Hamburg, March 27, 2018 – Georges Delnon, Artistic Director of the Hamburg State Opera, and Professor John Neumeier, Artistic Director and Chief Choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet, presented the 2018/2019 season of the Hamburg State Opera at today’s press conference.
The 2018/2019 Season of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier – An Overview.
For his 46th season at the helm of the Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier has put together a personally meaningful programme. “For the past 45 years, I have moved dancers to move people in the Hanseatic City of Hamburg – the centre of my artistic life. During the forthcoming season, I will celebrate my 80th birthday. This occasion offers an opportunity to weave some threads of my life into the programme of the Hamburg Ballet,” John Neumeier, Artistic Director of the Hamburg Ballet, explains.
The 2018/2019 season of the Hamburg Ballet has “Threads of my Life” as its motto. After 45 years at the helm of the Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier thus summarizes a programme he has selected from a highly personal perspective. After the worldwide success of A Streetcar Named Desire, John Neumeier continues his exploration of the works of the American playwright Tennessee Williams, presenting the world premiere of The Glass Menagerie. 75 years after Williams landed his first great stage hit with this work, John Neumeier’s ballet adaptation of the same name opens the 45th Hamburg Ballet Days on June 16, 2019.
John Neumeier dedicates the winter premiere of the Hamburg Ballet, Brahms/Balanchine (December 9, 2018), to the legendary New York City Ballet director George Balanchine: “He has been, in a sense, a role model for me – not only because his many years of loyalty to the New York City Ballet are similar to my dedication to Hamburg – but because of his constant ability to renew dance. Firmly rooted in tradition, Balanchine’s creativity gave classical ballet contemporary form.” The production combines the opulent Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet with the comparatively intimate ballet Liebeslieder Walzer – to John Neumeier, a rarely-performed “jewel” among Balanchine’s choreographies.
The exceptional highlight of the season is the evening of John Neumeier’s 80th birthday, when the choreographer himself moderates the Benefit Gala The World of John Neumeier (February 24, 2019). His vision is an independent ballet institution with the high-carat collection of his foundation as its core assets. This goal in mind, John Neumeier dedicates the proceeds of the Benefit Gala to the John Neumeier Foundation.
On the season’s opening weekend, the Hamburg Ballet revives Bernstein Dances (September 9, 2018), thereby paying homage to John Neumeier’s personal friend Leonard Bernstein during Bernstein’s centennial. The Hamburg Ballet also marks the centennial of Jerome Robbins by performing Chopin Dances. The classical ballets The Nutcracker and Illusions – like Swan Lake (both by John Neumeier) and Don Quixote (by Rudolf Nureyev) also refer to an anniversary commemorated throughout the world: the 200th birthday of the groundbreaking ballet master and choreographer Marius Petipa.
The 2018/2019 season programme illustrates the diversity of ballet genres which exemplify John Neumeier’s work as an artist and choreographer. In the field of symphonic ballet, these include not only the Beethoven Project (world premiere on June 24, 2018), but also the revival of All Our Yesterdays: Des Knaben Wunderhorn / Fifth Symphony of Gustav Mahler (February 17, 2019). Other works that must be mentioned are the literary ballets Anna Karenina and Lady of the Camellias, the sacred-music ballet Christmas Oratorio I-VI and John Neumeier’s genre-bending “total work of art”, Orphée et Eurydice, a co-production with the Lyric Opera Chicago and the Los Angeles Opera, which has its European premiere on February 3, 2019. Orphée et Eurydice is a production of the Hamburg State Opera including the Hamburg Ballet. Just as the production Brahms/Balanchine, this premiere is supported by the Foundation for the Support of the Hamburg State Opera.
The 45th Hamburg Ballet Days (June 16 to 30, 2019) will be bookended by the world premiere of The Glass Menagerie by John Neumeier and the Nijinsky Gala XLV, the festive closing of the season. The festival presents the most interesting ballet productions of the season, including the opera Orphée et Eurydice. Furthermore, the renowned Dutch company Het Nationale Ballet presents works by the celebrated choreographer Hans van Manen on June 25 and 26, 2019. Featured works include Symphonies of the Netherlands and 5 Tangos. This is the third invitation John Neumeier has issued to this impressive guest company, following its appearances in the Hanseatic City in 1977 and 1990.
