Raffaella Ballet Sneak Previews

ballet leap

Click below to listen to virtual demo recordings of Michael Kurek’s music for the forthcoming ballet Raffaella. The opening scene is an Italian village leaping and bustling with activity, something like the stock photo you see here.

  1. “The Gazelles and the Village” (scherzo) — Italy, the distant past.

The White Stag, followed by gazelles, leap across the scene. Scene opens into the rustic village of San Michele on Lago di Como, Italy. It is bustling with townspeople, who continue the active tone set by the gazelles.  (length: 4:09)

 

  1. “The Empty Cradle, The Holy Man’s Blessing, and Hope” (moderato) – A home and a temple in the village.

A carpenter and his wife (who is a blind former artist), are sad, because they have been unable to conceive a child.  They go to the temple and receive a blessing from a  holy man and begin to feel hopeful. (length: 5:16)

 

      3. “Raffaella is Born and Christened, and Her Mother is Healed of Blindness.” (moderato) — The family home.

Men and Women dance and feast in celebration. The opening music depicts the tenderness of a newborn and their joy at the blessed events in a highly romantic love theme expressing their love for her, then a light-hearted dance expresses the celebration of the mothers, and then a lower-pitched version of it depicts dancing by the men of the village. Finally, all rejoice with the opening theme in loving fullness as they gaze at the infant and realize her mother can see. (length: 3:40 minutes)

 

  1. “The Holy Man, The Rose, and The Transcendent Prince” (moderato) – The village piazza with townspeople.

Raffaella has been born and christened; the people celebrated (No. 3). Now the holy man comes in stately procession to visit the child. He blesses her and gives her a golden rose (Rose Theme). He prophecies that Raffaella will grow up to be a beautiful rose and bring beauty into people’s lives. Then a transcendent prince appears whom no one can see except the holy man (and the audience). A short dance by the townspeople, who do not see him, interrupts his music. Then his theme resumes and concludes gloriously, and as it turns to night and the people are leaving, angels descend and do their own stately dance, in shadows. (length: 7 min.)

 

  1. “Trip to Rome, The Abduction, and The Rescue” (andante/ allegro/ allegretto) – a street scene in Rome.

Raffaella’s parents take her and the family on a vacation/ pilgrimage to Rome, depicted with an adaptation of the chant Tantum Ergo and the sound of church bells. A witch enchants Raffaella and kidnaps her. The Transcendent Prince comes to her rescue in swashbuckling style, vanquishing the witch and restoring her to her parents. (length: 5 min.)

 

     6. “Raffaella Gives the Children Roses,” (andante/ allegro/ allegretto) — The town piazza.

It begins with a sweet, childlike, and delicate statement by the flutes of the Rose Theme (introduced in no. 4).  Most of the children are dressed in white. But at 1:02, Raffaella is suddenly moved with sadness and compassion as some other children arrive dressed poorly, including a boy with a crippling disability. Then both her attitude and the procession itself become serious, and her passing out the roses becomes not merely kind but a heroic act, indicating her love and compassion for them. This emotional theme, like a processional, leads to the return at 2:30 of the Rose Theme in all its blossoming fulness and triumph of spirit, as Raffaella now gives out the remaining white roses. (length: 3:30)

 

  1. “The Day of Communion, Pas de deux with the Prince, Angels Dance” (moderato) – the temple and piazza.

At her confirmation into adulthood, Raffaella is at the temple for the ceremony (adaptation of the chant Salve Regina from 0:00 to 1:42). The Prince appears in a brief statement of his own theme from no. 4, but set as a waltz (1:43 to 1:57), he leads her in learning a new waltz (entirely new theme) and they dance and fall in love (1:58 to 2:58). He disappears, and angels are seen dancing in the clouds above (from 2:58 to 4:04).   (length: 4 minutes)

 

  1. “Raffaella’s Suitors Dance with Her, and The Swordfight” (allegretto/ vivace) – The piazza.

As Raffaella sits and paints in the piazza, various suitors dance briefly with her, trying to win her hand. The Prince makes two brief appearances at a distance, and she prefers him. Young men from a rival town come and argue with the young men of the town, and a swordfight ensues. Raffaella tries to intervene (harp cadenza), but before she can, soldiers arrive in force and break up the fight. (length: 4:20)

 

      9. “The Runaway Cart and Rescue”  (Andante) — In Campagna.

Distant chimes (use two sets of antiphonally placed sets of chimes if possible) and growing metallophones in an Andante ostinato, with Accelerando. A large cart comes hurtling down the road and Maria does not notice it. She calls out, with Prince theme, then the music is abruptly interrupted. An angel appears and rescues Maria.  (length: 2 min.)  NOT YET COMPOSED.

     10. “The Emerald Queen, The False Prince, and the Transcendent Prince” (Moderato) — In Rome. 

In this scene, “The Emerald Queen” is introduced, who is an artist and mentor to Raffaella as a young adult. The style is elegant and courtly, like the slow waltz form called a Baroque Courante. With the exception of a more emotional moment later in the piece, indicating “The False Prince,” this is mostly a serene and relaxed piece. The signature theme of the Transcendent Prince is woven in as a quodlibet at the end, when he makes another appearance. (length: 4:32 minutes) 

 

       11. “The False Prince Attacks Raffaella and Fights with the Angel” (andante/ allegro) — Raffaella’s painting studio in Rome.

The False Prince comes into her studio and pretends to be nice but then attacks her. An angel appears and fights him with echoes of the earlier swordfight from piece no. 8. (length: 6 minutes)  NOT YET COMPOSED.

       12. “The Other Girls Are Mean to Raffaella, but She Gives them Roses. A dream dance with the Transcendent Prince.”  (allegretto/ moderato/ allegretto) — The village of San Michele on Lago di Como, Italy.  (length: 6 minutes)  NOT YET COMPOSED.

      13. “Snow by the Lake. Pas de deux with the Transcendent Prince”  (moderato) — At a lake by Campagna.

Raffaella goes alone for a retreat at a temple by the lake and takes a walk around the shore. It begins to snow. The Prince appears, and they dance. He tells her of his kingdom and she is attracted by it. He invites her to come with him. She lies down in the snow and falls asleep. (length: 5:36)

 

      14. “Finale: Reprise of Characters and Apotheosis of Raffaella” In Campagna by the Lake” (7 min.) NOT YET COMPOSED.