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The moon wears a white shirt

Ballets by Martin Schläpfer, Karole Armitage and Paul Taylor

Miniature stories telling of being with each other and against each other, of freedom and dependence, ties and separation, affection and argument – sometimes full of existential power, sometimes full of tenderly woven lyricism, sometimes full of the joys of life.

“As a ballet about the difficulty of loving, of being the friend of someone who is in love and about the need we often feel to desire and to dream of more or something different from what we are capable of achieving”, is how Martin Schläpfer describes his Third Piano Concerto: a touching dance that reveals the nuances of the human soul in all its many shades, choreographed to Alfred Schnittke’s magnificent Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra: music like “the eye of the needle for the whole, rich world”.

Karole Armitage is regarded as one of the most brilliant figures in American dance. She has worked with George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham and on Broadway, began choreographing at the invitation of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, and created complex connections between dance, the visual arts, poetry and music that were initially associated with the punk movement. In recent years she has probed ever further into philosophical questions of human existence. This is also the case in the Ligeti Essays, which were created in intense interactions with three song cycles by György Ligeti: poetic and nocturnal metaphors for human encounters.

With Dandelion Wine, Paul Taylor created a homage to summer. To a violin concerto by the Baroque virtuoso Pietro Locatelli, this leading artist of modern dance unfurls a joyous round of ever-new connections between the dancers, full of breath-taking leaps and elegant recklessness. “An instant winner, a joyous ode to the springtime of life […], one of his most dazzling works” wrote Anna Kisselgoff in The New York Times

The moon wears a white shirt: this line from a poem by the Hungarian Sándor Weöres lends its name to an evening of dance with works by Martin Schläpfer, Karole Armitage and Paul Taylor. György Ligeti included it in his Three Weöres Songs – one of the cycles that form the musical basis for Karole Armitage’s Ligeti Essays. Armitage is one of the most brilliant figures in American dance. As a dancer, she has worked with George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham, among others; as a choreographer – initially associated with »punk« – she creates complex connections between dance, visual arts, literature and music.

The poetic, nocturnal metaphors of her Ligeti Essays are preceded by Martin Schläpfer’s Drittes Klavierkonzert to Alfred Schnittke’s composition of the same name: a ballet about a woman’s journey through life between dreamlike and nightmarish states, about freedom and dependence, devotion and separation.

By contrast, Paul Taylor’s Dandelion Wine is bathed in bright light. Set to a violin concerto by Pietro Locatelli, the great American Modern Dance artist unfolds with breathtaking energy and sophisticated insouciance a cheerful homage to summer, a sparkling ode to friendship.

The moon wears a white shirt is dedicated to the 24 dancers of the Vienna State Ballet, who form the corps de ballet of the Volksoper. Under the musical direction of Christoph Altstaedt and with guest pianist Alina Bercu, the Vienna State Ballet will be joined by Stephanie Maitland, Annelie Sophie Müller and Birgid Steinberger, three members of the vocal ensemble, as well as the Vienna Volksoper Orchestra, whose musicians can be heard not only as an ensemble but also as soloists: concertmasters Bettina Gradinger and Vesna Stanković with Locatelli’s highly virtuosic Violin Concerto in C minor op. 3 No. 2, and a quartet from the percussion group with Ligeti’s With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles.


Drittes Klavierkonzert

Ligeti Essays

György Ligeti
Karole Armitage
Costume design
Peter Speliopoulos
Lighting design
Clifton Taylor
Karole Armitage
Izabela Szylinska
Musikalische Leitung und Klavier
Christoph Altstaedt
Tessa Magda
Una Zubović
Birgid Steinberger
Annelie Sophie Müller
Stephanie Maitland
Manfred Radner
Peter Dullnig
Lucas Salaun

Dandelion Wine

Pietro Locatelli
Paul Taylor
Costume design
Santo Loquasto
Lighting design
Jennifer Tipton
Richard Chen See
Musikalische Leitung und Hammerklavier
Christoph Altstaedt

Press comments

“The outstandingly dancing and expressive Mila Schmidt (...) creates a sensitive portrait of a strong woman who draws strength from her loneliness for her relationships with men as well as in fleeting encounters (...). Schläpfer choreographs the multi-layered music very harmoniously.”
Kurier 13. November 2023
“A varied and emotional ballet evening with a strong ensemble from the Vienna State Ballet.”
ORF, ZIB 12. November 2023
“The dance ensemble masters this evening fabulously, and the Volksoper orchestra under Christoph Altstaedt clearly fits the musical mix.”
Der Standard 13. November 2023
“Alfred Schnittke's Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra (‘Drittes Klavierkonzert’) is a powerful piece of music, which is also evident in the interpretation with conductor Christoph Altstaedt and pianist Alina Bercu. It opens up many associative spaces and sometimes breaks over the listener like a violent thunderstorm (...). The Concerto for Violin and Orchestra op. 3 no. 2 by Pietro Locatelli (‘Dandelion Wine’) is very romantic and emphatically cheerful, with the captivating violinist Bettina Gradinger.”
APA 13. November 2023