A sneak peek of the rare, new performance by Boston Ballet

‘Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier’ the curtain rises on October 22.

On Thursday night, the curtains at the Boston Opera house will open, and for the next hour and 45 minutes, Boston Ballet will take the stage for a non-stop performance and become the fourth company in the world to perform the “Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier,’’ since it premiered in 1975 in Hamburg, Germany.

“The music is so beautiful and epic,’’ ballerina Shelby Elsbree told Boston.com. “We’ve been running the ballet at least once a day now leading up to the premier. It’s this very cathartic experience and you end up feeling exhausted either way. The music takes you through this emotional experience.’’


The performance is especially difficult for the male dancers. The first movement is 30 minutes long, and is performed by only the males of the company.

“The guys had to do a lot of cross training, they’re doing a lot of male partnering, and it’s very athletic for them,’’ Elsbree said.

Because it’s so demanding — the dancers have been practicing for up to eight hours each day — the ballet has only been done a handful of times. Its length poses a great challenge not only to the dancers but to the orchestra, the conductor, and the chorus as well.

“It’s quite a journey, it’s a huge undertaking so we’re honored to be worthy of it,’’ Elsbree said.

Third Symphony of Gustav Mahler: A Ballet by John Neumeier, performed by Boston Ballet, will run October 22-November 1 at the Boston Opera House.

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