Ravel’s images are more of desire and erotic anguish than the hedonistic passions conjured by the title “Shéhérazade“. This intensely private composer has created an exquisite sensuality out of melancholy – where longing itself threatens to erupt in orgasmic chaos. The dilemma is the ever present struggle between Self and The Lover – that ideal One who will confirm our existence yet will invite us to merge Soul in Soul. For Ravel a look, a backward glance, is an intense caress.
Klimt, on the other hand, is vibrantly erotic – his joy in the female nude, gauzed and glitteringly patterned is uninhibited. The few times the male appears in his paintings, nude or part wrapped in bold decoration, he is conjoined with the female, overwhelming her in an embrace that metamorphoses two figures into a single gorgeously embroidered phallic image. There is in Ravel an ambiguity of sexuality – in Klimt this sexual force is clarified and fulfilled.
Where the two apparently disparate artists meet is in their stylistic ornamentation. The Klimt sinuous golds and shimmering transparencies are echoed by Ravel’s ornate orchestrations and the arabesques for voice and solo instruments. Both colour the ideal of physical love with a languorous mystique and pursue the seemingly unattainable.
Written by Kristian Fredrikson in the 1980′s program
Featured Video (previous page): Excerpt from Shéhérazade (performed in Body of Work at the Sydney Opera House in 2000)
Videos Tab above: Excerpt from Shéhérazade restaged in 2018 in The Australian Ballet’s MURPHY
What the critics said:
“Shéhérazade is a choreographic mood painting at its most luscious… it turns out to be one of the most thoroughly bewitching evocation of sensuality ever to grace a stage”
Brian Hoad, The Bulletin
“Shéhérazade seems to me to be a triumph… a milestone in the history of Australian Dance.”
Haruko Morita, The Financial Review