Saturday, March 30, 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.
Adler Theatre, 136 East Third Street, Davenport IA
Classical composers, iconic characters, and an assemblage of phenomenal dancers and musicians will combine in the latest presentation by the area talents of Ballet Quad Cities and Orchestra Iowa: Peter & the Wolf, Mother Goose, & Other Tales, which will enjoy two March 30 performances at Davenport's Adler Theatre and unite crowds in appreciation of the joys, terrors, and wonders of children's stories and fairytales.
Telling the timeless story of a hungry furry beast and the intrepid pioneer boy who ensnares him, Peter & the Wolf stands as the most frequently performed work by composer Sergei Prokofiev, who famously had all the tale's characters “acted” by specific musical themes and instruments, with strings for Peter, French horns for the wolf, and animals such as the bird, duck, and cat respectively played by a flute, oboe, and clarinet. But as Ballet Quad Cities' Artistic Director and choreographer explains, this balletic presentation with choreography by Emily Kate Long also offers the company a rare partnership with another Quad Cities instituition.
“We have this really cool collaboration between Ballet Quad Cities and (radio station) WVIK,” says Lyon, “because we have Mindy Heusel as our live narrator for Peter & the Wolf.” With Heusel the longtime and beloved host of WVIK's classical-music program Perspectives since 1985, Lyon calls her participation “the big centerpiece of the program,” adding that most traditional productions of Peter & the Wolf cast a man as their narrator. “So we're really excited about this opportunity. Mindy's so great, and this will definitely be a highlight of the program.”
Prior to the presentation of Peter & the Wolf in the ballet's second half, its first will boast the gorgeous strains of composer Maurice Ravel's Mother Goose Suite, a 1910 work that blends a number of different fairy tales into what Lyon calls one “rapid-fire” 15-minute collection.
“It starts with Sleeping Beauty asleep and being guarded by the Good Fairy, and then goes to poor Tom Thumb, who gets thrown out of his house and has to find his way home. And then we go into a fairytale that I was not familiar with called The Little Ugly Empress, about a girl who's cursed by an evil witch and runs away, and then runs into a green serpent who's also cursed, because he's a prince in disguise. And then after that is Beauty & the Beast – their pas de deux where he turns into a prince. And then the finale brings us back to Sleeping Beauty where she wakes up – that piece is called 'The Fairy Garden,' and the music is just gorgeous.”
Lyon serves as choreographer for the Mother Goose Suite segment, and says, “My take on that ballet is that it's not really really not for children. The music is gorgeous and lush, but it also has the ability to pull at your heart strings because there's a nostalgia to it – they're fairytales that kind of tell a coming-of-age story. They're about longing and finding your independence. About growing up and growing wiser.”
And rounding out Ballet Quad Cities' latest program is a reprise of Darius Milhaud's “Les Plongeurs,” which the Rock Island dance company performed this past fall in its Paris en Pointe celebration held in conjunction with the Figge Art Museum's wildly popular French Moderns: Monet to Matisse exhibit.
“That was a work I choreographed that was based on one of the Figge's paintings,” says Lyon. “It was really bright and colorful – like a bird's eye perspective on the painting. When we did it this fall, we performed it at the Galvin Fine Arts Center with piano and violin. But this time, we get the full orchestrated version with the Orchestra Iowa musicians.” With a laugh, Lyon saus, “So this version is like over-the-top fa-a-a-a-antastic.”
Peter & the Wolf, Mother Goose, & Other Tales will be performed on March 30 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., with an after-party featuring the program's dancers and musicians to be held at Davenport's Hotel Blackhawk directly after Saturday night's performance. Admission to the ballet is $15-25, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)786-3779 or visiting BalletQuadCities.com.