In celebration of choreographer Lar Lubovitch's 70th birthday in 2013, The Joffrey Ballet's season concludes this spring with the return of the native Chicagoan's three-act dance, Othello. Set to a score by Oscar winner Elliot Goldenthal, Othello uses an amalgam of classical ballet and modern dance to tell the dramatic story of the Venetian Moor, Othello, his beloved Desdemona and the conniving Iago, in a vibrant tale of passion, jealousy, ambition and betrayal. Live orchestral accompaniment is provided by The Chicago Philharmonic, led by Joffrey Music Director Scott Speck. The Joffrey Ballet presents Othello in ten performances only at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 East Congress Parkway, April 24 - May 5.
Othello, created in 1997 as a co-commission between American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet, received its Joffrey and Chicago premiere in 2009, garnering unanimous acclaim from critics and audiences alike. This production represents the last time the Joffrey will perform the work before it's retired from active repertory.
Lubovitch's production features a modernist, crystalline set design by George Tsypin, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting design by Pat Collins and digital projections by Wendall K. Harrington. Harrington used still photographs taken in Venice, as well as abstract moving images, to digitally create the elaborate world of Othello that includes the Palace of the Doges, a cathedral, a fortress, and the stormy port of Cyprus, the setting of Act II's feverish "Tarantella."
Lubovitch's dance is adapted from three sources: The Moor, a story by Geraldo Cintio in The Hundred Tales, published in Venice in 1566; William Shakespeare's play Othello, The Moor of Venice, written around 1602; and Guiseppe Verdi's opera Othello from 1887. The dance doesn't recreate any of these sources verbatim, but rather it relates the legend of Othello through passages of movement which capture the essence of the characters, their relationships and the course of their ambitions.
The story revolves around Othello, a general serving the state of Venice, who weds the young noblewoman Desdemona, a controversial union among high society because of Desdemona's Catholic heritage and Othello's Islamic faith. At their wedding, Othello presents Desdemona with a handkerchief which has been passed down through his family since the time of Egyptian queens, said to ensure its bearer with eternal love and fidelity. Iago, a senior ensign under Othello who is enraged when he's passed over for promotion in favor of the young Cassio, quietly plots vengeance against Othello. Iago spins a web of deceit, with the handkerchief at its center, which ensnares Othello with rage and jealousy.
"This spring, we welcome the return of Lar Lubovitch," said Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet. "In his full-length Othello, Lar tells the tragic Shakespearian story using bold contemporary movement rather than words or pantomime. We watch the tragedy unfold, helpless to prevent the stunning, dramatic conclusion. Othello was the first full-length I introduced to the Joffrey in 2009 and is certainly a masterwork of narrative dance in the new century."
Tickets and Scheduling
Single tickets, which range from $31 to $152, are available for purchase at The Joffrey Ballet's official Box Office located in the lobby of Joffrey Tower, 10 E. Randolph Street, as well as the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University Box Office, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by telephone at (800) 982-2787, or online at www.ticketmaster.com.