Ballet by Christian Spuck after the novel by Lew Tolstoi

Choreography Christian Spuck · Composer Sergej Rachmaninow, Witold Lutoslawski u.a.

Friday, 15. June 2018
07:30 pm – 09:45 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 15 minutes · 1. Akt (est. 07:30 pm - 08:30 pm ) · Interval (est. 08:30 pm - 09:00 pm ) · 2. Akt (est. 09:00 pm - 09:45 pm )

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Premiere at 19. November 2017

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Christian Spuck
Musikalische Leitung
Robertas Šervenikas
Christian Spuck, Jörg Zielinski
Emma Ryott
Martin Gebhardt
Tieni Burkhalter
Martin Donner
Michael Küster, Claus Spahn

Helena Zubanovich
Dmitry Mayboroda
Alexej Karenin
Emilio Pavan
Anna Karenina
Ksenia Ryzhkova
Graf Alexej Wronski
Jonah Cook
Stepan Oblonski (Stiwa)
Tigran Mikayelyan
Darja Oblonsjaka (Dolly)
Elvina Ibraimova
Konstantin Lewin (Kostja)
Jinhao Zhang
Jekatarina Schtscherbazkaja (Kitty)
Laurretta Summerscales
Betsy Twerskaja
Prisca Zeisel
Betsys Begleiter
Dustin Klein
Gräfin Lydia Iwanowna
Séverine Ferrolier
Gräfin Wronskaja
Elaine Underwood
Prinzessin Sorokina
Antonia McAuley
  • Soloists and corps de ballet of the Bavarian State Ballet
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester

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Greta Garbo played her, so did Vivien Leigh and Keira Knightley to mention just a few of over twenty film adaptations in the last 100 years. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, like Fontane’s Effi Briest, belongs to the tragic female characters of realist literature – 19th century novels where the protagonists duelled at dawn to uphold their honour or commit suicide. Women, particularly, chose the latter option when their despair grew too great or when society’s censure became too much. 

Anna Karenina, too, is torn between convention and passion, duty and rebellion. Her fate inspired many choreographers to create remarkable works. Even Maja Plissezkaja created a choreography in 1972, set to Rodion Schtschedrin’s music – the leading role was taken up by the legendary ballerina herself. This was followed by classic and modern interpretations by Boris Eifman, Jochen Ulrich, Alexei Ratmansky and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

Christian Spuck’s adaptation premiered at the Zurich Ballet in 2014. He narrates the story of this 19th century adultery through pungent scenes and a mainly classical dance vocabulary, placing it in a traditional Russian context: birch forests and snow-covered expanses, the legendary balls of St. Petersburg aristocracy, alluring women in splendid gowns. The flip-side of this reflects the coldness of the palaces; the stage is very big and mostly empty. The characters are as lost in the empty scenery as they are lost in real life. Video projections point us towards the action, anticipating the looming tragedy. They symbolize the psychological process and inner turmoil of Anna Karenina. The story is conveyed directly through concrete and straightforward movements: the dancers argue and kiss, love and despair. None of the narrative elements are banal or simply illustrative. Rather, they merge with the physical style of the individual dancer which is retained in the pure dance elements, thus wordlessly communicating the piece's developments and changes. In terms of the work’s musical characterisation, Spuck gives Anna Karenina a voice through the medium of the piano, borrowing from piano works by Sergei Rachmaninov and Witold Lutoslawski in particular. He puts Rachmaninov’s High Romantic, dense sound, which often invites escapism, against the deeply unsettling music of the 20th Century, thereby revealing Anna Karenina’s inner thoughts and conflicts. 

The Munich premiere is the first performance of a Christian Spuck creation at the Bayerisches Staatsballett and also the first performance of his Anna Karenina in Germany.


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Christian Spuck is a native of Marburg, Germany since season 2012/13. After receiving his initial ballet training at the renowned John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, he embarked on his subsequent dance career with Jan Lauwers’s Needcompany and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's Rosas ensemble. He joined the Stuttgart Ballet in 1995 and was appointed choreographer-in-residence of the Stuttgart Ballet in 2001. Choreographies for the Stuttgart ballet include das siebte blau (2000), Lulu. Eine Monstretragödie (2003), Der Sandmann (2006) and Das Fräulein von S. (2012).

Christian Spuck has produced further choreographies for several renowned ballet companies in Europe and the USA. For the Royal Ballet of Flanders he created The Return of Ulysses (2006) (with guest performance at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2009) and Woyzeck (2011) for the Norwegian National Ballet in Oslo. His full-length ballet Die Kinder (2005) for the Aalto Ballett Theater of Essen was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse and Leonce und Lena (2008), which also premiered in Essen, has also been incorporated into the repertoires of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal, Stuttgart Ballet and Ballett Zürich. His original production of Poppea//Poppea for Gauthier Dance at the Theaterhaus Stuttgart was named one of the world's ten most successful dance productions of 2010 by Dance Europe magazine and also won Germany's theatre prize DER FAUST 2011 as well as the Italian Danza/Danza Award. Marcia Haydée als Penelope, a 25-minute dance film featuring Marcia Haydée and Robert Tewsley, was broadcasted by ARTE in 2006.

In recent years Christian Spuck has extended his artistic reach to musical theatre. Amongst others, he directed Orphée et Eurydice (2009) for the Staatstheater Stuttgart, Falstaff (2010) for the Staatstheater Wiesbaden and La damnation de Faust (2014) for the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

In 2012, Christian Spuck became director of Ballett Zürich. Since season 2012/13 his choreographies with the company include Romeo und Julia, Leonce und Lena, Woyzeck and Der Sandmann. Anna Karenina which was first performed in Zurich has further been incorporated into the repertoires of the Norwegian National Ballet as well as the Stanislavski Theatre in Moscow. His world premieres this season include Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da requiem, a co-production between Zurich opera and ballet, as well as Der fliegende Holländer at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The Bayerisches Staatsballett dances his Anna Karenina as of November 2017. (Information as of Nov 2017)

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