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At the Ballet

Hamlet

Our 2015/16 season begins with one of Stephen Mills' signature works. Hamlet is a contemporary ballet, based on the classic Shakespearean story of a young man and his incredible family drama. Ballet companies around the world perform this stunning, lush and emotionally driving dance work, set to music by American composer Philip Glass. In addition to its Austin return, this season Hamlet will be performed by The Washington Ballet at The Kennedy Center in the nation's capital and by Ballet Augsburg in Augsburg, Germany.

Choreography by Stephen Mills
Music by Philip Glass
Live Accompaniment by Austin Symphony Orchestra

The Long Center
Fri 9/4/15 8:00PM Audio description by VSA Texas available for this show Purchase
Sat 9/5/15 8:00PM Purchase
Sun 9/6/15 3:00PM Purchase




 
 
 
 
 


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Program Notes



Synopsis

ACT I

The ballet begins near the story's ending with Hamlet mortally wounded. As he lies dying he relives the events that brought him to this place.

Hamlet arrives home from school and is told of his father's untimely death. His mother Gertrude is celebrating her marriage to Hamlet's uncle, Claudius.

Ophelia's father and brother, Polonius and Laertes, want her to have nothing to do with Hamlet. Hamlet's mourning for his father is so intense that Ophelia comforts him. Seeing this, Polonius forbids her to see Hamlet.

In the dark vacant ballroom, visions appear to Hamlet. The ghost of his dead father visits and tells Hamlet that his death was not an accident: He was murdered as he lay sleeping by his own brother, Claudius. The ghost asks Hamlet to avenge his murder, Hamlet agrees.

As he replays the story in his mind he begins to come unraveled. Hamlet is confronted by three visions of himself as he fights to keep his sanity. Obeying her father's orders, Ophelia attempts to return love letters she has received from Hamlet. Questioning Ophelia's motive, the fragile Hamlet rejects her.

A group of street performers attract a crowd. Hamlet convinces them to re-enact the story of his father's death in a performance for Gertrude and Claudius. Hamlet hopes Claudius' reaction will confirm what the ghost has said. Upon seeing the play, Claudius becomes disoriented and enraged and flees the scene.

A distraught Claudius begs the heavens for forgiveness. Polonius takes the overwhelmed Gertrude back to her room but hides when he hears Hamlet entering. Hamlet tries to understand Gertrude's explanation of why she has married Claudius so quickly after his father's death. An argument ensues. As Polonius tries to escape the turmoil he is accidentally stabbed by Hamlet. Gertrude is horrified. To pacify her unbalanced son, she promises that she will stay away from Claudius. Hamlet flees.

After the death of her father and rejection of Hamlet, Ophelia sinks deeply into madness. While swimming she drowns.

ACT II

All have gathered for the funeral of Ophelia. Upon hearing of her death, Hamlet comes out of hiding. Everyone has heard of Polonius' murder and avoids Hamlet. Claudius lays all the blame, including Ophelia's madness, on Hamlet. Laertes becomes enraged. As the crowd disperses Claudius convinces Laertes that he must avenge his father's death.

The shock of seeing Ophelia's lifeless body sends Hamlet into great introspection. As he dreams, the demons of his mind visit and in the end, he is crushed.

Hamlet has been challenged to what he thinks is a sporting match of fencing. Claudius has conspired with Laertes to poison Hamlet with a drink. In case this fails, Laertes has dipped his foil in poison. One drop of the potion will kill. Claudius continually tries to persuade Hamlet to drink but he will not. Gertrude toasting her son's fine showing in the match, accidentally drinks from the poison chalice intended for Hamlet. Seeing that the plan has been ruined, Laertes intervenes by cutting Hamlet with his poison foil. Hamlet is furious that Laertes has purposely cut him and begins to fight in earnest, stabbing Laertes. At this moment the poison takes its effect upon Gertrude. As she dies she tells Hamlet that she's been poisoned. At his death, Laertes confesses the whole plot; Hamlet's poisoning and Claudius' deception. Hamlet gathers all his strength and with his foil kills Claudius.



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Events


Footlights
One hour prior to all performances
The Long Center

Enhance your experience at the ballet with a pre-show lecture and Q&A for all ages. Ballet Austin's Education staff gives a short, informal, interactive presentation on the historical, creative, and technical elements of the production. Free for ticket holders. Learn more.

Encore
Immediately following all performances
The Long Center

Immediately following all performances of Director's Choice Ballet Austin's Artistic Director Stephen Mills invites audience members to a short post-performance discussion about the work just seen. Free for ticket holders. Learn more.

The Long Center
8pm | Sept 4 Audio description by VSA Texas available for this show, 5
3pm | Sept 6

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Sponsored by:
 
Individual Sponsors:
  • Jo & Jon Ivester
  • Jannette & Patrick Keating
  • Dr. & Mrs. Craig C. Kuglen
  • Edie Rogat & Cotter Cunningham
  • Anne & Cord Shiflet
   
Endowed in part by the generosity of Mayor Adler and Diane Land through the Ballet Austin Foundation
 
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