Yuri Vámos
Scene photo La Fermosa – The Jewess of Toledo 1
© Eduard Straub
Scene photo La Fermosa – The Jewess of Toledo 2
© Eduard Straub
Scene photo La Fermosa – The Jewess of Toledo 3
© Eduard Straub
Scene photo La Fermosa – The Jewess of Toledo 4
© Eduard Straub

La Fermosa – The Jewess of Toledo

Ballet by Youri Vámos
Music by Irmin Schmidt and Hans Pfitzner
Choreographical assistance: Joyce Cuoco
Stage, costumes and lightdesign: Pet Halmen
Duration: 2 hours

World premiere 2008 Deutsche Oper am Rhein

For his ballet La fermosa – The Jewess of Toledo Youri Vámos found inspiration in the love-story of the Castilian King Alfonso VIII and the beautiful Jewess Rahel, known as "La fermosa". According to the legend, the Christian ruler left the Spanish court and lived for seven years with his Jewish beloved, who thereafter was made responsible for the neglect of State duties and was murdered.

Youri Vámos's ballet version combines motives from the literary sources with a connecting line into the present day.

His scene is a cinema auditorium in Spain in the 1950s. Among the guests waiting to see the film «La Fermosa” are Arno and his wife and daughter. The film recalls to Arno the memory of his passionate love for the Moslem girl Ramaza, which ended in her death.

At first we witness on the screen the births of the great religions. Between Jews, Christians and Moslems a war very soon breaks out, which Yehuda, the Jewish leader, is able to pacify. His beautiful daughter Rahel awakens the desire of the Christian King Alfonso. The scene depicting their first meeting brings Arno's thoughts back to Ramaza.

While Alfonso and Rahel have thoughts only for the joy of their love, unrest ferments at Court. At the instigation of the jealous Queen Eleonora and the treacherous Count de Lara, the Christians press their King to lead them to war. For a time Rahel succeeds in appeasing Alfonso, but with time she has to accede to his decision to fight. In the King's absence the Count and Eleonora incite the Christians to hatred for the Jews. The Count kills Rahel and her father. King Alfonso returns defeated from battle. He is received with bitter haughtiness by his consort and with derision from the success-flushed Count.

By having the piece played in different simultaneous contexts of time and culture, Youri Vámos highlights the human dimension expressed in love for each other betweeen people of divergent backgrounds. Like the lonely Alfonso, Arno is left only with his memories of Ramaza, who fell a victim to her family.

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