Choreography John Neumeier · Composer Frédéric Chopin

Sunday, 18. October 2015
02:30 pm – 05:25 pm

Duration est. 2 hours 55 minutes · 1. Teil (est. 02:30 pm - 03:15 pm ) · 1. Pause (est. 03:15 pm - 03:35 pm ) · 2. Teil (est. 03:35 pm - 04:10 pm ) · 2. Pause (est. 04:10 pm - 04:40 pm ) · 3. Teil (est. 04:40 pm - 05:25 pm )

Family Performance: 12 years or older · Children's Introductory Event: 01:45 PM

Prices F , € 60 /53 /45 /35 /25 /16 /9 /6


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John Neumeier
Bühne und Kostüme
Jürgen Rose

Marguerite Gautier
Ekaterina Petina
Armand Duval
Lukáš Slavický
Monsieur Duval
Cyril Pierre
Manon Lescaut
Séverine Ferrolier
Des Grieux
Adam Zvonař
Prudence Duvernoy
Katherina Markowskaja
Manoela Gonçalves
Gaston Rieux
Jonah Cook
Elaine Underwood
Der Herzog
Peter Jolesch
Graf N.
Ilia Sarkisov
Wolfgang Manz
  • Ensemble of the Bayerisches Staatsballett
  • Bayerisches Staatsorchester
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Die Kameliendame: Osiel Gouneo (Gaston Rieux) (Foto: ©...
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Die Kameliendame: Ensemble (Foto: © Wilfried Hösl)
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Alexandre Dumas’ groundbreaking novel La dame aux camélias has served as model for operas (La Traviata) as well as countless films and ballets. John Neumeier created his 1978 version for Marcia Haydée and the Stuttgart Ballet. In the most enthrallingly dense choreography of unparalleled dramaturgical finesse, Neumeier tells the devastating tale of the consumptive prostitute Marguerite Gautier and the hopelessly enamoured young man Armand.

Frédéric Chopin’s romantically virtuosic and existentially despondent music further underlines the ballet’s verity. His 2nd piano concerto, the romance from his 1st piano concerto, the Grande Fantasie op. 13 and the Grande Polonaise brillante op. 22 are supplemented by further compositions for piano such as the ballade in g-minor, the preludes Nº 2, 15, 17 and 24. from op. 28, the waltzes Nº 1 and 3 as well as Trois Ecossaises from op. 72. The Largo from the b-minor sonata op. 58 serves as the musical leitmotif of the dramatic action, occurring in dramaturgically crucial moments.

Neumeier also implements a second motif from Dumas’ novel in that the tragic fate of his protagonists mirrors that of another, equally doomed literary liaison; that between Manon Lescaut and her lover Des Grieux. This ballet's leading roles, whose execution and interpretation demands technical perfection as well as emotional depth, are considered the epitome of the art of dance.



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The disposal of an estate: someone has died, and the entire contents of a luxurious apartment are to be auctioned off. Nanina, the faithful servant of the deceased, takes leave of her former life, placed between the auctioneer and his assistants.
Curious visitors, buyers, acquaintances and friends of the deceased, among them the older Monsieur Duval, examine the appointments.
A young man - Armand Duval - bursts unexpectedly in, seemingly out of his senses. When he becomes aware of the familiar surroundings he is on the verge of collapse. The old man lovingly supports his son and the latter, overcome by his memories, now begins to tell his story to his father.

Act I
It had been in the Théâtre-des-Variétés. They were performing the ballet Manon Lescaut, the famous drama of a rococo courtesan torn between love of luxury and love itself. One of the most beautiful and desirable courtesans in Paris - Marguerite Gautier - was in the audience. Moved by Manon’s plight, she felt herself somehow related to her but simultaneously refused to accept Manon as her own reflection. Armand had already admired Marguerite from afar but until now had never had an opportunity of making her acquaintance. Then he was introduced to her for the first time in the theatre. Now in a state of euphoria, he followed the ballet with increased intensity and seemed to see characteristics similar to himself in Des Grieux, Manon’s faithful lover. For a moment he fears that his own future may be reflected in Des Grieux’ fate. After the performance Marguerite had decided to amuse herself - despite the presence of the boring Count N. - by inviting Armand’s friend Gaston and the somewhat vulgar courtesan Prudence to her apartments. Armand had gone along too, and Marguerite used him so far to annoy young Count N., that the latter had left in a fit of jealousy. An attack of coughing had forced Marguerite to retire. Armand had followed her to offer his help and, overcome by emotion, confessed his love for her. Though touched by his passionate declaration, she remained sceptical and kept him at a distance. The relationship between them deepened during the following period. Marguerite led her accustomed life, hurried from ball to ball, from admirer to admirer, from the old Duke to the young Count. But Armand was always waiting for her. He even followed her into the country where, because of her fragile constitution, the Duke had put an idyllic house at her disposal.

