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Sergeyev's Notes


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#1 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 06:41 AM

I have seen some of the notes from the books that are up at Harvard, and have been told that they are not always complete in the sense that there are places where they might give, say, a movement pattern but not a step, etc. That's interesting in the context of the insistence by some, in the case of the Sleeping Beauty, that the Royal Ballet's previous version was the most correct because of its supposed reliance on these texts. I have to assume that whatever isnt there has to be filled in from memory/tradition, etc. Doug? :) How much is missing where?

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 06:53 AM

I hope Doug will answer, but regarding the Royal's versions, they werre originally SET by Sergeyev, and since they're his notes, I assume that, as was the custom, he wrote down what he needed to write down (Bournonville's notes are the same; there are whole sections of a ballet missing). It isn't that the Royal found the notebooks and took them as a text.

#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 06:57 AM

I'm going to backtrack a little; I don't like the way I sounded in that post! :) I guess the idea is that whatever wasn't written down was what he had in his head? I knew that he had originally set Sleeping Beauty himself but didn't know to what extent he had relied on the notes. Is there any indication of when these notes were made; i.e., how long before they were used in England? I didn't know there was a similar problem with Bournonville's notes!

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 17 April 2003 - 07:13 AM

Again, Doug will KNOW this and I only think I know it :) But I've read that Sergeyev wrote the ballets down before he left Russia. (And I've always assumed that the notes refer to the ballets as they were being staged in the teens, not the original productions.)

pmeja, I think this was a 19th century balletmaster practice. They wrote down what they needed to; they weren't writing it down for someone else to stage. (And may well have guarded the notes very jealously; in the goodolddays you got to stage ballets because you could remember them) In Bournonville's case, many of the male roles are not notated, because Bournonville created them for himself and danced them, so he could rely on his memory.

#5 doug

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Posted 11 June 2003 - 12:32 PM

Sorry to be so slow on this. Sergeyev made a second career out of staging ballets with the help of the Stepanov notations he brought out of Russia. The notations aren't all in his hand. The earlier ones are better than the later ones that he made. Sergeyev's notations are mostly for legs and feet (with groundplan). Sometimes upper body movements are given, as well. Most of the formal dance numbers in Sleeping Beauty are notated in some form or other. But some are missing and other means must be used to determine what is the most "original", etc.

Sergeyev staged a good part of Beauty for Diaghilev in 1921 and then staged the entire ballet for Sadler's Wells and later the International Ballet. I assume he had most of it in his head and used the notations as a guide to jog his memory. That said, the RB's Beauty (those parts that Sergeyev staged that are still danced, at least) is on the whole closer to what is given in the notations and what additional research about early Russian productions reveals than Konstantin Sergeyev's production for the Kirov circa 1952. We're getting to the point where research can really back up these assertions with solid fact.

cheers, Doug

#6 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 04:05 AM

Doug, I have some queries related to this topic of accuracy and transmission. I am extremely puzzled by the Russian practice of substituting the Gold waltz for Aurora's Act II variation. SURELY Tchaikovsky didn't sanction this? In an article in Dancing Times, Alastair Macaulay seemed to suggest it was already in place at the premiere. I can't square this with the dominant preparation (F) for the B flat melody, which, moreover, has a gentleness and tentativeness appropriate to a vision--qualities far removed from the confident, iterative, flashy waltz of gold. Does no Petipa text for the original variation survive? I love the Ashton version, but would be equally interested to know how MP set it. The substitution makes ABSOLUTELY no sense to me.

Also, do any Sergeyev notes exist for the entrada to the Act III pas de deux? David Poole never staged it in his Cape Town, RB--derived production, and in many old recordings there is also a jarring transition from the A major and D major flourishes that prepare for the G of the vanished entrada to the C major of the pas de deux. Did Sergeyev indicate to the conductor how to get round this, and also the F-to-E flat solecism in the Vision scene?

#7 rg

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 06:42 AM

wiley's TCHAIKOVSKY'S BALLETS answers things like the aurora (vision) vari. in act 2.
and yes to the best of my recollection petipa's premiere of SB included the substitution of the Gold vari. for aurora. thus the fairy suite of precious metals and stones in act 3 was given minus a solo for gold, as her music was already used. tchaik. may not have approved but he seems to have done nothing to prevent this.
so far as is now known, i don't think there is anything to refute macaulay's assumption that ashton was the very first choreog. to choreograph a solo to the music that tchaik. actually wrote for the vision act.
to confirm the tradition, the recent 'reconstruction' of the 1892 SB at the maryinsky included the gold vari. for aurora's vision solo.
i trust more music/notation-savvy posts will be more thorough than i can be.

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 07:32 AM

I will defer to Doug on this question, but I believe that the entrée of the grand pas de deux (Act III) never made it to the staging stage. If I recall correctly, there was sort of a penciled crossover line on the score, and in Drigo's hand, "coupez...a...(next page)ici et seguez." There was also a recapitulation of the principal theme of the adage on violins, with a sort of ostinato by the trombones, which occurred before the restatement following the so-called "fish dive" section, which is on trumpets blazing brightly above strings. It was just X'ed with a note in Petipa's hand, "Coupez". There's no harmonic incongruity, because the cut section was in the same key as the rest of the adage. Perhaps Petipa just felt that it made the thing too long?!

