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Co3 revives Douglas Wright’s Vivaldi’s Gloria with WASO and St Georges Consort at the State Theater Center


From the intimate to the infinite, Vivaldi’s Gloria spans the poles of divine inspiration and drew musicians, singers and dancers to Co3’s revival of Douglas Wright’s ballet at the State Theater Center on Saturday.

Heath-Ledger’s audience itself was surprisingly intimate, especially since the charming duo of teenagers Ella Rea and Daisy Miller-Jed gave a whimsical country salute.

They led a baroque gem from WA Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Lawrence Jackson, solo and unannounced on a stark stage for Partita No.2 in D minor, Bach’s Chaconne; full toning and beautiful nuances, tracking the ethereal heights and earthy depths of the genre.

Stepped Co3 artistic director Revyn Hill and WAAPA teacher Michael Whites, their confident, searching movements a soft counterpoint to Bach’s beauty; curtain raiser a pointer to the Gloria—baroque meets classical ballet—with a narrative twist, as leaders in their profession lay down stepping stones for others to follow.

Camera iconCo3 artistic director Raewyn Hill and WAAPA teacher Michael Whites. credit: Photo by Shotweiler

And they followed; The WASO musicians walk to the pit through the auditorium, with the St George’s Consort singers following close behind to take their place in the front rows of the stalls, joined by conductor Dr Joseph Nolan.

The curtain rose over the troupe of dancers in a slow, deliberate movement like a Sun Salutation; gestures with the whole body, leaving them prostrate as if in worship.

A sudden burst of energy in the sharp orchestral chords flipped the switch to roaring life as the dancers and chorus exploded into a rousing “Gloria, Gloria”; Nolan conducted a round between the stage, pit and stalls as the energy flowed.

If “In excelsis Deo” – God in the heights – invoked the infinite, transcendent deity, then the following phrase leaned towards the intimate, immanent God of Christmas and Easter: “et in terra pax hominibus” – and on earth peace to men – dreamlike strings leading to a troupe of sleepwalkers, albeit with an inner core of celebration; good balance.

Simple flesh-effect costumes spoke of eternal grace, echoing the sacred text; the stage is transparent and dark with only brilliant highlights illuminating the intricate, fluid interactions of the dancers.

The ritual, taken from the Catholic Mass, has been reimagined as a performance, as Wright did three decades ago; the recreation is enhanced by Hill’s participation in the 1990s and dancer Claudia Alessi, a veteran of the 1991 premiere.

Bold string lines for “Laudamus te”—we praise you—brought sopranos Bonnie de la Hunty and Lucinda Nichols to the fore, their duet’s transparency reflected in their playful antics on stage.

Co3's revival of Douglas Wright's ballet
Camera iconCo3’s revival of Douglas Wright’s Vivaldi ballet Gloria at the State Theater Center on Saturday. credit: Photo by Shotweiler

“Gratimus agimus tibi” – we thank you – evoked drama from the pit and chorus with beautiful lines of melody as the action erupted on stage, the dancers leaping for joy and gratitude.

Nichols rose next for “Domine Deus, Rex coelestis” — Lord God, King of Heaven — a loud violin solo over harpsichord that supports soft steps on stage and a clear, flowing voice; rare elements in dance, music and song blended delicately as a lone ballerina gave physical form to exquisite harmony.

“Domine Fili unigenite” – God the only Son – brought back the chorus, with pairs of dancers twirling and leaping before falling to confirm the next aria, “Domine Deus, Agnus Dei” – Lord God, Lamb of God – solemn cello and brass . introducing Amber Lister’s alto wail, richly modulated as the duo danced and battled onstage; bow to the duality of body and spirit.

The chorus joined in the chorus of “Qui tollis peccata mundi”—Who takes away the sin of the world—the central mystery of the faith, depicted in a Pietà-like picture.

The main mystery of faith, depicted in a picture similar to the Pietà.
Camera iconThe main mystery of faith, depicted in a picture similar to the Pietà. credit: Photo by Shotweiler

Anita Saxby performed for “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris” – who sits at the right hand of the Father – powerfully conveyed in an almost folkloric display on stage, body pulsating to the music and the leitmotif: “miserere nobis” – have mercy on us.

The dancers formed a circle for the celebratory “Quoniam tu solos sanctus” – for you alone are holy – bursting into life as bright chords repeated the first mood, with gentle tones in the chorus and ecstatic joy in the dance, lifting each other in devotional poses then moving to the bucolic wealth

As the music ended in the final “gloria Dei Patris”—the glory of God the Father—the stage went dark, and a lone figure hung in the spotlight, almost in the fetal position; perhaps a glimpse of incarnation.


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