An Etoile Is Born at Paris Opera Ballet's Casual-Dress Nutcracker

Classic Arts News   An Etoile Is Born at Paris Opera Ballet's Casual-Dress Nutcracker
 
The ongoing strikes at the Op_ra National de Paris have forced the company to make do under some difficult conditions, but a performance two nights ago turned into a major occasion nonetheless.

After canceling several performances of its lavish Nutcracker earlier this month, the Paris Opera Ballet went ahead with the holiday favorite on Monday night (Nov. 19) — but without scenery or costumes. Most of the dancers performed in rehearsal clothes.

The auditorium at the Op_ra-Bastille was far from full, according to Agence-France Presse — some ticketholders no doubt passed on seeing a Nutcracker in such reduced circumstances, while many others simply couldn't get to the theater because of transit strikes.

Those who were in the house applauded and cheered the company as a whole and in particular the 23-year-old Doroth_e Gilbert, who was dancing the central role, the young girl Clara.

At the end of the evening, officials announced to the audience that Gilbert has been promoted to _toile (literally, "star"), the Paris Opera Ballet's most exalted rank. Only 18 dancers have been named _toile in the company's 346-year history, according to AFP.

While most of the unions at the Op_ra's two houses (the historic Palais Garnier and the modern Bastille) have called off their threatened walkouts for the time being, the union SUD, which represents many of the lighting, scenery and other backstage workers at the Bastille, remains on strike. Hence the company management has gone ahead in recent days with both its revival of Tosca and (now) Nutcracker in semi-staged versions without scenery and sometimes without costumes.

The next major presentation at the Paris Opera, a revival of Robert Carsen's staging of Handel's Alcina opening tomorrow night, is at the Garnier and thus appears to be minimally affected by SUD's continuing walkout.

Another of the company's unions, FO, said last week in a statement that its members were taking care that the upcoming new production of Wagner's Tannh‹user — also directed by Carsen, with Seiji Ozawa conducting and opening Dec. 6 at the Bastille — would not be endangered by the cancellation of rehearsals.

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