Culture & Curious Habits / Journal & Travels / Netherlands

John Neumeier’s La Dame aux Camélias at Nationale Opera & Ballet

Last night we went and watch the premiere of ballet performance La Dame aux Camelias production of Hamburg Ballett at Nationale Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam. The ballet itself was based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas fils written in 1852. The story in short, Marguerite, a courtesan, lives a dissolute life of debauchery until she falls in love with the young Armand. She keeps her tuberculosis hidden from him, and together they exchange life in Paris for the countryside. Armand’s father – who sees her as a fallen woman – forces her to give up her love.  By the time Armand discovers why Marguerite has left him, it’s too late: she dies in his arms during their last encounter.

Sarah Berndhart as Marguerite in La Dame aux Camélias poster by Alfons Mucha 1896

Sarah Berndhart as Marguerite in La Dame aux Camélias poster by Alfons Mucha 1896 (Image from Library of Congress)

What I really like about this ballet is their use of stage. The performance floods to audience seats and sometimes slipped into having audience part of the performance. I find it very clever and amusing to have many exciting things happen on stage (and beyond) on a single scene, you can’t decide where to look first and that feeling of not wanting to miss any details.

Second thing that I really love is their costumes – it was really well made interpreting 19th century Parisiene fashion into ballet. So much so that just closing my eyes right now brought me back to hearing rustling light fabric and lovely palette of colors they use.

I also like the context and surrounding environment of Marguerite and Armand, perhaps even more than the story of Marguerite and Armand. The supporting roles are all lively and each seems to exude character in each of their performances. I learned later on that John Neumeier wrote the ballet in such a way that each dancer could expand their own interpretation of their characters. You can tell how the dancers are having so much fun playing their role.

Indeed, I would recommend you to watch it should you have the chance, you can check further details about the performance here. And I wish you a great weekend with this selection of Chopin’s composition that is used in the ballet.

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