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News - 'Marie': Houston Ballet's homage to Marie Antoinette, France's final queen

Melody Mennite & Ian Casady in 'Marie' © Amitava Sarkar
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Shostakovich's music has grandeur but also cynicism, a darker note even in its most delicious moments.
— Stanton Welch, Houston Ballet's artistic director

A child bride. A spoiled party girl. A doting mother. A controversial queen.

Stanton Welch's dramatic retelling of France's infamous young Marie Antoinette, with a score by Dimtri Shostakovich, explores the French monarch's dramatic life through a triptych of pivotal chapters. Marie has toured internationally and remains an example of Welch's powerful blend of storytelling, artistry, and choreography partnered with Shostakovich's rich body of music.

The ballet's narrative depicts how at age 14 Marie was removed from her Austrian home and stripped of her possessions and nationality. It chronicles the Queen's extravagances in a time of France's immense social and political strife, and the violent events at Versailles which lead to her execution.

Kandis Cook's designs are elegant and extravagant, bringing to life the royal court and French revolution, creating a poignant and powerful production that follows one woman's complex struggle to protect her family, friends, and nation.

Arranged by Ermanno Florio, Houston Ballet's music director, the ballet's music incorporates all manner of styles, from an intimate prelude and fugue for piano to excerpts from fully orchestral ballets and symphonies — even Shostakovich's film soundtracks. The key to building a great score, Florio says, 'is to shape an arc over time. You want the climax to happen at the right time, usually two-thirds of the way through'.

Marie draws from these key works by Shostakovich:
Ballet Suite No. 1 (1950)
Ballet Suite No. 2 (1952)
Ballet Suite No. 3 (1952)
Ballet Suite No. 4 (1952)
Concerto for Piano No. 2 (1957)
The Gadfly, suite from the film (1955)
The Golden Mountains, suite from the film (1931)
Suite for Variety Orchestra No. 1 (1950)
Symphony No. 10 in E minor (1953)

June 14-23 2019
Brown Theater at Wortham Center
Houston, TX

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