Deutsche Oper am Rhein - Ballett am Rhein - b.29
19.10.2017 | 19:30 | Deutsche Oper Am Rhein - Opernhaus Düsseldorf
Duration b.29: approx. 2 ½ hours, two intervals / For all from 12 upwards
Mozartiana George Balanchine
“’Mozartiana’ is a celebration – a celebration of music, of dance and of life. With his orchestral suite Tchaikovsky created a homage to Mozart and the ballet is Balanchine’s homage to them both,” wrote Robert Gottlieb of the last great ballet from the wide-ranging corpus of George Balanchine, which was premiered at the Tchaikovsky Festival at the Lincoln Center, New York in 1981, and is now the latest masterpiece by the great American neoclassical choreographer to be performed in repertoire by the Ballett am Rhein.
Tchaikovsky’s Suite No. 4 opus 61, an orchestral adaptation of several small pieces by Mozart, inspired Balanchine to create a ballet which draws its energies from the two composers’ highly contrasting personalities: the freedom but accompanying deep pessimism of Peter I. Tchaikovsky, coupled with the exuberance and objectivity of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In addition, with its cast of three soloists and a corps made up of four dancers and four girls, ‘Mozartiana’ is also a homage to Balanchine’s last great muse and love: the New York City Ballet ballerina Suzanne Farrell. The ballet opens with a scene created especially for her to Mozart’s famous ‘Ave verum corpus’. Accompanied by the four girls, the ballerina celebrates an inward devotion through a concise range of bourrées and arabèsques, with gestures of prayer and repeatedly opening her arms in longing within the space. This is followed by a series of highly varied dances: a solo for a démi-caractère soloist is followed by an ensemble for the ladies’ corps, after a pas de deux for a ballerina and danseur noble constructed as a model of classical form there is a finale for the entire cast. As brilliant and elegant as ‘Mozartiana’ may be, a veil of restrained melancholy also hangs over the ballet as a whole, making it the most tender and highly romanticised work of its by then 77 year-old creator, who in the course of his career had not only taken the thinking within academic dance further than anyone else in the 20th century, but also pushed it to its absolute limits without ever losing his faith in the value, the potential and the overwhelming beauty of classical ballet.
Konzert für Orchester (Uraufführung) Martin Schläpfer
With his ‘Concerto for Orchestra’, Witold Lutoslawski wrote a genuine declaration of love for this large instrumental ensemble, in which the master of Polish Modernism alluded to Béla Bartók’s famous earlier work. This composition, which instantly made his name in 1954, is his only large scale work in which – under the influence of Igor Stravinsky – he explores a neoclassicism coloured with folklore. It also marks the conclusion of his early period in which he still composes on this basis. In a dialogue with tradition he created three clearly-structured movements described with Italian terms from the early baroque period – “intrada”, “capriccio notturno e arioso” and “passacaglia, toccata e corale” – in which, like Bartok, he features the orchestra as a single musical entity in a solo role.
Martin Schläpfer first delved into the work of the Warsaw composer in 2005 at balletmainz with ‘Streichquartett’ (“String Quartet”) to Witold Lutoslawski’s composition of the same name, for which he was awarded the Prix Benois de la Danse. For this new choreographic work, conceived for the entire Ballett am Rhein company, Martin Schläpfer has now selected one of the Polish composer’s most famous works. It is a piece which has pre-occupied him ever since he worked in Berne: “The composition has a power and depth and there is such a nuanced range of colour in the instrumentation that it has enormous dramatic and human-dramaturgical potential,” says Schläpfer. In this work he will also draw on his investigation of the music of Béla Bartók, whose Divertimento for String Orchestra he choreographed in 1996 (‘Divertimento’), and Bohuslav Martinu’s Symphony No. 3, which he chose as the score for his creation of the same name in 1998. In this world premiere Martin Schläpfer also continues his long-standing and fruitful artistic collaboration with the stage and costume designer Florian Etti.
In order to trace the influence of dance languages upon each other through the history of ballet from Balanchine to Robbins and on to Schläpfer, this new creation combines with the other two pieces in the evening’s programme – ‘Mozartiana’ and ‘The Concert’ –to take us on an exciting journey through the recent history of ballet.
The Concert Jerome Robbins
One of the pleasures of concert-going is one’s ability as a listener to lose oneself completely in the music and let one’s thoughts flow. Images which unfold in front of the mind’s eye are guided by the music, stimulating personal dreams and fantasies.
The American Jerome Robbins made theatrical history not only as a choreographer for American Ballet Theatre and the New York City Ballet, but also as a director on Broadway. His name is associated with musicals such as ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ just as much as with his subtle choreographic studies of modern people, which in some cases dispense with music altogether. After ‘Afternoon of a Faun’ and ‘Moves’ the Ballett am Rhein now includes a further Robbins masterpiece in its repertoire with ‘The Concert (or The Perils of Everybody)’ from 1956.
To the sounds of some of the most famous of Frédéric Chopin’s piano pieces, Robbins created his comic ballet ‘The Concert’ as a parody commenting on how Chopin’s pieces were received and on the attention paid by concert audiences. Musical images such as the famous “Raindrop” prelude are interpreted in slapstick form as choreographed images. Robbins places the concert grand piano on stage and has the ballet company dance their way in as the audience. While the pianist performs nine of Chopin’s pieces with religious earnestness, Robbins pokes fun not only at the amazing characters among the audience and their conceitedness but also at the dancers themselves: a particularly strident ballerina with an eruptive personality chases her shy dance partner all over the stage, six ballerinas make desperate efforts to align their steps and poses in perfect unison. While the piano virtuoso’s fingers fly across the keyboard, it is entirely possible for the ballerinas in their tutus to lose their way in a web of confusion, and while Chopin’s raindrops glisten, the company hide under umbrellas. When the music takes a more dramatic turn, the frustrated husband lingers around his bored wife with murderous intent, only to woo her later as a butterfly to Chopin’s fluttering sound.
In the 1950s, Robbins implied with a wink of the eye that none of us is immune to such incidents, subtitling ‘The Concert’ “The Perils of Everybody” – and to this day his charming manner has met with considerable agreement from the public.