From classical to frenetic dance in Lyon Opera Ballet’s Trois Grandes Fugues

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France’s Lyon Opera Ballet presented three different interpretations of Beethoven’s contemporary score, Grosse Fuge at Adelaide Festival 2020.


Image: Bertrand Stofleth


Composed in 1825, when Beethoven was almost completely deaf, Grosse Fuge is widely considered to be “inaccessible, eccentric, filled with paradoxes and Armageddon”. Said to be “fiendishly difficult to play” according to violinist and composer David Matthews. Grosse Fuge is the final movement of Beethoven’s Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major. As one would expect from a score which has been described as mentioned above, it is very open to different interpretations and in Lyon Opera Ballet’s performance at Adelaide Festival we saw just that.


Image: Andrew Beveridge


Opening the evening was American choreographer Lucinda Childs’ more classical interpretation of the piece with dancers dressed in grey tights performing movements normally associated with classic ballet such as arabesques and déboulés. The dancers danced in pas de deux. While this was a classical interpretation the female dancers were not dressed in the typical bun and tutu.


Lyon Opera Ballet
Image: Bertrand Stofleth


After a short interval we regrouped and were greeted with men and women in suits who danced the next piece in a move to contemporary dance. Belgian Anne Teresa De Keersmaker’s choreography works in parallel with the musical composition. As the music became more frenetic, jackets were taken off, shirts loosened and sleeves rolled up. The dancers ran and rolled across the stage. Dancing in a suit must be so restrictive so an extra appreciation must be given to their talent in doing so.


Ballet de l'Opera de Lyon
Image: Bertrand Stofleth


The third and final interpretation was that of French dancer and choreographer Maguy Marin who created the dance in 2001 and which entered the repertoire at Lyon Opera Ballet in 2006. It saw 4 women dressed in red skirts and tops. This was by far a more disturbing dance. The women all seemed tormented, puppet like with jerked movements and repeated difficulty pulling themselves up from the floor.


All in all, Childs, De Keersmaker and Marin presented three distinct but each impressive interpretations of Beethoven’s difficult score. Lyon Opera Ballet’s Trois Grosse Fugues was a wonderful evening and we hope that the company returns to our shores again soon.



Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of Adelaide Festival


The season of Trois Grandes Fugues from Lyon Opera Ballet at Adelaide Festival 2020 has now finished.

Adelaide Festival has just 3 nights (and two days) left! Check out what’s left to see here.


You can also read our other reviews:



Cold Blood


If you’re interested in other Adelaide Festival shows, read our other interviews with the artists:

Christophe Bricheteau from Compagnie Carabosse re Fire Gardens (which starts tonight)

Nick Power re Between Tiny Cities (season ended) and Two Crews (currently on and running ‘til Saturday)

Lady Rocks re Two Crews

Focus Cie re Dimanche (season ended)

Compagnie Chaliwaté re Dimanche (season ended)

Siobhan Stagg re recital of French songs (season ended)



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