Edward Clug: Peer Gynt, ballet

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July 2021

Program and cast

Peer Gynt, the last major work in verse by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, based on motifs from Norwegian fairy tales, was first staged in 1876 in Christiania (present-day Oslo) in conjunction with the already established composer Edvard Greig, who composed the incidental music for the play. Greig later extracted some of the movements (notably “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and “Morning Mood”) into two suites for orchestra, which are today among the most popular works in the classical repertoire. Contemporary critics characterised the play as a satire on Norwegian egotism, narrowness and self-sufficiency, although it is also possible to view the titular character in the light of our present age. Today, too, the world seems to be overrun by “clever” individuals who fan the flames of hatred and xenophobia, who spread lies and who try to derive the maximum advantage from crises they themselves have created, destroying everyone who crosses their path.
By researching Ibsen’s satirical story on the one hand and the romantic image that Grieg painted with his music on the other, choreographer Edward Clug has created a new interpretation of this classic dramatic work and transformed it into a ballet. The story takes place according to Ibsen’s chronological sequence of events, and in addition to the movements which Greig composed as incidental music for the drama, Clug uses other orchestral, chamber and solo works by Greig such as his String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27, Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16, and Holberg Suite, Op. 40, in order to achieve a dynamic and coherent development of the narrative expressed through dance. The worlds of Ibsen and Greig, joined together to form a new whole, create a landscape that offers a new theatrical experience.

Festival Ljubljana

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