Sunday evening I attended the Washington Ballet. Septime Weber came out at the beginning to introduce the night's selections, as has been his habit. I mention this because of his conspicuous absence two weeks ago. I'd worried that as his tenure as Artistic Director comes to a close that he'd decided to stop, but I'm glad to see that wasn't the case. Even if his spiel is almost word-for-word the same as what is printed in the program, it's nice to hear him tell the story.
They opened with Balanchine's Theme and Variations, a classically-styled ballet set to the music of Tchaikovsky. Technically a very challenging piece, I felt my legs getting sore just watching. Balanchine wanted everything faster and crisper, and this ballet demands that of all the dancers. It has no apparent story line, though, which is somewhat unfulfilling. The principal dancers were attired in brilliant white, but the rest were in something of a bland, uniform peach.
The highlight of the evening was the return of Weber's Carmina Burana, set to the music of Carl Orff and featuring the voices of the Cathedral Choral Society arrayed on scaffolding around the edges of the stage. As Weber explained, the songs were originally thought to be sacred texts, but were later discovered to be bawdy, lustful drinking songs. A description simply cannot do justice to this production. When the curtain went up again after it was over everyone lept to their feet in thunderous applause. And I mean everyone. No milking the bows while the audience politely claps, everyone was still applauding loudly when the curtain went down.
I'd have to rank this among the best productions I've ever seen.