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Vienna ballet premieres 'Bluebeard's Secret'

Bluebeards-SecretVIENNA: The Vienna Ballet continues to experiment with newer and lesser known works, premiering on Saturday "Bluebeard's Secret" ("Blaubarts Geheimnis") by German choreographer Stephan Thoss to an enthusiastic crowd. 


The piece, first performed in February 2011 at the Hessisches Staatstheater in Wiesbaden, Germany, follows the immense success last season of "Carmina Burana," "Bolero" and "Afternoon of a Faun": three new pieces created by former Vienna Ballet dancers. 


Such choreographies, staged at Vienna's smaller Volksoper theatre, contrast with the Ballet's grander repertoire generally presented at the State Opera, but have gained an audience in the usually conservative Austrian capital. 


On Saturday, the Vienna premiere of "Bluebeard's Secret" drew cheers from the crowd, despite several empty seats around the theatre. 


Thoss's relentless choreography never lets up during its two hours, with dancers endlessly contorting themselves and hurling themselves through the air.  


As the title character, Kirill Kourlaev impressed as always with a powerful yet tormented performance, while his young wife, portrayed by Alice Firenze, is confronted by the ghosts of his past relationships. 


Dagmar Kronberger also cut a dominating, slightly menacing figure as Bluebeard's ever-present mother. 


Dramatic with moments of playfulness, the ballet benefited from music by Polish composer Henryk Gorecki and American Philip Glass, known for his operas and stage music as much as his award-winning soundtracks to films such as "The Truman Show" and "The Hours." 


On top of the choreography and costumes, Thoss designed the impressive sets, starting with a surrealist gravity-defying background that gave the appearance the dancers were bouncing off the walls. 


A darker atmosphere after the break was filled with doors as Bluebeard and his wife explore new corners of his past. 


Although based on Charles Perrault's 17th-century tale, Thoss's Bluebeard is not the wife-killer of the tale, but a man who struggles to come to terms with his past affairs. 


The Volksoper orchestra was led by the Hessisches Staatstheater's Wolfgang Ott, with Sayuri Hirano on the piano. 


Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012


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