Women in Mozart's life flit through FSU Center ballet

SARASOTA — Mozart's relationships with women is a fascinating theme — both the women in the composer's life, such as his sister and wife and singers he worked with, as well as the female characters in his operas. Choreographer Dominic Walsh puts that theme at the center of The Trilogy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premiered by Sarasota Ballet and Walsh's Houston-based company Friday at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.

Walsh used 18 excerpts from works by Mozart (on tape), including relative obscurities, such as some early symphonies. The greatest hits also get their due, and the finale is danced to music from the Requiem.

The star of the ballet is Domenico Luciano, who not only has the leading role, representing Mozart in an abstract sort of way, but also designed the costumes, which range from sexy leotards to 18th century finery. Luciano was strikingly noble and strong in his duets with Lauren Strongin and Lauren Bettencourt.

Several motifs ran through Walsh's choreography. One was a claw-like gesture that suggested a pianist's hands. The women would flap their arms like a doll. Sometimes Luciano fretfully massaged his head, as if overwhelmed by ideas, which you could imagine with the feverishly prolific Mozart. The ballet's overall impression was of willowy gracefulness combined with herky-jerky stops and starts, crisply rendered by the attractive, young dancers.

At two hours, 15 minutes, including two intermissions, Walsh's ballet felt too long, especially the middle movement. Libbie Masterson's set is dominated by billowing white fabric. The production will go to Houston for performances next weekend.

With The Trilogy, Sarasota Ballet under its artistic director, Iain Webb, and Dominic Walsh Dance Theater have scored a triumph by overcoming the economic woes that tend to discourage risk taking. Their collaboration shows that bold, imaginative new work is not only possible in tough times, it is necessary.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@stpimes.com or (727) 893-8716.

. Fast Facts

Mozart trilogy

Program repeats at 2 and 8 p.m. today at the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $20-$75. (941) 351-8000 or toll-free 1-800-361-8388.

Women in Mozart's life flit through FSU Center ballet 04/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2009 6:56pm]

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