DRACULA: Teatro Municipal has Returned!

Dracula. The very name recalls a tale of mystery, seduction, sadness and love. All words that also bring Chile and its history to this gringa’s mind, making the Teatro Municipal the perfect setting for the tale. Last month the vampire’s story was perfectly, passionately told, in every motion and every look.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

The Santiago Ballet performed on stage, but it was the newly restored Teatro Municipal that almost stole the show. After recently completed, post earthquake renovations, the facade of the theater shines. The decadent colonial structure perfectly showcases the romantic, yet sinister tale. The plush red chairs and gilded balconies inside the theater suggest elegance and comfort - but then the lights go down, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago tunes to the same note and the audience is immediately thrust into horror.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

We all know the basics behind the vampiric tale of dark pleasure and danger, although this ballet, set to the classic music of Franz Liszt, differs slightly from the popular Bram Stoker version. Dracula is a mysteriously enchanting, wealthy man who lives in a huge house on a hill. He seduces young women in the nearby village through his strangely hypnotic ways, drinks their blood and slowly builds an army of half crazed, anemic looking succubi around him.

Dracula’s first appearance onstage terrifies. He descends from above, his sweeping, winglike, bejeweled cape fully extended. He is a merciless flying hunter, whipping around the stage, chasing innocent female prey, feeding on the weak. One day however, he seduces the wrong girl - the most popular girl in the country town - and her valiant fiance decides to storm the castle.

Choreographer Ben Stevenson, fresh from the United States, tells the tale with finesse. The movements shift from long and languid in moments of seduction, to sharp, frantic and dangerous in moments of disaster. The best sequence takes place in the third act in Dracula’s bedroom. His un-dead, virgin army fills the stage as they swoon and fall and fly around the room, awaiting their master’s arrival, becoming more and more vicious as the scene escalates.

 Photo by Haylee Magendans
Photo by Haylee Magendans

In the end, Dracula faces the handsome young man rescuing the woman he loves in a battle-dance scene that builds the suspense until the final moments of the show. Fantastically choreographed, brilliantly accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, the Teatro Municipal returns to Santiago in full style.

The Santiago Ballet
Teatro Municipal
Augustinas 794
Next Show:
Études / Gaîté Parisien
July 2011

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