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Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Ballet Getting Tempo Right For Tobin Opening

Jack Morgan
TPR Arts
Ballet San Antonio prepare for opening night at the Tobin Center.

Sebastian Lang-Lessing is gearing up for Thursday night’s opening of the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. Thursday I was at the last Ballet San Antonio rehearsal before the move into the Tobin and Lang-Lessing had acoustics on his mind.  

“There are two aspects to acoustics: There is the one, hearing on stage, but then there is the more important issue, how is the listening experience for the audience," he said. "And there are a lot of halls that are difficult onstage and wonderful in the hall. And there are other halls that are great onstage and bad in the hall.”

Lang-Lessing wants a combination of both, but with the main focus on the listeners. He said that for the musicians, there will also be change.

“We have to adjust really quickly to the new acoustics, which will be dramatically different from the Majestic (Theatre),” he said.

I noted to him that I saw as the ballet troupe was rehearsing to recorded music, he was following along on the score, and then talking with the ballet mistress. I asked him what that was about.

“Where can we adjust tempos to where it’s more musical, in my point of view.  And I need to see where the limits are for the dancers,” he said.

"Any tempo change you adjust has ramifications onstage for them,” I said.

“If it’s dramatic, it creates chaos!" said Lang-Lessing."Ballet is an art form; you have to be respectful of the visual aspects of it. On the other hand I think there’s an influence you can have as a conductor, and see how far you can push.”

Ballet San Antonio’s Gabriel Zertuche spoke to me about the tempo adjustments.

“Sebastian has been terrific about working with us and making suggestions on how he feels, the musicality or tempo should be," Zertuche said.

“It’s a collaboration, and we all have to work very closely together," Lang-Lessing agreed.

The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts opens Thursday night and San Antonio will finally see and hear the product of several years’ worth of efforts. Lang-Lessing predicts success.

"It’s all going to come together really beautifully, I think. Everybody is extremely excited," Lang-Lessing said.