Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty April 9-12

Program features dancers from Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and Full Force Dance Theater

SwanLake-SleepingBeautyJoyous themes of physical beauty and movement take center stage when the Hartford Symphony Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty as the seventh concert of its 2014-2015 Masterworks Series on Thursday, April 9 through Sunday, April 12 in the Belding Theater at The Bushnell in Hartford.  The concerts will be conducted by HSO Music Director, Carolyn Kuan, and will feature two acclaimed Connecticut dance companies: the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory and Full Force Dance Theatre. The program will include Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, Op. 40, Prokofiev’s The Prodigal Son, and Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty: Suite, Op. 66a, TH 234.  The 2014-2015 Masterworks Series is sponsored by MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation.  The pre-concert talk sponsor for this program is WFCR.

About the Program
Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre was introduced at the Concert du Châtelet on January 24, 1875 by Édouard Colonne to such acclaim that it was immediately encored; it enjoyed a similar enthusiastic reception at its American premiere by Theodore Thomas in Boston just a year later. Though rooted in the symphonic poems of Liszt, the Danse Macabre is more concise in its form and more pointed in its imagery. The work opens with the distant tolling of the midnight bell (harp), the signal for the appearance of the demonic fiddler, whose mistuned instrument emphasizes the weird, suggestive harmonies of his part. The two main themes of the work are presented in quick succession: a mercurial, staccato melody given by the flute, and a close-interval, harmonically unsettled tune intoned by the solo violin. These two motives are elaborated and juxtaposed with much ingenuity, and entwined with a parody (begun by woodwinds and harp) of the Dies Irae (“Day of Wrath”), the ancient chant from the Requiem Mass. The dance becomes more frenzied as its proceeds, until the unhallow ritual is halted abruptly by the breaking of dawn and the crowing of the cock (oboe). The diabolical violin, defeated, for the moment, at least, by the coming of day, whispers its final sentiments, and steals away. This piece will feature dancers from Full Force Dance Theatre.

Prokofiev’s The Prodigal Son was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev for the 1928 Paris season of his path breaking Ballet Russe, then the most celebrated and influential dance company in the world. The Prodigal Son was premiered at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt in Paris on May 21, 1929 under the composer’s direction; it was the last new ballet Sergei Diaghilev produced before his death in Venice from diabetes three months later. The choreography was by George Balanchine and the décor by Georges Rouault (Henri Matisse had refused the assignment), Serge Lifar created the title role, and the premiere was an excellent success — “None of my works has been so unanimously well received for a long time as this ballet,” Prokofiev reported to the noted Soviet composer Nikolai Miaskovsky. “The timeless Biblical parable,” wrote Stephen D. Press in Prokofiev’s Ballets for Diaghilev, “provided the perfect vehicle for Prokofiev’s ‘new simplicity.’” Prokofiev divided the ballet into three scenes and summarized its action in the descriptive titles of the individual movements: Scene 1: The Departure — Meeting Friends — The Seductress — The Dancers; Scene 2: The Prodigal Son and the Seductress — Drunkenness — The Despoiling — Awakening and Remorse; Scene 3: Sharing the Spoils — The Return.

Of The Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky wrote to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, “I think, dear friend, it is one of my best works. The subject is so poetical, so grateful for musical setting, that I have worked at it with all that enthusiasm and goodwill upon which the value of a composition so depends.” The Sleeping Beauty soon won over its listeners, and became a fixture of the Russian dance repertory.  The popularity of The Sleeping Beauty in the West dates from Serge Diaghilev’s epochal production with the Ballet Russe at London’s Alhambra Theater in 1921. Though it lost money, Diaghilev’s staging revealed the beauty and grandeur of the ballet to a wide audience, and did much to solidify Tchaikovsky’s pre-eminent position as a composer for the stage. Stravinsky, whose attendance as a boy at a performance in St. Petersburg of the original production sparked the love of dance that was to inspire much of his music, wrote an “open letter” to Diaghilev: “It is a great satisfaction to me as a musician to see produced a work of so direct a character at a time when so many people who are neither simple, nor naïve, nor spontaneous, seek in their art simplicity, ‘poverty’ and spontaneity. Tchaikovsky in his very nature possessed these three gifts to the fullest extent…. He also possessed the power of melody, the center of gravity in every symphony, opera or ballet he composed…. The convincing example of Tchaikovsky’s great creative power is, beyond all doubt, the ballet of The Sleeping Beauty.” This piece will feature dancers from Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory.

Calendar Listing:
Hartford Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series
Thursday – Sunday, April 9-12, 2015
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Thursday 7:30pm?Friday & Saturday 8pm?Sunday 3pm
Tickets starting at $38.50; $10.00 for students with ID
860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
Carolyn Kuan conductor
Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory Victoria Mazzarelli, artistic director
Full Force Dance Theatre Katie Stevinson-Nollet, artistic director
Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre, Op. 40
Prokofiev The Prodigal Son
Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty: Suite, Op. 66a, TH 234
Joyous themes of physical beauty and movement take center stage in this program featuring select appearances by two acclaimed Connecticut dance companies. Plus, let your imagination soar with the music of Prokofiev’s brilliant Prodigal Son, originally created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes by George Balanchine.

Season Sponsor: Travelers
Masterworks Series Sponsors:
MetLife Foundation and The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation
Pre-Concert Talk Sponsor: WFCR
HSO programs are funded in part by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and with support from the Department of Economic and Community Development, Connecticut Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Upcoming HSO Concerts

Hartford Symphony Orchestra POPS Series
Broadway with the Callaways
Saturday, April 18, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Belding Theater at The Bushnell
Tickets starting at $22.50; $10.00 for students with ID
860-987-5900 or www.hartfordsymphony.org
When Tony Award-nominated sisters Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway perform together with the HSO, they’ll turn sibling rivalry into singing revelry with their great music, witty banter and heartwarming stories. “Their voices blend and soar majestically like eagles!” – Rex Reed, The New York Observer

This concert is presented as part of a collaboration with CREC Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in celebration of their 30th Anniversary. They will host a gala fundraiser prior to the 7:30pm performance. For tickets and more information about this gala event, visit www.crec.org/theater.

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