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Loney's Show Notes

By Glenn Loney, July 8, 2007
About Glenn Loney

Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:

From Bayreuth to Hamburg: Thanks to John Neumeier!
33. Hamburger Ballet-Tage: 1. Juli — 15. Juli 2007:
John Neumeier’s A CINDERELLA STORY [*****]
John Neumeier’s NIJINSKY [*****]
John Neumeier’s Vision of George Balanchine’s JEWELS [*****]
What Happens in Hamburg Also Tours!
Hamburg Entertainments: *





From Bayreuth to Hamburg: Thanks to John Neumeier!

Last August, Your Scribe was sitting in Richard Wagner’s historic Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, waiting for the second-act of something—maybe Siegfried?

Around him, formally-attired Opera-Elitists were handing their programs for autographs to the black-clad gentleman immediately in front of me. Who could this Important Personage possibly be? Not a Wagner, certainly, as they all sit in the Family-Loge

Ask, and it shall be Answered: he was the Milwaukee-born John Neumeier, Founder, Artistic-Director, & Choreographer of the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier! By now, a Kultur-Ikon on the German Performing-Arts Scene.

As I was probably the first American Culture-Journalist to have followed his work years ago as a young dancer at the Stuttgart Ballet, onward to his Intendancy at the now-defunct Frankfurt Ballet, & upward to his founding the Hamburg Ballet, I tapped him on the shoulder & said: "Johnny! Long time no see!"

Early-on I wrote of Neumeier as a "Prophet without Honor" in his own country—not in disparagement, but as yet another example of a Native-Talent who has had to go abroad to be find Opportunities & to be properly Appreciated.

That, of course, has All-Changed, as the Hamburg Ballet has now been to New York & elsewhere in the United States a number of times. In fact, it has now toured the Great Opera-houses of the World!

Actually, John Neumeier has proved not only a Prophet—with his Innovative-Choreographies & his training of Outstanding Dancers—but he has also become that rarest of beings: A Legend in His Own Time!

In addition to its remarkable Repertory—almost entirely composed of Neumeier Ballets—the Hamburg Ballet has a widely-admired Ballet-School, preparing young dance-students for future careers in major-ensembles, often in the Hamburg Ballet itself. The Ballet regularly performs at the Hamburg State Opera. For a time, it had its own theatre, but that was pre-empted by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats—as Hamburg is a great center for the re-production of British & American Musicals!

After World-War II, Ballet in German Opera-houses—there were more than 200 Drama/Opera Theaters East & West in the 1950s & 1960s!—was largely confined to a four- or six-minute ballet-interlude in the context of an opera such as Carmen or Faust.

At the end of the month, there would be a Ballet-Abend, in which the dancers could Show their Stuff—but they never had other opportunities to function in full-length-ballets. Very discouraging—also for audiences who loved ballet…

Today, Ballet & Modern-Dance are much more important—in their Own Rights—to German Audiences, but the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier is certainly the Best-Known & the Most-Honored of all.

It is perhaps too much to say that Neumeier Put Hamburg On The Map, as the Innovative-Choreographer Pina Bausch did with the still-unknown city of Wuppertal. Otherwise, who would ever have heard of Wupper & its Thal?

When I told Neumeier recently that a lot of Americans do not know just where Hamburg is located, he couldn’t believe it. Nonetheless, it is sadly true that many Landsleute know very little about the Map of Europe. Not to mention the Middle-East: Who—aside from Your Scribe—remembers where Trans-Jordan was?

Before Neumeier was invited—by StaatsIntendant August Everding—to create a free-standing Ballet-Ensemble in Hamburg—not just to service the opera-productions—the Hamburg Opera had been under the very Distinguished Leadership of Prof. Rolf Liebermann.

But the City-Fathers of Hamburg had never re-named it the Hamburg Opera Rolf Liebermann—or the Hamburg Opera August Everding—as they have done with the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier.

The obvious reason for this is that John Neumeier has, in fact, put Hamburg on the European-Cultural-Map in a very Big Way, something that no other Arts-Organization has yet been able to achieve in this Baltic Port-City.

