Lady of the Camellias is a gorgeous setting of Camille, the storied love affair recounted by Alexandre Dumas. It has been the inspiration of countless movies (including most recently Molin Rouge) and the opera of Verdi, La Traviata. Camille (or Margaurite in the ballet) was a quite desirable courtesan in Paris in the late 19th century, and an accomplished amateur pianist (although this fact does not make it into the ballet scenario). So it seems quite logical that the music be that of Chopin, one of the most gifted piano virtuoso composer/performers of the time. The score excerpts a number of both his known and relatively unknown works for piano and orchestra. The challenge for the conductor is to balance the roles of accompanist both for the pianist in the pit and the dancers on stage. Luckily, the Tulsa Ballet's amazing staff pianist, Yee Sik Wong has been playing rehearsals for the last month, so the tempi which complement the dancers are ingrained in her artistic psyche. For me, it is a matter of supporting her and keeping the orchestral traffic flowing in the right direction. But an extraordinarily beautiful work both musically and choreographically. Margaurite diesof consumption in the end, and I don't think there will be a dry eye in the house.
As many of you know, I am a relative newcomer to the world of ballet conducting. I have pursued it at the urging of my friend Gerard Charles, now ballet master at the Joffrey Ballet. Marcello Angelini, the Artistic Director of the Tulsa Ballet has given me an amazing opportunity, and I am grateful to him for his patient tutelage. I find the collaborative spirit of this assignment to be extremely rewarding, and have always admired the extraordinary dedication that dancers bring to their craft. And a huge wealth of new repertoire awaits! Now, I must study!
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