Greater Tulsa Reporter
TALENTED COMPANY: Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini stands with Principal dancer Madalina Stoica and Soloist Cavan Conley at Tulsa Ballet’s 2017-2018 Season Reveal event, held in January.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Tulsa Ballet will present a very special production for their 60th anniversary season that is sure to delight audiences of all ages. The company has commissioned an all-new, $1 million full-length ballet in collaboration with BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio. This exciting new ballet will feature choreography by the esteemed Edwaard Liang (artistic director for BalletMet, choreographer for Tulsa Ballet’s acclaimed Romeo and Juliet) as well all new music, sets, costumes, puppetry and digital projection. The world premiere of Dorothy and the Prince of Oz will take place in Tulsa.
Artistic Director Marcello Angelini says, “Edwaard and I started discussing this project in the fall of 2014 when he was appointed Artistic Director of BalletMet. I truly believe he is one of the most talented dance makers of our time and is able to instill deep feelings and meaning into dance steps. Everybody knows The Wizard of Oz, and yet there are 13 additional books about Oz written by L. Frank Baum. The next step was to find someone to evaluate the individual novels from a ballet perspective and suggest the one that could be best adapted into a ‘screenplay’. Oliver Peter Graber, the librettist of the Vienna Staatsoper, with Edwaard’s help and guidance, chose the fourteenth book in the series and a new story was introduced – within the existing story – to dramatize the work.”
The artistic team, chosen by Edwaard to support him, is truly a compilation of some of the best in the business. Basil Twist, a McArthur Genius Fellow and a puppet master, designed the sets and will create massive puppets to bring the magical creatures to life. Mark Zappone has designed the costumes for the production. Oliver Peter Graber has also created a score from both existing music and his own composition to follow the libretto. According to Angelini, “Edwaard has already created the majority of the choreography and what he did so far is stunning. It is probably his most inspired and mature work to date.”
Tulsa Ballet’s Managing Director Scott Black believes that “allowing ballet to be accessible to all audiences is necessary for the future of the company.” He says, “The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Swan Lake are standard repertoire for most ballet companies that consistently bring new audiences and increased earned revenue potential from ticket sales. Yet the ballet repertory is very scarce when it comes to titles able to attract large audiences. Creating new family friendly story ballets will help expand our local audiences and audiences all over the country when these productions are performed by other companies. Owning these new productions also provides additional revenue through set/costume rentals, when leased to organizations that are not part of the original co-production.”
When asked about the excitement surrounding this outstanding and unique production, Angelini says, he is “thrilled that Tulsa Ballet is now able to offer its community brand new, large scale productions that rival those that premiere in any major city around the world. This is all thanks to Mrs. Mollie Williford, who, with a very generous gift, has allowed us to dream big and to offer our community large scale, original works. Tulsa is growing and evolving at a fast pace and we intend to continue to lead the arts community in the city and state.” With only four performances, tickets are expected to sell out.
Dorothy and the Prince of Oz will run from February 10-12 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. All performances include live music provided by Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. Tickets start at $25 and may be purchased by calling 918-749-6006 or by visiting www.tulsaballet.org.