After all, the Hamburg Ballet’s major-repertory—aside from revivals of Classics & Gastspiele—are all Neumeier Choreographies! Could it be said that he’s become the Balanchine of the Baltic?

The list of the many Honors & Prizes awarded Neumeier runs to over two pages of fine-print. But he has just received the Ultimate-Honor: John Neumeier has been made an Ehrenburger of the City of Hamburg!

Beginning with Johannes Brahms, there have been only four men so honored! John Neumeier is the Fourth in all those decades. And the Only American!

But he seems almost as pleased with something New York’s Dance-Expert Clive Barnes wrote about his work with the Hamburg Ballet. He laughs: "Clive said we’ve proved that Hamburg isn’t just Chopped-Meat!"

33. Hamburger Ballet-Tage: 1. Juli — 15. Juli 2007:

Because I had just come from three-weeks in the American Far-West—seeing Las Vegas Shows & Shakespeare-Festivals in both Oregon & Utah—I was not able to arrive in Hamburg in time for the Inaugural-Performances of the famed Hamburg Ballet-Days.

So I missed the World-Premiere of John Neumeier’s new ballet, Die kleine Meerjungfrau—which will surely be known as The Little Mermaid, when it tours America. From the title, you may guess the ballet is inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved Danish tale. Not by the Disney movie…

But, if you are familiar with Neumeier’s Choreographies, you may be sure the Original is only a Point of Departure. I have a copy of the program, which certainly whets my Visual-Appetite, so I hope I may be invited back next summer to see this new work.

I also hope to be able to visit Neumeier’s Hamburg Ballet Centrum to watch classes of young dancers train for careers in major ballet-ensembles—including that of the Hamburg Ballet!

In fact, I could see only three of the Hamburg Ballet productions in the current festival, as I had to rush off to Munich to see the World-Premiere of Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland.

The Dancing-Hamburgers will be performing their celebrated St. Matthew Passion choreography 21-21 July in the famed Oberammergau Passion-Play-Theatre, but by that time I’m in Bregenz for the fest-opening, with a mammoth Tosca production on the great Lake-Stage of the Bodensee

This demanding Festival-Schedule meant that I also missed the Neumeier productions of Dornröschen, Requiem, Artus-Saga, Parzifal—Episoden & Echo, the Gastspiel-Gala of Kamelien-Dame, & the Final-Night Nijinsky-Gala XXXIII—Mythen & Märchen.

What was missed at the Nijinsky-Gala was a challenging program of extracts from such choreographies as The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, A Cinderella Story, Daphnis & Chloë, Amleth, The Nutcracker, Parzifal, Errand into the Maze, Le Sacre du Printemps, Sylvia, Diana & Acteon, The Dying Swan, Romeo & Juliet, Scheherazade, & a Salute to Maurice Béjart—long a friend of & inspiration to John Neumeier.

What an evening that must have been!

For those who love Ballet & Modern-Dance—and who have not been Banned from Flying by the White-House—the 2007-2008 schedule of the Hamburg Ballet is already online. Try: www.hamburgballet.de!

Here are some of the choreographies programmed for the coming season: The Little Mermaid, Lieder der Nacht, The Seagull, Death in Venice, The Nutcracker, The Christmas-Oratorio, Jewels, Josephs-Legend, Othello, Parzifal, & The Saint Matthew Passion, ending with another Hamburg Ballet Festival & another Nijinsky-Gala, this time the XXXIV Edition.

John Neumeier’s A CINDERELLA STORY [*****]

Although Serge Prokofiev’s lively score for Cinderella has been used for Conventional Balletic Re-enactments of this famous French-Fairytale, John Neumeier—as is his Choreographic-Custom—has re-imagined the fable, going far beyond the Sentimental-Morality of France’s Charles Perrault.

Neumeier has also eclipsed the more Savage, Revenge-gorged Aschenbrödel/Cinderella tale of the Brothers Grimm. Their versions of Cinderella & other Age-old Morality-Lessons for Children are always Germanically-Grim indeed.

