Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Walnice Nogueira Galvão*

The musical season resumes. It is time to remember a golden moment from previous seasons: the ballet set to music by Stravinsky Pulcinella, presented in August 2017 at Theatro São Pedro.

Those who had the privilege of attending the combined ballet and opera show at Theatro São Pedro left with a renewed soul, floating with euphoria. To do justice to the divine music of Stravinsky's 1-act ballet, Pulcinella, the choreographer (who came to us from Rome) Giovanni di Palma introduced very original movements and gestures. Although it is a ballet more classical than modern, it is used to reinterpretation. Thus, the costumes are of a “re-read classic”, the men wearing suits while the women wear full skirts and armed with several petticoats, like a semi-long tutu, in a solid color with white polka dots, with no two of the same color. They are versions of traditional garments treated with modern lightness.

Everyone, as usual at the São Paulo Companhia de Dança, which is one of the best in the country, are skilled dancers. The backdrops, in white, with stylized columns just suggested in the background and on the sides, display their most eerie part on the ceiling, from which hang numerous illuminated globes of various sizes.

The ballet also comprises, apart from the danced part defended by the corps de ballet, three singers, one tenor, one baritone and one mezzo-soprano, who embody Arlequim, Leandro and Colombina. They stand out against the uniform background of the corps de ballet because they wear clothing that is specific to the Commedia dell'Arte, with costumes of multicolored diamonds and masks.

This combination of dance, theater and lyrical singing enriches the performance. the premiere of Pulcinella in Diaghilev's Russian Ballets, in 1920 at the Paris Opera, with scenery and costumes by Picasso, was historic and epoch-making. The choreography was done by Leonid Massine, another name that would go far in ballet. On that date Nijinsky, unfortunately, was no longer the star, as he had been since 1909, when for the first time the Ballets Russes came to Paris, revolutionizing art and conquering the world.

It is not easy to say which of the several ballets that Stravinsky composed for Diaghilev is his favourite. The Rite of Spring it hardly finds a rival, and it had choreography by Nijinsky, who danced it. But the Fire Bird, ou Petrushka, ou soldier's story do not lag behind.

And not just Stravinsky: Debussy composed Prélude à l´après-midi d´un faune, on a poem by Mallarmé, for the same company, in 1912. And this was one of Nijinsky's greatest successes in choreography and performance, at the Théâtre du Châtelet.

However, at Theatro São Pedro, the show did not stop there, in that first part with the ballet. The second part, consisting of an opera in one act by Ferruccio Busoni, arlecchino, it brought the usual intrigue of betrayal and broken love. The same scenery was kept, white and very stripped down, with almost only scenic indications, and one more balcony that the entrecho required. Once again, the costumes are interesting and symbolic, but the three protagonists of the Commedia dell'Arte. And two more characters with names that are a whole program, Abbot Cospicuo and Doctor Bombasto.

Just as singers intervene in ballet, dancers also intervene in opera. But all with extreme aesthetic care and in that XNUMXth century debauchery style in which the pairs exchange and destroy each other. In the end, everything works out, and despite so much impertinence, love wins across the board, except for the protagonist, who watches ships while his wife runs away with another.

Theatro São Pedro, recently renovated, although smaller than the Theatro Municipal and Sala São Paulo, is elegant and beautiful, with severe lines and decor. For some time now, it has housed the Opera School and its own orchestra. On that day and with this program, he showed the greatest competence, under the baton of maestro Ira Levin.

The show attracts by its exquisite conception. Both ballet and opera, as their titles imply, are based on Commedia dell'Arte, musically referring to the same XNUMXth century period, with tributes to Pergolesi and neoclassicism.

*Walnice Nogueira Galvão Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at USP.

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