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The Opera House is the second-largest theater in the Center, with 2,362 seats. It was designed for ballet, opera, and musical theater. Over the years, the Opera House has welcomed dozens of the world's great dance and opera companies and has hosted some of the most important artistic events of the last quarter century. With its distinctive red and gold chandelier, a gift from Austria, the Opera House makes an elegant setting for the annual Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest award for lifetime achievement in the arts.

Coming to the Opera House :

Image for The Suzanne Farrell Ballet

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet


The Suzanne Farrell Ballet
Suzanne Farrell, Artistic Director
with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra
Scott Speck, conductor
"Tackling arduous roles…with degrees of energy, scale, detailed nuance, and musical sophistication seldom found anywhere."
--The New York Times
Swan Lake
(Tchaikovsky/Balanchine)  [36 minutes, followed by a 20-minute intermission]
Monumentum Pro Gesualdo

(Stravinsky/Balanchine)  [8 minutes] 
Movements for Piano and Orchestra
(Stravinsky/Balanchine)  [9 minutes, followed by a 4-minute pause]
Allegro Brillante
(Tchaikovsky/Balanchine)  [16 minutes, followed by a 20-minute intermission]
The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody)

(Chopin/Robbins)  [26 minutes]
Led by George Balanchine's greatest muse, the Kennedy Center's own ballet company returns to the Opera House for the first time since 2007 with a Thanksgiving weekend program that is truly one of firsts, featuring three company premieres and a duo of returning favorites. 

The program begins with the company premiere of Balanchine's one-act Swan Lake. Ms. Farrell has returned it to the staging she first learned when she joined Balanchine's company in 1961. As Alastair Macaulay in the New York Times writes: "Part of what I love in Balanchine's is that it gives us aspects of the traditional Swan Lake that almost no other current production does: the medieval era of chivalry, the swans crossing the lake who become the dancing swan-maidens, the huntsmen who partner them… This is high romance, and the final sundering of the lovers is the stuff of tragedy."
Set to music by Balanchine's longtime collaborator Igor Stravinsky, companion pieces and audience favorites Monumentum Pro Gesualdo and Movements for Piano and Orchestra were originally choreographed separately, but have been performed together since 1966. The music for Monumentum was composed to honor the 16th-century composer Don Carlo Gesualdo. Stravinsky once said after seeing Movements choreographed it was "like a tour of a building for which I had drawn the plans but never explored the result."

Another company premiere, Allegro Brillante is set to the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 3. According to Maria Tallchief, on whom the piece was originally set, the ballet comes alive in the form of "an expansive Russian romanticism." With dazzling choreography that's sharp and crisp, the work truly highlights the technical skills and strong ability of the dancers. Balanchine once commented on the piece saying, "It contains everything I know about the classical ballet in 13 minutes."
The final premiere is by another of Ms. Farrell's mentors, dancer and choreographer Jerome Robbins. Delightfully witty, The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody) portrays an all-Chopin piano concert gone wrong. Accompanied by an onstage pianist, the quirky recital-goers' imaginations result in laugh-out-loud antics--a genuine crowd-pleaser.

Performance Timing: Approximately 2 hours, 19 minutes, including two intermissions.