In Perrault’s Gallic-Version—despite all the Hard-Words & Humiliations Cinderella has suffered from her Own Father, her Unkind Stepmother, & her two Selfish & Nasty Step-sisters—when her Fairy-Prince marries her, she forgives them all & invites them to come to Court with her & Live Happily Ever After.

The Grimm Version is entirely different in its Conclusion. When the Prince arrives with the Lost-Slipper—or Glass-Shoe—Cinderella’s Stepmother is determined her eldest daughter will be chosen for his wife.

But her feet are Too Big to fit the dainty slipper! So her mother cuts-off her big-toe to make the Foot Fit. As the Prince rides off with her, however, Cinderella’s Bird-Spirits cry out that the shoe is dripping Blood!

So the Prince returns to Cinderella’s father’s house to try again. The Younger Step-sister’s feet are also too large, so her mother cuts-off her big-toe, just as she had done with the Elder.

The Potential Bride & Groom ride off, but, once again, the Bird-Spirits cry out that the shoe is dripping Blood!

In Teutonic-Tales, these things always Come in Threes: the Rule-of-Three: Three Crows, Three Crowns, Three Brothers, Three Wishes

And the Third Time Is the Charm, as they say…

Cinderella’s foot fits the glass-slipper exactly. She is the Chosen-Bride. But she does not forgive her Step-sisters & invite them to live with her in the Palace.

Instead, when they try to force themselves into the Wedding-Procession, their eyes are pecked-out by Cinderella’s Bird-Friends. And they live the rest of their lives Totally-Blind! Talk about Pay-Back!

There are Elements of both the French & German tales in John Neumeier’s A Cinderella Story—but this title already suggests that this is yet another version of the fable.

Nonetheless—and surely for his Audiences’ Edification—Neumeier has included Synopses of both German & French Tales in the Official-Program. In fact, they are positioned rather like a Cinderella-Sandwich, with a Filling composed of an account of Neumeier’s working with his brilliant designer, Jürgen Rose, to make Visual & Emotional-Magic onstage.

Neumeier also explains in the program that—when he was preparing to create this astonishing new work—he was initially thinking about the Relationship of Cinderella to her essentially Rejecting-Father, who almost immediately after the Death of her Beloved Mother, marries again, seeming to prefer his New Wife & Her Daughters to his own devastated & bereft child.

Neumeier notes that he was thinking in terms of King Lear rejecting his dear daughter, Cordelia, in favor of her two Evil Elder Sisters.

But the circumstances of the Sudden-Wedding—just after the Funeral of the First Wife—suddenly struck Neumeier as similar to Hamlet’s Situation, having his Mother hastily re-marry the Scheming Claudius, following the burial of his beloved father, King Hamlet.

This Vein of Philosophical & Psychological Analysis runs through much of Neumeier’s adventurous Choreographic-Experimentation. But his Cinderella Story—as with his Death in Venice—is definitely not a Philosophical-Treatise in Action, nor a Psychiatric-Session set in the Five-Positions of Classical Ballet.

Certainly Neumeier’s Athletic, Attractive, Elegant, Dynamic, & Immensely-Talented Dancers are skilled in the Traditions of Ballet, but in his Cinderella choreography he blends ballet with Movement, Mime, & Emotion so that the principal characters take on a kind of Humanity not usually found in traditional ballets of Handsome & Vacuous Young Princes Hunting in Forests or Pretty Princesses Pricking Their Fingers & Falling Asleep even longer than some in the audience.

Of course no one Speaks or Sings, but Passions & Tempers, Hurts & Humiliations, are subtly suggested, both in Individual-Motion & Emotion, as well as in Interactive-Relationships—sometimes in Frozen-Poses… Sometimes in Furious or even Hilarious Dancing…

In the Court of the King [Sébastien Thill], there are three Comic Ministers [Yohan Stegli, Kiran West, & Konstantin Tselikov] who delightfully point-up the Importance of the Day-dreaming Prince picking a Consort.

