Slovenia's EU presidency to be ushered in with ballet extravaganza on Lake Bled
Bled, 30 June - Slovenia will celebrate the start of its presidency of the Council of the EU on Thursday with a ballet extravaganza on Lake Bled. Based on a ballad by Slovenian Romantic poet France Prešeren, Merman has been choreographed by Edward Clug, the artistic director of the SNG Maribor opera and ballet ensemble.
The production draws on the Slovenian mythology and the heritage of Prešeren (1800-1849) to address a contemporary audience in dialogue with the past as it invites the spectator to look for solutions for the future in a united Europe, and sending out the message about the will to live, SNG Maribor says.
Clug, the Romanian-born choreographer of international renown, says Prešeren's Merman serves as a time and space gateway in the production, giving way to the unfolding events, while the message of the production remains elusive.
The production will make use of Lake Bled and the steps leading up to it as a natural amphitheatre. The stage will be a floating Moon-like round with an opening in the middle that Clug says is reminiscent of a shrine where the presidency will be celebrated through music, dance and theatre.
The stage will tilt with the dancers' movements "as if they'd be dancing on a giant stand-up-paddle board, which they negotiate with ease though".
The music, composed by Milko Lazar, and the choreography make references to elements of folklore and tradition, but transforming them into modern aesthetics as they adopt new and different meanings. The show also features pails and paddles as symbols of water and wood, two Slovenian archetypes.
The show will start at 8pm with Clug saying it is important that the spectators should see the island in the daylight. It will conclude at dusk, at 9pm.
The ballet was produced by SNG Maribor in two versions, one for Bled Lake and one for the theatre hall. The company's director Danilo Rošker said the production was a big organisational challenge as they had no previous experience putting up stages on water. The work on the show started two ears ago.
Cast in the lead role as Merman will be Sytze Jan Luske, while Monja Obrul will perform Uršika, the young maiden that is whisked away by Merman. The set was designed by Marko Japelj and costumes by Leo Kulaš.
The accordion will rank prominently in the show, played by Matjaž Balažič, along with Tamara Kostadinova Bakardzieva and Sausan Hussein on violins, Kristina Ramšak Špilar on the viola, Zsofia Klacsmann on the cello and Bojan Gorišek on the piano, as well as singer Zvezdana Novaković.
Addressing the news conference on Tuesday, Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti expressed the hope that the production would demonstrate the excellence of the ensemble under Clug's guide and that the opening scene would be persuasive not only artistically but also with respect to heritage and tradition.