EINE FRAU OHNE NAMEN - A BALLET IN TWO ACTS op.669 (March 2015)

A ballet in two acts created by choreographer/director Robert North employing a wide spectrum of music from the musical works of Howard Blake
Published by: Highbridge Music
Commissioned by: Robert North
Instrumentation: SATB Chorus, soprano solo, violin solo and full orchestra  3333 4331 3 perc timp piano harp strings

[Key to Abbreviations]
Duration: 80 mins
First Performance:

Premiere 14 May 2016 Monnchen Gladbach Opera

Theater Mönchengladbach
Conducted by Alexander Steinitz
Choreography Robert North
Choreografieassistenz Sheri Cook
Sets and costumes Udo Hesse
Dramaturgy Regina Härtling

 


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Notes

Robert North as choreographer and stage director is a long-time collaborator of Howard Blake, with whose music he has a great affinity. This ballet uses excerpts from a number of Howard's existing musical works.

The ballet began life commissioned as a 3-act ballet for The Gothenburg Opera House in 1996 when it was titled 'Eva', and the work should perhaps be seen as a revival which has undergone considerable revision, including the revision of its name to 'Eine Frau Ohne Namen'.

Performances

22nd March 2017 Robert North Dance Company with soloists choir and full orchestra conducted by Alexander Steinitz, Krefeld Opera Rheinland Germany

Two-act ballet, the score consisting of major musical works and excerpts of works by Howard Blake. Scenario, Choreography and Direction by Robert North

Eine Frau ohne Namen (UA)

Ballett von Robert North
Musik von Howard Blake (*1938)

Eine Frau, der wir vielleicht auf der Straße, im Café oder im Kino zufällig begegnen, ist die namenlose Protagonistin in dem neuen Handlungsballett von Ballettdirektor Robert North. Beispielhaft für alle Frauen, die ihr Leben bewusst gestalten und Sinn und Erfüllung darin finden, stellt North eine ‚Frau ohne Namen’ in den Fokus seiner Choreografie und kreiert so auf feinfühlige und besonnene Weise ein tänzerisches Plädoyer für Selbstbestimmung und Individualität.
Einfühlsam entwickelt er ihre Lebensgeschichte, beginnend mit der symbolischen Geburt: Ein Mädchen tritt in den Kreis des Lebens, wächst heran, verliebt sich. Das junge Paar heiratet, Kinder kommen zur Welt. Familiäres Glück geht einher mit beruflichem Erfolg: Die Frau ist eine kreative und fantasievolle Autorin. So tanzt sie durchs Leben, Jahr um Jahr verrinnt. Am Ende stirbt die Frau ohne Namen in den Armen ihres Mannes – und findet sich im Jenseits wieder, vom Chor der Engel fröhlich willkommen geheißen. Diese allegorische Geschichte stellt das irdische Leben in einen umfassenden existentiellen Zusammenhang und nimmt in künstlerisch freier Interpretation auch auf Motive aus der Mythologie Bezug. Die Musik zu “Eine Frau ohne Namen” komponierte Howard Blake, der vor allem durch Filmmusiken, u. a. zu dem weltbekannten Animationsfilm “The Snowman”, in seiner Heimat Großbritannien, aber auch international bekannt wurde.
Seit vielen Jahren verbindet ihn eine freundschaftliche Zusammenarbeit mit Robert North: So entstand 1996 im Auftrag des Göteborger Opernhauses das Ballett “Eva”, welches nun nach gründlicher Revision unter dem neuen Titel “Eine Frau ohne Namen” am Theater Krefeld und Mönchengladbach vorgestellt wird. Howard Blake schrieb eine Partitur im klassischen Stil für großes Sinfonieorchester mit Solovioline, die sich in Prolog und zwei Akte (Das Leben einer Frau /Tod und Jenseits) gliedert. Durch Einsatz der menschlichen Stimme erweitert Blake die Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten: Eine Sopranistin und der gemischte Chor bilden eine zusätzliche musikalische Ebene, die an die Struktur eines Oratoriums erinnert.


Musik  Howard Blake

Musikalische Leitung: Alexander Steinitz
Choreografie: Robert North
Choreografieassistenz: Sheri Cook
Bühne und Kostüme: Udo Hesse
Dramaturgie: Regina Härtling

Eine Frau: Karine Andrei-Sutter, Elisa Rossignoli
Ihre Eltern: Cecile Medour, Luca Ponti
Eine Freundin: Elisa Rossignoli, Teresa Levrini
Erster Ehemann: Alessandro Borghesani
Zweiter Ehemann: Raphael Peter
Kinder: Polina Petkova, Paolo Franco
Freunde: Takashi Kondo, Giuseppe Lazzara
Engel: Victoria Hay
Damen: Irene van Dijk, Jessica Gillo, Victoria Hay, Teresa Levrini, Cecile Medour, Yasuko Mogi, Zinnia Nomura, Polina Petkova, Amelia Seth
Herren: Marco Antonio, Alessandro Borghesani, Paolo Franco, Abine Leao Ka, Robin Perizonius, Raphael Peter, Luca Ponti, Radoslaw Rusiecki

14th May 2016 Monnchen Gladbach Opera

Reviews


"A woman without a name" is a ballet by Robert North with music by Howard Blake [Mönchengladbach Opera House]

A woman's life from birth to death is the subject of a new ballet-evening by Robert North, whose premiere entranced the audience.  Next to the impressive choreography it is largely thanks to the music that the evening is so deeply moving. In close cooperation with the ballet director, British composer Howard Blake has joined together various excerpts of his works into a fascinating tapestry of sound. Besides work for large orchestra there are extended string solos and in the last act a full choir.