They present him with a series of Andy-Warhol-Style portraits of women for him to choose. These women are all the Same-Face, only in Different-Colors: like Warhol’s Silk-Screens of Chairman Mao or Jackie Kennedy, in effect.

The Prince [Ivan Urban] will have none of them—including a Living Blue-faced Hindu-Princess. He is constantly sketching & admiring the face of His Ideal Love. When he first sees Cinderella [Heather Jurgensen], he knows he has Found Her: a Romeo & Juliet Moment—Glass-Slippers not needed.

The eight-sections of Cinderella Story are framed inside an immense glowing Abstract White Box—but open in front to the Audience & opening into a deep Black-Void at the rear. Designer Jürgen Rose has used this device before—sometimes with the whiteness glowing from inside the walls—to lend a Timeless, Placeless Quality to an Opera or Ballet.

Initially, when the Funeral-Cortège of Cinderella’s Mother moves across the stage in deep black Silhouette—with dancers bending & bracing, as if moving against the Wind—the Whiteness of the Box heightens the Visual-Impact of the scene.

There is no Fairy-Godmother in this Cinderella-Version. Instead, the Spirit of Cinderella’s Mother [Laura Cazzaniga] is hovering near the Hazelnut-Tree that has grown from a twig stuck in her grave. As are Cinderella’s Vogel-Geister: Anton Alexandrov, Peter Dingle, Stefano Palmigiano, & Alexandre Riabko.

Although the King appears in two different Outfits that suggest a Minor Mughal or Muslim Potentate, the Ladies of his Court are coiffed in the Manner of the Flaming Twenties & gowned in a similar style: long ball-gowns in dark reds, red with black-veilings, & even stark black, one with glittering black-sequins: tricky when a Lift is required—don’t rip the sequins off!

Elegance is the Key at Court. The men are all in White-tie & Tails: a handsome contrast to their beautiful partners.

The simplicity of Cinderella’s dress—as well as her innocent, hesitant demeanor—not only provide a contrast to the Court-Ladies, but also to her Pushy Step-mother [Joëlle Boulogne], dressed in a Plum-colored-gown & Vamping the King until she gets his Ornate Order & Band.

It’s clear she has no real interest in her husband—who is now Sadder but Wiser & wonderfully interpreted by Lloyd Riggins, who is also Von Aschenbach in Neumeier’s Tod in Venedig, seen in Brooklyn at BAM in February.

His Step-daughters [Carolina Agüero & Hélène Bouchet]—who were really nasty to poor Cinderella at their mother’s wedding to her father—are more interested at the Ball in attracting the indifferent Prince’s Attention. One is gowned in Apricot; the other in a shade of [Jürgen?] Rose-Pink.

At one point in the Court-Ball, a theme from Prokofiev’s Love of Three Oranges—that is also in the Cinderella-score—emerges. This is made visually-manifest by having oranges ritually-passed from one Courtier to another in an amusing sequence.

Neumeier’s Vogel-Geister, or Bird-Spirits, achieve an astonishing effect of Birds in Flight, not only by undulating their outstretched arms & hands, but also with their widely-flaring silver-trouser-panels which flutter in the winds they generate as they swoop about the stage.

Because the Prince had already been sketching the face of his Ideal-Beloved—not knowing it would prove to be Cinderella’s Face—he had no need of trying Glass-Slippers on the feet of all the Ladies in the Land. She was The One. And he knew it the moment he saw her…

[Incidental Note: In the original French-version, Cinderella’s Slippers were not made of glass, or Verre, but of FUR, known as Vair. A simple Mis-translation leads to all kinds of Foot-Problems!]

Nonetheless, Cinderella—who comes three times to three evenings of the Prince’s Balls—always has to rush off before Midnight. But she soon realizes that these Posh-Court-Functions are not for her & so she is glad to flee…

But where has she gone? The lovelorn Prince begins a Long Journey, hoping to find her. Along the way, he meets a number of interesting people. But nowhere does he find Cinderella.

At the close—noted in the program as "Years Later"—with Cinderella’s mournful father by the great Hazelnut-Tree that has grown from a sprig she stuck in her mother’s grave & watered with her tears, I had a sense that she, like her mother, had already Passed-Over.

