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Saint Mathew Passion


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I'm going to be in Hamburg next month and Hamburg Ballet is doing Saint Mathew Passion. It is four hours long and the pictures on the website look quite unique. I'm wondering if anyone has seen this ballet and would love to hear your thoughts.

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Its based on Bach`s oratorio St Matthew`s Passion telling the Easter story written by Matthew in music and song.

It is a quite lengthy piece of music- and very dramatic and moving- I always said Bach`s music was great music for ballet!

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I never have sung it myself - it simply was never an option here- but the music is simply gorgeous. I love the alto soli- I find them even more moving than the basso soli :D- and yes, I am jewish and still love that piece!

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  • 1 month later...

Well, I got to go see Hamburg Ballet perform Saint Mathew Passion while in Hamburg, Germany last week. It was four hours of intense and wonderfully inspiring ballet. The choreography was phenomenal and the dancers were amazing. I'm so glad I got to go. There were no tickets left but I went anyway and was lucky to buy a ticket from someone. The seat was close to one of the best in the house. I couldn't believe the applause at the end, it went on and on and on and the dancers came out for bows many times over. It was incredible to experience the appreciation that the audience had for the hard work and dedication of the dancers. John Neumeier is indeed a superb choreographer and artistic director. I tried to visit the Hamburg Ballet School to observe classes however they were closed for holiday. I'll be going back to Hamburg in August and hope to see more.

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Setting a ballet to a Bach choral work, especially one like the Passion, is a risky undertaking. It's a lot like trying to do a ballet outdoors in full sun. The environment tends to swallow the dancing. Can you expand a little on what you saw? Comment on the choreographic content, observe about the way the work looked onstage, or anything further?

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It was quite different Mel, unusual with the choral aspect and it was in German so I had no idea what was happening. But as always I just surmised what was happening from the story being told through movement. Actually I really enjoyed seeing the ballet done to Bach and think it would be nice to see it done more. There were times when the movements were very slow and sustained but other times it seemed like any other ballet with variations. I did wait for the times when the solos and pas de deux was performed but also liked the mood setting quality of the slower, moodier, and passionate movements. Because of the subject matter and the closeness to Easter I think the full house of ballet goers enjoyed the more spiritual and meditative aspect of the ballet. The woman I sat next to had seen Saint Mathew Passion four times. The spiritual drama created a mood in the audience, there was great use of silence as well which was effective. It really told the story of Christ's life and portrayed how it felt to be around him, the joy and love yet the pain and sorrow was portrayed through this ballet. The staging was simple and they moved four wooden structure painted black and set them up in various ways as props. The entire ballet troupe was on stage the entire time. Most were sitting in the back on risers setting the stage and some of the dance happened behind the risers. You could see the characters starting to get involved when it was time for them to dance and some of the drama occurred on the risers.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I also saw Neumeier's Matthäuspassion, which is continously performed since 1981! My performance was in June 2004 and I'll never forget that day.

I only want to inform you that I heard , Matthäuspassion will soon be on a DVD (with Neumeier as Jesus).

Otherwise I doubt that there are performances in Hamburg in August due to holydays...


Greetings from Munich, Volkmar

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It's wonderful to hear that you saw Saint Mathew Passion too.

I will look for the DVD, thank you for letting me know.

I will probably get to Munich on my next trip.

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