Boston Ballet has announced its 2014-15 season, which will feature the Ballet’s usual mix of classical and contemporary. But the focus, especially next spring, will be on the contemporary repertoire, with two world premieres and several company premieres.
“We’ve done 50 years of Boston Ballet,” artistic director Mikko Nissinen says, “so this is the beginning of the rest of our life. I never put a season out that I’m not happy with, and I’m very happy with this one.”
The season will open, Oct. 30-Nov. 9, with “Swan Lake,” which Boston Ballet hasn’t done since 2008, when it was still performing at the Wang Theatre. This will be the Tchaikovsky classic’s first outing at the Opera House, with fresh sets and costumes by Robert Perdziola, who designed the company’s new “Nutcracker.” “I wanted ‘Swan Lake’ to go back to the heart of what ‘Swan Lake’ is,” Nissinen explains. “It is very beautiful, not overly heavy in its feel, a classic looked at in a new way.” As he has in the company’s past two “Swan Lake” productions, Nissinen will be adapting the original choreography by Petipa and Ivanov, and this time he’s adding a prologue to show what he calls “a part of the story that’s written but never seen,” in which the sorcerer Rothbart abducts Odette and takes her into the lake.
“The Nutcracker,” Nov. 28-Dec. 31, will once again close on First Night, and Nissinen promises “a New Year’s Eve special show featuring lots of the principal dancers.” After that, Feb. 26-March 8, comes the season’s second and final story ballet. Val Caniparoli’s “Lady of the Camellias” is based on the same Alexandre Dumas fils story that inspired Verdi’s “La traviata,” with music by Chopin. The company previously did it in 2004. Nissinen is bringing it back, he says, because “we have some real dramatic talent in the company, and it’s a beautiful ballet, and I think it creates a nice balance in our repertoire.”
That’s followed, March 19-29, by “Shades of Sound.” The first of the three pieces, Wayne McGregor’s “Chroma,” is an encore presentation from the 2012-13 season, but George Balanchine’s “Episodes” and Hans van Manen’s “Black Cake” are new to Boston Ballet. Balanchine created “Episodes,” to music by Anton Webern, as part of a two-part ballet with Martha Graham in 1959. Nissinen calls it “an absolute masterpiece, a piece I have always loved. I have been waiting until I had the right company, the right artists, to do it.” “Black Cake,” from 1989, takes place at a society party where the guests get tipsy. Nissinen describes this program as “sort of a dark evening, and to have a black comedy at the end I think is a perfect match.”
“Edge of Vision,” April 30-May 10, will offer a world premiere by Boston Ballet resident choreographer Jorma Elo and a revised version of Helen Pickett’s “Eventide,” which the company premiered in 2008, plus a third work to be announced. Pickett has made a new version of “Eventide” for the Vienna State Ballet, replacing the slow opening to music by Michael Nyman with a segment to music by Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar that “starts with a bigger bang,” and that’s what Boston will see this time around.
The season will end, May 14-24, with “Thrill of Contact,” a quartet comprising Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” (last performed by Boston Ballet in 2010), a world premiere from company principal Jeffrey Cirio, William Forsythe’s “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” (1996), and Jerome Robbins’s “The Concert” (1956).
“The Concert,” like “Black Cake,” is downright funny, a study of an audience listening to a Chopin piano recital. “It’s classic Robbins,” Nissinen says. “It’s a fantastic snapshot of a time and place, and a wonderful experience for the audience. Comic pieces and ballet don’t often go well together, but ‘Black Cake’ and ‘The Concert’ are two gems.”
Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at email@example.com.