Adults only: Nips and willies at Munich’s biblical ballet

We’ve received a mildly disturbing preview of Jephtha’s Daughter, a ballet on a Bible story which opens tomorrow as part of the Bavarian State Opera’s July festival.

Staged by an Israeli choreographer, Saar Magal, it involves nude dancers with strap-on penises.

We’re not bothered by the nudity, or by any possible transgender agenda.

What bothers us is that implication that the only way to tell a Bible story these days is to strip it dwn to socks.

Watch the video here (adults only).


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  • Germans have a very different sensibility about nudity. With this heat wave Europe is having, there will be hundreds of stark naked sun bathers in Munich’s main park, Der Englische Garten. The landscaping is very British, the leafless damsels less so. Anyway, Magal’s ballet certainly fits the weather.

  • We had large and engorged strap-on penises in the recent new Ariadne (SO in Berlin), and the audience just yawned.

  • Sorry but women’s wearing strap-ons is not a ‘transgender agenda’. Even if we were to imagine those strap-ons as real, then that would be an ‘intersex agenda’ NOT necessarily a ‘transgender agenda’. Please read up on this. This isn’t the first time that you’ve made trans* people the brunt of some unsavoury comparison.

  • I appreciate the Editor’s worry that you can only tell bible stories naked these days. As a small measure of consolation I recommend the bible reading scene in Fanciulla del West. It is melodious, wholesome and edifying, and our heroine and the cowboys are all FULLY DRESSED. Since there is a snowstorm in the following act, there is little risk that they will take their clothes off then.

  • It looks rather nicely done, not at all titillating or sexual. The music’s a bit vapid, though.

    • You have to give it to Calixto Bieito, his diminished use of textiles can bring with it some budgetary benefits.

    • Bieito’s productions, especially those presented in the past decade or so, use nudity quite sparingly and never, in my experience, gratuitously. Those of us who have actually seen the productions (and not just a still photo or two deliberately chosen for sensational effect) know that.

      • My implication was that Bieito often wilfully does the exact opposite of what’s indicated in the score, not that he’s a nudity freak. As for seeing his productions, don’t worry, I’ve worked on some.

        • An example or two, please, of Bieito staging details that are the “opposite” of “what’s indicated in the score?”

          • For instance, in his over-busy production of Fidelio Calixto inserted the slow movement from String Quartet Op.132. The players descended in a cage if I remember rightly. Not indicated in the score, and yet one of the highpoints of this less than satisfying productions

  • Just a little more Eurotrash. It’s like some itching in your back, don’t mind about it and it will disappear.

    What about the ballet’s Music?

  • Where is this “implication that the only way to tell a Bible story these days is to strip it down to socks”? All I see here is the suggestion that this is one valid way. Nowhere do I detect any claim that this “the only way”.

  • It is impossible to judge the production based on one minute of video, but two things are pretty clear: 1) the “agenda” looks much more of a hermaphroditic than of a transgender nature and 2) there is no implication that this is “the only way” of telling this story, but rather that this is one valid way of doing that – no more no less.

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