Posted 01 March 2003 - 06:22 AM
"Stravinsky culled the text for "Les Noces" from a famous collection of Russian folk poetry, the "Sobranniye Piesni" of Kireievsky, and arranged his selections in a rather unorthodox manner. In comparing this text with James Joyce's "Ulysses", Stravinsky evinces his fascination with the theme of the unconscious. "Les Noces" he told Robert Craft, "might be compared to one of those scenes in "Ulysses" in which the reader seems to be overhearing scraps of conversation without the connecting thread of discourse." The key words are "without the connecting thread of discourse." Stravinsky did not obey the logic of chronological sequence in arranging the text for "Les Noces", but rather imitated the disjointed nature of the internal, psychological reality. The stylization of the text hints at the existence of the irrational world within.
Associated with this disconnected text is the separation of the singers from the characters their voices represent. In Stravinsky's words, "Individual roles do not exist in "Les Noces", but only solo voices that impersonate now one type of character and now another. Thus the soprano in the first scene is not the bride, but merely a bride's voice.... the fiance's words are sung by a tenor in the grooming scene, but by a bass at the end..."
This separation of voices and characters recalls the practice of some Symbolist directors, who used the device to draw attention away from the concrete reality of a drama and to suggest the mystical, inner world that was its object. Stravinsky's goal must have been similar - to point to the existence of the unseen or irrational by disassembling the spectacle into its constiuent parts".
Posted 01 March 2003 - 06:31 AM
Posted 01 March 2003 - 08:25 AM
What's the performance tradition of Les Noces? I know the Ballet Russe performed it originally and Ashton revived it for the Royal Ballet in the mid-60's (it was considered an artistic coup) but was it off the stages utterly in the interim?
Ashton is supposed to have loved Les Noces (certainly understandable to me) I wouldn't be surprised if Wedding Bouquet was a reaction to it.
Posted 01 March 2003 - 09:31 AM
I can't see any connection between Les Noces and A Wedding Bouquet except the subject. Vaughan says, "[Berners'] original intention was siply to write a choral work, with words by Gertrude Stein, and only later did he decide that it should be a ballet. The scenario was concocted by Berners, Ashton and Constant Lambert, in weekends at Berneers' country house."
Vaughan goes on to say, "The striking thing about 'A Wedding Bouquet' is that it is not, like de Valois's Douanes, say, a character ballet in the manner of Massine, but essentially a classic ballet, and it is full of dancing."
Glebb, I'm very glad the Joffrey is still dancing it. It's one of the finest things I ever saw them do, and I love the ballet
Posted 01 March 2003 - 10:07 AM
Posted 01 March 2003 - 10:13 AM
There's nothing to suggest that anyone went bounding out of a performance of Les Noces wanting to do a classical, comic ballet about weddings. But more importantly, there's nothing choreographically, musically, or visually that links the two ballets that I can see. Ashton often borrowed from Nijinska -- patterns, arm positions -- but I think trying to make the case here is a real stretch. The inspiration for this ballet was Gertrude Stein's writing (chosen by Berners, mostly from "They Must. Be Wedded. To Their Wife.") The score was originally performed as a choral piece. The narrator replaced the chorus later, during the War, for budgetary reasons (and probably a shortage of singers) and retained afterwards. (The narrator, which everyone else loves, I think hurts the ballet, because the jokes -- like rowing movements during the "I am older than a boat" line -- seem very obvious when you can hear the words.)
Posted 01 March 2003 - 10:53 AM
Glebb, or others more familiar with the score than I am, is there a matching -- or contrasting -- fragmentation in the choreography?
Posted 01 March 2003 - 12:27 PM
(And now back to our main topic)
Posted 01 March 2003 - 06:01 PM
Glebb, did you dance Les Noces ever? Was there anything you learned from the current revival and how it was set? I know Sayette is also responsible for setting Billy the Kid - I gather he was ballet master of Oakland Ballet - and both were in their repertory. Paging Mr. Parish - did you see Oakland's Les Noces, and what did you think?
Posted 01 March 2003 - 06:25 PM
Glebb, perhaps this is an excuse to go visit!
Posted 01 March 2003 - 08:30 PM
Could someone clarify for me this quote from the article Leigh cites? (Great article, Leigh.)
Diaghilev burst out laughing. He couldn't imagine a Russian ballet on point.
What does this mean? Why not a Russian ballet on pointe?
Posted 01 March 2003 - 08:36 PM
Posted 01 March 2003 - 08:37 PM
Posted 01 March 2003 - 08:49 PM
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