If the arts are still slowly emerging from the pandemic, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo’s Coppél-i.A. is proof positive imagination is alive and well. This adaptation of the classical ballet Coppélia, at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa through Mar. 10, is not to be missed. 

It may be more modern dance at times than ballet but it’s by far the most inventive thing I’ve seen on any stage in four years. For that matter, every aspect of this endeavor exceeds expectations.

One is tempted to use the word futuristic, but it isn’t all that far into the future with AI rearing its head in our daily lives. The robot girl in Fritz Lang’s fantastic 1927 film Metropolis (which would make a pretty good ballet itself, come to think of it) immediately springs to mind when we first see the titular creature in the show’s opening moments. The thought quickly fades, however, as the narrative develops with its timeless tale of the search for love.

Not one element is less than brilliant. Jean-Christophe Maillot’s choreography, Bertrand Maillot’s original music and arrangement (after Léo Delibes), Aimée Moreni’s wonderful costumes, Jean-Christophe Maillot and Samuel Thery’s lighting, and the sublime performance itself are beyond superlatives.

Not to be outdone, American Ballet Theatre will present the North American premiere of Woolf Works at SCFTA Apr. 11-14. This three-act ballet is inspired by the writings of novelist Virginia Woolf, as one might suspect. British choreographer and director Wayne McGregor has recreated the style and themes of three of Woolf’s novels—Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves—with an original score by Max Richter.

Before ABT arrives, Grammy Award-winning music director Esa-Pekka Salonen will march into SCFTA with the San Francisco Symphony. The orchestra will perform an all Sibelius program Mar. 20, including his most famous tone poem, Finlandia. The maestro will be joined by award-winning violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who will perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto.

Salonen (who also appears at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Mar. 22) served as music director of LA Phil from 1992 to 2009. He’s currently a member of the faculty of LA’s Colburn School, where he develops, leads and directs the pre-professional Negaunee Conducting Program. Sibelius, whose Symphony No. 1 also appears on the program, is of course a specialty of the native Finn, who in fact studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

Photo by Alice Blangero.

Author: Jordan Young