That day has arrived, in the handsome, wordless adaptation of “Phantom of the Opera” they’ve engineered, with Paata Tsikurishvili directing his choreographer-wife Irina in the title role. The sexual dynamic of Gaston Leroux’s gothic tale has been re-engineered, too, as a possessive female Phantom now lays claim to Christine Daaé, the naive performer whose career soars through supernatural assistance.
The result is an impressively liquid horror ballet, Synetic style, perhaps with at least one dance-off too many between Christine (Maryam Najafzada) and various partners and rivals. (Paata Tsikurishvili evinces a weakness for keeping all of his inspirational brainstorms; after the preview performance I attended, he noted that cuts were coming.) In any event, this is a technically superior adaptation of the story, best known as the basis for the longest-running Broadway musical (b. 1988-d. ?) in history.
Balletomanes will get a kick (and a well-executed pirouette, too) out of the Tsikurishvilis’ conversion of an opera narrative into one for classic dance; Irina did her ballet training in Georgia. Their trademark visual aesthetic —fashioning sets and costumes of striking impact on lean budgets — is boosted here by the projections of Patrick Lord. “Phantom” is the most digitally sophisticated show I’ve seen by Synetic, and the graphics of blazing Paris theaters and the catacombs of the underworld add a measure of pleasing atmosphere to the drab auditorium the company calls home.
As is customary for the company, Konstantine Lortkipanidze, Synetic’s house composer, mixes an eclectic soundscape of new and found melodies, mingled with classic compositions; the costumes by Erik Teague make their own sinister music, with tutus out of “Black Swan” nightmares and acolytes of the Phantom in masks that might have been sculpted by Edvard Munch.
Najafzada, schooled in ballet in Azerbaijan — the Tsikurishvilis exhibit an uncanny knack for locating new pools of talent — is an effortlessly expressive presence; the elegance of her lines lends credence to the magic of the Phantom’s tutelage. Jacob Thompson shows leading-man potential in the mold of Synetic’s onetime go-to martial-arts-style dancer, Ben Cunis, and the terrific Rachel Small applies a touch of snide to the resident heavy, Carlotta, whose star perch is jackhammered away by the Phantom.
The ageless Irina Tsikurishvili, who has been dancing leads in Synetic shows for two decades, from Lady Macbeth to Carmen to Cleopatra, brings a brooding sense of loss to her Phantom. Wearing the traditional half-mask over the character’s scars, she evokes the mysteries stowed in a damaged soul, and the sadness of a wounded star, haunted forever by the music of the night.
Phantom of the Opera, adapted from Gaston Leroux’s novel by Nathan Weinberger. Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili. Choreography, Irina Tsikurishvili. Sets, Daniel Pinha; lighting Brian S. Allard; costumes, Erik Teague; projections, Patrick Lord. With Delbis Cardona. About 2 hours 10 minutes. $19-$65. Through Feb. 29 at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington. 866-811-4111. synetictheater.org.