Carmina Burana

Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Bolero

The programme presented by the Wiener Staatsballett combines three major works of music literature: Claude Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1894), Maurice Ravel’s Bolero (1928) and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (dating from 1935/36). What makes the evening really special is the fact that three present-day choreographers – Boris Nebyla, András Lukács and Vesna Orlic – were commissioned to create new ballets, specially designed for the Wiener Staatsballett, to works that will always be regarded as outstanding masterpieces in the history of ballet.

What additionally makes these three compositions stand out from the rich store of successful music literature, however, is a mysterious quality: all three compositions lead a double life, in that they are as much at home in the concert halls of the world as on the dance stage. And this in turn is a quality they share with the Wiener Staatsballett, which also leads a dual existence with its two performance locations -the Wiener Staatsoper and the Volksoper Wien.

Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, a piece which opened the door to the modern musical age, was originally written for the concert hall. At least since Vaslav Nijinsky’s legendary version of 1912, however (which in turn pointed the way to the modern age of dance), the work has equally often been heard in the concert hall and seen in its choreographic version. Bolero took the opposite path. Created for the ballet stage with choreography by Bronislava Nijinska, the composition soon conquered the concert halls of the world. The same thing happened with Carmina Burana.

Premiered as a stage work in 1937, the piece is nowadays given in a number of entirely different performance modes. The aesthetic views of the choreographers responsible for the programme are also different – although what all three have in common is the classical dance tradition from which they have developed their own language.