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Hamburg Ballet

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, one of Europe’s premier dance companies returns with two full-length story ballets, both drawn from celebrated literature and both consumed with ballet’s favorite subject: tragic love affairs. Arguably the most brilliant storyteller working in ballet, choreographer John Neumeier dazzled local audiences two years ago in the company’s local debut, a production of Neumeier’s full-length Nijinsky. A cinematic retelling of genius, superstardom and descent into madness, Nijinsky illustrated this choreographer’s extraordinary ability to balance the theatrical and the heartbreaking with an intelligence often sorely missing in contemporary story ballets. This ballet company’s highly anticipated return opens with three performances of The Lady of the Camellias, based on the Alexandre Dumas novel that inspired the Verdi opera La Traviata and the Greta Garbo film Camille. Next weekend offers Death in Venice, drawn from the Thomas Mann novel. That ballet’s premiere received standing ovations and rhapsodic reviews. And don’t forget the preview talk one hour preceding each performance. Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; Thurs. & Sat., Feb. 13 & 17, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 18, 2 p.m.; $25-$85. (714) 556-2587 or www.ocpac.org.

—Ann Haskins