The Ballet Theatre gave a superb and balanced performance last night to a house that was packed to the caves. However, the performance made up of Tchaikowsky's classical "Swan Lake," Schoenberg's ultra-modern "Pillar of Fire," and Offenbach's breathless extravaganza "Bluebeard" would be a top-notch attraction any time. And when you add to this the glitter and glamour of the Opera House crowd and stars Markova, Baronova, the evening should be a memorable experience.
The Theatre's famous chore graphers have brought "Swan Lake" back to Diahileff's classical interpretation which is ballet and its most typical, and possibly best, form. Nimble-footed Markova and Apollo Dolin swing, sway, and pirouette in the center of the floor while a score of swan-maidens in traditional, white chees cloth play charades in the background. Perfection that "Swan Lake" may be, the show was stolen by this season's newcomer, "Pillar of Fire." It took this super-choreographic and tragic ballet to really rouse the audience, but even the dowagers stood up in the boxes and clapped for encore after encore. And the colorful "Bluebeard" which made a one hour sprint to the finish of the show couldn't efface the effect on the Schoenberg masterpiece. Startlingly crotic despite the Victorian costumes, and moving languidly to a climax, "Pillar of Fire" had the comprehensibility and emotional impact of a drama as well as the grace of ballet technique. But the entire program was masterful with the balance of contrasting classical, modern-dramatic, and comic techniques.
The troupe is one of the best this country has ever seen with the Pavlova-like Markova and perfectionist Barnova in most of the crucial positions. Choreographers Fokine, Massine, Dolin, and Nijinska deserve an equal share of the credit for a large part of the success of the Ballet Theatre is due to their interpretations. Possibly the only weak point in the show is the orchestra, which isn't large enough to handle some of the music. But the Ballet Theatre gives the rare combination of classical favorites and the most modern ballets masterfully carried out on the same program. The end of the week and the departure of the Ballet will come much too soon.