Getting to know a critic’s taste is important to get the most out of a review. I can be convinced to go and see something by a negative review because I know what the writer goes for. I was therefore surprised when The Times’ Debra Craine detested the look of the Paris Ballet’s La Source. I loved it.
Sumptuous costumes by Christian Lacroix, which recall Franca Squarciapino’s bold colour choices for the company’s production of La Bayadère, set off against a simple set made up from theatre elements such as ropes and and velvet curtains: a timeless theatrical space which shows off the costumes wonderfully. Craine writes,
… you have to close your eyes to the ballet’s hideous modern sets, one for each act. Against a dead black backdrop, Eric Ruf concocts an elaboration of hanging ropes and torn velvet curtains that suggests an abstracted vision of backstage at the Garnier Opera House, only derelict and dusty, as if long forgotten (rather like La Source itself).
This may be clever conceptual thinking but it makes a mockery of Bart’s attempt to anchor and embellish his story. We have Elves and Nymphs, Odalisques and Caucasian warriors, but no grotto or palace to place them. There are mouthwatering illustrations in the programme, a hint of what might have been had a reconstruction been attempted.
And then there is Christian Lacroix, whose (no doubt) fabulously expensive costumes are as tacky as disco (despite the two million crystals donated by Swarovski) and a breathtaking repudiation of fabled French elegance.