After a hiatus of over 40 years, Vasily Vainonen's spectacular ballet The Flames of Paris returns to the repertoire reconceived by international ballet master and choreographer Michael Messerer. The production featuring soloists Tatiana Melnik and Gergely Leblanc fits perfectly into the Hungarian State Opera's The Muse of France Season. The exclusive premiere can only be seen online once this season through jegy.hu on 6 February 2021 at 8:00 p.m. CET.
The Flames of Paris takes place in the summer of 1792, joining the events of the French Revolution when the people storm the Tuileries Palace, the home of the royal family. After the Revolution had broken out, the revolutionaries had moved King Louis XVI, his wife Queen Marie Antoinette, and their children from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace. The royal family lived in the palace under closely guarded house arrest until 1792. On 21 June 1791, the family tried to escape, but were recognised and caught at Varennes, and they were taken back to the Tuileries Palace. Succumbing to the pressure of the revolution, they had to relocate to the Palace’s Louvre Carrousel wing the next year, on 10 August 1792, because the revolutionary leaders decided to use the royal suites for public purposes. This is the situation in which we join our two heroes, Philippe and Jeanne, who are part of the incendiary mob.
The choreographer and ballet master Michael Messerer was born into a true Russian ballet dynasty and has become one of today’s greatest and most sought after teachers. He has worked in a number of countries around the world, but as an artist, he considers himself most drawn to London. Messerer’s ballet teaching method unifies the best teaching traditions of classical Russian ballet and Western ballet. The Flames of Paris is his third collaboration with the Hungarian National Ballet.
Messerer's revival is just as scintillating as the original, though the emotional threads and interpersonal relationships are worth mentioning in addition to the message of freedom. Messerer does not renounce iconic imagery and is careful to retain the mise-en-scène of the original choreography, its motion, and the intoxicating drive of Vainonen’s piece. There are no empty spaces or empty stages in this romantic, historical fresco: every moment is filled to the brim with human emotion conveyed by the ballet dancers, the extras, and the chorus. The piece is theatrical in the best sense of the word: it is a professional synthesis of the arts of dance and theatre. The experiences that the characters undergo are painted with such a boundless energy and the plot is so well-defined that the audience does not need any explanations or interpretations. Flames of Paris is a dynamic monument to joy, to greatness, to the grandness of a person with internal convictions.
The spectacular new production featuring sets by Oleg Molchanov (based on original designs by Vyacheslav Okunev) and costumes by Nóra Rományi. Michael Messerer reconceives the piece for the Hungarian National Ballet. The cast features Tatiana Melnik (Jeanne), Gergely Leblanc (Philippe), Anna Krupp (Mireille de Poitiers), Gergő Ármin Balázsi (Antoine Mistral), Mikalai Radziush (Costa de Beauregard) and dancers of the Hungarian National Ballet (répétiteur: Evgeny Popov). The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra is conducted by Balázs Kocsár.
Photo by Péter Rákossy