One of the great things about Chicago is the abundance of cultural activity. We are home to a world class museum (Art Institute), orchestra ensemble (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), training orchestras (Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra), opera company (Lyric Opera of Chicago) and dance and ballet companies (Hubbard Street Dance and Joffrey Ballet). And because we're such a hub of cultural leadership, we attract some of the world's best to collaborate with our companies: Yo Yo Ma with the CSO and Renee Fleming with the Lyric Opera immediately come to mind. Our new mayor is adamant about upholding the cultural standards of the city, and wants to show Chicago as cultural ambassador for the world. And no where else is that more evident than in recent news of Paris Opera Ballet's imminent visit this week.
The Paris Opera Ballet is one of the preeminent ballet companies of the world, and also one of the oldest. It is considered to be the birthplace of ballet, with roots dating back to Louis XIV. The Paris Opera hasn't been to the US in 15 years, but has chosen Chicago to start its US tour, as an homage to the cultural significance of our city. They will then travel to D.C.'s Kennedy Center, and then finally to New York's Lincoln Center.
Paris Opera's weeklong Chicago engagement kicks off on Tuesday, June 26 with Giselle, a haunting and beloved ballet favorite; Giselle was created in 1841 specifically for the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Chicago performance marks the first time that the entire company will perform the ballet in America. But tickets are going fast. Purchase tickets for Giselle here. There will only be three performances of Giselle, one of which is for Opening Gala night on June 26 (you can use the same link to purchase Gala night tickets).
Because Mayor Emanuel wants the city's cultural events to be accessible to all, the June 27 performance of Paris Opera's Giselle will be simultaneously broadcast live to an outdoor audience in Millenium Park (a move akin to Metropolitan Opera's broadcast of its operas at Lincoln Center). The free simulcast will be broadcast on a 16.5 by 32.5 ft screen at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park, to more than 15,000 spectators. Get there early, though, if you want a Pavilion seat. It will start promptly at 7:30pm.
It's always such a treat to watch a company known for its classical technique to perform contemporary pieces-- Paris Opera Ballet will do just that. From June 29-July 1, the company will trade their tutus in to perform with a bit more contemporary flair. Epic French Masterpieces will include Roland Petit's L'Arlesienne, Serge Lifar's Suite en Blanc and Maurice Bejart's Bolero. It is in the contemporary and modern pieces that a company can really shine and show off their dramatic skills, as well as their technique. I'm especially looking forward to this performance. You can purchase tickets here, but they too are selling out very fast. There will be no simulcast of the contemporary pieces, so call the theater immediately to reserve your tickets for this very rare performance of one of the world's best and brightest ballet companies.