|Luca Sbrizzi and Christine Schwaner rehearse for Moulin Rouge®-The Ballet|
Photo Credit: Aimee DiAndrea
The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Moulin Rouge® opens today (the show runs Feb 14-17) and we are so excited to share an interview we did with Luca Sbrizzi, who plays Matthew. Luca, a soloist with PBT, was gracious enough to share how excited the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is for this special Valentine's Day weekend performance, promised to deliver an enchanting evening. If you haven't purchased your tickets yet, you can visit their website here.
Moulin Rouge is such an iconic film- what has it been like working with such a famous story? Is there any extra excitement in the air?
Luca Sbrizzi: Working on Moulin Rouge® - The Ballet has been a truly amazing experience. Although the story of the ballet is different than the movie, there are still many things that are similar, such as an epic love story and famous characters like Zidler, the owner of the Moulin Rouge®, and artist Toulouse-Lautrec. Everybody has been really excited about this production since last year, when Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre announced that we were going to perform this. As we get closer and closer to production, our excitement continues to grow.
Explain your character a little bit.
Luca Sbrizzi: I'm dancing Matthew. Matthew is a very naive and innocent young painter, who arrives in Paris during the Belle Époque (Beautiful Era). In the first act, Matthew is full of excitement and energy. Matthew is very romantic and he falls in love with Nathalie, a young girl that goes from being a launderette to becoming a featured dancer at the Moulin Rouge®. Like most love stories, Matthew and Nathalie's is a complicated one. As the ballet progresses you really see Matthew mature as he fights for his love.
Zidler (the owner of the Moulin Rouge®), becomes obsessed with Nathalie, but she is in love with Matthew. Of course, Matthew is left heartbroken and confused. After drinking absinthe and encountering the green fairies, he decides to go get Nathalie back at the Moulin Rouge®. So, with the help of his friend and mentor Toulouse, Matthew gets back in the cabaret disguised as a waiter. At the show that evening, Matthew finds Nathalie and they try to escape through the mayhem of the Cancan. Zidler discovers them together and becomes enraged, stopping the show. He intends to kill Matthew, but Nathalie is mortally wounded instead. Matthew holds Nathalie as she takes her last breath.
What has been the most exciting/challenging part of playing this character?
Luca Sbrizzi: I think the most exciting and challenging part of playing Matthew is the wide spectrum of emotions that the character takes you through.
During first act it's all about love. That young, unstoppable, fresh love, where you can't get enough of each other. Every moment is unique and magical and everything seems perfect. But then in second act Zidler, led by jealousy, threatens to kill Matthew so Nathalie leaves with him in an attempt to save Matthew from harm. Matthew is heartbroken and desperate. His love left him. After he wakes up from a night of drinking, he decides that he can't live without her, so he tries to get her back. He feels encouraged and hopeful, until Zidler mistakenly shoots Nathalie instead of him. So by the end, Matthew is tragically devastated. His love is gone forever.
Of course the most challenging aspect is being able to convey to the audience this journey of emotions. I found that personal experiences help me tremendously. While I dance, I try to bring memories back of similar situations. This way my heart gets in the right place.
What can we expect from Moulin Rouge® - The Ballet? Any special twists from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater?
Luca Sbrizzi: You can expect an unforgettable night of entertainment. Music, lights, scenery, costumes and, of course, dance come together in this extraordinary production.
The music is from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the Moulin Rouge® burst onto the Paris cabaret scene, creating an authentic musical backdrop for the ballet. You‟ll no doubt recognize some, such as Clair de Lune, La Vie en Rose, or the Can-Can. The lighting helps create richly different worlds, from the glamorous cabaret to a romantic evening at the Eiffel Tower. The sets are also really fantastic. They include archways, staircases, and, of course, the classic Moulin Rouge® wind-mill. The costumes are colorful and elaborate, and you'll experience a variety of dances, from the famous cancan, to an Argentinian Tango, to classical and neoclassical steps.
Anything you hope the audience takes away from your performance?
Luca Sbrizzi: More than anything I hope that the audience will be able to experience the emotional journey that the main characters go through. I also hope that they leave this performance excited for what Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre has to offer next.
Can we expect to be blown away from the costumes (similar to the movie)?
Luca Sbrizzi: Absolutely!!! The costumes make the world come alive. With clear inspiration from Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings, the dancers wear vibrant dresses with frilly under skirts, and the men look sharp in tuxedos with tails and top hats. The ballet boasts over 70 elaborate and colorful costumes. It really feels like all the dancers may as well have stepped directly out of the paintings.
Since the show opens on Valentine’s Day, we have to ask you- in your opinion, what is the perfect Valentine’s Day date (other than a special trip Downtown for Moulin Rouge®, of course)?
Luca Sbrizzi: Well, you said it yourself. You can't get much more romantic than going to the ballet on Valentine's Day. But in general I like to keep it simple; good food, good wine and the person you love sounds perfect to me.