Great ballet in Carolina

by Rob Tiller

Raleigh’s own ballet company, the Carolina Ballet, just keeps getting better.  It’s now in its eleventh season, and Sally and I have been subscribers for ten of them.  We skipped the first because we thought it would probably fail in year one.   Glad we were so wrong.

Last night they performed two ballets by director Ricky Weiss — Tempest Fantasy and Kreutzer Sonata.  It was particularly satisfying to see Kreutzer again after a gap of several years.  The Tolstoy story concerns a love triangle that simmers with jealosy and ends in murder.  As realized by Weiss, it becomes a meditation on the awful power of art and its relation to passion and human nature.  It’s a deep, dark work.  The narrator (last night, Charles Keating) tells stranger about his history of love, and moves back and forth in time, as the story develops through overlapping arts — literature, music, and dance .

It was particularly satisfying to hear Randy Love, my piano teacher and friend, perform the piano part of Kreutzer with members of the Ciompi Quartet.  He played really well, and met my baseline test for art that works:  goosebumps.  The section where the illicit couple play the first movement of the Kreutzer together starts as a chamber performance and becomes a fantasy (whose?) of love/betrayal.  It shows how music may not only express passion, but inflame passion and transforms life.

Randy, Elaine, and their friend Jarol came out with us afterwards to The Mint for drinks.  The place is in the high deco style, and looks fabulous.  No live music that night, unfortunately, but an upbeat, attractive group of patrons and servers.   I tried the Bonnie, a black cherry vodka concoction that was delicious.  Good conversation.