Sat, Jun. 25, 2022, 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm | Main Stage
TO BE READ BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE
By John Neumeier
The plays of William Shakespeare have been a continuous source of inspiration throughout my career. However, to be fascinated by and to work on one narrative for 45 years, there must be a good reason. Shakespeare's drama "Hamlet" is surely an iconic monument of world literature. Thousands of books have been written, attempting to interpret, decipher and to fully understand the drama's significance. It is a work we sense to be important, something we feel we should know about. Many of us studied "Hamlet" at school. Maybe, my own ballet should also begin in a schoolroom?
This thought inspired me to create a new frame for "Hamlet 21" – a further step in the evolution of my choreographic "Hamlet journey" spanning 45 years. It started in New York with the fragmentary "Hamlet Connotations", took me to Denmark with a fulllength "Amleth" including sets and costumes in a Viking style and later to Hamburg transferring the action to a modern era spanning the 1930s to the 1960s.
I have always searched for the center, the essence of this drama. In Shakespeare's "Hamlet", the ghost appears to his son and demands revenge for his murder. In this very moment, in which the desire for revenge is transferred from father to son, the central conflict of the play becomes apparent: the dilemma of a young man struggling to deal with his responsibility for the past.
To understand this dilemma, it is vital to know what happened, before Shakespeare's play begins. The text, of course, provides this important background. In ballet, however, there is no visual form to express the past. (There is no step indicating: his father was murdered.) To choreograph Hamlet's conflict, I have to show the past to the audience. Situations and characters from earlier sources helped me to develop a visually plausible concept that allowed the translation of information into dance. I took certain dramatic constellations from the "Gesta Danorum" of Saxo Grammaticus – a mythicalhistorical story about the Danish Prince Amleth – and adapted ideas from later sources. I believe it is legitimate to draw on various sources, if this leads to an individual and new "Hamlet". In other words, a work of art – inspired by a myth, a narrative or a masterpiece of another artist – derives its genuine meaning, its individual life from the specific perspective of the creating artist.
Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello", for instance, is a masterpiece. But, his "Otello" is not Shakespeare's "Othello". The opera may owe its existence to the composer's reading of the Elizabethan play, but we can enjoy and acknowledge it without knowing anything about Shakespeare's "moor". As the creator of a "Hamlet" ballet for today – and for tomorrow –, I had to discover a part of myself within the source material: the works of Shakespeare, Saxo Grammaticus and Adam Oehlenschläger.
Influenced by myth, history and Shakespeare, I looked for "Hamlet sounds" – music with the same archaic as well as human character, a musical world suggesting the atmosphere of a mythical pre-Christian time, the dramatic qualities of a Shakespeare drama as well as contemporary characters experiencing emotional situations of today. I found Tippett!
During the creation of the 1997 version, Michael Tippett's music was an important source of inspiration. For a long time, I had wanted to choreograph Tippett's Triple Concerto – without associating it with a specific theme. Later, this concerto became quite naturally a part of "Amleth".
Music: Michael Tippett
Choreography, Staging and Light Design: John Neumeier
Set and Costumes: Klaus Hellenstein
2 hours | 1 intermission
Part 1: 50 minutes, Part 2: 40 minutes
Royal Danish Ballet, Copenhagen, November 2, 1985 (Original title: Amleth)
Hamlet: Peter Bo Bendixen
Ophelia: Mette Bødtcher
Geruth: Linda Hindberg
Horvendel: Mogens Boesen
Fenge: Lars Damsgaard
Koll: Johnny Eliasen
Polonius: Tommy Frishøi
VERSION 1997 - PREMIERE:
Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, May 4, 1997
Hamlet: Lloyd Riggins
Ophelia: Anna Polikarpova
Geruth: Laura Cazzaniga
Horvendel: Jirí Bubenícek
Fenge: Lars Damsgaard
Koll/Fortinbras: Ivan Urban
Polonius: Jean-Jacques Defago
NEW VERSION 2021 - PREMIERE:
Hamburg Ballet, Hamburg, June 13, 2021
Hamlet: Edvin Revazov
Ophelia: Anna Laudere
Geruth: Hélène Bouchet
Horvendel: Marc Jubete
Fenge: Félix Paquet
Koll/Fortinbras: Christopher Evans
Polonius: Ivan Urban
Horatio: Nicolas Gläsmann
The program is available in our online shop.
Venue: Main Stage, Dammtorstraße 28, 20354 Hamburg
Prices: 7,00 EUR to 119,00 EUR
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