Exuding raw emotions with unparalleled grace, The Boston Ballet painted an extraordinary portrait of the universal journey of creation, life, and death to open its 52nd season with ‘Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier’ during its opening weekend at the Boston Opera House on Saturday, October 24. As the music flowed from tragic to triumphant rhythms, ‘Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler’ vividly depicted the transforming nature of love. This performance took place without an intermission and continues through Sunday, November 1.
Set upon varying backgrounds which changed from translucent to vibrant lighting set against a black, unfurling background, The Boston Ballet, entirely composed of male dancers in its first movement , emerged in layered silence. The simple set and pared down costumes allowed Neumeier’s vision to stand on its own. Mahler’s mesmerizing rhythms were enhanced by the Boston Ballet Orchestra helmed by renowned Music Director Jonathan McPhee, The New World Chorale, and world renowned soprano Sarah Pelletier, reflecting in the Boston Ballet’s depiction of Neumeier’s complex piece of artistry.
Each movement took the audience on a progressive, captivating journey consisting of ‘Yesterday,’ ‘Summer,’ ‘Autumn,’ ‘Night,’ ‘Angel,’ and ‘What Love Tells Me.’ The first movement began in silence, but as Mahler’s stunning score built, the dancers expressed a startling awakening onstage through an array of sweeping, elongated motions as dancers united in complicated forms, mimicking forces of nature such as windblown trees. Haunting rhythms launched the piece with heavy violins, creating a foreboding, menacing tone and steadily building into horn laden rhythms, as the male dancers, led by Paulo Arrais, progressed into sharp, unyielding movements in simultaneous choreography, embodying a troupe ready for combat.
As ‘Summer’ approached, the female dancers were introduced as a white light emerged. Yellows, blues, and white colors dominated the landscape as Mahler’s soft music indicated a joyful, lighthearted vitality. The dancers seemed to float and glide, depicting the commonality between human beings and the innocence of love’s first spark.
“Autumn,” “Night,” “Angel,” and “What Love Tells Me” portrayed transient love, loss, and what really matters in a fleeing life. In costumes of browns and reds, the dancers were paired off and their motions became swift, jubilant, and increasingly athletic. In shadows, two pairs of dancers emerged from the crowd. A pair sat together getting to know each other while the other two take center stage, inviting him to dance and they both tell a tale of their love building from hesitance into bliss.
Artistic director Mikko Nissinen makes a seamless, magnificent transition from an ethereal cast in ‘Summer’ and ‘Autumn,’ to ‘Night,’ ‘Angel,’ and ‘What Love Tells Me’ a gripping, haunting, and a stunning portrayal of life’s struggles and how each individual is linked into a beautiful, interwoven tapestry of love and grace. The New World Chorale and soloist Sarah Pelletier lent their phenomenal voices in an exquisite, triumphant finale, featuring Misa Kuranaga, Paulo Arrais, and the entire company.
A portion of the performance was dedicated to choreographer John Cranko and his company. ‘Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier’ made its world debut with the Hamburg Ballet in 1975, but this is the first time the Boston Ballet has performed this masterpiece.
The Boston Ballet is also featuring a beautiful lineup of classic productions such as ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘The Nutcracker.’ ‘Onegin’ tells a harrowing love story right around Valentine’s Day.
Performances will be held at Boston Opera House, 539 Washington Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets, call 617-695-6955, or visit the Boston Ballet box office at 19 Clarendon Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Subscriptions and group rates are also available.