Swan Songs

The Santa Barbara Symphony took their places in the front two thirds of the Granada stage and under the baton of maestro Nir Kabaretti performed a rousing and beautiful rendition of Mozart’s last, biggest and longest symphony, No. 41. Impresario Johann Peter Salomom nicknamed it “Jupiter,” presumably because the last movement is a re-working of Carl Ditter’s Symphony in D, “The Fall of Phaeton.” The Greeks named our largest planet Phaeton, re-named Jupiter by the Romans, so the moniker is appropriate given the majesty of Mozart’s sublime creation. The second half of the show was devoted to the last music he wrote, an unfinished work, the equally majestic “Requiem Mass.” The raising of the curtain revealed the Symphony musicians, Kabaretti and a sizeable chorus ensconced in a raised area at the back of the stage leaving ample space for the dancers of State Street Ballet to perform William Soleau’s choreography created for this performance. The dancing alternated between energetic swirls of dancers, formal group tableaux, two or three couples in unison and a pas de deux featuring SSB principal dancer Leila Drake-Fossek, radiant in her own “swan song,” the last time audiences will see her dance on stage. The dancers were joined occasionally onstage by soprano Jeanette Vecchione-Donati, mezzo Nina Yoshida Nelsen, tenor Benjamin Bliss and bass DeAndre Simmons singing gloriously.