Hamburg Ballet Gives U.S. Premiere of John Neumeier's Death in Venice at BAM

Classic Arts News   Hamburg Ballet Gives U.S. Premiere of John Neumeier's Death in Venice at BAM
The Brooklyn Academy of Music opens its spring 2007 season on February 7 with the U.S. premiere of the Hamburg Ballet's Death in Venice, an adaptation by choreographer John Neumeier of Thomas Mann's classic novella.

The performance will mark the first appearance at BAM by the Hamburg Ballet in more than 20 years.

While Mann conceived his protagonist as a poet, Neumeier re-imagines the aging Gustav von Aschenbach as a successful choreographer completely immersed in his work. Two male dancers serve as symbols of Ashcenbach's sensuality. While experiencing a professional crisis, the choreographer visits Venice, where he is stunned by the beauty and innocence of an adolescent boy. Large-scale, minimalist sets emphasize Aschenbach's anguish.

The choreography is set to music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Richard Wagner; scenery is by Peter Schmidt; Neumeier designed the lighting, while he and Scmidt collaborated on the costumes.

Neumeier, Hamburg Ballet's longtime artistic director, is the recipient of numerous awards, including the fourth biennial Njinsky Award (2006) for lifetime achievement. He studied ballet in Copenhagen and at the Royal Ballet School in London, and later earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and theater studies from Marquette University in Wisconsin.

In 1963, his talents were recognized in London by Marcia Haydee and Ray Barra. He was then engaged by John Cranko at Stuttgart Ballet, where he was often featured as a solo dancer and created his first choreographic works. In 1969 Neumeier was appointed Director of Ballet in Frankfurt and in 1973 began working in Hamburg.

The Hamburg Ballet was founded in 1678 and focused primarily on theater and opera, with dance considered mainly an adjunct to the opera. The company began focusing on dance following World War II.

There will be four performances of Death in Venice from February 7-10; information and tickets are available at

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