As part of the current Palace Opera and Ballet season, we were privileged to see the Paris Opera Ballet perform a classic double bill, Balanchine’s 1947 ‘Palais de Cristal’ and a new version of Ravel’s ‘ Daphnis Chloe’ by Millepied (who will take over from Brigitte Lefèvre in November). Both were steeped in the essence of classical ballet but revealed to be rather abstract. The dancing was superb, but I was left a little disappointed.
Balanchine’s ‘Palais de Cristal’ to Bizet’s ‘Symphony in C ‘, was originally produced in 1947 for the Paris Opera Ballet, and is one of his works that is a homage to Petipa and his Imperial Russian roots .It hints at his major full length work ‘Jewels’, choreographed twenty years later. Technically the performance was superb. but it was plotless and very show , with no real emotion. The glittering ,lavish costumes were designed by Christian Lacroix .As in his ‘Jewels’ , Balanchine assigns each movement of this work a particular colour: Allegro in red, Adagio in dark blue, Allegro Vivace in green, the second Allegro in pearly white. These colours and the choreography attempt to illustrate and emphasise the music and its structure.
With four movements and a finale, the dancer’s technique is severely tested with difficult balances and changes of direction and also Balanchine’s trademark demand of the fiendish speed with which the dancers have to perform very technical academic sequences. It was all extremely formulaic and formalised. There is no ‘set’ as such just a plain beautifully lit backclcoth. A lot of the ballet was shot from above so you could see the lines and pattern effects of Balanchine’s very demanding choreography. Balanchine devised angular, off balance movements with a dynamic thrust yet simultaneously his style here is very controlled and metronomic , at times repetitive and definitely On The Beat. The work , slightly adapted , is now often known as ‘Symphony in C’. The orchestra under enthusiastic maestro Phillipe Jordan was splendid with an enchanting, warm tone.