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Ballet by John Neumeier

 for Father John J. Walsh SJ

 

Music
  Johann Sebastian Bach
Christmas Oratorio , BWV 248 (1734)
Choreography
Costumes
Lighting Concept
  John Neumeier
Set
  Ferdinand Wögerbauer

1 intermission - 3 hours

 

Premiere – Parts I-III
The Hamburg Ballet, Theater an der Wien
Vienna, December 12, 2007

 

Original Cast
   
a man   Lloyd Riggins
the mother   Anna Polikarpova
her husband   Peter Dingle
a shepherd   Carsten Jung
angel   Silvia Azzoni
Arsen Megrabian*
     
    Kusha Alexi
Edvin Revazov
Anna Laudere**
Dario Franconi

* for Thiago Bordin
** for Barbora Kohoutková

 

On Tour
2007 and 2009 Vienna

 

Premiere in HamburgThe complete work: Parts I-VI
The Hamburg Ballet, December 8, 2013

 

Original Cast
   
a man   Lloyd Riggins
the mother   Anna Laudere
her husband   Edvin Revazov
a shepherd   Carsten Jung
angel   Silvia Azzoni
Alexandr Trusch
the three wise men   Marc Jubete
Sasha Riva
Stuhrmann
the king   Dario Franconi
     
    Leslie Heylmann
Lennart Radtke
Yuki Oishi
Silvano Ballone

 

 

When Johann Sebastian Bach's Christmas Oratorio opens with the words "Rejoice, exult", one surrenders willingly to the sensation of floating. The rousing joy of this chorus and its unquestioning optimism seem boundless. According to John Neumeier, the opening chorus of the six-part oratorio "projects a relentlessly rushing joy – not yet aware of original sin". The chorus sings of hope, not of an already fulfilled redemption. John Neumeier adds: "Salvation is not a forgone conclusion, but is rather something that needs to be constantly earned and prepared for. As soon as the music of the 'Rejoice' chorus begins – and this is the wonderful thing about Bach's music – a flame inside us ignites, lighting up the irresistible feeling of joy. When the music ends, silence reigns again and we return to our own life on earth".

Bach's work commemorates the incarnation of Christ, with details of Jesus' birth taken from the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The mother, the father and the child, the shepherd and the angels, the wise men from the East, King Herod, a constantly migrating group of people, and a man protecting a little Christmas tree form an outer circle of characters that lead us deeper into the more fundamental, human questions of trust, reliance, faith, doubt and dedication. The biblical story therefore becomes a story for us all.

John Neumeier comments: "My choreography to Bach's Christmas Oratorio is not a religious undertaking. It is not 'sacred dance' and should neither be regarded as an alternative to a church service, nor as the propaganda of a Christian missionary. In the past, I took a similar approach in creating Bach's St. Matthew Passion – choreographing movements, characters and situations, intended for presentation in a theatre, inspired by music that still touches us today. We perform to Bach's music, for a few hours unifying individuals of many different cultural and religious backgrounds. For me, the basic human values expressed through the choreography are always the most important thing. Therefore, in my ballet, Mary is known simply as 'the Mother' and Joseph as 'her Husband'."

John Neumeier choreographed the first three parts of the Christmas Oratorio as a complete ballet in 2007. Six years later, in 2013, he continues his work changing parts of the earlier version and combining them with a newly created second part to the last three cantatas of the oratorio to create a new ballet. For the choreographer, it is important to emphasise that two different but equally valued ballets exist alongside each other. "The opus number of the ballet set to the first three parts is different to that of the entire Christmas Oratorio. What we are now presenting is in fact the premiere of a new work that comprises all six Bach cantatas", adds John Neumeier.

 
 

 
Photos   Trailer

1 intermission - 3 hours 15 min.

Hamburg State Opera
December 25, 27, 29
2014

Calendar

Prices
5,- to 97,- € (A)
4,- to 89,- € (B)

 

Tour 2014/2015
VIENNA
Theater an der Wien
December 17, 18, 19, 20
2014

 

 
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