Monthly Archive: June 2015

The Seeming and the Real

“Artifact II / The Exiles / Zugvögel”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
June 19, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Barrowman, J.Amo and ensemble, “Artifact II” by W.Forsythe, Bavarian State Ballet, Munich © W.Hösl 2015Munich’s National Theater was packed to the roof for the last performance of “Artifact II / The Exiles / Zugvögel”. The triple bill combines two older pieces – “Artifact II” by William Forsythe and “Zugvögel” by Jiří Kylián – with “The Exiles”, a newly acquired work by José Limón. It is the fourth work by Limón in the company’s repertory. Forsythe’s “Artifact II” is the second part of the full-evening, quadripartite “Artifact” which has been in the company’s repertory since 2009. “Zugvögel” (“Migrating Birds”) is a creation by Kylían which opened Munich’s ballet festival week in 2009. Performance rights of “Zugvögel” are reserved for the Bavarian State Ballet. (more…)

“One has to burn”

“Jürgen Rose: Nothing is as life fulfilling as the theater”
Academy of the Fine Arts & Theater Museum Munich

Munich, Germany
June 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. J.Rose with a costume of “Twelfth Night” (Kammerspiele Munich, 1980) © W.Hösl 2015“Whenever the news broke that Rose would make the next piece, I was always happy.” comments longtime actress of the Kammerspiele Munich, Sybille Canonica, about Jürgen Rose, Germany’s most famous set and costume designer. The seventy-seven-year old’s accolades pile up: actors, singers, dancers – all can feel they are at the bosom of Abraham, says theater critic Beate Kayser. Coloratura soprano Edita Gruberova who worked in several opera productions with Rose calls him a genius, full of enthusiasm. His work would be extremely thorough and precise. She entirely trusts his taste and guidance. But Rose is modest. One always has doubts, he says in the exhibition catalog. One never knows if one’s work is sufficient.

Currently Munich’s Theater Museum and the Bavarian Academy of the Fine Arts are showing a corporate exhibition of Rose’s work. His oeuvre encompasses designs for almost three hundred productions, operas, ballets, as well as plays. He has always been in charge of the costumes and only two times not responsible for the sets. In addition, as stage director, he has created “La Traviata” (1994, Opera Bonn), “The Magic Flute” (1996, Opera Bonn), “Don Carlo” (2000, Bavarian State Opera), “The Cunning Little Vixen” (2002, Bavarian State Opera) and “Norma” (2006, Bavarian State Opera). Rose is a universal artist. “Norma” and “Don Carlo” will be staged at the Bavarian State Opera at the end of June and in July, “Werther” will be revived in October with Rolando Villazón singing the title role. As usual, “Don Carlo” was sold out as soon as it was announced. (more…)

Missing Diversity

“b.22” (“verwundert seyn – zu sehn”, “Moves”, “ein Wald, ein See”)
Ballett am Rhein
Opera House Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf, Germany
June 06, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Menha and C.Nzerem, “verwundert seyn – zu sehn” by M.Schläpfer, Ballett am Rhein © G.Weigelt 2015Martin Schläpfer, artistic director of the Ballett am Rhein, makes no effort racking his brain to find appealing titles for ballet evenings. He simply numbers them, this season arriving at “b.24”. I saw an earlier work, “b.22”, a triple bill made up of Jerome Robbins’s “Moves” as the centerpiece, framed by two works by Schläpfer himself: “verwundert seyn – zu sehn” and “a forest, a lake” (“ein Wald, ein See”).

“Verwundert seyn – zu sehn” premiered in January this year at the Theater Duisburg, the company’s second home stage. Its title is a citation picked out of “Parerga and Paralipomena” (“Appendices and Omissions”), a collection of reflections by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. The two volumes gather, among others, Schopenhauer’s thoughts on philosophy, science, nature, color theory, suicide or metaphysic. “Verwundert seyn – zu sehn” is taken from a chapter dealing with the vanity of life. A serious, rather gloomy subject. To get the right perspective, one has to know that Schläpfer dedicated the piece to Bogdan Nicula, a long-time dancer in his ensemble. Being in his mid- thirties, the Rumanian developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis last year. Within short time he was bound to the wheelchair and depended on artificial respiration. (more…)

Hope is the last to die

“A Streetcar named Desire”
Stuttgart Ballet
Stuttgart Schauspielhaus
Stuttgart, Germany
May 30, 2015

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2015 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Amatriain, “A Streetcar named Desire” by J.Neumeier, Stuttgart Ballet © Stuttgart Ballet 2015John Neumeier’s “A Streetcar named Desire”, based on Tennessee Williams’s drama of the same title, is probably not a piece one would be eager to see several times in a row. Unless one is hard-boiled. Calling it disturbing is too lenient. Its dense, oppressive atmosphere and brutal physicality that finally seals the mental destruction of its main character, Blanche DuBois, devours one. As food for thought, a single dose of this ballet brings along with it more than enough indigestion.
Neumeier has woven a masterful psychological drama, whose intensity might even surpass the stage play. What the dancers’ bodies express is more direct than any spoken word. Stuttgart Ballet has now again revived the two-act piece which Neumeier had created for the Baden-Wuerttemberg company in 1983. Back then the forty-six year old Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun danced the leading characters, Blanche and Stanley.

Neumeier begins the story with its end. When the curtain rises we see Blanche (Alicia Amatriain) sitting on a bed in an asylum. She is elegantly dressed but looks distraught. Flashbacks are tormenting her, making her tremble. What has happened unfolds in cross-fades, not necessarily following the story’s chronological order. Music from Prokofiev’s “Visions fugitives op.22”, fragmented like Blanche’s memories, underscores the first act’s nostalgic, subdued mood. (more…)