Hamburg Ballet holiday production debuts on the big screen at Fisher Theatre
Sedona AZ (December 14, 2015) – The Sedona International Film Festival presents Ballet in Cinema on Monday, Dec. 21 when it hosts the big screen premiere of the Bach Christmas Oratorio from the Hamburg Ballet in Germany. There will be one show at 4:00 p.m. at the festival’s Mary D. Fisher Theatre.
The production features the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, with choreography by John Neumeier.
The Bach Christmas Oratorio’s first three parts — designed for the first three days of Christmas — are about the Christmas Story’s core: the particulars of the child’s birth and the appearance of the angels to the shepherds on the field. Likewise, based on the narrative of the evangelists Luke and Matthew, are the second half’s three parts (IV-VI): the child’s circumcision on New Year’s Day, his adoration by the three wise men and finally his persecution by Herod.
When Bach’s Christmas Oratorio opens with the words “Rejoice, exult” one surrenders willingly to the sensation of floating. The rousing joy of this chorus and its unquestioning optimism seem boundless. According to John Neumeier, the opening chorus of the six-part oratorio “projects a relentlessly rushing joy – not yet aware of original sin”. The chorus sings of hope, not of an already fulfilled redemption. Neumeier adds: “Salvation is not a forgone conclusion, but is rather something that needs to be constantly earned and prepared for. As soon as the music of the ‘Rejoice’ chorus begins – and this is the wonderful thing about Bach’s music – a flame inside us ignites, lighting up the irresistible feeling of joy. When the music ends, silence reigns again and we return to our own life on earth”.
Bach’s work commemorates the incarnation of Christ, with details of Jesus’ birth taken from the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The mother, the father and the child, the shepherd and the angels, the wise men from the East, King Herod, a constantly migrating group of people, and a man protecting a little Christmas tree form an outer circle of characters that lead us deeper into the more fundamental, human questions of trust, reliance, faith, doubt and dedication. The biblical story becomes a story for us all.
Neumeier comments: “My choreography to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is not a religious undertaking. It is not ‘sacred dance’ and should neither be regarded as an alternative to a church service, nor as the propaganda of a Christian missionary. In the past, I took a similar approach in creating Bach’s St. Matthew Passion – choreographing movements, characters and situations, intended for presentation in a theatre, inspired by music that still touches us today. We perform to Bach’s music, for a few hours unifying individuals of many different cultural and religious backgrounds. For me, the basic human values expressed through the choreography are always the most important thing. Therefore, in my ballet, Mary is known simply as ‘the Mother’ and Joseph as ‘her Husband’.”
Head of Hamburg Ballett, American-born John Neumeier has made a name for himself with dramatic, story-driven ballets. Over the years, he has found great inspiration from emotion-packed works of literature, poetry and music.
Bach’s will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre one day only: Monday, Dec. 21 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $15, or $12.50 for Film Festival members. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177. Both the theatre and film festival office are located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona. For more information, visit: www.SedonaFilmFestival.org.