Angles - Review

The Salzburg Landestheater’s Ballet premiered “Angels” in a modern theater, the so-called Rehearsal Stage, carved (like the city’s famous and venerable Rock Riding School) into a mountainside. Arriving early, my party went to the refreshment bar and discovered a contemporary recreation of the Paris Opera’s Foyer de la Danse. While sipping and nibbling at one end of the large room, one could watch the dancers who occupied most of the space as they warmed up on the floor or at one of the portable barres or tried out step combinations. They also stripped down to change from practice duds to stage wear. The watching wasn’t just one way; company members looked to see which of them was being watched. This “foyer” practice, repeated during intermission, added immensely to the program’s entertainment value.

“Angels” is a series of 15 scenes about varied forms of the species - from the Bible’s Archangels through some suggested by Raphael’s and Arnold Boecklin’s paintings to Heinrich Mann’s Blue Angel. The non-angel characters include the Virgin Mary, Mohammed and figures from Bertolt Brecht’s writings. Music is drawn from all over geography and history — J.S. Bach to John Zorn, Kodo drumming to Metallica and name it. What one sees is a mélange of religiosity and eroticism that, I’m told, appeals to fashionable Salzburg. Visitors needn’t take the scenario by Michael Alexander Sauter seriously. By comparison, Leo Stein and Bela Jenbach’s libretto for “The Czardas Princess” has substance. One should sit back (or lean forward) and be amused by Breuer’s liberal display of anatomy. (A la Bejart, women’s bodies are less exposed than those of the males.) The dancers, mostly quite good looking, dealt efficiently with choreography* that was heavy on athletic adagio. Occasional bursts of bravura ballet steps led me to speculate that one of the men, Marian Meszaros, was a good classicist. Zoltan Sandor, older than his colleagues, acted with nuance and had shown true waltz style the night before in the operetta. The one thing really missing from “Angels” was a post-performance party in the foyer to which the audience was invited.

by George Jackson
copyright © 2007 by George Jackson
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