Le Travail —2002

Le Travail was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Ballet and the American Composers Forum Community Partners Residency Program as a collaborative project with choreographer Matthew Neenan. It was premiered at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and received excellent reviews.

Program Notes

Le Travail was composed for Matthew Neenan’s ballet of the same name based on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 2003 exhibit, “Degas and the Dance.” The music for Le Travail begins with a quotation (mm. 1-33) from a ballet that Edgar Degas would have known well: Myrta’s music from Adolphe Adam’s Giselle. Myrta’s theme opens a doorway through which we pass into an ever-changing landscape. Over the course of the 25-minute ballet, Myrta’s theme travels on a journey similar to that of the heroes in mythology. Thus, the music of the past is continuously transformed into more modern guises.


… the music is smart, vital and inventive …

David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 2003

…a collaborative meditation on dance and dancers, enhanced by the witty menace and echoes of 19th-century ballet music in Robert Maggio’s commissioned score… Although the title of “Le Travail” means work and refers to the dancers’ daily grind as observed by Degas, the ballet has a festive tone. As music from Act II of “Giselle” filters through Mr. Maggio’s score at the beginning, the curtain rises to show just the dancers’ legs.

Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times, February 28, 2003

The dancers invite us into their world while Robert Maggio’s original score quotes Giselle, and the audience is hooked. Not that anyone lingers in 19th-century impressionism… And Maggio’s score seamlessly, even relentlessly, drives the movement away from Giselle and toward heavily pulsating modern sound. At times the tonal imperative is almost martial. This is sophisticated stuff, a shaped, whole and terrific ballet. Neenan and his collaborators honor Degas, and themselves, with this mature work for the opera house stage, and give Pennsylvania Ballet a repertory gem.

Janet Anderson, Philadelphia City Paper, February 20, 2003

Maggio begins his ambitious 25-minute piece with a quote from Adophe Adam’s music for Giselle…it soon develops into dense waves of practically Prokofievian drama.

Elizabeth Zimmer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 17, 2003

Robert Maggio’s score ascends from eerie symphonic colors to the final movement’s encroaching dramaturge that leave everything, including the dancers’ lives, unresolved.

Lewis Whittington, critical dance.com, March 2, 2003