Seduction, passion, obsession – RNZB’s first season of 2017
The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s 2017 season begins with two New Zealand premieres of French master choreographer Roland
Petit’s landmark works L’Arlésienne and Carmen, which open in Christchurch on 16 February ahead of touring to Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Blenheim, Rotorua,
Palmerston North, Wellington, closing in Auckland on 1 April.
This is the first time that the RNZB has performed works by Roland Petit (1924 – 2011), one of the great choreographers
of the 20th and 21stcenturies. Renowned for his uniquely theatrical vision of ballet, he created works for many of the
world’s finest dancers including Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zizi Jeanmaire (who become his
wife), Alessandra Ferri and Natalia Makarova to name a few. His collaborators included artists such as Picasso, writers
Jean Cocteau and Orson Welles, designer Yves Saint Laurent, and musician Serge Gainsborough. He also spent four years in
Hollywood, as choreographer on films that included Daddy Long Legs with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron (1954), and Anything Goes(1955) with Zizi Jeanmaire and Bing Crosby. His ballets continue to be performed by the world’s leading ballet
RNZB Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia was a 19 year old dancer with La Scala in Italy when he first met Roland
Petit. “Maestro Petit had an extraordinary impact on me as an artist. He not only cast me in my first major roles but he
also became my mentor. I feel very honoured to be introducing his genius to the dancers of the RNZB and to nurture them
as artists through this experience. I really believe that Maestro Petit’s works should be seen by everyone who loves the
arts, and I am thrilled New Zealanders now have the opportunity to see these masterpieces,” says Francesco.
Carmen has become Roland Petit’s signature work and is in the repertoire of ballet companies throughout the world. It was
created for Les Ballets de Paris, and premiered in London in 1949 with Zizi Jeanmaire in the title role, and Petit
himself as Don José. Petit created L’Arlésienne in 1974 for the Ballet National de Marseille, a company he founded. Both ballets are set to the well-known and powerful
music of composer Georges Bizet and are stories of passion and obsession.
Artistic Director of the Roland Petit repertoire, Luigi Bonino who danced for many years in Petit’s ballets and who went
on to be his assistant, has travelled to New Zealand especially to teach the RNZB dancers these two masterpieces with
the assistance of Gillian Whittingham.
Francesco Ventriglia has invited two guest artists to join the company for the season. Natalya Kusch, originally from
the Ukraine and a former dancer with The Australian Ballet will be one of the dancers in the lead role of Carmen, and
dancer Daniel Gaudiello who also joined the RNZB for 2016’s acclaimed Gisellereturns to New Zealand to be one of the dancers in the lead role of Don José.
For the first time in many years the RNZB will open a tour in Christchurch at the Isaac Theatre Royal, onThursday 16