This extraordinary program represented the most impressive collaboration yet between State Street Ballet and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Following an outstanding performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 “Jupiter” by the symphony alone during the first portion of the program, the stage was split into two tiers at intermission. On the upper rear level, maestro Nir Kabaretti and the orchestra took their places, with a large chorus positioned on steep bleachers at stage right. The lower tier, closer to the audience, provided a platform for 19 dancers and four vocal soloists to bring Mozart’s grand Requiem in D Minor, K. 626 to life.
William Soleau’s fluid, reverential choreography captured the many quicksilver changes of mood in the music beautifully, and Lloyd Sobel’s active lighting design brought out every nuance of the movement. In her final performances with the company, Santa Barbara’s favorite ballerina, Leila Drake Fossek, was magnificent, digging deep to realize the score’s emotional content and rising even higher to express its theme of redemption. Fortunately for all of us, she will remain involved with the State Street Ballet for many years to come as the organization’s associate director. It would be hard to imagine a more fitting send-off for such a great dancer and such a generous human being.