Set to Bizet’s vibrant L’Arlésienne Suites No. 1 and 2, Wheeldon weaves 20 dancers through a series of dances ranging from serene to stately in their emotional color.
In 1872, Georges Bizet was commissioned to compose accompanying music for a production of Alphonse Daudet’s play L’Arlésienne. The production ran for only 21 performances, to largely empty houses, but Bizet took steps to ensure its survival outside the theater arranging it into a four movement suite for orchestra. The suite closes with “Carillon,” an echoing movement featuring a repeating bell-tone pattern on the horns, mimicking the ringing of church bells. As a suite, the music was an immediate success, so much so that the orchestrator Ernest Guiraud created a second suite four years after Bizet’s death using Bizet's original themes. The second suite is generally credited to Bizet, as he wrote the themes and basic orchestration. Christopher Wheeldon’s Les Carillons is a plotless ballet set to both Suites No. 1 and 2 of L'Arlésienne. It is his 18th work for New York City Ballet and premiered in New York as part of New York City Ballet’s first ever All Wheeldon program.
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