Benjamin Millepied’s Appassionata was choreographed for Paris Opera Ballet and premiered in February 2016 with the title La nuit s’achève (“The night ends”). For Pacific Northwest Ballet’s staging, Millepied renamed the ballet in reference to Beethoven’s iconic, late-classical piano sonata to which the dance for three couples is set.
Sonata No. 23 in F minor is one of three celebrated sonatas from Beethoven’s middle period. The music is some of his most technically challenging and the mood is tempestuous; the sonata was composed just after he came to terms with his inevitable hearing loss in 1803. The title “Appassionata” (meaning “passionate” in Italian) was not given to the work during Beethoven’s lifetime, but rather was a label added by the publisher of a four-hand arrangement in 1838.
Notes by Doug Fullington.