Four times per season, the Hamburg Ballet hosts its popular Ballet Workshops. In these matinee performances, John Neumeier explains the historical background of his ballets, offering insights into his creative process. The Benefit Workshop on December 16, 2018 merits special mention, as its proceeds go to the dance foundation Stiftung Tanz.
Behind this decision stands John Neumeier’s determination to support dancers’ careers, also beyond their successful phases. As the chairman of its supervisory board ever since the founding of the Stiftung Tanz, he has tried to offer dancers perspectives for their professional future after their active career. The positions for aspirants of the Hamburg Ballet also go back to his initiative: after completing their training, they are given the possibility to be introduced to a professional dancer’s work at the Hamburg Ballet. During the 2018/2019 season, all six aspirant positions are financed in full by the Friends of the Hamburg Ballet Center e.V.
From February 25 to 27 and March 1 to 3, 2019, the School of the Hamburg Ballet celebrates the ten-year anniversary of the annual Workshop of Creativity. Since 2010, the theatre classes perform at the Ernst Deutsch Theater, showing their own choreographies as danced final theses. Just like the Workshop of Creativity, the creative format Young Choreographers enjoys the particular esteem of John Neumeier, the Director of the School of the Hamburg Ballet: together with their colleagues, dancers of the Hamburg Ballet develop their own choreographies in their free time, presenting them in a professional framework. After four seasons at the opera stabile, the Young Choreographers will now appear on a new stage. The place and dates for the new performance venue will be announced separately.
The 2018/2019 season takes the Hamburg Ballet on tour in Germany and abroad – the company will show four different ballets, a ballet workshop and a gala programme outside Hamburg. In October 2018 the company travels to the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden for its annual autumn residence, where it performs Bernstein Dances, a Ballet Workshop and Anna Karenina. In 2019 the Hamburg Ballet undertakes an extensive tour of Asia, with Hong Kong as the most important stop (The Nutcracker, The World of John Neumeier, Beethoven Project).
Guest Appearances of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier in 2018/2019 – An Overview
Ever since John Neumeier arrived in the Hanseatic City in 1973 as its ballet director, international guest performances have been part of the Hamburg Ballet’s self-concept. With his artistic engagement, Hamburg’s Artistic Director of the Ballet and honorary citizen has caused many a stir, year after year – making him one of the most distinguished ambassadors for the high-carat cultural life of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. Over the past 45 years, the Hamburg Ballet has given more than 1,000 guest performances in 119 different cities in 30 countries. Hamburg has every reason to be proud of this sustained presence in the world’s great cultural centres.
Only last year, the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended the highly symbolic Russian premiere of John Neumeier’s Saint Matthew Passion in Moscow, on the occasion of the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. During the subsequent group photograph on stage, the President addressed the dancers, visibly moved: “Thank you very much – you are wonderful ambassadors for Germany!”
This is the standard which John Neumeier and the Hamburg Ballet apply to all their guest appearances, including those of the 2018/2019 season. The Hamburg Ballet shows four ballet productions, one ballet workshop and a gala programme in Baden-Baden and on an extensive tour of Asia, with Hong Kong as the main stop.
Baden-Baden, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
- Bernstein Dances (Ballet Review by John Neumeier)
October 6 & 7, 2018
- Anna Karenina (Ballet by John Neumeier)
October 12, 13 & 14, 2018
- Ballet Workshop (moderated by John Neumeier)
October 7, 2018
Hong Kong (Hong Kong Arts Festival 2019)
- The Nutcracker (Ballet by John Neumeier)
- The World of John Neumeier (Ballet Gala)Bee
- thoven Project (Ballet by John Neumeier)
The season brochures are now available online: www.hamburgballett.de