Con Amore

Dancers William Dunne and Deena Budd in Con Amore in winter 1985.
Dancers William Dunne and Deena Budd in Con Amore in winter 1985.

Choreography: Lew Christensen
Music: Gioaccino Rossini

The program’s comic valentine, Con Amore, is a twentieth century work by choreographer Lew Christensen, gaily packaged in the light-hearted tradition of opera buffa popularized by Rossini. True to the form’s origins, which celebrated the antics of the common man, Con Amore‘s humorous story is woven from two seemingly unrelated tales of love. The first is the tale of a bandit who chooses death over life among the Amazons, all of whom have fallen in love with him. The second tale is that of a faithless wife who flees when her husband discovers her with no less than three lovers at once. The ballet’s final scene brings all together in the forest where Cupid conveniently appears to pair them off. The spirited melodrama, making much use of pantomime, is merrily propelled by the music of three familiar opera overtures by Gioacchino Rossini.

Costumes and choreography bear the stamp of such works as Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment, and the ballet Catarina, or The Daughter of The Bandit, which was performed in London in 1846 and starred the famous Danish ballerina, Lucille Grahn. A surviving print of that period showing Grahn in tightwaisted, voluminous skirt, feathered hat, with pistols, and in military posture, was creative model for the warrior women of Con Amore. The ballet, choreographed in the early 50’s, is one of the best-known works of the late Mr. Christensen.

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