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Boston Ballet opens fall season with 'Obsidian Tear'

It's the North American premiere of the Royal Ballet production.
Ballet
Boston Ballet is ready to kick off another season. Photo by Andrej Uspenski courtesy of the Royal Opera House

There are at least two reasons, and probably many more, why Boston Ballet artistic director Mikko Nissinen is thrilled about the ballet’s production of “Obsidian Tear.”

The Hub's premiere dancers will perform the piece, crafted by Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor, at the company's fall season opener in November.

“Mr. McGregor is one of the top ten living choreographers in the world,” says Nissinen. “We are thrilled to be working with him again,” he adds, referring to the Boston Ballet’s 2013 production of McGregor’s “Chroma.”

Clearly, there is some mutual admiration, because the Boston Ballet “got the call,” Nissinen says, offering the opportunity of premiering “Obsidian Tear” in North America.

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This modern, abstract ballet has an all-male cast, and opened to rave reviews at the Royal Ballet’s home in London's Covent Garden last year.

“I was there on opening night and loved it,” says Nissinen. “It’s a delicious performance for the eye. It’s a very powerful piece.”

The storyline is quite topical and profound. Basically, it’s about the end of our planet (as we know it). If the title has you pondering the pronunciation of the second word, well, it works either way, because if we tear this planet apart we will surely shed a tear.

“Mr. McGregor wants the title to be taken either way you want,” says Nissinen. “The piece is about the pressure and tension that eventually tears the earth open.”

Some might say the all-male cast is telling as (mostly) men rule the countries and corporations that carry on with power mongering and money making regardless of the consequences on lives, and on the planet. Certainly, a testosterone heavy cast forms a powerful dark energy.

“Basically, the ballet is pushing the boundaries of what the human body can do. Wayne really wanted to explore the male physicality,” explains Nissinen, who will work with McGregor on the Boston production.

Besides the visual power of the art unfolding on stage and the tragic tale told therein, for Nissinen, there is a deeply personal connection to “Obsidian Tear." Its musical score is taken from two works by fellow Finnish native Esa-Pekka Solonen. Moreover, the program has three parts and includes the world premiere of Boston Ballet’s resident choreographer (and fellow Finn) Jorma Elo’s ballet, which is set to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s “Symphony No. 5,” and closes the evening with a full company performance.

“This is an evening of premieres,” says Nissinen. “Then we added an orchestral piece, 'Finlandia.' It showcases the work of two amazing Finnish composers, and the 'Fifth Symphony' is so special. The score ebbs and flows, and has such an emotional range."

“Of course,” he adds, “as well as the spectacular Finnish score works for the program, I also realized Finland celebrates 100 years of independence this December. Independence is not something to be taken lightly.”

If you go:

Nov. 3-12., Boston Opera House, 539, Washington St, Boston, bostonballet.org

 
 
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