#9 Hans

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 08:29 AM

Did Ashton choreograph Aurora's Vision Scene variation before the Sergeyev production of 1952? Because in my video of Sizova (1964, but may have been choreographed before then), she performs Tchaikovsky's original music in the Vision Scene, not the Golden Fairy's music. Also, the entrée of the Act III adagio is staged in the video of SB w/ Asylmuratova--don't know if this is a different version, but it looks v. similar to the Sizova video.

#10 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 08:33 AM

Thanks very much, Mel and RG, for this information, which depresses me no end. The question must then be asked, apropos of the Act II variation, and in a spelling I borrow from Patrick White, WHYYYYYYY?

#11 Hans

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 09:06 AM

As far as I know, it was felt that the Golden Fairy's music suited Carlotta Brianza (the original Aurora) better. I think in the Sergeyev production the Golden Fairy's music is used for the Lilac Fairy near the beginning of Act III--after the polonaise.

If Sergeyev did indeed choreograph to the original vision scene music, he did a wonderful job--it is beautiful and appropriate.

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 09:19 AM

Hans, it has been my impression, although I may be mistaken in this, that the Ashton variation for Act II was introduced in the 1946 Messel version of the ballet.

Now, as to why no variation survives in the (N.) Sergeyev notations, it could well be simple personnel deployment problems - no notator available! As more and more of the Mariinsky archives become available, perhaps some more light will be thrown on the subject.

#13 doug

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 09:23 AM

Hi all,

Yes, the Gold variation from Act III was interpolated in place of the original music for Aurora's variation in Act II. And this apparently was in place for the premiere. Just as Petipa made some concessions to Tchaikovsky, the composer did same for choreographer, and Petipa must have felt this was the thing to do, despite the incongruity of the music, aesthetic, etc. Drigo fashioned an extra couple bars of music to facilitate the modulation to the new key (E-flat). Wiley has published this music in his book. Doesn't make sense to me either, but there you go.

Ashton did choreography this solo, as did Balanchine for Patricia McBride in the 1970s - I am assuming he choreographed the original music. Someone needs to ask her if she remembers it.

The intrada. Sketchy info here, but some concrete notation. We know that the Gold and Sapphire fairies (who variations were eliminated from the jewels pas de quatre) participated in the now-so-called "grand pas de deux," which was actually also a pas de quatre. The music to which the fairies danced is in question. There is notation for the fairies, and it is quite clear choreographically. My thinking at the moment is they danced to the intrada, but perhaps after the adagio (I thikn WIley suggests this). It is also *just possible* (my assertion here) that they danced the first 32 counts of the coda. The notation of the coda begins with Aurora's diagonal entrance, about 32 counts into the music, at least as we know the choreography today. It's possible the fairies danced in the coda before her entrance. I have all this info lying around but haven't really looked hard at it. Some speculation required, unfortunately.

Re the Beauty notations in general. Yes, they are in Sergeyev's hand (unlike the Bayadere notations, although the Kirov claims they are in Sergeyev's hand). Sergeyev regularly include groundplans and foot/leg work, very occasionally arms, torso and head. Of course, the foot/legwork is needed most. A few other notators are represented in the Beauty notations, as well, but just contributing one or two numbers, or a second notation version of something.

Fishdives are not in the pas de deux notation. Wiley has documented all cuts in the music, as well as metronome markings - invaluable stuff!

#14 Hans

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 09:47 AM

Let me see if I understand this properly.

The gold and sapphire fairies may have performed the intrada from the Precious Stones and Metals pas de quatre after the adagio of Aurora and Désiré, in which the two fairies also danced? If that was indeed the case, did the diamond and silver fairies simply perform their variations and then the coda, without the intrada?

However, if the gold and sapphire fairies danced in the coda before Aurora's entrance, Prince Désiré really didn't have much to do at all, at least until the Legats came along, I suppose. Isn't there supposed to be a notation of the Act III variation Sergei Legat performed that is even more difficult than the choreography we have now?

To confuse things even more :dry: if Balanchine choreographed to Aurora's original Vision Scene variation music, why doesn't NYCB perform it when they do SB?

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 July 2003 - 10:06 AM

Right, I just used the "fishdives" section as a piece of music we can all identify. They were added to the pas de deux for the 1921 Diaghilev revival, and one of the "Princesses" (He called it "The Sleeping Princess" because, he said unchivalrously, he had no "beauties" to put forward as Aurora) refused outright to do them - I think it was Trefilova.

I'm still waiting to find that "N. Sergeyev" was scheduled to attend rehearsals of "The Little Hump-Backed Horse" or something, while he should have been full-time at "Beauty". :dry: Administrative incompetence knows neither time nor place!

"Never ascribe to malice those things which are as easily explained by stupidity."
Mark Twain

Now, as to why NYCB doesn't do something that Mr. B. staged, I guess you'll have to ask Peter Martins.


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