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Falling under the spell of "Svengali" with Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Posted by Andrea Ratuski, SCENE producer

Svengali Dance SIDEBAR.jpg
Vanessa Lawson and Tristan Dobrowney (David Cooper)

Who could resist the mesmerizing powers of Svengali?

Genius choreographer Mark Godden has conjured up an enthralling new production for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, set to premiere Wednesday, October 19th.

Based on the popular Victorian novel Trilby by George du Maurier, Svengali is about a dastardly and mysterious young man with the power to hypnotize.  "He has great ambitions and great desires for his talent, but his desires are also somewhat depraved," says Godden. "When he hypnotizes young women he treats them as objects for his own fantasy."  

Svengali tries to escape the thralls of his totalitarian mother, a ballerina and ballet instructor who rules her students and her son with a very strict moral code of purity, discipline and cleanliness. Trilby is the innocent and beautiful girl that Svengali manages to cast under his spell and exploit to his advantage.

"Surrounding Trilby is a war between morality and depravity, Svengali being the depraved individual and the mother being one who stands on the side of moralistic, puritanical ideas."

The role of Svengali will be performed by 20-year old New Zealand-born Harrison James.  Amanda Green dances the role of Trilby and Jo-Ann Sundermeier is cast as Svengali's mother.

The rich musical score includes excerpts by Richard Strauss, Sergei Rachmaninov, Franz Liszt, Philip Glass and the Fying Bulgar Klezmer Band.  RWB Music Director Tadeusz Biernacki leads the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

After the Winnipeg run the production goes on tour throughout Western Canada and Southern Ontario.

Check SCENE October 20 for Robert Enright's review of Svengali.