Queensland Ballet Releases DANGEROUS LIAISONS
Artistic Director: Li Cunxin
Music: Camille Saint-Saëns
Arranger: Martin Yates
Conductor: Nigel Gaynor
Orchestra: Camerata - Queensland's Chamber Orchestra
Piano Soloist: Roger Longjie Cui
Producers: Paul Carasco & Nigel Gaynor
Venue: Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC)
Record Label: Master Performers
Catalogue Number: MP 19 002
Principal Artist Laura Hidago and Soloist Alexander Idaszak, Photo by David Kelly
From the Artistic Director of Queensland Ballet
It is a treat and privilege to bring you this music CD of the world premiere of a new Liam Scarlett work, the re-telling of the original 18th century novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. A tantalisingly wicked tale of love, seduction and manipulation, Dangerous Liaisons is a somewhat damning portrayal of the French aristocracy of the 1700s which, at its time of release, was considered absolutely scandalous.
Following our 2019 season theme, Move Boldly, this is certainly a bold story that we decided to take on under the creative guidance of internationally acclaimed choreographer Liam Scarlett. Liam worked hand in hand with music arranger, Martin Yates, to create a unique ballet score for the production which is an unlikely yet delightful amalgamation of various known and unknown works by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.
Beautiful, powerful and emotional, the score flawlessly complements the choreography, and is a divine listening experience on its own. Each year, our work is generously enabled by the ongoing support of the State and Federal Governments, Principal Partner Suncorp, Major Partners JCDecaux, Sealy, Shell QGC and Virgin Australia, and for this we offer our sincere gratitude.
May Camille Saint-Saëns’ gorgeous music take you on an enthralling journey.
Li Cunxin AO
Choosing a composer on which to base a new stage work is more difficult than it may appear, but when I suggested the highly respected, though somewhat neglected French composer Camille Saint-Saëns to Liam Scarlett there was a balanced set of reasons for it.
Saint-Saëns had written a vast amount of music in almost every genre including some twelve operas that contain extended dramatic music. His musical language, although firmly romantic, had at its heart a complete understanding of the form and shape of baroque music.
The list of works that I plundered is fairly extensive, but it started with the various themes associated with the leading characters.
Valmont’s short theme that heralds his first entry comes from the only opera by Saint-Saëns to have made it into the standard repertoire during his lifetime, Henry VIII. The melody associated with Merteuil is based on a piano piece – Chanson Napolitaine (op.72 No.5 Album pour le Piano).
The beautiful melody that is Madame de Tourvel’s theme is an aria from the incidental music Saint-Saëns wrote for the play by Sophocles: Antigone. Cécile’s melody (introduced during her debutante party), is another salon written for the piano: Valse Canariote (op.88). The powerfully hypnotic music at the end of Act One comes from one of the composer’s earliest pieces for piano (op.3 No 3 – 6 Bagatelles).
It is important to note that I have not used any of the music in their original formats. I have attempted to create a score that sounds totally symphonic and as if the composer had written it specifically for this ballet.
Although these days Saint-Saëns is remembered for a handful of pieces (Carnival of the Animals, Danse Macabre, Organ Symphony, Piano Concerto No.2 and the opera Samson & Delilah) he was a composer who frequently touched greatness and who was considered by his two most well-known students, Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Fauré, to be a genius.
Queensland Ballet (QB) is a uniquely spirited and creative company, driven by a vision to enrich lives through ballet.
A vibrant contributor to Queensland’s cultural landscape, QB presents a program of world-class performances in Brisbane and tours regionally each year. Interstate and international tours have allowed the Company to share its art with audiences far beyond the State’s borders and become an integral part of the global ballet ecology. Engaging with artists from around the world, QB nurtures its dancers and art form through innovative, creative collaborations, from iconic classical masterpieces to bold, new contemporary works.
The artists of tomorrow are nurtured through elite ballet training at QB Academy, where a comprehensive, industry-aligned, professional career pathway is provided to students from 11 years of age to gifted young professionals.
Passionate about fostering wellness in individuals and communities, QB shares the multiple benefits of dance through inspiring, authentic engagement programs for people of all ages and abilities.
Since Charles Lisner OBE formed the Company in 1960, QB has been nourishing its art form, artists and community by honouring the classical ballet repertoire, exploring new and innovative productions, and sharing the gift of ballet with as many people as possible. Today, the Company is responding to a changing world with an ambitious plan that will see two legacy projects realised in 2020: the redevelopment of its Brisbane home into a landmark performing arts destination and a new, purpose-built Academy facility at Kelvin Grove State College.
Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra
Camerata’s Artistic Associates and their guests proudly take full ownership of their music-making in the spirit of chamber music to form a thriving, refreshing and acclaimed voice to empower artists, inspire audiences, and enrich communities through music. Under Artistic Director Brendan Joyce, the group undertakes an annual regional Queensland tour and a subscription concert season in both Brisbane and Toowoomba.
As Artistic Associates, players contribute to the strategic direction of Camerata, are integral to the process of programming the season of works, and provide performance and training opportunities for the next generation of Queensland artists through the Upbeat program.
With a reputation for innovation and interesting and adventurous programming, the ensemble is extremely flexible in its repertoire and thrives in collaborations with artists from all art forms.
In 2019 Camerata employed over 80 artists across 35 projects, reaching an audience of 50,000. Camerata is committed to enriching Queensland communities through music with an annual regional tour including the commissioning of a new Australian work, public performances, education engagements and workshops with local schools and visits to residents in aged care facilities.
Nigel Gaynor - Conductor
Nigel Gaynor is a highly acclaimed conductor of ballet, and has conducted over 100 ballets during a career spanning 35 years. Born in Sydney, he worked with The Australian Ballet for 16 years, before relocating to the United Kingdom in 1998. While living in England he worked with The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, and Northern Ballet. Some of his career highlights include working with Rudolf Nureyev, Sir Robert Helpmann and Jiří Kylián; conducting The Australian Ballet’s Red Earth on live television, and collaborating on new ballets with choreographers Graeme Murphy, Wayne McGregor, Greg Horsman and Liam Scarlett.
In 2004 Nigel conducted Derek Deane’s Swan Lake with English National Ballet in the Royal Albert Hall. Orchestras he has conducted include The Royal Sinfonia, Tokyo Philharmonic, Shanghai Philharmonic, The Siberian State Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonia, New Zealand Symphony, The Tasmanian Symphony, Queensland Symphony, West Australian Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, Orchestra Victoria and The Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. In 2011, Nigel was engaged by Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) to arrange and conduct Greg Horsman’s The Sleeping Beauty. In 2013, Ethan Stiefel appointed Nigel Music Director of RNZB. For A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he created a new score and arrangements to weave together the vision of choreographer Liam Scarlett with Mendelssohn’s dazzling overture, incidental music, symphonies and piano music. In 2014, Li Cunxin invited Nigel to guest in Queensland Ballet’s season of Romeo & Juliet, in which he conducted the performances of Carlos Acosta. More recently he re-orchestrated La Bayadère for Greg Horsman’s new production at Queensland Ballet. Nigel joined Queensland Ballet as Music Director and Principal Conductor in 2016.
Martin Yates studied as a pianist, composer and conductor and made his professional debut with Israel National Opera, later conducting at the opera houses of Helsinki, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Oslo and Rome. Martin is best known for his recordings of British and French music and his work in ballet. He has conducted for companies including The Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theatre, Norwegian National Ballet, National Ballet of Tokyo and Hong Kong Ballet, in repertory including Manon, Mayerling, The Sleeping Beauty, Onegin, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, The Rite of Spring, The Firebird, Petrushka, Pulcinella, Four Last Songs, The Four Sections, The Snow Queen, Carmen and
Don Quixote. Martin has arranged and orchestrated the ballets Manon (MacMillan), Carmen (Scarlett), Queen of Spades (Scarlett), Don Quixote (Acosta), Carmen (Acosta) and Four Schumann Pieces (Van Manen). He is a prolific conductor on the concert platform, conducting orchestras such as the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with which he has made over fifty recordings.
From the Choreographer
This is a story of the rich, the deceitful and the corruption of all those that stand in their way.
In 1782, Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, both outraged and seduced the French literary world especially amongst the aristocracy for whom it seemed to be a mirror held up against them by the author. Since its initial publication Dangerous Liaisons has gone on to be one of the most influential and renowned works of its time. It is no wonder that artists of all genres have turned to this tale of deceit and sensuality for their inspiration; and dance should be no exception.
Centred on the Vicomte de Valmont and his former lover, the Marquise de Merteuil, who compete in a scandalous game of seduction, betrayal and revenge, the story offers multiple complex characters and layered relationships to explore through the physicality of movement, both courtly and primal.
With an opulent setting amongst the wealthy of the French, Dangerous Liaisons provides one for the richest design periods that the world has seen, and my collaborators and I were keen to exploit this lavish world to the fullest extent. We wanted something to personify the dark malice that resides within the antagonists’ hearts, and so created a scenic and audible scape that shows both beauty and betrayal. Hidden rooms, secret chambers and magnificent architecture dominate the arrogant lives of the characters on stage. The music, arranged from another French master Camille Saint-Saens, aids the restraint and beauty of this destructive story.
It has been a pleasure working on this piece with all the creatives and the dancers, in bringing this complex work to life, and letting the characters live off the pages, one that a choreographer can only dream of.