Theater preview: Ohio Theatre show The Rite of Spring brings orchestra, ballet together for first time

By Michele Theodore
From the March 21, 2013 edition

Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” caused riots 100 years ago during the inaugural performance in Paris, but this time, the act will bring two groups together in a new way.

BalletMet and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra are collaborating to perform the work this weekend.

“This is the first time ever to my knowledge and to the symphony’s knowledge that BalletMet and the symphony are doing an absolute, total collaboration,” says Cheri Mitchell, executive director at BalletMet. “For many, many years, we’ve worked together, but this is the first time that BalletMet and the Symphony have artistically worked together to create what’s on stage and share in the revenue and production.”

Columbus Symphony Music Director Jean-Marie Zeitouni first proposed the idea of “The Rite of Spring” for his 109 musicians in honor of the work’s 100 year anniversary and had the work choreographed to work with BalletMet. The ballet and orchestral concert work describes a girl who becomes a sacrifice victim and dances herself to death and other primitive rituals to welcome the spring season.

Along with Stravinsky’s work, the two groups will perform Achille-Claude Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” a well-known symphonic poem for orchestra and Maurice Ravel’s “Rapsodie Espagnole,” an orchestral work influenced by Spanish heritage.

“You’re going to have a smorgasbord of small plays,” Mitchell says. “What happens when the artists are on stage together, it’s very special chemistry and sort of electric and that carries over to the audiences. It’s right in the moment.”

One hour before each show time, Christopher Purdy from WOSU will hold a free lecture about the performance.

“It’s always an exciting time when you see all of it come together,” Mitchell says.