Das flammende Herz
Ballet by Patrice Bart
Enrico Nawrath | Foto: Enrico Nawrath
Enrico Nawrath | Foto: Enrico Nawrath
Enrico Nawrath | Foto: Enrico Nawrath
Enrico Nawrath | Foto: Enrico Nawrath
Enrico Nawrath | Foto: Enrico Nawrath
Throughout his life, Percy Shelley (1792 – 1822) maintained a special principle of love. Rebelling overtly against the moral conventions of his contemporaries, he lived in different cohabitations with various women and spread his revolutionary ideas through his tough-minded political commitment. When he had been finally slandered in his English home country, Percy Shelley travelled throughout the continent, restlessly and without income. With his beauty and his poetic talent, he fascinated women, as well as men and cultivated a heartfelt friendship with Lord Byron.

The French choreographer Patrice Bart approaches Percy Shelley’s diverse life with a feature-length choreography which he developed for the Staatsballett Berlin. His episodically arranged ballet deals with the central motives of the life of the ingenious young man. This focuses on the fate of his desperate search for love, the numerous female characters and the conflict with Byron. Shelley's angel-like features, that Lord Byron saw in his friend, can be easily translated into a language of dance, which is ideally suited to the passionate and poetic dancer Vladimir Malakhov.

A modern stage setting has been created by Ezio Toffolutti and ravishing costumes designed by Luisa Spinatelli. The music for DAS FLAMMENDE HERZ is based on compositions from Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy reassembled by the highly acclaimed conductor Ermanno Florio.
England in the early 19th century

After the death of the English poet Percy Shelley the ladies Mary, Jane and Claire are talking about him and indulging in memories of the times shared together.

Scene 1
At a garden party in the noble castle of the Shelley family the young Percy Shelley falls in love with Harriet Grove, his cousin. She wakens his heart for love and is becoming his first big love.

Scene 2
Percy Shelley is a student at Oxford University. With his close friend Jefferson Hogg he is enjoys the freedom of a student’s life. The young men are cultivating discussions and traditions of fraternity. Together with Hogg, Shelley writes and publishes the heretical treatise about the “Necessity of Atheism”, which causes his and Hogg’s rustication. – Shelley is already guided by ‘The destiny’.

Scene 3
Shelley is meets Harriet Westbrook, the beautiful daughter of a coffeehouse keeper. Overwhelmed by her beauty he flees with her leaving all his respectable roots behind him. He marries her, his second big love, yet his hope for an independent life with Harriet is not fulfilled: Harriet’s sister Eliza is living with the couple and stands always between them. Finally, Shelley tries to escape from this situation and is absent very often. In the meantime, his old friend Hogg is taking care of the sisters while being strongly attracted to Harriet. Finally Harriet is left behind all alone. She will become ‘The destiny’ by which Shelley will be haunted throughout his life.

Scene 4
Percy Shelley enters the house and world of William Godwin, a convinced atheist and political writer. In this intellectual surrounding Shelley meets Fanny, Claire und finally Mary Wollstonecraft. The three women are enchanted by his charms, but only Mary impresses the young man with her intelligence, beauty and knowledge. She becomes his third love.
Together with Mary Wollstonecraft and her stepsister Claire, Percy Shelley sets off into a new life. His wife Harriet deeply suffering from that cannot stand it any more and commits suicide.
After Harriet’s death Percy Shelley marries his muse Mary Wollstonecraft. Important literary works are created.

Scene 5
Shelley had chosen Mary from among the Godwin sisters. But her stepsister Claire is still dreaming about loving a poet. Percy Shelley is in close touch with Lord Byron, whom he admires for his poetry and with whom he shares the passion for sailing.
After a visit to a theatre, Lord Byron is surrounded by his mostly female admirers, where Claire finally meets the eccentric and famous poet. Eventually, they fall in love.



Scene 6
During a roaring masquerade ball hosted by Lord Byron in Venice, Claire and Lord Byron are separating again, because Byron pays too much attention to his former mistress Teresa Guiccioli. Mary and Percy Shelley are watching the ill mooded scenery. They are glad not to be part of that society and to belong to each other. But as Shelleys recognizes Claire’s sorrows and consoles her.

Scene 7
Percy and Mary Shelley have settled in La Spezia, near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. They enjoy the narrow circle of close friends and a calm life.
Lord Byron is living nearby together with Teresa Guiccioli. Shelley’s neighbours are Sir Edward Williams, a fanatic sailor like Byron and Shelley, and his wife Jane. With her ethereal appearance she inspires Shelley to new poems and reflections, while their relationship becomes more and more intense: Jane becomes the fourth muse of Percy Shelley.
Deeply suffering, Mary Shelley sublimates her feelings in her world famous book “Frankenstein”. In this novel all her anxieties, nightmares and phantasies find expression in the creation of a monster.
In a dream sequence, Shelley expresses his despair being tied emotionally by his beloved muses.

Scene 8
All the friends have moved into a house near the Gulf of La Spezia. Percy Shelley, Edward Williams and Lord Byron often go on sailing trips. Tensions between the ladies are arising.

Scene 9
Percy Shelley and Edward Williams went on a sailing trip, ignoring an appoaching thunderstorm. In a Pas de deux with Shelley, ‘The destiny’ announces that his near death. Then the message is delivered, that Shelley’s sailing boat was found on the seashore. A short time after, Shelley’s body is washed ashore and found.


Scene 10
According to old customs, dead bodies found by the seashore are to be cremated on a funeral pyre directly there. It is done with Shelley’s while mourning ladies, Lord Byron and people from the village join the ritual. But the heart of Percy Shelley does not burn and, eventually, the ‘destiny’ is carrying it away ... Now ‘The destiny’ has fulfilled itself.

World premiere

Further Events:
20 | 22 | 25 | 28 June 2009
02 July 2009

Choreography and Staging: Patrice Bart
Music: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
Musical Preparation: Ermanno Florio
Sets: Ezio Toffolutti
Costumes: Luisa Spinatelli
Libretto | Dramaturg: Dr. Christiane Theobald
Assistant to the choreographer: Claude de Vulpian
Light: Ezio Toffolutti
Light: Diego Leetz
Assistant to the set designer: Annamaria Cattaneo
Solisten und Corps de ballet des Staatsballetts Berlin
Staatskapelle Berlin

Conductor: Ermanno Florio
Percy ShelleyVladimir Malakhov
Mary WollstonecraftPolina Semionova
Harriet WestbrookNadja Saidakova
Harriet GroveIana Salenko
Jefferson HoggDinu Tamazlacaru
Claire ClairmontBeatrice Knop
Lord ByronMartin Buczkó
Teresa GuiccioliElisa Carrillo Cabrera
Jane WilliamsElena Pris

2:40 h | 1 intermission