French officer Choderlos de Laclos wrote this novel, which takes the form of letters, at the end of the eighteenth century. The story lends itself perfectly to a sombre and tender ballet portrayal, an idea that caught the imagination of the Czech choreographer and director Libor Vaculík. The result is one of the most beautiful performances to be staged at the Estates Theatre.
The two main characters are the Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, free-thinking aristocrats who like to manipulate others and then recount their experiences through letters. But they are surface friends only: Valmont, with a reputation as an incessant womaniser, lusts after Merteuil, but she wants to use him for her own ends. The wealthy Comte de Gercourt has rejected her, preferring the young girl Cecile, and thus Merteuil seeks revenge, asking Valmont to seduce Cecile. But he already has designs on Madame de Tourvel, the virtuous and witty wife of a judge. Merteuil therefore brings Cecile together with Chevalier Danceny and Merteuil promises Valmont that if Valmont seduces Madame de Tourvel, Valmont will have Merteuil. The intrigues continue until the fateful end…
The production has an intimate feel and focuses on a very sensitive portrayal of the protagonists, who are, like the exceptional dance performance, impressively portrayed in terms of a dramatic perspective. Vaculík’s adaptation also brings together genres using the recorded spoken word, which represents a link between the scenes and unobtrusively enables the plot to be followed. In their style, the male and female dancers are a remarkable depiction of each of the characters. You will thus love the sensual dominance of the Marquise’s movements and gestures, Valmont’s seductiveness and vanity, Madame de Tourvel’s gentle grace, and the dignified spiritedness of Danceny. The immortal melodies of Schubert and the lyrical music of the contemporary composer Pēteris Vasks accompany the ballet. His breathtaking Meditation underscores the most powerful scene, in which Valmont seduces Madame de Tourvel and then betrays her. Valmont is one of those rare works of art that touches your soul, and you can expect the unexpected.
The ballet has two acts and is performed by the Czech National Ballet.