King Arthur’s Camelot returns Valentine’s weekend, February 10-12 at the Aronoff Center. The epic tale based on the story of King Arthur is translated through original choreography by Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Victoria Morgan, an original musical composition by Canadian composer John Estacio, performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Maestro Carmon DeLeone, and an original libretto by dramaturge Eda Holmes.
King Arthur’s Camelot is one of the few ballets based on the legendary tale of King Arthur, a prevalent focal point of medieval literature. After being pronounced king and finding true love with Guinevere by way of Merlin’s magic, King Arthur’s idyllic life soon leads way to turmoil as he learns of the transgressions of his new wife and his newest knight, Lancelot. A young idealist, King Arthur’s visions of obtaining a perfect love and ruling with honor and valor are challenged and he finds himself a mere man, navigating a world wrought with betrayal and dishonor. The story is told through a stunning display of dance and theatrical elements such as projections, puppets, and exquisite sets and costumes.
A highlight of Cincinnati Ballet’s 50th Anniversary season, the ballet premiered in 2014, the first full-length production created by Cincinnati Ballet since 1994’s Peter Pan. The production was met with rave reviews and was called a “triumph” for the company. “It’s big and splashy, filled with robust and extraordinarily passionate choreography,” said David Lyman of Cincinnati Enquirer. “This is not a ballet you would have seen 25 or 30 years ago. It’s a ballet that has learned from the theatricality of Broadway spectacles like The Lion King and Les Misérables.”
The score was commissioned by John Estacio, award-winning contemporary composer and composer in residence for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and “creates the perfect majestic soundscape that evokes the feeling and vision of the mythical Camelot,” says Morgan.
Eda Holmes, a former colleague of Morgan from San Francisco Ballet, is a well-known theater director in Canada, whose work as dramaturge on the ballet not only brings the narrative to life, but makes it relatable to audiences today. “As I have delved into all the versions, permutations, adaptations, and re-inventions of the story,” says Holmes, “it has become clear that certain stories survive through the ages because they expose human nature in all its glory and terror. Love vs. passion, conflict vs. peace, loyalty vs. betrayal – opposing forces that the mythical King Arthur attempted to tame in the brief moment of honor and brotherhood that we have come to call Camelot.”
Set designer Joe Tilford, familiar to Cincinnati audiences through his large volume of work with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, created the visual world of Camelot on stage. Morgan says, “There’s so much grandeur to this tale, and Joe has captured the magnitude of emotion of the legend through rich texture, organic line and vibrant color.”
King Arthur’s Camelot also features the talents of several collaborators. Award-winning projection designer John Boesche has worked with major theater companies, including Broadway for The Glass Menagerie, as well as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Goodman and Steppenwolf theaters. Lighting designer Trad A Burns is known for his frequent work with Cincinnati Ballet on productions such as The Nutcracker and Mozart’s Requiem. Gina Cerimele-Mechley, is an accomplished fight director, and one of very few women certified to teach fight choreography. King Arthur’s Camelot also features the work of Puppet Designer Eric Van Wyk, and costume design by the world-renowned Sandra Woodall. “All of these elements combine to unleash the passion, adventure and magic that the story of King Arthur demands,” says Morgan.