The evening begins with music for strings and soprano solo (Sophie Witte) which increases from soft tones to expressive vocalise. For this prologue the singer is on stage left together with the strings of the Lower Rhine Symphony Orchestra against a red background on which a symbol of life, a circular shape, can be seen, awakening the dancer to life. Seven men and women dressed in plain gray jerseys dance together, separate into groups and join back together in the clear expressivity characteristic of North which is always a mix of classic and modern dance, telling of the origin of life. Male and female genes attract, unite and life arises.

Where there is life, is death. Color and light switch in deep blue and in a short sequence the death of a male figure is mourned. At the end of the prologue a little girl appears out of a tunnel made of dancers. With his parents, she runs in a circle, a bigger girl takes her place, and finally a woman dressed in red (Karine Andrei-Sutter) appears on centre stage. She is surrounded by a floating metal circle which will play an important role in the course of the ballet and which starts the woman's life. She is to be understood as a general symbol and therefore remains nameless and even the other figures' individual names are omitted. .

There are two friends (Takashi Kondo and Guiseppe Lazarra) that accompany her through life, a girlfriend (Elisa Rossignoli) emerges who later becomes a bitter rival. She has a trusting and restrained affection with a childhood friend (Raphael Peter), in contrast to the violent passion which characterizes the encounter with her first husband (Alessandro Borghesani). Children are born but he abandons her for the girlfriend. It is a banal everyday story but it is told very densely and emotionally. The stage design by Udo Hesse is always abstract, depending on changes of colour, light and costume.

Two movements of Howard Blake's Violin Concerto provide a perfect musical backdrop. Under the direction of Alexander Steinitz the Lower Rhine Symphony Orchestra's playing is highly focussed and committed and the highly emotional violin solo work played by Philipp Wenger reflects the torments of the abandoned woman. Within the metal circle she acts like a prisoner who finds no way out. Karine Andrei-Sutter impressed in this scene with her angry and intense body language. The long-time soloist of the ballet company is displayed in this role where she can show all of her facets, making a dazzling farewell to the stage. Out of the crisis, the path leads to art. Towards the end of the first act, the woman is seen as a celebrated novelist and the childhood friend has a second husband. The first man and the girlfriend express painful memories.

The second part shows the woman coming to the end of her life. The dynamics of life follow a more elegiac and conciliatory mood. Now with gray hair the couple dance reaffirming their affection and there is a reconciliation with the girlfriend. Death occurs quite suddenly at the desk where her work is not yet completed. There is transition from physical death to another life.. Robert North's affiliations are clearly marked here as those of the Christian West. After an intermediate state in emptiness and darkness, an angel (Victoria Hays) accompanies the woman to another sphere, where the minimal architecture of a vault with gallery and pastel-coloured, simple costumes are reminiscent of Renaissance paintings. Matched to this is also the music that begins with a wonderful viola solo (Albert Hametoff) and then uses parts from Blake's oratorio "Benedictus". The Latin singing of  the mixed choir (chorus director, Maria Benyumova) spreads a solemn religious atmosphere, but supports dynamic choreography with exciting contrasts. With twists and jumps in different constellations flock eighteen dancers as heavenly beings around the now white-clad woman who eventually becomes part of them. This simple story conveys a timeless character as music and dance merge into an impressive work of art. That all this does not drift into kitsch is thanks to the very touching artistry of Robert North. He knows how to tell stories in dance that is concise yet filled with poetry.

Michaela Platepond, Westdeutsche Zeitung - A woman without a name, 16/5/2016

Related Works


'PIANO QUARTET' op.179 (January 1974) (Audio Sample Available)
Concert work in four movements
'BENEDICTUS' op.282 (May 1980) (Audio Sample Available)
Dramatic oratorio for tenor, speaker, chorus, solo viola and orchestra
'SYMPHONY NO. 2 - 'TOCCATA'' op.386 (May 1988) (Audio Sample Available)
A 'concerto for orchestra' in an extended one-movement form consisting of a toccata, fugue and finale. aka 'A celebration of the orchestra'.'
'*VIOLIN CONCERTO (THE LEEDS)' op.441 (July 1992) (Audio Sample Available)
A Concerto for violin and orchestra
'SUITE:A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY' op.446 (June 1992) (Audio Sample Available)
A concert work for string orchestra adapted from the film score
'Sleepwalking (For Soprano and Piano Quartet)' op.537 (August 2003) (Audio Sample Available)
A concert work in 7 movements re-arranged from the original for soprano and eight cellos, see opus 505

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