Marie, choreographed by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, was unveiled by Houston Ballet on February 26, 2009 at Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas.
In three succinct acts, the ballet traces the story of the legendary French Queen Marie Antoinette, who was born an Austrian arch duchess in 1755, married the French king Louis XVI at the age of 15, and was executed by guillotine at the height of the French Revolution in 1793. The role provides a spectacular dramatic showcase for the female dancer portraying the title role, and was created by Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Melody Herrera.
Famously known as the eighteenth-century French queen whose excesses have become legend, Marie Antoinette was blamed for instigating the French Revolution. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his autobiography on Marie Antoinette, “I have ever believed that had there been no queen there would have been no revolution.”
“I was intrigued to learn that Marie Antoinette wasn't as superficial as she is often portrayed and found a true character arc in her transition from young princess to spoiled queen to mother to Revolutionary victim,” said Mr. Welch. “That gives me a lot of material to work with. Cinderella was the last adventure I had in storytelling, and it was a romantic comedy. I wanted to do something a little darker. I also was intrigued by the way all the intense gossip and scrutiny of the queen’s life mirrors our society: how we become fixated on some pretty girl and how through gossip and tabloids, we create a distorted image of someone.”
The London-based Canadian designer Kandis Cook created the scenery and costumes for the production. Houston Ballet Music Director Ermanno Florio arranged a score, featuring music by Dmitri Shostakovich, including his solo piano and chamber music, his film scores, portion of the ballet suites, and part of his Symphony No. 10.
Music by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975), arranged by Ermanno Florio
Choreography by Stanton Welch
Scenic and Costume Design by Kandis Cook
Lighting Design by Lisa Pinkham
World Premiere on February 26, 2009, by Houston Ballet in the Brown Theater at Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas.
Dancer: Melody Herrera as Marie.
Dancers: Melody Herrera and Christopher Coomer.
Dancers: Amy Fote as Marie and Artists of Houston Ballet.
All photos: Pam Francis