But then the Prince—who has been Wandering & Searching for years—appears & finds her in the Heart of the Tree, disclosed by her Father. They rush off together, her father looking a fond-farewell after them…

John Neumeier’s NIJINSKY [*****]

In 2004, John Neumeier brought his Epic Salute to the Greatest Dancer & Choreographer of the Modern Era to New York City-Center. This breath-taking ballet is known now Worldwide as Nijinsky.

But it is in no sense a Bio-Dance-Work—if there is even such a term in use—as Neumeier well understood the Virtual Impossibility of presenting Nijinsky’s Life-Story, Achievements as a Principal & Solo Dancer, & as an extremely Innovative-Choreographer in one-evening of Narrative-Performance.

Obviously, a Documentary-Film could do that much more effectively: fortunately, there is Film-Footage & there are multiple Photographs. In fact, John Neumeier has assembled possibly the largest Nijinsky Archive in the world.

Nijinsky was even a childhood-hero: Neumeier learned about Nijinsky from one of the only five books on dance in the Milwaukee Public Library!

But this fuelled his ambition, over the years, to find a way to put Nijinsky, his Family, his WifeRomola, his Roles, his Choreographies, his LoverSerge Diaghilev, Impresario of the Ballets Russes, & his Madness on stage.l

It is said that at the Moment of your Death, your Mind will run the Video-tape of Your Life Backwards. In a sense, that is what Neumeier has done in his balletic-evocation titled Nijinsky

Acting as the Designer—as well as the Historian-Choreographer—Neumeier has recreated the handsome Art-Deco Ballroom of the Suvretta-Villa, near St. Moritz, where Nijinsky danced for an Audience for the last time ever. He was already going Mad. And the title of this last choreography was his Wedding with God—to whom he always felt very close…

When I saw Nijinsky at New York City-Center—a former Shrine-Temple that came to the City of New York on tax-default during the Great Depression—I had a bad-seat in an auditorium & stage-complex not ideal for Dance-Performances. At the time, I wondered why the Hamburg Ballet had to settle for this Venue, instead of the Brooklyn Academy of Music—BAM—or Lincoln Center.

Neumeier’s Death in Venice was recently a great-success at BAM, and the Hamburg Ballet initially became better-known to New York Dance-Fans on its Opera-stage in previous engagements.

Now, seeing Nijinsky from one of the best seats in the Hamburg State Opera, I appreciate even more how ingeniously John Neumeier has integrated the most Important-Aspects of this Doomed-Dancer’s Fabulous/Horrendous Life.

Years ago—also at City Center—I witnessed Nijinsky’s Sad Story from a Different-Perspective. This was the drama, Chinchilla, by the late Robert David Macdonald. Produced by Glasgow’s renowned Citizens’ Theatre, it looked at the dancer as a kind of Extension of the Ego of his lover, Diaghilev, known as Chinchilla, for the Fur-Coat he favored.

Nijinsky’s sudden marriage to Romola infuriated Diaghilev—who dismissed him from the Ballets Russes. So the play was more about Love-Conflicts than about Ballet. Especially not about actually seeing the ballets being discussed.

In Neumeier’s Nijinsky, however, you do get a Tantalizing-Sampling, as other dancers embody Nijinsky in major roles such as Harlequin in Carnaval, the Spirit of the Rose in Specter of the Rose, the Golden Slave in Sheherezade, the Young Man in Jeux, the Faun in Afternoon of a Faun, & as Petruschka.

Other Ballets Russes ballets are also intermingled with Nijinsky’s Frantic-Remembrances. The Interplay of Family-Relations, with sister Bronislava, & especially with his brother Stanislav, well on his way to Madness, with Romola, with Diaghilev, & with fabled partners such as Tamara Karsavina are all ingeniously integrated into a kind of Dance-Frenzy.

As Nijinsky’s hold on Reality begins to fracture during his Last Dance, the Suvretta Ballroom begins to fracture as well, becoming merely pieces of unattached-scenery—but also suggesting the Passing-Away of an Era, as well as the Genius of a great Dancer/Choreographer.

