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Angelin Preljocaj Songe de Médée & MC14/22

Le Songe de Médée

Médée: Marie-Agnès Gillot
Créüse, fille de Créon: Eleonora Abbagnato
Jason: Wilfried Romoli
Les Enfants: Constance Nicolas & Carl Van Gotdsenhoven
Ensemble Court-Circuit
Musical Director: Pierre-André Valade
Music by: Mauro Lanza

MC 14/22 « ceci est mon corps »

Soundscapes by: Tedd Zahmal
Guest dancer/singer: Sylvain Groud
Opéra national de Paris Ballet
Choreography: Angelin Preljocaj
Stage Director: Denis Caïozzi

Opus Arte DVD OA 0981 D [155 Mins £19.99]

This double bill of modern dance from, so we are told, "one of the world’s leading choreographers" poses problems to review. First comes MC 14/22 for male dancers. It is the more peculiar, and to my 80-yr-old (and deplorably old fashioned) eyes unattractive to the point of repugnancy.

It is clearly a serious endeavour, undoubtedly impressive in its way, even though not to my taste. It is given a Biblical gloss (q.v. Britten's Rape of Lucretia !) but the homo-erotic element is explicit; sadism and masochism, even necrophilia, seem to be its basis. Some will find all this appealing; we didn't.

Quite other is the far more straightforward and beautiful version of the familiar Medea myth. It is danced by a personable group (Creusa struggling with Medea and Jason, illustrated) and with two adept children, who emerge smiling for curtain calls, covered in ketchup just after being murdered with their heads covered with buckets, which are a chief theme of the staging...

This is certainly a dance drama to see again, in the same league as several modern dance DVDs from Opus Arte reviewed by Musical Pointers (e.g. Cursive II and Amelia).

On first viewing the visuals are so powerful that on this occasion I was left with only a hazy impression of the music and 'soundscape'. Must try again. The choreography is certainly unusual and danced with enormous athletic skill and precision by a team from the Paris Opera that also has to deal with classical ballet. It's all very impressive and well filmed, but before risking your money you may prefer to wait a bit and seek out other reviews by younger "with it" critics...

Peter Grahame Woolf