Mark Morris Dance Group: L’Allegro

Full Episode

Mark Morris’s signature work L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato comes to television for the first time, hosted by Mikhail Baryshnikov. The performance was filmed July 2014 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain.

Merriment and Milton are hardly synonymous, but the poet who penned Paradise Lost also inspired George Frideric Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, which concludes “Mirth, with thee we mean to live.” Choreographer Mark Morris garnered international fame for this piece, considered a landmark achievement, and set to Handel’s Baroque masterpiece, in which a colorful array of dancers embody the ecstasy of art that transforms.

In discussing the work, Baryshnikov has admired “the way they perform it — with pride for humankind. There’s restraint and dignity and satisfaction and pride. But at the same time there is an unspoken camaraderie; hands touching, running, and they suddenly become one and disappear like nothing has happened onstage.”

L’Allegro was Mark Morris’s premiere work as Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, Belgium on November 23, 1988, and in the intervening years, has been performed to critical and audience acclaim all over the world. Winner of numerous awards including a Laurence Olivier Award, “L’Allegro” uses Milton’s text (sung in English and performed without super titles) and features sets inspired by William Blake’s later watercolors.

Production credits Print

Production Credits

Choreography: Mark Morris
Scenic Design: Adrianne Lobel
Costume Design: Christine Van Loon
Lighting Design: James F. Ingalls

Music: Teatro Real Orchestra and Choir
Choir director: Andres Maspero
Conductor: Jane Glover
Sopranos: Sarah-Jane Brandon, Elizabeth Watts
Tenor: James Gilchrist
Baritone: Andrew Foster-Williams

A production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET, Teatro Real, Bel Air Media and the Mark Morris Dance Group in association with TVE, Mark Morris Dance Group: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato is directed for television by Vincent Bataillon and produced by François Duplat, John Walker and Joan Hershey. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer and David Horn is executive producer.

Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, The Lewis “Sonny” Turner Fund for Dance, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The Agnes Varis Trust, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold, Elise Jaffe and Jeffrey Brown, and PBS.

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Learn more about the production on the L’Allegro preview page.