BACH: Weihnachtsoratorio (Christmas Oratorio)
A Ballet by John Neumeier performed by the Hamburg Ballet.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 163 min. + 15 min. bonus

OFFENBACH: La Belle Helene
Jin-Sang Han (Paris). Gallard (Ménélas). Jennifer Larmore (Hélène). Viktor Rud (Agamenon). Rebecca Jo Loeb (Oreste). Christian Miedl (Calchas). Anat Erdi (Bacchus). Hamburg Chorus and Orch/Gerrit Rriessnitz, co nd.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 117 min.

"JARDI TANCAT" - a ballet by Nacho Duato, with music by María del Mar Bonnet

American John Neumeier (b. Milwaukee 1942) is founder, director and choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet, a position he has held since 1973. He is established as a prime mover in contemporary ballet and has received countless awards. An admirer of Nijinsky, he produced several ballets about the balletic legend, , plus re-choreographing most of the major ballets. Neumeier also has choreographed a number of Mahler symphonies. His works include Biblical ballets (Messiah, Magnificat, The Legend of Joseph). . This theatrical approach to Bach also occurred at the 2010 Salzburg Festival when Sir Simon Rattle, the Berlin Philharmonic, choruses and distinguished soloists presented the Peter Sellers staging of Stl Matthew Passion not danced, but with staged action. It was a great hit, repeated in New York a few years later - and it is available on DVD. Neumeier here has given Christmas Oratorio a full balletic treatment with a minimum of props and a large cast representing the various characters. It surely is beautiful to see and very well performed—but this is not the kind of ballet that appeals to me. You can see it on YouTube: check it out first. There are 66 trsvld. wotj a 15-minute interview with Neumeier. Video and audio are excellent. The Hamburg audience loved it—perhaps you will as well.

This production of Offenbach's delightful operetta La Belle hELENE was presented by the Hamburg Opera in October 2014. This satire on middle-class Paris has been updated and takes place on a luxury cruise liner in the 1960s. Stage director and choreographer was Renaud Doucet, with sets and costumes by André Barbe. Jennifer Larrmore sings the title role, with Asian tenor Jun-Sang Han as her suitor, Paris. There's lots of energy throughout, and the singing is generally pleasing although Larimore's voice is not as flexible as in years past and sometimes she is slightly off-pitch. It is a high-powered production with effective lighting by Guy Simard. There is much to enjoy here, but the elegance of Offenbach's score is rather lacking. Effective audio and video.

Jardi Tancat (Catalan for “Closed Garden”) is the first ballet of Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato. Created in 1983 when he was with the Netherlands Dance Theater, it is based on Catalonian folk stories which are sung by Maria del Mar Bonet. These are about the sad plight and despair of Spaniards who are waiting for rain to fall to save their crops. High emotion prevails, the melancholy of the parched earth and the hope for salvation in the form of rain,.a Mediterranean way of seeing life and poverty presented on a barren stage. Nacho Duato is a superb dancer; he worked with Jiri Kylán at the Netherlands Dance Theatre, and can be seen in that choreographer's superb idealization of Stravinsky;s L'histoire du soldat, praised on this site (REVIEW). This is a medium-price DVD; you can see it on YouTube.

R.E.B. (May 2016).