Lady of the Camellias takes the stage October 23 and 24 at the Aronoff Center with choreography by Val Caniparoli. Performances are October 23 at 8 pm and October 24 at 2 and 8 pm. The moving music of Frédéric Chopin is performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with Piano Soloist Michael Chertock, Baritone Vocal Soloist Thom Dreeze and Soprano Vocal Soloist Lisa Ericksen.
Lady of the Camellias is based on the 19th Century novel La Dame aux Camelias published in 1848 by Alexandre Dumas. His novel tells the tragic and compelling story of Marguerite, a famous courtesan, and Armand, a young countryman, as they become entangled in a forbidden affair, ultimately facing heartbreak and loss. The story has inspired more than 16 screen and stage adaptations including the film Camille, featuring an Oscar nominated performance by Greta Garbo, the popular opera La Traviata and most recently Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge.
Val Caniparoli’s take on this poignant love story has endured and evolved over time. He created Lady of the Camellias in 1994 on Ballet Florida, as a co-commission with Ballet West. First performed by Cincinnati Ballet in 1998, it remains widely popular today among many esteemed ballet companies and requires a company’s full range of artistry. The choreography demands a physical technicality from the dancers including seven beautiful and challenging pas de deux, as well as a breadth of emotion in order to convey this compelling story on stage. “In the last several minutes of the ballet, there is not even a single dance movement” says Caniparoli. “It’s all expression, which I think can be even more powerful than an overhead lift or an exciting jump. You just cannot underestimate the power of expression in dance.”
Caniparoli may be familiar to Cincinnati audiences as the choreographer of Frisch’s Presents The Nutcracker from 2001-2011, as well as Caprice, Lambarena, The Bridge and Bow Out, among others. His versatility has made him one of the most sought after choreographers in the U.S. and abroad. Caniparoli has contributed to the repertoires of more than 45 dance companies. He has been the recipient of ten grants for choreography from the National Endowment for the Arts, an artist fellowship from the California Arts Council, and two awards from the Choo-San Goh and H. Robert Magee Foundation.
Caniparoli is most closely associated with San Francisco Ballet, his artistic home for over forty years. In 1972, he received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to attend San Francisco Ballet School. He performed with San Francisco Opera Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1973. He began his career under the artistic directorship of Lew Christensen, and in the 1980s was appointed resident choreographer of San Francisco Ballet. He continues to choreograph for the company under Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson and performs with the company as a Principal Character Dancer.