A man and a woman stand facing each other. Slowly he ties up her flowing skirts. He kneels, takes off her shoes. Suddenly she extends her leg and initiates a melancholy pas de deux. The two circle around and over each other, find each other and distance themselves again. Is this a love game or a showdown?
This scene is set to Ch'io mi scordi di te by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is one of the tableaus from Mozart / Concert Arias, the Rosas production with which Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker dazzled the Festival d'Avignon in 1992. Now, the dancers of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen have the honour of adding that choreographic milestone to their repertoire.
Mozart's concert arias, mostly written for female singers, are like mini operas: each one of them distils the essence of his theatrical genius. While love is always central, it is shown in all its facets – from the most blissful smile to the bitterest grimace.
Just like Mozart, De Keersmaeker makes every aria dance differently. Thirteen dancers and three singers form various alliances in an intimate décor. At times their movements shadow those of the piano or the orchestra, at times the voice is the guide. There's also the occasional nod to Mozart's life and loves. And sometimes all logic is tossed happily out the window.
Image: Tim Coppens