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage. Photo: Gene Schiavone.

The music, conducted by David LaMarche, was stirring and included the well-known Sabre Dance in the rousing battle scene. The music from Gayaneh, Khachaturian’s late 1930’s full-length ballet score, proved a perfect match for this dramatic story.

The scenes between Christine Shevchenko as Callirhoe and Thomas Forster as Chaereas in the June 23 performance this reviewer attended were beautifully performed from the beginning of love’s first blush to the final denouement, their emotional journey rang with an authenticity and power. Also impressive were the performances by the entire company, whose tremendous skill and dedication was clearly evident in each graceful movement as they worked seamlessly together to bring this ancient Greek story so vividly to life while also highlighting timeless themes of human nature in relation to our most volatile emotions.

The company received a standing ovation from the appreciative audience recognizing the true artistry they witnessed that evening. Everyone looked forward to the rest of ABT’s Summer Season.

Principal Dancers for the 2022 Metropolitan Opera House 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, was given its World Premiere on March 5, 2020 at 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/.

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