Richard and I saw the Mark Morris Dance Group do *L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato* at BAM on March 25, 2022. This is seen as one of Morris's signature works. He created it in 1988 when he was the newly appointed Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels. It's an ambitious piece, a Handel oratorio on poems by John Milton, two hours long, requiring 24 dancers, 4 solo singers, a chorus, and a full orchestra. Morris knew that he had all of those elements at La Monnaie so he went for it.
I knew Morris from a TV broadcast of his Nutcracker ballet, *The Hard Nut.* I moved to New York in the summer of 2002 and the weekend I moved here my friend Diane Schoff asked me if I wanted to see *L'Allegro* downtown that Saturday. My parents had helped me move and were still here for a couple of days, so I was leaning towards No but thought I'd ask them. My mother said, "Yes. Go. Get out of here. Have a nice time." It had been a lot of togetherness for five or six days.
I was simply overcome by the performance. The piece is inventive, moving, funny, exciting, and overwhelming in its beauty. The dancing is sublime.
One of the richest components of the show is the use of design. His collaborators were set designer Adrianne Lobel, costume designer Christine Van Loon, and lighting designer James F. Ingalls. The world they created was so engaging and expressive. The use of color, the use of scrims to create layers of reality, the variations in the performance space, it was all so beautifully thought out and effective.
Here are a couple of highlight reels from recent productions:
And a fascinating interview with Morris and a few collaborators about the piece: