Saturday, March 7, 2020


Trois Grandes Fugues. 

A devilishly classical, arachnoid fugue by Lucinda Childs. A grand precise,male fugue by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. A highly nuanced Grosse Fugue by Maguy Marin, Lyon Opera Ballet. Adelaide Festival Theatre. Adelaide  Festival. March 6-7 2020.

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

The inspiration behind Lyon Opera’s suite of three very different works is Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, a highly controversial score, composed at a time of profound deafness. Legendary women choreographers Maguy Marin, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Lucinda Childs interpret the final movement of Quartet No. 13 in B -flat major. The result is three very diverse and beautifully conceived visions of Beethoven’s final composition prior to his death. Lucinda Childs’ A devilishly classical, arachnoid fugue is superbly classical in construct, danced with technical precision and graceful movements by six male and six female dancers, dressed in sleek grey shades against a projected image of luminous lace. With shimmering artistry and architectural beauty, the dancers intertwine a fluidity and classical style that conjures the mesmerizing lure of the arachnoid. The seduction lingers as the curtain falls on Lucinda Child’s evocative and captivating work.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker astonishes with a work of contemporary impact as the dancers of A grand, precise,male fugue entered the stage in dark suits and commence a street ballet of floor rolls, outstretched repetitions and stark rhythmic changes. There is vitality and surprise in a bold and expressive interpretation of Beethoven’s composition. So very different from Childs’ classical expression of the music, De Keersmaeker delights in the raw energy and machismo of the male fugue. It reminds me at times of Jerome Kern’s visceral choreography with similar exciting bravura. In this fusion of ballet and contemporary dance the dancers appear to rejoice in the liberating strains of Beethoven’s eccentric fugue. 

Maguy Marin’s A highly nuanced Grosse Fugue completes Lyon Opera Ballet’s delightful and exquisite programme of short, light and imaginative dance interpretations of Beethoven’s final work.  Three Grand Fugues celebrates genius and the imagination. That Lucinda Childs, renowned for her avant garde work can create a work of conventional and yet inventive choreography of such exquisite grace and precision while De Keersmaeker explores the physical form and theatrical expressiveness of her dance and Marin exalts in the sheer flair and freedom of dance is evidence of the creative inspiration of dance and music. In Marin’s final piece of the evening four dancers dressed in red fire the stage with colour and a certain obsession. Where Childs’ piece evokes the spirit of air, De Keermaeker’s is more closely aligned with the earth and Marin’s work conjures the spirit of fire. All three pieces heighten the variety and essence of Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue during an evening of ballet that delights the eye and pleases the ear. Trois Grandes Fugues like a superbly selected degustation excites the eye, tantalizes the palate and feeds the soul.  
As Beethoven’s Final quartet surprise and arouses the senses, so too does Lyon Opera Ballet’s Trois Grandes Fugues in an evening of works that are at once soothing, exciting and uplifting. C’est magnifique!