Promising power

By Ellen Dunkel | For The Inquirer

Pennsylvania Ballet brings back Matthew Neenan’s “Carmina Burana” and shows off new dancers, new energy.

Pennsylvania Ballet premiered Matthew Neenan’s Carmina Burana at the Academy of Music in March 2007 to great fanfare, then took it to New York’s City Center, then packed it away.

It hadn’t been seen since until Thursday night, when the company brought it back to the Academy on a program with Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments.

Carmina is a rich piece with a large cast, many (quirky) costume changes, and Carl Orff’s rowdy “secular cantata” performed by the Orchestra of the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Philadelphia Singers Chorale.

After three years, how did it look?

It is still a powerful, nonstop, all-out work, with a light story line based on Carmina‘s libretto of lascivious medieval poems (translations are available in the lobby), and Neenan’s signature wit. If you’ve seen the ballet there’s no surprise left in a few of the clever movements, yet it’s still fun to hear other audience members gasp with delight.