May 30 &31
Dances with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dances with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart promises something different in the treatment of Mozart’s life and music in dance. Other ballet companies have used his music for individual dances, or to add historical context to a new period ballet. The Atlantic Ballet of Canada has even adapted the movie Amadeus for ballet. But, Paul Destrooper, the artistic director of Ballet Victoria, has created a fascinating look at Mozart the artist, one that brings the man, his music, and his tragic end crashing into the 21st century.
While Destrooper is careful to clarify that this ballet does not draw from Amadeus, seeing that movie when he was very young did serve as his introduction to Mozart. He explains, “I liked the way they characterized him as this character who was tormented, and pretty flamboyant, and pretty goofy.”
In Destrooper’s work, an allegorical muse will be the composer’s inspiration, his love, and his curse, eventually driving him “to exhaustion and death.” Destrooper paints this allegorical character from the French pun, “l’amour et la mort,” that inextricably links love with death. So, he says, “I’ll have this beautiful woman that is death and she will…kind of lead him on to extremes to create beautiful pieces.” And all the while the composer will “ride the roller coaster of his successes and failures,” letting his muse push him towards a path of self-destruction, continues Destrooper.
Most of the music will be Mozart’s; however, Destrooper has added some more modern pieces to heighten the pathos of the work and help make Mozart the man more relevant to modern audiences. “Who wants to live forever” by Queen will open the ballet and set the tone of the piece by drawing a link to Freddy Mercury, another artist of large appetites whose star also burned out too quickly. Says Destrooper, “Freddy Mercury, his life skyrocketed, and talk about burning!”
In a final coup de grace, Destrooper plans to use Queen’s “The Show Must Go On” at the end of the ballet, as Mozart struggles against his demise. Freddy Mercury recorded this piece shortly before his own death from AIDS. He renders the piece with the angst of a dying man who has hidden the truth of his impending doom from the world. He sings, “Inside my heart is breaking,/ My make-up may be flaking,/ But my smile, still, stays on!” For Destrooper, this song and Mercury’s performance crystallizes the anguish Mozart himself may have felt at his end, when “the artist has given it all, and he has to go on for the fans and for life and to survive,” which, tragically, he does not.