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American Ballet Theater - Artemis
-Onstage with the Dancers

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American Ballet Theatre
www.abt.org

All Around Is Light
A Tribute to the Cultural Olympiad
Directed by Costa Gavras
and
World Premiere of Artemis
At the
Metropolitan Opera House
(www.lincolncenter.org)

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Assistant Artistic Director
Elizabeth Harpel Kehler, Executive Director
Ballet Masters
Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson

Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Farah Lopez, Manager, Press and Marketing

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 20, 2003

Julie Kent in the title role of "Artemis."
Julie Kent in the title role of "Artemis."
PHOTO: Marty Sohl

All Around Is Light was a "celebration of Greek mythology, dance, poetry, and music." A nearly four-hour extravaganza, which began one-half hour late, performed for a nearly sold-out audience at the Met Opera House, was well worth the wait and more than a very different mix of national culture and new ballet. This tribute, in honor of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Athens next year, was produced by the Cultural Olympiad, a three-year series of events, which will end just before the Athens Olympic Games commence. Its purpose is to foster respect for different cultures, as it's connected to UNESCO, the International Olympic Committee, and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. (ABT and Cultural Olympiad Notes. The audience was provided with a lovely, colorful book, describing tonight's program, participants, and organizers.) The evening was divided into Part I and Part II, with the new ballet, Artemis, nestled at the end of Part I. Costa Gavras, the world-renowned Greek filmmaker, directed most of this event, with the strong backup of George Delaras, Host and Singer, who was able to effortlessly encourage the Met audience, most of whom seemed connected to the Greek cultural heritage, to softly sing the well-known songs, such as The Crazy Boat, in Greek. Mr. Delaris and Savina Yanatou sang solos and duets, with evocative and heart-rending intonations. An adorable Children's Choir moved on and off stage, singing and walking and sometimes fooling around, to the delight of the audience. Their voices and stage presence were effectively innocent and proud.

Lydia Koniordou, an actress with tremendous charisma, re-created staged excerpts from Sophocles and Euripides, both in Greek and in English, and Melina Aslanidou joined Ms. Koniordou, Ms. Yannatou, and Mr. Dalaras, along with the adult and children's choirs, in presentations of The Denial and The Crazy Boat. Musicians on bouzoukis, bass, keyboard, percussion, wind, guitars, violin, and accordion, remained onstage for most of the evening, other than the ballet, on moving sets, in a very interesting collaboration with the orchestra of American Ballet Theatre, who continually played from the pit.

Most effective, throughout the evening, was the giant media display of film footage, slides, aerial photography, and filmed artwork that was projected above and behind the stage. There were clips of immigrants, videos of cities and seas, boats and cliffs, folk dancers and Greek vases, and a documentary about the Parthenon, created by Costa Gavras, music by Minos Martsas. Due to a glitch, the text and dates that accompanied this film were projected backwards, which, for the Met Opera House, was an informal approach. Yet, the text was not needed, and Costa Gavras, in his curtain bow, credited the mistake to "an English projectionist".

For me, the high point of the evening, was, of course, the World Premiere of the ballet, Artemis, Choreography by Lar Lubovitch, Music by Chris Theofanidis, Scenery by John Arnone, Costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, Lighting by Brian MacDevitt, Performed by Julie Kent, Marcelo Gomes, and the Company, and Conducted by David LaMarche. In Greek mythology, Artemis is the goddess of the hunt, and lives in a secret glade, provided by her father, Zeus, so that no mortal may gaze on her beauty. However, as often happens in ballets, along comes a deer hunting party, and Aktaion, the lead hunter, wanders off, sees Artemis in the glade, and they fall in love immediately. She tries to save him, by turning him into a deer, and sets him free, only to be found by his own hunting party.

This ephemeral and exquisite ballet was brilliantly performed by Julie Kent, whose elongation and personified grace is unparalleled, and Marcelo Gomes, who literally became a deer before our eyes. (I used to live in the country and had the opportunity to observe more deer than I wished, at all hours of the day and night). Mr. Gomes crawled on his arms and legs, as he showed his underbelly of white and his spots and early antlers. His head motions, the way he stroked Ms. Kent's arms, his leaps and jumps, were a sophisticated take on what could have become a Disney caricature. When he was shot with the arrow, his death was hauntingly animalistic and agonizing.

Kudos to Lar Lubovitch for this new and noteworthy choreography. Kudos to Chris Theofanidis for the stark, yet sensitive score. Kudos to John Arnone, for the trees that grow and sprout and the glade-like props that create this misty milieu. Kudos to Brian MacDevitt, for the most unusual and warm lighting effects, that enable the trees to take on so many changes of mood and mist. Kudos to David LaMarche, for his dynamic conducting, which was only a portion of his conducting time for this marathon event.

And, kudos to Lukas Karytinos, who shared the conductor's podium with Mr. LaMarche. Finally, kudos to Costa Gavras for his direction of All Around Is Light, a tribute to the culture of his homeland.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net