When the Ballroom has effectually disappeared, a great glowing White Ring descends from above, visually echoing a similar but smaller White Ring lying on the stage. This also rises, in time.

What the Significance of these two White O’s could be escaped me. Although I had just seen Cirque du Soleil’s O in Las Vegas—which also features White Rings…

Chatting with John Neumeier in his office, I dared to query. He noted that the Rings were inspired by Nijinsky’s own art-works—most of which Neumeier has collected. Possibly a Symbolist in spirit, Nijinsky favored rings & circles. In fact, some of his designs are reproduced in the Nijinsky program—which also has a number of Vintage-Photographs of him in Major-Roles!

Although some New York Dance-Critics in 2004 were quick to criticize Neumeier’s way of telling Nijinsky’s story, none of them dismissed the remarkable dancers involved.

In the haunting performance I saw in Hamburg—more than one Principal may dance a specific role—I was impressed with all the ensemble, but especially with Alexandre Riabko as Nijinsky & Heather Jurgensen as his wife, Romola.

And also with Lloyd Riggins as Petrouchka, Ivan Urban as Diaghilev, Laura Cazzaniga as Karsavina, Niurka Moreda as Bronislava, & Thiago Bordin as Massine.

The amount of Passionate-Energy expended on that stage was breath-taking. As indeed was the Impact of the Total-Production!

John Neumeier’s Vision of George Balanchine’s JEWELS [*****]

In the prime of his Artistic-Life, George Balanchine was not just a Legend in Hamburg, but also a Working-Choreographer on the stage of the Hamburg State Opera, where his Jewels is now being danced!

The famed Intendant, Rolf Liebermann, invited Balanchine to choreograph two operas, and his own ballets were also recreated with the Opera’s ballet-ensemble. So Balanchine is more than just a Famous Name in Hamburg.

Actually, the Hamburg Ballet’s revival/replication of George Balanchine’s sparkling Jewels ballets is only John Neumeier’s Vision in that he seeks to Honor great Creative Choreographers of the Past & Present with presentations of their works, either replicated or renewed. Denmark’s August Bournonville, Russia’s Maurius Petipa, & New York’s George Balanchine are all at the top of Neumeier’s Honor-Roll.

Thus, Neumeier has been intent on finding the best Balanchine-dancers he can—or other experts—to help his dancers re-create Emeralds, Rubies, & Diamonds. Karin Von Aroldingen, Elyse Borne, Patricia Neary, & Malin Thoors helped his ensemble make these contrasting works their own.

But John Neumeier’s Own Vision of the ballets is also partially-visible onstage: He has created the three stage-environments & designed the lighting! The jewel-glittering Costumes, however, are based on the Originals of Karinska!

To the Novice-Viewer, it might not seem that he has done very much in the way of set-design in any of the three ballets. Diamonds—or Diamanten, in German—is the most glittering, with a dark blue sky filled with diamond-like stars. This fits the glittering crystal facets of the costumed-dancers in Synchronous-Formations & in sparkling & challenging Pas de deux.

Actually, a ballet set-designer wants to leave as much of the dancing-space on the stage as free as possible from set-pieces or set-props. If he or she wants to Call-Attention to his or her design-genius, Ballet & Modern-Dance are not the areas of theatre in which to work to Greatest-Effect.

For Smaragde—or Emeralds—Neumeier has created a greenish Abstraction of swirling colors that provides a sympathetic & suggestive background to the elegant & precise movements of his dancers, glittering with green gems on their costumes and Jewels in Themselves.

After all, how do you dance something like Rubies—or Rubine? Well, you might try beginning with Igor Stravinsky‘s Capriccio to inspire you… As Balanchine did.

Possibly because of the rich red warmth of the color of these Precious-Gems, Balanchine saw his dancers being more Spirited, more Joyous, more Open, than in the preceding Emeralds?

That is certainly what comes across when the Hamburg Ballet Ensemble evokes Rubies so warmly & joyously.

The fact that Balanchine used music of Gabriel Fauré—from Pelléas et Mélisande—as a point of departure for Emeralds & music of Peter Tchaikovsky for Diamonds—Symphony Nr. 3 in D-Major—also tells you something about his conceptions of those gems.

But there is also no point in even trying to describe what happens physically in these three Plot-less Exercises in Patterns of Motion & Challenges in Balletic-Skills.

Such Critic-Experts as Robert Gottlieb, Anna Kisselgoff, Jennifer Dunning, & Deborah Jowett have already done that with insight & precision…

Principal & featured dancers in Emeralds included Barbora Kohoutkova & Dario Franconi, Joëlle Boulogne & Lloyd Riggins, plus Hélène Bouchet, Thiago Bordin, & Georgina Broadhurst.

In Rubies: Silvia Azzoni & Alexandre Riabko, Anna Laudere, plus Anton Alexandrov, Peter Dingle, Stefano Palmigiano, & Yohan Stegli.

Heather Jurgensen & Otto Bubenicek were paired in Diamonds.

What Happens in Hamburg Also Tours!

Here are some of the Cities & Theatres the Hamburg Ballet has visited on Tour: the Paris Opéra/Palais Garnier, Singapore’s Esplanade-Theatre, Shanghai’s Grand-Theatre, Rio’s Teatro Municipal, Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan, Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera, Athens’ Odeon of Herodes-Atticus, Taormina’s Teatro Antico, Pompeii’s Teatro Grande, Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colon, Salzburg’s Festspielhaus, Brooklyn’s BAM, & even the Orange County Performing-Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

But that is only a Partial-List, compiled from tours in the Last Century!

The Hamburg Ballet has since traveled much more widely. Just hope they may soon come to a City Near You. Or why not take a Holiday in Hamburg!

Hansa-Stadt Hamburg Entertainments:

The Auto-Licenses for Hamburg are distinguished by the letters HH—for Hansa-Stadt Hamburg. Said aloud, this works out as Ha-Ha! But Culture in Hamburg is No Joke!

Aside from Shipping & World-Cruises—and Chopped-Meat—Hamburg may be best known for its steamy Night-Life on the Reeperbahn & Sankt Pauli. Yes, there is a notorious Red-Light-District.

But the Beatles got their start here as well. So it’s not all about Cakes & Ale. Not to mention Condoms

For some time now, Hamburg has been a Tourist-Destination for its German-versions of famed American & Brit Musicals. Currently, My Fair Lady is playing at the Altonaer-Theatre, with Disney’s Welterfolg, Der König der Löwen, on stage at the Theater im Hafen!

Dirty Dancing is at the Theater Neue Flora, and you can catch Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap—in German—at the Imperial Theatre.

How about Tennessee Williams’ Endstation Sehnsucht at the Sankt Pauli-Theater? You may know this drama better as Streetcar Named Desire—but What’s in a Name, after all…

Two of the most famed German Drama-Theatres are here in Hamburg: the Deutsches Schauspielhaus & the Thalia-Theater. Thalia-productions have even been seen at BAM in Brooklyn! And its former director, Jürgen Flimm, is now the Artistic-Director of the Salzburg Festival!

The Schauspielhaus has been showing Molière’s The Miser, but its Summer-Special will be Marilyn—The Musical!

Onward & Upward with The Arts!


If you are planning a trip from the United States—or Canada or Central America or South America—to Europe or farther East, avoid London’s Heathrow Airport. If you have to change planes at Heathrow, you run the risk of arriving at your Continental-Destination without your checked-luggage turning-up on the Baggage-Claim-Belt.

To reach Hamburg in time for the Opening of the Ballet-Festival, Your Scribe booked passage from New York on British-Air, with a change-of-planes at Heathrow onward to Hamburg.

The problems began at the BA-JFK Check-in Counters. The lines were Endless—and they barely moved for more than two hours of nudging the suitcases along in files that doubled-back on themselves again & again.

In fact, I first joined a Serpentine-line that extended almost out of Terminal 7, only to discover that this was only for those who had already lined-up to check-in Electronically & now needed to drop-off their to-be-checked-baggage.

