48th Hamburg Ballet Days

48th Hamburg Ballet Days
Hamburg Ballet in "Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler"

HAMNBURG A unique anniversary featuring 22 productions, 2 guest companies, a cinema festival over the course of 4 weeks: the 48th Hamburg Ballet Days from June 11 to July 9, 2023 form a unique capstone for John Neumeier's 50th anniversary season at the Hamburg Ballet.

On Sunday, June 11, the anniversary Ballet Days begin with the revival of John Neumeier's Shakespeare ballet "Romeo and Juliet". It has been more than 50 years since John Neumeier presented the world premiere of his first major, evening-length story ballet on February 14, 1971. He was ballet director at the Ballet in Frankfurt am Main when he took up the world-famous tale of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", using Sergey Prokofiev's music to create a timeless classic, which has proven highly popular to this day and is an essential element in celebrating John Neumeier's 50-year anniversary as ballet director in Hamburg. Due to popular demand, the main rehearsal for "Romeo and Juliet" on June 9 will also be open to the public. Tickets for this preview may be purchased via the Hamburg Ballet's website.

Among the highlights of the 48th Hamburg Ballet Days are performances by two guest companies, each of which will present one ballet by John Neumeier:
The first guest company John Neumeier has invited is the Czech National Ballet. On December 15 of last year, his intense story ballet "A Streetcar Named Desire" had its premiere in Prague. Continuing this collaboration, the company from Prague will perform "A Streetcar Named Desire" on June 20 and 21 at the Hamburg State Opera. This will be the first time ever the Czech National Ballet appears in the Hansa City of Hamburg.
"Lady of the Camellias" occupies a special position in the repertoire of the Stuttgart Ballet. In 1978 John Neumeier created this hit ballet for the company in Stuttgart and Marcia Haydée, who embodied the title role. On July 4 and 5, a new generation of dancers of the Stuttgart Ballet will interpret this fascinating choreography, set to music by Frédéric Chopin, in Hamburg.
Each of the four guest performances will offer unique artistic experiences. Both the Czech National Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet present two different casts of the solo roles in their respective performances in Hamburg.

The Ballet Days also offer an opportunity to revisit pieces from the repertoire of the season just ending. From Piotr I. Tchaikovsky to Léo Delibes and Leonard Bernstein, from classical to contemporary, from story ballet to pure dance – the anniversary edition of the Ballet Days offers insights into the broad spectrum of John Neumeier's multi-faceted oeuvre. In addition to the Hamburg Ballet's own ensemble, which will present a great variety of different productions on stage, numerous guests are also expected. On June 27 and 28 as well as July 6, star dancer Alessandra Ferri makes her debut as Romola Nijinsky in John Neumeier's "Nijinsky". The performance "Préludes CV" on June 23 is not only an evening of exceptional dance, but also of outstanding musicians: you may hear the composer Lera Auerbach herself at the piano, performing with cellist Ani Aznavoorian. The violinist Vadim Gluzman joins pianist Angela Yoffe. The solo piano music by Franz Schubert in John Neumeier's ensemble ballet "Ghost Light" will be played on July 8 by the Polish pianist Michał Białk.

During the 48th Hamburg Ballet Days, dance takes place not only at the Hamburg State Opera. John Neumeier's sacred ballet "St Matthew Passion", set to the gripping music of Johann Sebastian Bach, returns to the place for which it was first created, the Main Church of St. Michaelis, on June 21 and 22. The dancers will be accompanied by solo vocalists Ilse Eerens (soprano), Olivia Vermeulen (contralto), Julian Prégardien (Evangelist), David Fischer (tenor, arias), Tobias Berndt (Christ) and Konstantin Ingenpass (bass, arias), the Choir of St. Michaelis and the Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra, conducted by Jörg Endebrock.

The School of the Hamburg Ballet also has a presence on the main stage of the State Opera: its evening "First Steps" (June 13) allows profound insights into the high-carat training offered to these young dancers. In the programme two ballets by John Neumeier:"A Journey through the Seasons" for all levels of the Ballet School and "Yondering", which will be performed by an international cast. Dancers of the theatre classes of the School of the Hamburg Ballet will be joined by guests from Canada's National Ballet School, the École de Danse de l'Opéra de Paris and the Royal Ballet School in London. The schools from Canada and London as well as Hamburg will also perform new choreographies by selected students of their schools.

The National Youth Ballet of Germany (BJB) is showcased on the main stage of the Hamburg State Opera on June 22. The junior company is joined by musicians from the Mozartfest Ensemble conducted by David Dieterle; together they perform the ballet "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme", which John Neumeier choreographed in 2021 for the "summit meeting" of the National Youth Ballet and National Youth Orchestra of Germany and the Orchestre Français des Jeunes. During the second half of the evening, the ensemble will perform its piece "BJB Songbook – What We Call Growing Up", first performed in 2017. It is a dance collage sensitively staged by Kevin Haigen, featuring pop songs of different musical styles, including by Imogen Heap, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Tracy Chapman, as well as choreographies by guests including Kristian Lever, Marc Jubete, Sasha Riva and former BJB dancers.

Another exclusive event during the anniversary edition of the Ballet Days is the Benefit Gala on June 29, in aid of the John Neumeier Foundation. The gala will include artistic contributions from guests who are friends of John Neumeier as well as a high-carat programme of dance, music and singing. Klaus Florian Vogt and Thomas Hampson have already confirmed their participation. As part of the Benefit Gala, the newly-initiated John Neumeier Choreography Prize, donated by the Hapag-Lloyd Foundation, will be awarded for the first time. "By donating and naming this prize, we honour the great choreographer John Neumeier in his anniversary year, under whose leadership the Hamburg Ballet has become one of the world's top ballet companies," says Michael Behrendt, Chairman of the Board of the Hapag-Lloyd Foundation. With this prize, which carries a cash value of 25,000 Euro, the Hapag-Lloyd Foundation wishes to motivate and support rising international choreographers who have already been acclaimed for originality, visionary concepts and creativity, thereby helping them to continue their artistic development. The winner is obliged to create a piece for the National Youth Ballet, to be rehearsed and performed during the season following the award. The prize is to be awarded every two years in the future.

The festival finale of the Anniversary Ballet Days will be the Nijinsky Gala XLVIII on July 3, which John Neumeier presents personally, with dancers of the Hamburg Ballet and international stars as guests. The Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra performs under the baton of Simon Hewett. The detailed programme of the Gala will be announced in due course via The Nijinsky Gala is sold out; a very limited contingent of press tickets is available for journalists reviewing the event. Unfortunately, tickets for accompanying persons cannot be provided.

Ballet at the Cinema
The four-week ballet festival offers a diverse and colourful programme of accompanying events. From July 3 to 9, John Neumeier's most important works can be viewed on the large screen of the venerable Metropolis Kino in Hamburg. The programme includes the ballet films "Lady of the Camellias" (July 3, 7 pm), "Beethoven Project I" (July 5, 3 pm), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (July 6, 3 pm), "Anna Karenina" (July 7, 3 pm), "Death in Venice" (July 8, 1 pm) and "Nijinsky" (July 9, 3 pm). The landmark 1950s cinema is located immediately next to the State Opera. Screening times have been chosen to enable visitors to attend the subsequent ballet performances at the main auditorium of the Hamburg State Opera.

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