“Coppélia,” the only ballet ever commissioned by the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, will come home this summer when the New York City Ballet returns to its summer home in July.
The full-length Delibes comedy, restaged by George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova, will celebrate the 35th anniversary of its world premiere at SPAC with three performances. The colorful creation, about a young girl whose jealousy starts trouble with an eccentric toymaker, will be among 20 ballets in the company’s abbreviated two-week season at SPAC.
Other highlights of the 14 performances by the venue’s flagship ensemble will include the SPAC premieres of two new works: one by New York City Ballet principal Benjamin Millepied to music by Henryk Gorecki and another by former NYCB dancer Melissa Barak. Her work, “A Simple Symphony,” set to music by Benjamin Britten, had its world premiere last month at Lincoln Center.
In addition, Peter Martins’ “Papillons,” a 1994 ballet to piano pieces by Schumann, will also have its first SPAC showing.
SPAC President and Executive Director Marcia White calls the season “tremendously rich and diverse.” She said she is especially happy with the return of “Coppélia,” which will feature 24 area children.
“This beloved classic is a theatrical event families and fans of all ages will enjoy,” White said in a statement.
As usual, works by company founder Balanchine will make up the bulk of the season. His master works will include his creations to his favorite composers: Stravinsky, with “Symphony in Three Movements” and “Firebird,” and Tchaikovsky, with the one-act “Swan Lake” and “Theme and Variations.” Two of his ballets, “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and “Scotch Symphony,” will return after long absences.
Jerome Robbins will be represented by the dramatic “The Cage” and his delicate “Other Dances.”
Other seasonal favorites will include Sean Lavery’s pas de deux from “Romeo and Juliet” and Martins’ “Hallelujah Junction.” Finally, Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mercurial Manoeuvres” will be revived at SPAC.
Regardless of programs, the past several years have been tough on SPAC as attendance for the ballet continues to spiral down. In response, SPAC cut back the New York City Ballet’s three-week run to two weeks.
In the hopes of attracting more people to the outdoor amphitheater, SPAC will bring back some of its more successful theme nights. Among them will be American Girl Night on July 15, with a $5 lawn ticket for children 12 and younger; Thursday Date Night on July 9 and 16, with beer and wine tastings; and Friday Family Nights on July 10 and 17, with ice cream, magicians and face-painting.
Despite the economic downturn, White is optimistic about the company’s 44th summer at SPAC.
“The silver lining in our current economic challenges is that people are refocusing on what truly matters — family, friends and special times shared together,” said White. “There is no better place for creating those wonderful summer memories than SPAC.”
The ballet gala, one of SPAC’s main fundraising events, will take place on Saturday, July 11. The evening will salute American composers with Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” to music by Sousa, with other ballets to music by John Adams, Louis Gottschalk and Richard Rodgers.
Evening programs are at 8 p.m. Matinees are presented at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday.
Tuesday, July 7: Christopher Wheeldon’s “Mercurial Manoeuvres” with music by Shostakovich; Sean Lavery’s “Romeo and Juliet” with music by Prokofiev; George Balanchine’s “Symphony in Three Movements” with music by Stravinsky; and Balanchine’s “Theme and Variations” with music by Tchaikovsky.
Wednesday, July 8: Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco” with music by Bach; Jerome Robbins’ “The Cage” with music by Stravinsky; Robbins’ “Other Dances” with music by Chopin; and Balanchine’s “Firebird” with music by Stravinsky.
Thursday, July 9: Matinee, “Mercurial Manoeuvres,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Symphony in Three Movements” and “Theme and Variations”; evening, “Concerto Barocco,” “The Cage,” Peter Martins’ “Papillons” with music by Schumann and “Theme and Variations.”
Friday, July 10: Balanchine’s “Donizetti Variations” with music by Donizetti, “The Cage,” “Other Dances” and “Firebird.”
Saturday, July 11: Matinee, “Donizetti Variations,” “Romeo and Juliet” pas de deux, “Papillons” and “Symphony in Three Movements”; gala evening, Balanchine’s “Stars and Stripes” with music by Sousa; Martins’ “Hallelujah Junction” with music by Adams; Balanchine’s “Tarantella” with music by Gottschalk; and Balanchine’s “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” with music by Rodgers.
Tuesday, July 14: Balanchine’s “Swan Lake” with music by Tschaikovsky; new ballet by Benjamin Millepied to music by Gorecki; and Balanchine’s “The Four Temperaments” with music by Hindemith.
Wednesday, July 15: Balanchine’s “Coppélia” with music by Delibes.
Thursday, July 16: Matinee, Balanchine’s “Scotch Symphony” with music by Mendelssohn; “Hallelujah Junction”; Melissa Barak’s “A Simple Symphony” with music by Britten; and “The Four Temperaments”; evening, “Swan Lake,” new Millepied ballet and “The Four Temperaments.”
Friday, July 17: “Coppélia.”
Saturday, July 18: Matinee, “Coppélia”; evening, “Scotch Symphony,” “A Simple Symphony,” “Other Dances” and “Symphony in Three Movements.”
Order forms for season tickets are available online at www.spac.org or by calling 584-9330. Individual tickets will be available for purchase online at www.spac.org, by phone at 584-9330 and at the SPAC box office at Saratoga Spa State Park, Route 50, beginning at noon on Sunday, May 10.