'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

24 November 2010

Naked Ballet and Opera

The Oracle - Paul White
In September 2010 I had an extraordinary experience watching a dance piece performed by Paul White. He hails from my state Queensland and having danced in Australia, London and Europe with such groups as DV8 Physical Theatre and winning the 2008 Helpmann Award for best Male Dancer in Australia he returned to give the most outstanding and energetic performance of 'The Oracle', choreographed by the legendary Meryl Tankard and designed by visual artist Regis Lansac. For this he won  the 2010 'Outstanding Performance by a Male Dancer' award. The music after some sound-scape of jump in your seat explosions, religious song and other pieces launched into Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at enveloping and shattering volume. Mr White amazed with the energy, the style and the brilliance of his very physical dancing. It was evocative, it was sensuous, it was down right sexy. heads shifted from side to side so as not to miss an inch of the imagery he created. The last ten minutes or so of the ballet was performed completely naked and this beautiful man received cries of approval at the end of this dance that was exhausting on the audience as well. While sitting having a drink afterwards he emerged at the bar to join what may have been family and friends sitting at the table beside us. We were tempted to  thank him and shake his hand, but I felt I was not looking my best so we humbly decided to leave him in peace. I was just too shy.

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Several years ago I saw  a revival of Graeme Murphy's ballet 'Poppy' based on the life and art of Jean Cocteau. A famous highlight of that piece was the naked performance of a large band of male dancers modelled after the erotic and even hard core nude sailor sketches of Jean Cocteau.( I have a book of the collection of highly erotic drawings.) amongst several others on the extraordinary work, art and life of Cocteau.

 Several of the stars of the Sydney Dance Company performed including the beautiful Paul Mercurio. I had first met him in the green room of the Sydney Opera House in the early 80's while being back stage with a friend from home who had joined the company. I recall sitting on the arm of a chair chatting to the new  and extremely attractive rising star at the age of about 21seated beside me. He went on to film and later television and still is a most attractive man. Nudity was a normal part of several of the ballets of the Sydney Dance Company which is one of the best in the world.

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Vivaldi - Ercole Su'l Termodonte 
Occasionally I have seen extras naked in Opera productions like a Rigoletto from Covent Garden and  a Salome but seldom does one see the principle singers naked. However in this fabulous production from the 2006 Spoleto Festival of Vivaldi's "Ercole Su'l Termodonte" the leading character played by Zachary Stains was naked throughout much of the evening. It was not just a gimmick because he is also a beautiful singer and as appears rare in the opera world he has a body worth exposing. I bought the DVD which is available as I unfortunately have never been to Spoleto.
A 1min 46 sec taste to tempt you to purchase the DVD

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I recall a television opera "The Death of a Composer: Rosa, a Horse Drama" produced by Peter Greenaway in which the leading male and female singers were naked in a way so familiar in Greenaway films. (I collect Greenaway's movies as well) The lead tenor was the Australian opera star LyndonTerracini well known for his interest in contemporary works and also Australian soprano Marie Angel 
It was an adaptation of a 1993 opera entitled "Rosa," with a libretto by Greenaway and score by Louis Andriessen. "Rosa" was to be the first in a projected series of 10 operas, each dealing with the death of a famous composer - some real (Anton Webern, Jean-Baptiste Lully, John Lennon), others fictional. "Rosa" falls into the latter category; it tells the story of Juan Manuel de Rosa, a Brazilian who went to study music in America but spent most of his time in the cinema instead, becoming particularly entranced by Westerns. Now 32 years old and residing in an abandoned Uraguayan slaughterhouse, Rosa has become one of Hollywood's foremost composers, specializing in  Westerns. He also has a beautiful 19-year-old fiancee, Esmeralda, but he pays her little heed, instead lavishing his attentions on a black mare named Bola. One day, a group of men attired as cowboys arrive at the abattoir and kill both Rosa and Bola; an investigation is conducted, with particular suspicion!
I have searched for it for years. If it was filmed it must be available somewhere.
I did however find a 10 min extract on Dailymotion on this link below. Terracini is dead by this stage so does not get to sing.

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Watch more examples of naked performance art, ballet & opera.
This first clip may require logging in to Youtube.

The incomparable, the stunning, the great Roberto Bolle often called the hottest man on Earth and certainly the premier Male dancer of our time. His first naked performance.
This last video is not exactly naked, but the beautiful David Miller shows his pretty chest and bare legs. I once saw him in a performance of The Pearl Fishers and in that he also made an impression not only with his lovely voice, but also with his exposed torso. Another thrill that evening was Joan Sutherland sitting in the seat directly in front of me just 10 years after her retirement which I attended. He now sings as part of the group Il Divo

A sexy production of Lady Macbeth of Mtensk by Shostakovich on DVD in my collection. The cast of actors are lip synching the performance.

More such videos on this Blog
New Naked Operas
More Naked Performances
Naked Arts Bodies
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