Boston Ballet launches 52nd season

Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John NeumeierBoston Ballet kicked off its 52nd season last week by presenting Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier. Captivating audiences with intensity and passion, Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler has been critically acclaimed as “a work of genius” (New York Post). Dance fans still have time to catch the program as it runs through this Sunday, November 1.

 

Boston Ballet is only the fourth company in the world—after Hamburg Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet and Royal Swedish Ballet—to present Neumeier’s iconic work. Boston Ballet is the first North American company to perform it. A musical tour-de-force, Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler features the Boston Ballet Orchestra along with New World Chorale, Greater Boston’s premiere choral ensemble, as well as accomplished American soprano and international opera singer Sarah Pelletier.

 

Before the program opened last week, Mikko Nissinen, the artistic director of Boston Ballet, said, “It has been one of my longtime goals for Boston Ballet to present this brilliant work. This work is an ode to, and touches the essence of, humankind. If you have ever experienced birth, death, relationships, love, emptiness, jubilation, you can relate to it.”

 

Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John NeumeierSince its premiere in 1975 by the Hamburg Ballet, Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier has remained one of the defining works of Neumeier’s prolific career. John Neumeier himself has explained that he “translated the feelings experienced and images suggested while hearing Mahler’s Third Symphony into the movement.” The result is a stunning expression of the virtuosity of Mahler’s monumental score.

 

The first movement, 30 minutes in length, uniquely showcases 29 male dancers using their bodies to form complex geometric shapes through challenging partnering. Within this movement and the other five, Neumeier presents a dynamic spectrum of images and emotion; however, as Neumeier explains, just as a dancer is given the artistic liberty to interpret the movement, the audience should also be given the freedom to “feel what the images are projecting to [them] personally.” Apart from its physical, demanding nature, Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler is also an intense emotional and spiritual journey for both the viewer and the dancer. While working with Boston Ballet in August, Neumeier called upon each dancer to become personally and emotionally invested in the work.

 

Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John NeumeierRarely performed due to the immense orchestral forces it requires, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 in D minor is his longest orchestral work, lasting approximately 100 minutes. In addition to a greatly enhanced Boston Ballet Orchestra— Mahler’s piece harnesses the power of a full chorus and a female vocalist that both appear in the fourth and fifth movements.

 

For more information on performances of Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier, visit bostonballet.org. All shows take place at the Boston Opera House.

 

Read The Boston Globe’s review of the October 22nd performance here: http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2015/10/23/boston-ballet-stages-mindbending-mahler/VfPCgHxFmsR7J57Twyr9FP/story.html.

 

Photos: Boston Ballet Men in the first movement of Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor.