Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater pulls at listeners’ innermost heartstrings, proving the perfect match for Martins’ meditative choreography for six dancers moving amongst remnants of an ancient time.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was born in Italy in 1710, and wrote numerous oratorios, cantatas, operas and sacred works during his short life. Stabat Mater, believed to have been Pergolesi’s last work, was completed shortly before his death at age 26. Pergolesi enjoyed only limited success during his lifetime, but the almost universal fame he attained posthumously was remarkable. Stabat Mater, first published in London in 1749, became the most frequently printed single work in the 18th century and broke new ground in the field of sacred music by being based upon Pergolesi’s more personal experience of religion.
Martins noted that this ballet was conceived as a tribute to Stanley Williams, who died in the fall of 1997. A long-time and much-admired teacher who had been Martins’ mentor at the Royal Danish Ballet, Williams was invited in the 1960s by George Balanchine to teach at the School of American Ballet, where he trained and inspired dancers for more than three decades.