Madeleine de Scuderi played by Marcia Haydée is wearing a necklace designed by Emma Ryott made with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS.
Murder mysteries, always compelling but never more so than when laced with obsession and intrigue, have provided riveting material for storytellers everywhere for centuries. So, Stuttgart Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Christian Spuck’s fascination with one particular German story by ETA Hoffman in 1819, which manifestly contained all three ingredients and more, was completely understandable. The story that so engrossed him was Das Fraulein von Scuderi, and he was to take it far beyond the level of mere literary interest.
The outcome was seismic: on February 10, 2012, to huge critical acclaim, the Opera House of the State Theatre Stuttgart hosted the world première of a brand new full-length ballet entitled Das Fraulein von S. It’s a bittersweet achievement, because when the curtain comes down on the final performance in April, it will also be Spuck’s last production for Stuttgart: he is to take up a position in Zurich. For this reason, he assembled most of the company’s 65 members, including eight principal dancers and two special guests – former ballerina and director Marcia Haydée and film actress Mirielle Mossé – to bring this dark and sometimes surreal story to life.
The plot is riddled with twists and turns too many to mention here, but in a nutshell: René Cardillac is the resident goldsmith at the court of Louis XIV. He develops an unhealthy obsession with the jewelry he creates, eventually taking to murdering his own buyers in order to keep the pieces he has sold them! The killing spree is eventually brought to a halt by the famous elderly Parisian writer of the title. It’s a surprisingly modern crime thriller for its era, possibly one of the earliest examples of the genre; and with jewels and jewelry as the central plank to the tale, it offers a splendid opportunity for SWAROVSKI to go town on costumes.
Christian Spuck’s long-time artistic collaborator, Emma Ryott, is the design brain behind the spectacular stage set and costumes, and she has worked with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS to produce stage attire of dazzling brilliance that could easily have come from the atelier of an haute couturier. For the four soloists who danced the roles of ‘Diamond, ‘Ruby, ‘Emerald’ and ‘Sapphire’, for instance, it took 135,000 SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS hand-sewn onto four tutus to make the concept work visually. The effect is extravagant and slightly surreal, with staggeringly opulent outfits graphically shown off against Ryott’s signature pared-down sets.
As the Stuttgart Ballet dances their new repertory piece to packed houses (all performances have completely sold out, including an extra night hurriedly added to the schedule) it’s the graphic elegance, sharply clever choreography and stunning costumes that linger in the mind.