Preview: Lucidor and Arabella
Gender-bent, her love unrequited, a girl withers and moves
Posted: January 23, 2013
Lucidor and Arabella sees a girl named Lucile earn money by disguising herself as Lucidor, a man.
The National Theater is welcoming the new year with open arms and an "Open Stage." The cycle focuses on inviting various dance companies for guest appearances. The first in line is the National Theater Brno ballet with Lucidor and Arabella, an original work created by the Hungarian choreographer Youri Vámos. This full-length narrative ballet is based on the story by Hugo van Hofmannsthal and set to music by Alexander Glazunov.
An internationally acclaimed choreographer and the former artistic director of Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf, Vámos is often called "the last ballet narrator." He has been a prolific author and so far has created many grand narratives that always fill the auditorium. He has been creating adaptations of plays and novels (Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream) as well as modernized classical works (Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppélia). Vámos ranks among the very few leading European choreographers dedicated to preserving full-length ballets. In past seasons, Prague audiences have had the opportunity to see his productions in the repertoire of local theaters: recently, for example, The Nutcracker, Othello and Sleeping Beauty - The Czar's Last Daughter in the National Theater and the State Opera.
Now the Moravian ballet company will come to town to present the piece that had its Czech premiere in October in Brno. The storyline of this ballet, set in the late 19th century, revolves around the dramatic fate of a girl named Lucile. The story was written by the prominent Austrian novelist, librettist, poet and essayist Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1910. He later reworked it as a libretto for the Richard Strauss opera Arabella, which premiered in 1933. Lucile's mother is drowning in debt. In order to obtain an inheritance intended for the youngest male descendant, she forces Lucile to hide her true identity, to deny her femininity, to dress and act like a man: Lucidor. During adolescence, Lucidor meets the love of her life, her sister Arabella's admirer Vladimir, to whom she writes on the behalf of her undisguisedly feminine sibling.
The powerful score leans on Alexander Glazunov's symphonies, which are not very well known in the Czech Republic, and also offers very dramatic contrasts. Vámos selected a soundtrack that combines expressive originality with top musical qualities, Slavic melancholy with energy and life enthusiasm.
National Theater Brno Ballet Company
When: Tuesday, Jan. 29, at 7
Where: National Theater
Tickets: 120-660 Kč, available through Ticketpro and National Theater box offices
The drama of a woman forced by circumstances into a fatal self-denial and her attempts to resist the senseless fate is a very strong subject matter. In his choreography, Vámos has elaborated on such a powerful theme in great detail, all mental states of mind of the main characters are masterfully translated into an original dance expression.
In Vámos' specific dance vocabulary, there is no single empty gesture and movement. The choreographer requires strong expression also from his dancers. They have to be convincing in portraying the complicated characters.
Among the soloists who have come to Prague is Ivona Jeličová, an experienced dancer who proves her dramatic qualities as well as technical precision in the role of Lucidor. She manages well to be compelling in the "male" parts and is able to suddenly change her movements to be very feminine: full of the desire, tenderness and emotions that the character experiences.
Filip Veverka (Vladimir) is an excellent danseur noble and stands out not only in technically difficult duets but also performs every tiny detail with deep feelings and right expression.
All in all, Lucidor and Arabella, a very powerful and emotional production about love and self-denial, offers an intense artistic experience that combines technically difficult dancing with drama. Any full-length narrative ballet lover shouldn't miss the January guest performance, the only one this season.
Johana Mücková can be reached at