Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts



One of the highlights of Carolina Ballet’s twelfth season is Robert Weiss’ new ballet inspired by works of Pablo Picasso to coincide with the exhibit “Picasso and the Allure of Language” at Duke University’s Nasher Museum.  The production will run at the Fletcher Opera  Theater at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts October 15-November 1, 2009 with the following schedule:

  • Thursday, October 15, at 8pm
  • Friday, October 16 at 8pm
  • Saturdays, October 17, 24 & 31 at 2 & 8pm
  • Sundays, October 18, 25 & November 1 at 2pm
"Harlequin with a Glass"

"Harlequin with a Glass"

Carolina Ballet’s Picasso production is an evening of four ballets influenced by various aspects of Picasso’s art.  Three of the sections are directly related to the exhibit at the Nasher Museum and the fourth section, called “Guernica” is inspired by Picasso’s famous painting from 1937, not in the exhibit but from a period in his life, according the exhibit catalogue, when “he experienced profoundly the allure of language.”  The other three sections are “Harlequin,” “Song of the Dead” and “Salome.”

Robert Weiss asked J. Mark Scearce, director of the Music Department at NCSU, to compose music for two of the sections of the ballet – “Guernica” and “Song of the Dead” (Le Chant des Morts).  These two sections will be accompanied by live music.  Scearce created music for Carolina Ballet’s The Kreutzer Sonata, and he is the composer of Endymion’s Sleep which Weiss turned into a pas de deux for Melissa Podcasy and Timour Bourtasenkov in 2006.  The other two sections are to music by Richard Strauss and Erik Satie.



After reading through the catalogue from the exhibit, Weiss became particularly interested in “Song of the Dead,” a collection of poems by Pierre Reverdy written at the end of World War II, which were illustrated by Picasso with vivid red lines on the sides of the pages and in some cases across the pages.  Jules Rene Thome, an important critic at the time wrote that the red marks ran across the page “as if a stream of blood – the blood of the dead – had poured forth over the sheets…” Upon reading a translation of the poems by Mary Ann Caws, Mark Scearce and Robert Weiss selected several poems to use as the basis for the music and the choreography for this section of the program.  Scearce’s music for the Reverdy section will be played live by a trio comprised of piano, violin and clarinet.

One of the prints (a drypoint) in the Nasher exhibit is Picasso’s “Salome” inspired by the biblical story in the New Testament in which Salome causes the death of John the Baptist who had accused her mother, Herodias, of having an adulterous affair with the king.  Robert Weiss has choreographed a short ballet to “Salome’s Dance”
from Richard Strauss’ opera Salome.

picasso1The third section of the Picasso evening, featuring Weiss’ choreography, is inspired by Picasso’s Harlequin paintings.  Weiss selected music by Erik Satie to accompany this section which lends an air of the carnival or circus to the ballet; it is very reminiscent of commedia dell’ arte.  The Nasher exhibit includes one of Picasso’s Harlequin paintings (a watercolor) in which Picasso inserted himself as the subject.

To round out the evening, Carolina Ballet dancer / choreographer Attila Bongar has choreographed the “Guernica” section to the new music by J. Mark Scearce to be accompanied by live piano.

Robert Weiss called upon his design team of David Heuvel and Jeff A.R. Jones to create the costumes and the scenic elements for the ballet.  David Heuvel is the costume production director of Ballet West and now Carolina Ballet’s principal guest costume designer.  Both Heuvel and Jones created the design elements for Carolina Ballet’s Swan Lake and for the upcoming Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

For ticket information, please call the Carolina Ballet box office at 919 719-0900 or Ticketmaster at 919 982-2787.  Ticket prices range from $63-18 and $10 student rush tickets, with valid college student ID, are available one hour before the performance.

Carolina Balet

Carolina Ballet, Inc. has taken its place among America’s premier arts organizations.  Under the innovative direction of artistic director Robert Weiss, a talented company, fiscally responsible management and community support, Carolina Ballet exposes audiences to traditional ballet by legendary masters and new works of contemporary choreographers.  This twelfth season represents the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and ever-increasing quality of life experienced here in North Carolina.

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