Boston Ballet To Host The North American Premiere Of Obsidian Tear

Posted October 31, 2017 by Brian Keaney in Theater & Arts
Obsidian Tear

Finland, it seems, has descended upon the Hub. Boston Ballet, in a collaboration with several of the Nordic country’s most prominent artists, opens its season next week with the North American debut of Obsidian Tear. A co-production with London’s Royal Ballet, the ballet features nine male dancers and is designed to showcase their athleticism as much as their dancing ability. Described as “powerful and sexy, athletic and dramatic, violent and vulnerable,” Obsidian Tear captures the social and emotional forces exerted on human life.

The company members will dance to the sounds of the Fifth Symphony of Jean Sibelius, which will enjoy its world premiere in Boston. In addition to the symphony, the audience will also be treated to an orchestral performance of Sibelius’ tone poem, Finlandia.

While in Boston, guest conductor Daniel Stewart will lead solo violinist Christine Vitale in performing the “electrifying solo violin piece”, Lachen Verlernt, the “symphonic poetry” of the renowned composer Esa Pekka Salonen that inspired the ballet. Salonen hand selected Stewart, the music director of the Santa Cruz Symphony, to wield the baton here in the Hub.  Selections from the score can be heard on the Boston Ballet’s website.

The Chicago Tribune has called Salonen “one of our most thoughtful composers and probing conductors.” The Finn is currently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Composer In Residence at the New York Philharmonic, Artistic Director and cofounder of the Baltic Sea Festival, and Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.

This production, which runs from November 3rd to the 12th at the Boston Opera House, is choreographed by  the Boston Ballet’s Resident Choreographer, Jorma Elo. It was originally choreographed by The Royal Ballet’s Resident Choreographer, Wayne McGregor, who also designed the sets.  This is McGregor’s second ballet choreographed to a Salonen score following 2010’s Foreign Bodies.

The New York Times calls the show “a breakthrough piece for Mr. McGregor, who has been the Royal Ballet’s choreographer in residence since 2006.”  The costumes are creations of Rumiko Takeshima.

“When designing the program, I realized the composers were the most prominent Finnish composers, and it was the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence. What better way to honor great creativity and music?” said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen said in a statement.

“I am excited to bring Wayne’s exhilarating work to Boston, particularly because the music is by one of my national heroes, Esa-Pekka Salonen. It’s a great honor to partner with The Royal Ballet on this exciting premiere-our first ever co-production for Boston Ballet and The Royal Ballet. I’m also pleased to present another world premiere by Jorma Elo set to Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony that’s sure to be a thrilling experience.”  Elo and Sibelius are both Finnish as well.

Obsidian Tear is Boston Ballet’s first collaboration with The Royal Ballet, but this will not be their first work by McGregor.  In 2013 and 2015, his Chroma was performed by the local company to rave reviews.

Show times vary, with evening performances during the later part of the week and weekends, and matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.