For once the cliché is justified: Pina Bausch was a genius of choreography, bringing out an intense fragility and a graceful fluidity in her dancers that others rarely matched. Her talent is on full display in this, her 1975 adaptation for ballet of Gluck’s opera, which offers a rather pessimistic take on the Greek myth. Death haunts the narrative, as well as the staging (all bare trees and withered leaves). The whole production practically throbs with morbid energy.
With each dancer doubled by a singer, the ballet allows for some delightful interplay between vocal and carnal interpretations of the characters. Gluck, tired of the overwrought musical styles of his day, was aiming to achieve a ‘noble simplicity’ in this opera, and it remains one of his most straightforwardly enjoyable works. But it’s the mesmerising dancing that will stay with you long after you leave the Opéra Garnier.