Festival Ballet Providence
March 4th, 2016
S O U N D T R A C K
And no tears. Death must be straight in the face. Silence! (To another daughter) Silence, I say! (To another daughter) You can shed tears when you’re alone. We’ll drown ourselves in a sea of mourning! She, the youngest if Bernarda Alba’s daughters died a virgin. Do you hear? Silence, Silence I say! Silence!
- The House of Bernarda Alba (Federico Garcia Lorca)
Belousova’s collaboration with acclaimed choreographer and former Boston Ballet’s soloist Viktor Plotnikov resulted in three original ballets - ORCHIS, SURROGATE and THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA - performed by the remarkable troupe of the Festival Ballet Providence. Based on Federico Garcia Lorca’s play, THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA premiered on March 4th, 2016 to a sold-out audience with Belousova's score being lauded by Broadway World as “fantastic original score… The visuals, dance and Belousova’s music all come together to create something that will linger in the viewer’s mind for a long time.”
Bernarda Alba is the domineering mother of five daughters, who has seen the death of two husbands. She is a severely pious woman. After the death of her second husband, Bernarda institutes an eight-year mourning period upon the household, isolating the family from community. Bernarda’s tyrannical actions provoke outbursts of sexual tension and violence as the pressure within her household boils over with tragic results.
The dancers all wear stark funeral black with white faces, and there is a scrim in one corner of the stage projecting other scenes giving background to the story. The movement in this piece is haunting and striking. The daughters line up with their heads one on top of the other to create a terrifying visual of stark white faces lorded over by their equally scary Bernarda. Poncia, the equally domineering servant, seems to be calling down the will of god to help control the young women in the household. Of course, teenage girls will be defiant, and as the family structure starts to inevitably break down, Bernarda Alba loses her grip on her daughters, resulting in tragedy.
“There is very little that is pretty about this piece, but it is thoroughly compelling. The movements are large, but awkward, and the daughters almost resemble marionettes manipulated by their controlling matriarch. Despite this, there is nothing that feels cartoonish, thanks in large part to the fantastic original score by Sonya Belousova. The visuals, dance and music all come together to create something that will linger in the viewer's mind for a long time”
“Festival Ballet Providence reaches new heights with “The House of Bernarda Alba,” taken from a play by Federico Garcia Lorca, choreographed by Viktor Plotnikov, with an original score by Sonya Belousova”
“A rare treat in that leaves the viewer emotionally disarmed, but still wanting more... Exceptional... Hauntingly beautiful...”
"The House of Bernarda Alba is must-see entertainment... Plotnikov’s visually stunning The House of Bernarda Alba utilizes his familiar but unconventional style, the piece further breaks from tradition with some brief dialogue. Composer Sonya Belousova’s original score adds to the drama, giving it an eerie and haunting quality"
“Eerie and thrilling... The music comes from Sonya Belousova, who has collaborated in the past with the Ukrainian-born Plotnikov on his "Orchis" and "Surrogate" ballets”
“Tuneful score by Sonya Belousova”
“Moments to die for”
“I’ve written 3 original ballets commissioned by the Festival Ballet Providence, Rhode Island’s premiere professional ballet company, in choreography by renowned Viktor Plotnikov, a former principal dancer of the Boston Ballet. My latest ballet, The House of Bernarda Alba, just had a spectacular premiere a few weeks ago to a sold-out audience. This ballet is an adaptation of a play by Federico García Lorca and is written in a contemporary classical style with slight Spanish influences represented by the usage of castanets, claps, characteristic chord progressions and flamenco rhythms. I absolutely adore the music of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Shchedrin, whom I have the honor of knowing personally after winning his Composition & Piano Competition years ago back in Moscow. At the same time, having been working in the Hollywood film industry for a while, I definitely draw my inspiration from contemporary film scores as well...”
