Fri, Aug 09, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Highlight: Exploring Tchaikovsky through Tchaikovsky

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Christina Dijmaru, a principal with the Bucharest National Opera Ballet stars in the Formosa Ballet’s new production, About Tchaikovsky, which opens tomorrow at the Tainan Cultural Center.

Photo courtesy of Sandy Ouyang

Allen Yu (余能盛) loves the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. His passion for the 19th-century Russian composer, who created the scores for some of the best-loved ballets in the Western classical canon, is not surprising for a ballet dancer or choreographer, but Yu could almost be considered somewhat obsessed.

Not only has he used Tchaikovsky’s music for several productions for his Formosa Ballet troupe (福爾摩沙芭蕾舞團) — its previous incarnation as the Chamber Ballet Taipei (台北室內芭蕾舞團) — but for works he created when he was deputy ballet director and choreographer at the Graz Opera House in Austria, many of the pieces he has produced in Taiwan have told about the composer’s life or his personal struggles, such as Romance — The Music and The Destiny of Tchaikovsky, Tchaikovsky — None But the Lonely Heart and When Ballet Meets Tchaikovsky.

After last year’s meditation on war, mankind and Mother Nature, Lost Illusion (失落的幻影), Yu has returned to his favorite subject with this year’s production, About Tchaikovsky (關於柴可夫斯基), which premieres in Tainan tomorrow night before starting a four-city tour.

He has also brought back two of his favorite guest artists, the Romanian couple Christina Dijmaru and Bogdan Canila, who are both principal dancers with the Bucharest National Opera Ballet.

Taiwanese Chiu Chu-en (邱主恩), who was so impressive in last year’s show is also back as a soloist, as is the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra (長榮交響樂團).

Yu centered this year’s production on two of Tchaikovsky works: the String Sextet in D minor, Op. 70, also known as Souvenir de Florence and Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36.

Yu said the first section of About Tchaikovsky is a love story, inspired by the composer’s love of Florence, the city where he not only worked on the string sextet, but where he composed the opera The Queen of Spades.

For this section, Yu based his storyline on Tchaikovsky’s 13-year relationship — by letters only — withy a wealthy widow, Nadezhda von Meck, who became his patron.

The second half of the show, set to the symphony, focuses on what Yu said was one of the unhappiest times in Tchaikovsky’s life following his disastrous and short-lived marriage to a former student, Antonina Miliukova.

However, for his the storyline Yu drew on another famous Russian, the poet and author Alexander Pushkin, who was a major influence on Tchaikovsky, and the convoluted love affairs and passions of Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin and his short story The Queen of Spades.

■ Tomorrow at 7:30pm, Sunday at 3pm at the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center Performance Hall (台南市立文化中心演藝廳), 332, Jhonghua E Rd Sec 3, Tainan (台南市中華東路三段332號)

■ Remaining tickets are NT$400 to NT$1,600; available online at www.artsticket.com, at convenience store ticket kiosks and at the door

■ Additional performances: Wednesday at 7:30pm at Kaohsiung Chihteh Hall (高雄至德堂), 67 Wufu 1st Rd, Kaohsiung (高雄市五福一路67號); Saturday at 7:30pm at Taichung Chungshan Hall (台中市中山堂), 98 Syueshih Rd, Taichung (台中市學士路98號); Aug. 21 at 7:30pm at the Performance Hall of the Hsinchu County Cultural Affairs Bureau (新竹縣文化局演藝廳), 146 Siancheng 9th Rd, Jhubei City, Hsinchu County (新竹縣竹北市縣政九路146號) and Aug. 23 and 24 at 7:30pm, Aug. 25 at 3pm at the Taiwan Traditional Theatre Center (臺灣戲曲中心小表演廳), 51 Wenlin Rd (台北士林區文林路751號).

■ The Kaohsiung show is sold out. The only seats left for the Taichung show are NT$400, for Hsinchu and Taipei shows, the tickets range from NT$400 to NT$2,000; available online at www.artsticket.com and at convenience store ticket kiosks

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