Act II
Even in the country Marguerite continued her turbulent and expensive way of life at the Duke’s expense. It happened as it had to, that a confrontation between the Duke and Armand took place. For the first time Marguerite made a choice, defending her lover in the presence of everyone and thereby rejecting a life of wealth and security. Both the Duke and his guests left indignantly. Armand and Marguerite were alone at last and could live out their love uninhibitedly. The thought that this happiness is past beyond recall is too much for Armand now, and he collapses anew. His father, deeply affected, remembers the role that he had played in the story, but not without a sense of shame. When he had heard of the life that his son was leading, he had gone to visit Marguerite in her country house, but without his son's knowledge. Demanding that she leaves Armand both for his sake and for that of his innocent young daughter, Marguerite had proven her love for Armand by giving him up, returning to Paris when he was away, and despairingly throwing herself into her old style of life. Armand is more quiet now and tells his father how he had found the house empty on his return. He had waited for Marguerite in vain until Nanina, to his amazement, had brought him a letter from her saying that she was breaking off with him and returning to her former way of life. Unbelieving, he hurried to Paris and found her after a night of searching - in the arms of another man.

Some time later they met accidentally in the Champs-Elysées. Marguerite was in the company of another beautiful courtesan, Olympia, to whom Armand immediately paid court, thus trying to strike back at Marguerite out of his own sense of hurt. Deathly ill already, Marguerite had visited Armand one last time to ask that he stop humiliating her, and their love again found expression. But a nightmare vision of Manon tortured Marguerite when they fell asleep. Waking, she decided to honour her promise and silently left her beloved. For a second time now Armand was alone. He then publicly offended her at a grand ball by handing her an envelope full of money - “payment” for her services. She collapsed. Armand has now reached the end of his narrative to which his father, much moved, has listened. They part. When Armand is alone Nanina, who had heard of his presence, returns to give him Marguerite’s diary. Armand starts to read it and learns of the rapid disintegration of her health. He seems to accompany her on her last visit to the theatre to see Manon Lescaut.
Manon, banished to America, impoverished and once again fleeing the authorities, dies of exhaustion in the arms of her faithful lover Des Grieux, who had followed her into exile. Ill and despairing, Marguerite had left the theatre, but the characters of the ballet afflicted her feverish dreams and mingled with her own memories and hopes. She wanted to see Armand just once more. Deserted by her friends of happier times, she had confided her fears and longings to the diary that Nanina now gives to Armand.

Marguerite dies, alone and in poverty.

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John Neumeier was born in 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he received his first dance training. He continued his dance studies in Chicago as well as at Marquette University in Milwaukee where he created his first choreographic works. After further ballet study both in Copenhagen and at The Royal Ballet School in London, John Cranko invited him in 1963 to join Stuttgart Ballet, where he progressed to Soloist and continued his choreographic development.

In 1969, Ulrich Erfurth appointed Mr. Neumeier Director of Ballett Frankfurt, where he soon caused a sensation due to his new interpretations of such well-known ballets as The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet. In 1973, he joined The Hamburg Ballet as Director and Chief Choreographer and, under his direction, The Hamburg Ballet became one of the leading ballet companies on the German dance scene and soon received international recognition.

As a choreographer, Mr. Neumeier has continually focused on the preservation of ballet tradition, while giving his works a modern dramatic framework. His ballets range from new versions of evening-length story ballets to musicals and to his symphonic ballets, especially those based on Gustav Mahler’s compositions, as well as his choreographies to sacred music. His latest creation for The Hamburg Ballet, Christmas Oratorio I-VI, premiered in 2013.

Mr. Neumeier holds the Dance Magazine Award (1983), Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and French Order of Arts and Letters and the Legion of Honour. In 2006, he was awarded the prestigious Nijinsky Award for Lifetime Achievement. He received the Herbert von Karajan Musikpreis in 2007 and the Deutscher Jubiläums Tanzpreis in 2008. In 2007, he was made an honorary citizen of the city of Hamburg. In November 2012, he accepted the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation.

Neumeier established the John Neumeier Foundation in February 2006 with the aim to preserving and eventually making open his collection of dance and ballet-related objects to the public. The Foundation will maintain and secure his repertoire and related materials for the city of Hamburg.

In 2011, Neumeier founded Germany's National Youth Ballet. The young company of eight dancers is based at the Ballettzentrum in Hamburg but finds its performing spaces outside to the Hamburg Opera. In addition to international touring this creative young company dances in schools, retirement homes and prisons.

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