The World Premiere of Of Love and Rage Ballet


Photo: Segerstrom Center for the Arts



Jealousy, love and forgiveness are central themes of the American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT) upcoming production of Of Love and Rage, which will stage its world premiere March 5 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, with the support of South Coast Plaza, its co-managing partner, Elizabeth Segerstrom, and other benefactors. The ballet is based on Callirhoe,  the oldest surviving novel ever written – dating back to 1st century B.C. Greece. During his recent trip to Syracuse in Sicily, ABT Artist-in-Residence and MacArthur Award Winner Alexei Ratmansky learned about this fiery romance novel by Greek author Chariton of Aphrodisias.  It was exactly the inspiration he needed to fulfill a request from ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie for a new work created specifically for dance institution’s 80th anniversary.




Photo: Segerstrom Center for the Arts



The story is set in Ancient Greece and is based on star-crossed lovers, Callirhoe – the daughter of the ruler of Syracuse and also the most beautiful woman in the land – and the man she marries, Chaereas. The turbulence begins when the handsome Chaereas is tricked into thinking that Callirhoe has betrayed him, which leads to him nearly killing her in a fit of rage. Callirhoe is believed to have died at the hands of Chaereas and is placed in a tomb. Shortly thereafter, a sweeping journey of war, deception, forgiveness and love begins when pirates in search of burial treasure find her alive and kidnap her as part of their loot.



Photo: American Ballet Theatre



ABT’s contemporary interpretation will incorporate elements of ancient Greek drama. Of Love and Rage was adapted by actor, director, screenwriter and Molière Award winner Guillaume Gallienne. Staging will be based on Gallienne’s expressive and effusive philosophy grounded in French theater.  His interpretation promises to be full of symbolism and profound emotion, with a focus on the chorus aspect of ancient Greek playwrights. The chorus, dancing as one unit, will portray supporting emotions in the commentary role found in Greek theater. Through this, the ballet will utilize its full Company of dancers.



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Women’s costume sketches by Jean-Marc Puissant, in order of appearance: Callirhoe Vision, Callirhoe Wedding, Callirhoe Babylon, Queen of Babylon.




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Men’s costume sketches by Jean-Marc Puissant, in order of appearance:  Dionysios Mithridates’ Court, King of Babylon, Chaereas Wedding.



The ABT’s artistic team looked to the Greek aesthetic of beauty and harmony for more ideas.  The ballet will be set to music by Aram Khachaturian, arranged by Philip Feeney, and will feature sets and costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant, and lighting by Duane Schuler. Puissant’s set and costume designs will incorporate the simple style of ancient Greek art with a contemporary touch. The sets featuring Greek ruins will evoke a Mediterranean landscape to frame the lovers’ journeys. 


Of Love and Rage will be Ratmansky’s 17th work for American Ballet Theatre and will have five performances from March 5-8, 2020. Tickets are available at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.