Vienna State Opera tickets 18 June 2025 - An Evening of Modern Ballet "Mahler, Live": Mahler, Live. 4 |

An Evening of Modern Ballet "Mahler, Live": Mahler, Live. 4

Vienna State Opera, Vienna, Austria
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Important Info
Type: Modern Ballet
City: Vienna, Austria
Starts at: 19:00
Intervals: 1
Soprano: Florina Ilie
Conductor: Patrick Lange
Composer: Franz Liszt
Composer: Gustav Mahler
Choreographer: Hans van Manen
Choreographer: Martin Schläpfer

Hans van Manen’s video ballet Live is an icon of dance history: an intimate exploration of mechanisms of perception for a ballerina, a danseur noble, a cameraman and a pianist. Martin Schläpfer, on the other hand, was inspired by Gustav Mahler’s 4th Symphony to create a great dance world theatre about the desires and forlornness, dreams, and distortions of the modern human being.

Hans van Manen, who was born in Nieuwer-Amstel in the Netherlands in 1932, has a unique aesthetic which makes him one of those style-defining ballet creators of the modern era that we find continually astonishing. His ballet "Live", set to piano music by Franz Liszt, is an icon of dance history and until recently belonged exclusively to the company for which Hans van Manen created it in 1979: Het Nationale Ballet Amsterdam. For its first performance at the Wiener Staatsoper, the Dutch choreographer has put his ballet in the hands of Martin Schläpfer, thus allowing the work to be performed by another ensemble. This opening up of the work is like an initiation, the experience of a historical work which is as relevant now as it was then – and not least because we, the audience, are ourselves a part of the whole.

Martin Schläpfer’s response is very much a contrast to Hans von Manen’s intimate miniature, which has only two dancers, a cameraman and a pianist. "For the start of my time as the new Director and Principal Choreographer of the Wiener Staatsballett, I want to embrace risk, I want to move forward, working with the entire ensemble and the magnificent Staatsoper orchestra and bringing together the dance element and the musical element right from the start", he explains. As the musical basis for his new work he chose Gustav Mahler’s 4th Symphony, which was completed in January 1901 and forms a conclusion to the "Wunderhorn" triad – a composition whose cheerfulness is only apparent, for the idyll is disturbed from the outset and even the Finale with its "heavenly joys" is by no means a transcendent vision of a heavenly paradise, but more like an angry joke.

The music of Gustav Mahler has been part of Martin Schläpfer’s life from his early years, and has framed his career as a dancer in two outstanding productions: in 1979, in his ballet "Wendung" set to Mahler’s "Rückert Lieder", Heinz Spoerli wrote Schläpfer’s first big leading part specially for him; in 1989, at the end of his solo career, Martin Schläpfer danced "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen", which was created by Maurice Béjart for Rudolf Nureyev. Being fully aware of what a challenge it is to respond to Mahler’s gigantic symphonic architecture in terms of dance, as a choreographer Martin Schläpfer then avoided the composer for many years.

When in autumn 2013 he finally decided to choreograph a piece for the Ballett am Rhein using the music of Mahler’s 7th  Symphony, a piece of balletic world theatre dealing with modern man’s feelings of longing and loss and rejection came into being which has thrilled audiences at guest appearances in Taiwan, Moscow, Bilbao, Munich and the Edinburgh International Festival. Since that time, Martin Schläpfer has come to realise that he will always be in thrall to Mahler’s fascinating sound worlds, which exist on the threshold between the Romantic era and the Modern, with all their sudden shifts, huge crescendos and withdrawals into dreamy alternative worlds which not only seem to be diametrically opposed to reality but also seem to be always vulnerable. With the world premiere of "4", which is set to Mahler’s 4th Symphony, there now follows a further Gustav Mahler ballet, for this is a score which "with its enigmatic and noble beauty and its sometimes insidious hints of paradise, then almost cunningly breaking out into new territory, seems somehow predestined", for his first Viennese project.

Venue Info

Vienna State Opera - Vienna
Location   Opernring 2

The Vienna State Opera is one of the leading opera houses in the world. Its past is steeped in tradition. Its present is alive with richly varied performances and events. Each season, the schedule features 350 performances of more than 60 different operas and ballets. The members of the Vienna Philharmonic are recruited from the Vienna State Opera's orchestra. The building is also the home of the Vienna State Ballet, and it hosts the annual Vienna Opera Ball during the carnival season.

The 1,709-seat Renaissance Revival venue was the first major building on the Vienna Ring Road. It was built from 1861 to 1869 following plans by August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll, and designs by Josef Hlávka. The opera house was inaugurated as the "Vienna Court Opera" (Wiener Hofoper) in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It became known by its current name after the establishment of the First Austrian Republic in 1921. The Vienna State Opera is the successor of the Vienna Court Opera, the original construction site chosen and paid for by Emperor Franz Joseph in 1861.

The opera house was the first major building on the Vienna Ringstrasse commissioned by the Viennese "city expansion fund". Work commenced on the house in 1861 and was completed in 1869, following plans drawn up by architects August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll. It was built in the Neo-Renaissance style by the renowned Czech architect and contractor Josef Hlávka.

Gustav Mahler was one of the many conductors who have worked in Vienna. During his tenure (1897–1907), Mahler cultivated a new generation of singers, such as Anna Bahr-Mildenburg and Selma Kurz, and recruited a stage designer who replaced the lavish historical stage decors with sparse stage scenery corresponding to modernistic, Jugendstil tastes. Mahler also introduced the practice of dimming the lighting in the theatre during performances, which was initially not appreciated by the audience. However, Mahler's reforms were maintained by his successors.

Herbert von Karajan introduced the practice of performing operas exclusively in their original language instead of being translated into German. He also strengthened the ensemble and regular principal singers and introduced the policy of predominantly engaging guest singers. He began a collaboration with La Scala in Milan, in which both productions and orchestrations were shared. This created an opening for the prominent members of the Viennese ensemble to appear in Milan, especially to perform works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Strauss.

Ballet companies merge

At the beginning of the 2005–2006 season, the ballet companies of the Staatsoper and the Vienna Volksoper were merged under the direction of Gyula Harangozó.

From the 2010–2011 season a new company was formed called Wiener Staatsballet, Vienna State Ballet, under the direction of former Paris Opera Ballet principal dancer Manuel Legris. Legris eliminated Harangozós's policy of presenting nothing but traditional narrative ballets with guest artists in the leading roles, concentrated on establishing a strong in-house ensemble and restored evenings of mixed bill programs, featuring works of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, and many contemporary choreographers, as well as a reduced schedule of the classic ballets.

Opera ball

For many decades, the opera house has been the venue of the Vienna Opera Ball. It is an internationally renowned event, which takes place annually on the last Thursday in Fasching. Those in attendance often include visitors from around the world, especially prominent names in business and politics. The opera ball receives media coverage from a range of outlets.

Important Info
Type: Modern Ballet
City: Vienna, Austria
Starts at: 19:00
Intervals: 1
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