Choreography John Neumeier State Opera Vienna - Wien
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    Opernring 1
    1010 Wien

    Ballet: DIE KAMELIENDAME State Opera Vienna - Wien Wed 19.Feb 2025
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    Ballet: DIE KAMELIENDAME State Opera Vienna - Wien Sat 22.Mar 2025
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    An estate is being auctioned off. These are what remains of the glittering possessions of one of the most glamorous women in 19th century Paris: the courtesan Marguerite Gautier. Armand Duval is among those in attendance. As the business of the auction continues before a crowd of curious onlookers, he is overcome with memories, for he was the man with whom Marguerite discovered true love. They spent one long summer together, enjoying a life of bliss in the country, far away from the Parisian demi-monde. However, Armand’s family honour was at risk. And without knowing that his father was forcing Marguerite to do so, he had to watch as his lover returned to her old life – and that ultimately ruined everything.

    When Alexandre Dumas fils published his semi-autobiographical novel La dame aux camélias in 1848, he not only achieved his greatest success, but also created one of the stage’s most moving stories. Giuseppe Verdi would premiere his opera based on the novel, La traviata, at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice five years later, actresses including Sarah Bernhardt, Eleonora Duse and Käthe Dorsch went on to triumph in the stage play that Dumas adapted himself, and Greta Garbo would play Marguerite on film. Frederick Ashton was the first choreographer to stage the story in 1963, and in his ballet Marguerite and Armand he created a work for two outstanding performers: Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Five years later, Stuttgart Ballet presented an equally spectacular cast in John Neumeier’s Lady of the Camellias: a full-length narrative ballet created for Marcia Haydée, Egon Madsen, Brigit Keil, Richard Cragun, Reid Anderson and many others. To this day it remains not only one of his most moving works, but – with its dramatic construction, the clarity and intensity of its characterisation, and the subtle images and splendid costumes of Jürgen Rose’s designs which sympathetically evoke the flair of 19th century Paris – it is a masterpiece of recent dance history.

    In addition to Stuttgart Ballet and Hamburg Ballet, by whom the work was first seen in Vienna in a guest performance in 2014, only a small number of companies carefully chosen by John Neumeier have been permitted to dance Lady of the Camellias. From 2024 the Vienna State Ballet will join them, and this large-scale production will not only enrich its repertoire with a Neumeier treasure but also one of the great story ballets. 

    The choreographer reveals Armand Duval’s passionate relationship with Marguerite Gautier retrospectively. The couple meet for the first time in a play-within-a-play, but Marguerite also sees her own life disturbingly reflected in the ancient love story that is presented in ballet form: the tragedy of Manon Lescaut and Chevalier Des Grieux. Neumeier skilfully employs a filmic dramaturgy, overlaying lightly drawn »exterior« scenes of Parisian society with »interiors« that focus on the emotional states of his characters, in which his dances reveal every possible psychological nuance: full of elegance and carefree joy, immersed in passion and lust for life, erupting into existential drama and affecting the audience deeply with fragility in the face of death.

    In Frédéric Chopin, Neumeier found the ideal musical partner to bring both great virtuosity and a melancholy sense of loss to his depiction of the superficiality of Paris’s high society and of human passion. The largo from Chopin’s B minor sonata forms the recurrent leitmotif in a score of piano works (including both concertos, together with other pieces for piano and orchestra) for which two pianists join forces in a Chopin marathon whose demands go far beyond a conventional recital.

    (Source: wiener-staatsoper.at)