Artistic directors Steven and Elizabeth Wistrich will lower the curtain with classic performances – “Carmen,” choreographed by Elizabeth Wistrich, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a world premiere for resident choreographer Geoff Gonzalez. According to Steven Wistrich, the large-scale ballets exemplify the talent, creativity and dedication the City Ballet of San Diego offers its audience.
“Elizabeth’s one-act version of ‘Carmen’ – choreographed in 1988 – is one of her most popular, critically acclaimed and in-demand ballets,” said Wistrich. “Geoff Gonzalez, selected as one of only 10 choreographers for New York City Ballet’s New York Choreographic Institute, will present a contemporary spin on Antonio Vivaldi’s classical score.”
“Carmen,” a condensed version of Georges Bizet’s famous opera, is a one-act ballet originally composed in 1967 by Alberto Alonso, a Cuban choreographer, for his wife Maya Plisetskaya, a prima ballerina. The music, underscored from the opera with strings and percussion, was composed by Russia’s Rodion Shchedrin.
Set in Spain circa 1820, Carmen, an exotic, sultry factory worker and noted gypsy, becomes the center of a love triangle that culminates in murder. The vamp, sidling the margins of society, argues with another worker and is arrested by a police sergeant, Don José.
In love with the alluring seductress, he becomes a fugitive and joins her gypsy entourage. Quickly consumed by his jealousy, Carmen leaves Don José for Escamillo, a famous Spanish bull fighter. Don José pleads with Carmen to leave the toreador but she refuses. Don José stabs her in a jealous rage.
“‘Carmen’ involves a love triangle filled with jealousy and intrigue,” said Wistrich. “Carmen seduces men; she’s passionate, alluring, and manipulative. Fortune tellers add a flair of fatalism to a story of power and destiny.
“Personally, ‘Carmen’ makes a better ballet than an opera. Dancers can interpret the story through their bodies rather than just their voices. Our principle dancers bring this powerful and tragic story to life,” said Wistrich. “Elizabeth captured the storyline perfectly. Audiences will leave stunned from Carmen’s dramatic impact.”
Wistrich described the colorful costumes, designed and created by world-renown designer David Heuvel, as “scrumptious” and the scenery as “incredible.”
“We have stunning visuals and several elaborate set changes – from the town’s square to the bull ring, to inside the tavern and the mountainous area of the waterfall,” he continued. “A large cast of dancers – gypsies, townspeople, soldiers, urchins, and characters of all kinds – are in constant stage action with complex choreography.”
Wistrich touted “Carmen’s” world-famous musical score as melodious, rapturous and mysterious. “We’ve augmented ‘Carmen’s’ Spanish flavor,” he said. “Our Castanets add energy. Our lighting, fog, and special effects enhance the story. We will keep the audience riveted, wondering what happens to this charming and sexy woman headed on a course of disaster.”
The City Ballet of San Diego’s final season performance will open with the “Four Seasons,” noted by Wistrich as a “breathtaking reflection of Antonio Vivaldi’s most popular score.”
“The ‘Four Seasons’ uses every dancer in the company,” he said. “Geoff Gonzales completely reimagined the musical score with contemporary, thrilling and stunning melodies. The score advances from season to season with an entirely different cast of dancers performing through ebullient, athletic and ethereal choreography.
“This high-energy ballet is rich with athleticism, amazing visuals and lighting. Projections on the scenic elements will also be incredible. Costumes, also designed by David Heuvel, will add an indelible impression sure to lift your spirits.”
Lauded by critics as a “top-tier” dance company, the non-profit organization remains committed to “furthering the ballet art form.” Critics tout the company as “dazzling, electrifying, polished, delightful, highly-entertaining and professional.”
Steven Wistrich labeled his dancers as professionals from the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia “who spend 26 weeks of the year in San Diego dancing for a living.”
City Ballet also hosts classes for children and pre-professionals by alumnus from the American Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater and The Joffrey Ballet. City Ballet’s educational programs also outreach to inner-city children. The company is preparing for its 2017 summer intensive programs.
City Ballet is funded by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, the County of San Diego, Mandell Weiss Charitable Trust, Qualcomm, US Bank, Robert Half International as well as generous donors.