An Interview with Sonya Belousova / The Huffington Post
The House of Bernarda Alba team (L to R): Artistic Director of the Festival Ballet Providence Mihailo Djuric, Cinematographer Shaun Clarke, Composer Sonya Belousova, Choreographer Viktor Plotnikov, Choreographer Gianni DiMarco
Q&A with the cast & crew of The House of Bernarda Alba
Bernarda’s character is ruthless, despotic, tyrannical, dominating. Her theme is performed by low celli and basses occasionally moving towards the higher register. It is march-like, strict, with precisely executed syncopated rhythmic structure. Just like her character, Bernarda's theme does not develop. Bernarda’s every entrance is underscored with her theme. Celli and basses are then joined by the military snare, cymbals, and other percussive elements, as well as tubular bells symbolizing the fatality and soullessness of her nature.
Bernarda’s youngest daughter Adela is represented by the sound of trumpet portraying her free spirited, rebellious nature. Per Federico Garcia Lorca, it is the color of green representing her passionate personality and sexual desire between towards her love interest, Pepe. In Viktor’s ballet adaptation, the sole male character appears on stage only in the second half of the ballet, echoing Lorca’s intentional absence of men from the production. Adela’s theme appears first in the very opening scene with the entrance of her character. It is later developed throughout the ballet leading to her love scene with Pepe. The love scene is a romantic culmination of the whole piece, it is the apogee of the sexual, wild, uncontrollable longing. This scene is preceded by a wild dance with Adela and Pepe’s characters fully indulging into their uncontrollable desire for one another. The love theme is based on Adela’s lively rebellious theme, however it is now stretched in time and presented in a completely new unexpected form.
Martirio, Bernarda’s other daughter, is tormented, misunderstood, unrequited. She is the one actually in love with Pepe, however her love is ignored and not accepted. Martirio is complex, perplexing and sophisticated, and that complexity had to find its reflection in the score. Her theme is incredibly emotional, profound, full of angular edgy bending intonations. It starts out with a solo clarinet leading into incredibly rich dark harmonies played by low strings supported by singular timpani hits portraying her agonizing loneliness and longing. Bending solo cello intervals give her character a certain edginess, awkwardness in her feelings and her complexity. Occasional major symbolizes the pureness of her feeling to Pepe, however it never resolves always staying in a minor territory.
Sound effects play an incredibly important role in the score as it was originally created as a hybrid type of a score. As an example, the ballet opens with the mourning bells and the choir singing Miserere. The audience can hear birds singing on the background creating an atmosphere of a hot dry summer day in a rural village. Bernarda appears on stage and the audience hears female whispering in the background underscoring her entrance. The scene “Girls Watching The Guys” is underscored with female breaths and other sounds of sexual context. This scene had a truly genius interpretation on stage. The House of Bernarda Alba was designed as a big multimedia composition was a large screen on stage projecting the film that was shot by filmmaker Shaun Clarke specifically for the ballet with the company dancers in it. Half of the time it would serve as a piece of decoration, or having a certain decoration projected on it, the other times it would become a continuation of the story, like with the above noted cue. Bernarda’s daughters, Adela, Matirio, Amelia, Magdelena, and Angustias, bound to stay obedient to their mother, are watching over the fence checking out the men talking outside who are projected on the screen. The girls are on the actual stage staring at the screen demonstrating all their sexual hunger and desire. The suppression of love and lusty longing boils up into outbreaks of jealousy, anger, and blame amongst them. Adela, Matirio, Amelia, Magdelena, and Angustias quite literally tear each other apart in the quest for male attention.
The ballet incorporates several spoken elements. The whole composition ends with Bernarda’s spoken lines in a complete silence. An important scene bringing the comical relief to make the audience for a second forget about the drama and oppression happening in Bernarda’s house is Maria Josefa’s song. Maria Josefa, Bernarda’s elderly mother, is usually locked away in her room. This time she manages to escape and in the original play she sings a song. Viktor took the lyrics of it and put it right on top of the music I composed, so the ballerina actually had to sing a song on stage shouting “I want to get married” and making awkward noises portraying the craziness of her character.
Another incredibly important element is a synth pad going through the whole score. This pad was created as a combination of various pads and elements and it is present throughout the whole piece. Viktor’s idea was to have this certain noise, even hum, that is always present, supporting the score making the audience uncomfortable, nervous. This pads keeps going until the very end of the ballet when Adela hangs herself. There’s no noise anymore at this point. It’s just silence. Emptiness. “Do you hear? Silence, Silence I say! Silence!” – screams Bernarda at her daughters. The stage becomes black.