By DAVID JONES
MAGNIFICENT PERFORMANCE: Tulsa Ballet’s “The Sleeping Beauty.???
Marcello Angelini hopes the curve has been reached.
“With the fall of the Twin Towers in New York City, the arts scene suffered,” he said recently. “Money dried up and a number of organizations, including the Tulsa Philharmonic, ceased operations. Some of them were in trouble anyway, but the aftermath of 9/11 was the final blow.”
Angelini, artistic director of Tulsa Ballet, watched helplessly as contributions and season subscriptions slowly dwindled. While the company was struggling through tighter and tighter times, its artistic side was flourishing. A triumphant trip to an international ballet festival in Portugal was acclaimed to critics who quickly put Tulsa Ballet down as one of the finest ballet companies in America.
Nevertheless, the economic problems hung over the troupe like a darkening cloud.
Now that cloud is showing a silver lining.
“This year has seen a major improvement almost everywhere,” Angelini says. “Our contributions are up, our season ticket sales are up, our ‘Nutcracker’ sales were up and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ exceeded projections.
“I don’t have the final figures yet,” says Angelini, “but I think we averaged 80 percent of capacity.”
“Sleeping Beauty,” he acknowledges, is a ballet almost guaranteed to get an audience. “We try to do one of the big ballets every season: ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ‘Cinderella,’ ‘Swan Lake,’ and ‘Carmina Burana’ are huge audience favorites. We try to include at least one of them every year.”
The 2006-2007 season is going to be a special one, says Angelini. “It is both the 100th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood and the 50th anniversary of our company, which started out as Tulsa Civic Ballet.”
Tulsans have been told their ballet company is one of the finest in America but just how does such acclaim in the dance world bring dividends to Tulsa? Just consider the following:
The company had signed Viviana Durante, one of the premiere ballerinas in the world, to play Aurora, the Sleeping Beauty of the ballet. To dance with her they signed Ogulcan Borova, a major figure in the dance world.
Eight days before opening night, the ballet was holding a gala rehearsal for important backers of the ballet. “Ogulcan snapped his ACL ligament,” said board member Georgia Snoke. “You could hear it all over the rehearsal hall. It is a major injury. He may be out for a year.”
With only eight days to go, Angelini made emergency calls all over the world to find a replacement. Igor Antonov replaced Borova and the show went on.”
“You can’t find a replacement like that unless you have connections,” says Angelini not boastfully but factually. “It’s how we get to do ballets by major choreographers.”
Obviously keeping Angelini is crucial to the short-term success of Tulsa Ballet, but the question is how long a market as small as Tulsa’s can keep a director with a growing international reputation.
“I have lived my entire life in a rebellious way,” says Angelini. “When offered prestigious opportunities I have often taken something else because it appealed to me more. Unless I felt I wanted to do it I didn’t do it.
“I love Tulsa and I love the board I work with. We are on the same wavelength. We are in sync.”
Angelini knows he might never find another board as in tune with his program as he has here. He also professes to have been blown away by the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, which made its debut in “Sleeping Beauty.” “The first time I heard them in rehearsal,” he says, “I got chills. I am looking forward to working with them again.”
So Tulsa offers a lot he might not find elsewhere. Then there is the sense of personal mission.
“In Tulsa I have started a project and I want to see it finished.”
Ballet Beautiful in Amarillo
Tulsa Ballet took its production of “The Sleeping Beauty” to Amarillo, Tx., the weekend of Feb. 18-19. It was a chance for the Tulsa company to get a regional reputation for excellence after having been lauded for its Tulsa performances the weekend before.
“The performances of Tulsa Ballet’s ‘The Sleeping Beauty’ marked a historical moment for our communities,” said Tulsa Ballet Artistic Director Marcello Angelini. “We were excited to share this amazing production with our Texas neighbors. The sets and costumes alone were breathtaking in the new Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.”
Tulsa Ballet’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty” was an extravagant production with music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Galina Samsova following the original work by Marius Petipa. The sets and costumes are owned by Boston Ballet but were originally created for Royal Ballet in London. The stage components required three tractor trailer trucks to move from one side of the country to the other. Included in the transport are thirty crates filled with elaborate costumes.
Set in a magical fairy kingdom, “The Sleeping Beauty” is the story of a young princess, Aurora, who has fallen under a spell that causes her to sleep until she is kissed by a prince. The beautiful young prince and princess eventually marry and like every great fairytale, they seal their marriage with a kiss and live happily ever after.