Magazine article Dance Magazine

Madame Butterfly - the Ballet

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Madame Butterfly - the Ballet

Article excerpt

Ballet Ecarte Olympian Theater, Big Bear Inn, Big Bear Lake, California September 17,1994 Reviewed by William Fark

California's Gold Rush ended around the turn of the century, but there's still treasure in them thar hills. Among the nuggets is Paul Rizos's Madame Butterfly--The Ballet at Big Bear Inn in the San Gorgonio Mounains.

Big Bear Lake, where ski boots outnumber toe shoes, is still far from becoming a cradle of culture. But Rizos's innovative theater and dance ventures have attracted visitors interested in something beyond outdoor activities. "The Passion of Puccini" is Rizos's fourth classically-themed event, after ones honoring Mozart, Rossini, and Tchaikovsky. It's a weekend package of lodging and entertainment, featuring an opera or ballet performance accompanied by a lecture/tea and themed dinner.

Rizos wrote the scenario, adapted the music, and choreographed Madame Butterfly, which is performed by Ballet Ecarte of Culver City. Artistic director Nadezhda Kalmanovskaiya danced Butterfly opposite Golden Koscuik as Pinkerton, with Stella Gardiner as Suzuki, Butterfly's friend and confidante. Four men and four women danced more than a dozen supporting roles.

Rizos's greatest strength here is his skill at adaptation and condensation. He concentrates on the story of love and betrayal, portraying Butterfly and Pinkerton's relationship in a series of solos and pas de deux. Butterfly's doubts and fears about giving up her family, national heritage, and religion, in addition to her suicide, are presented in kabuki-like dance and mime sequences. …

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