There’s a natural synergy between early opera and contemporary dance, especially when it comes to the French Baroque with its divertissements and ballets. It’s no surprise then that Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui proves a perfect fit for Gluck’s Alceste , here given in the 1776 revised Paris version where the composer increased the focus on music and movement.


Presented on Henrik Ahr’s simple, architectural set with atmospheric lighting by Michael Bauer, and with Jan-Jan van Essche’s stylish yet timeless costumes suggestive of the Middle East, Cherkaoui does an impressive job of integrating dancers from his own Compagnie Eastman, Antwerp into this 2019 Bayerische Staatsoper staging alongside the Bavarian State Opera Chorus and an excellent solo cast. Props consist of a few ceremonial vessels, some flower petals and some swathes of cloth, and yet nothing here feels minimal, except in terms of a tightly focussed dramatic eye guiding our attention to where it needs to be at any given time. The scene in Hades with swirling smoke and shadowy figures on stilts is hugely effective.

Based on Euripides, the story of...