In front of me were a number of large European-Families, returning from Exploring-America—complete with Mountains of Baggage: rather like Moving-House than coming back from an Overseas-Vacation. It took forever to issue Boarding-Cards & check their Tents, Bikes, & Folding-Kayaks.

One reason for the Hordes of Potential-Fliers was that this was the beginning of July, when the Overseas-Rush is in Full-Swing. But matters were made immensely worse by the Misfired Terrorist-Attacks in London & at Glasgow Airport.

Security-Lines were as slow as those at Check-In: Slower, perhaps, as every Laptop, Shoe, Digital-Camera, & Hair-Gel Tube had to be examined. Not to mention the Water-Bottles seized!

Naturally, the plane for the NYC-London Flight was delayed & had to be cleaned & inspected before we could board. Take-Off was delayed an hour or so—not only because of the Usual Back-Up of planes at Kennedy—but also because an Arriving-Plane had burst a tire, temporarily obstructing Landing & Take-Off Lanes.

Arriving at Heathrow, BA Passengers found the lines for passing through Security a Second-Time—although already In-Transit—were almost as Slow & as Long as at JFK Check-In. This meant that catching the London-Hamburg Flight—despite an originally-scheduled London-Wait of over two-hours—was impossible.

Then there were the Endless-Lines at Under-Manned BA-Counters to rebook Missed-Flights. At Noon, several of the Counter-Clerks put on their jackets to go to lunch. They were not Replaced!

Naturally, the plane for the London-Hamburg Flight was delayed & had to be cleaned & inspected before we could board. The actual flight was Pleasant, without Incident!

Once in Hamburg, there were no lines at Passport-Control. The Police-Officer asked where I had learned German so well? From Romy Schneider—from watching German-films in the 1950s, when I was teaching in Munich, Oberammergau, Augsburg, Würzburg, Murnau, & Dachau

I then proceeded with my Colleague—and Fellow-Invitee to the Hamburg Ballet-Festival, Prof. Cynthia Allen—to Baggage-Claim-Carousel No. 1. We waited & waited but our distinctive Charlie Sport wheeled-cases did not appear.

So we joined a small Queue at the Lost-Luggage-Counter, where an angry & distraught father was berating the BA Staff for the apparent-loss of all his family’s checked-baggage. He wouldn’t give-up, as though the more he argued & the angrier he got, somehow his cases would suddenly appear.

At the end of the line—with our baggage-checks duly scanned—we were told the bags were not lost. They were still somewhere in Heathrow—no one knew where—but it might be as long as four days before they could be found & delivered to us in Hamburg. By that time, however, we would be in Munich…

I must note that the Hamburg BA Staff were immensely patient & understanding. And it was certainly not their fault the Luggage had Gone Lost.

Dr. Allen & I feared we would have to attend the Hamburg Ballet-Festival in the Clothes we had on, as the One-Carry-On-Limit had been filled with my INFOTOGRAPHY™ Cameras, Film, Laptops, CDs, & other Lightning-New-Media Electronics.

Fortunately, all four missing-cases arrived at our door in the Hamburg suburbs late the next day—just in time for us to don Decent-Apparel for the Festival!

But this was not the First-Time my checked-baggage had been lost in Heathrow, when I had to change-planes to fly onward to the Continent. It happened Last Summer, and the Summer before that…

This Summer, the Terrorist-Threat was the Offered-Excuse for Delays & Losses. But previously, the malfunctioning Baggage-Handling-System at Heathrow was blamed. Ordinarily, this then should not be a Black-Mark against British-Air—but BA actually owns & operates Heathrow.

You & Your Baggage might have Better-Luck if you were to fly over Gatwick or Prestwick Airports

Best Choice of All: If you must change planes between New York & Your Final-Continental-
Destination, avoid Heathrow altogether & change at Schipol-Airport outside Amsterdam!

Try Lufthansa?

Copyright Glenn Loney, 2007. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, New York Theatre Wire." Reproduction rights please contact: jslaff@nytheatre-wire.com.

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