, September 2012
John Neumeier is an American-born dancer and choreographer who has been artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet since 1973. Thanks to DVDs, his work is becoming better known internationally, and this is the third Neumeier ballet I have had the pleasure of experiencing and reviewing.
Most of the music Neumeier has chosen is by Bach (The Musical Offering) or Wagner (Tristan und Isolde, Tannhäuser, the Wesendonck Lieder, his piano music). Roughly speaking, Bach’s music represents the rational world, and Wagner’s the irrational. The music is appropriate, and Neumeier uses it well, resisting the temptation to make his ballet seem…well, too operatic.
The basis of Neumeier’s style is classical ballet, but it is more athletic, more overtly dramatic, and very conscious of the expressive potential found in modern dance. In this production in particular, we are aware that the dancers also are actors. I don’t know what their speaking voices are like, but both could have had a strong career in silent movies, so expressive are their faces and body language.
The pluses here are superb choreography, staging, and light design (all by Neumeier), impressive dancing by an appealing cast, and an intriguing new look at Mann’s novella.
Production values are excellent; this is a DVD that looks and sounds very good.
…Neumeier’s Death in Venice is a work of high sensitivity, creativity, and technical accomplishment, and it can only get better the more one sees it. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review