Dutch National Ballet presents
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Moving and masterful dance drama
Dutch National Ballet brings back its recent hugely successful dance drama La Dame aux Camélias, a moving and melancholy tale of impossible love.
Stellar performances by star soloists
This evening-length production by American-German choreographer John Neumeier, based on the eponymous novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, demands both technical perfection from the soloists and a profound ability to relate to this story of doomed love. At the Dutch première of La Dame aux Camélias in 2015, the soloist pairs received standing ovations lasting many minutes.
La Dame aux Camélias tells the story of Marguerite, a courtesan suffering from consumption who leads a life of debauchery until she falls in love with the young Armand. Keeping her illness a secret, she agrees to leave Paris to live with him in the country, but then is convinced by Armand’s scandalised father to give him up. By the time Armand discovers why Marguerite abandoned him, it is too late. At their final meeting she dies in his embrace.
Dumas’ love story
One of the world’s greatest living ‘storytellers’, choreographer John Neumeier has reinvented Dumas’ tale of ill-fated love – best known from Verdi’s opera adaptation La Traviata – as a psychological dance drama. He beautifully interweaves classic technique (en pointe) and organic, even mundane movements in a production that is richly multifaceted and musical. At the heart of La Dame aux Camélias are the exquisite duets danced by the lovers, but Neumeier’s mastery is just as apparent in the group scenes.
John Neumeier (b. 1939, Milwaukee, USA) has led the Hamburg Ballett for 45 years, which under his leadership has become one of Germany’s premier ballet companies. Though dismissive of the label of ‘narrative ballet’, Neumeier’s choreographies reveal him to be a quintessential storyteller, and many of his choreographies are inspired by masterpieces from literature, music and myth. ‘As soon as there is one person on stage, there’s a story; two people, there’s a relationship.’ His work is danced by leading companies including The Royal Ballet, Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Marijinski Ballet, Bolsjoi Ballet, Tokyo Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. Neumeier (now almost 80) visits every production personally to add the finishing touches.
Instead of Verdi’s classic score, Neumeier chose compositions for piano and piano and orchestra by Frédéric Chopin for this ballet of La Dame aux Camélias. His music captures the texture of nineteenth-century Parisian life – thrilling yet underlaid by strains of melancholy that perhaps reflect Chopin’s own weak constitution and parallel Marguerite’s slow demise.
Lavish costume drama
Visually, Neumeier’s La Dame aux Camélias is best described as an opulent costume drama framed by an abstract backdrop. Renowned German set and costume designer Jürgen Rose created 450 lavish, rustling nineteenth-century style costumes for the ballet as well as a magnificent set, with lengths of transparent gauze to suggest the locales and worlds in which the story takes place.
Choreography and staging
Set and costume design
Lighting design reconstruction
conducted by Matthew Rowe
Dutch Ballet Orchestra
Since its inception in 1965, the orchestra has been proud to accompany its partners, Dutch National Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater. The working method is unique in the Netherlands. Dutch Ballet Orchestra, with Matthew Rowe as principal conductor, consists of a regular core of 45 musicians, supported where necessary by highly qualified guest performers. This gives the orchestra its unique character: flexible, dynamic and high-quality. Dutch Ballet Orchestra combines music and dance into a magical experience: from classical ballet to modern dance, and from music education to talent development. The orchestra’s mission is to create an optimal synthesis between music and dance, in order to reach dance-lovers and ballet music enthusiasts, as well as children and youngsters. The orchestra has received several international awards for its educational projects, including the Young Audiences Music Award in 2016 for Creatures, a collaborative project with dance company ISH.
‘The highlights are the four main duets by Marguerite and Armand (…) when the story is briefly suspended and emotion prevails. The whole thing has an emotionally-charged energy, a spirit, a flair that is almost modern. Even the acting testifies that these dancers are not feigning, but feeling.’
‘More than anything, the beautiful lyricism of the duets between Marguerite and Armand pluck at the heartstrings. Their passion overwhelms in its intensity.’