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Pronouncing Ballet Namespet-EE-pah or PET-ee-pah


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#46 Farrell Fan

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 07:57 AM

One year, around February 14, I bought my wife a button which read, "Be my Balanchine."

And how about Jacques d'Amboise? Most everybody called him Zhok Dambwoz, but occasionally one heard Zhok Dambwah.

#47 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 10:17 AM

I don't know if it matters that much to Jacques. After all, his real name is Jack Ahearn. But out of respect to his mother, he does say, dam-BWAHZ. D'Amboise was her maiden name.

#48 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 10:21 AM

:blushing: Ah yes, that great pair, Mildred Herman and Jack Ahearn!

#49 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 10:33 AM

And a further humorous/ironic twist was that he married Carolyn George. Therefore, a natural choice for one of their sons was George d'Amboise, echoing Louis XIV's very capable Interior Minister, Georges d'Amboise, of whom the king said to almost everyone's petition, "Let George do it. He is the man of the hour." :blushing:

#50 Estelle

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 04:05 PM

I've heard "Millepied" and "Marcovici" pronounced the same way you describe, Alexandra; the trouble is that Marcovici is a French person with an Italian name!  I know how it would generally be pronounced in Italian, but I imagine that in French it would be Mark-oh-vi-CHI...am not 100% on that, though.  Millepied is rather simpler, as both his nationality and name are French (as far as I know) so I think that in French the stress would be on the last syllable.  Estelle, "pied" is considered a monosyllabic word in French, right?

Hans, you're right about the pronunciation of "Marcovici" in French (except that perhaps the last syllable could be "see" instead of "chee")- but as you wrote it is originally an Italian name (or perhaps Corsican, I don't know) and in Italian it would be Mar-co-VI-ci. Such questions are difficult indeed- for example I know some French people whose name is originally from Germany, some of them insist on the German pronunciation and others prefer a "French-ized" one (for example "Siegel" pronounced "See-eh-zhel"), in such cases the only way to know is to ask the person! :rolleyes:

An example of name whose pronunciation isn't even consistent among French people is Guillem: some pronounce it "Guee-YEM" and some "Guee-LEM". I don't know how herself pronounces her name (there's a first name "Guilhem" which exists in Southern France,
and is pronounced "Guee-YEM", but I don't know if there is a link with her last name).

You're right about "pied", in general it's considered as one syllable (the only exception would be perhaps in classical poetry, but it's quite complicated and off-topic here).
By the way, his name is a bit like that of Petipa ("Mille pieds"= one thousand feet).
:blushing:

#51 Big Lee

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 08:12 PM

Today I was very surprised when I heard someone pronounce Diaghilev. I have always heard it pronounced with a hard G as in dug or rug, di-AH-ge-lev, and these people have always seemed knowledgeable to me. The person I heard today, who also seemed knowledgeable, pronounced it with a soft G like a j, di-AH-je-lev. Have I been saying it wrong for years, or was I right, or are multiple pronunciations of this name OK?

#52 carbro

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 08:28 PM

Hmm. I don't think I've heard that one before. :shrug: I have heard the "Dia" slurred into a single, soft-G syllable: "DJA-ghi-lev." It's probably closer to the Russian pronunciation, but it sounds a bit odd to me when it comes out of an American mouth.

In a more contemporary vein, I understand that ABT's young, Brazilian star is Marcelo GO-mehsh. :pinch:

#53 Alexandra

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 08:29 PM

I've always heard both, and just when I'm convinced it's one, I'll hear someone who knows what he or she is doing say the other. :pinch: Is this because one is a Russian pronunciation and one a French? Or one is Anglicized or Americanized? I can't say.

But at any rate, neither pronunciation would prove an embarrassment :)

#54 Big Lee

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Posted 24 July 2003 - 08:38 PM

Whew. I was thinking if I was wrong, I'd have said the name wrong probably more than a thousand times. I must admit, I kind of like the sound of it with the soft g.

#55 Mel Johnson

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 02:33 AM

Although I've never seen it spelled in Cyrillic, I've assumed that the "gh" is a standin for the Cyrillic "X" sound, the "ch" as found in Scottish "loch" or German "ach", so right or wrong, I generally slide right through an "ach-laut", as dee-ACH-ih-leff. As Alexandra says, the people I talk to about Diaghilev will know who I mean.

#56 rg

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 04:59 AM

as i reacall at one (or more) Defilé performances i saw, Sylvie Guillem was announced as SIL-vee ghee-LEM. i had always surmised otherwise i.e. w/ a silent "L"
oh well.
meanwhile yes, Marcello Gomes has been 'properly' pronounced for me by ABT officials as mar-SELL-o goh-MESS i.e. NOT MarCHELLo GO-mez.
it's funny about Diaghilev but i keep hearing the Russians i know pronounce the G portion as a hard G, even tho' as mel points out that 'ch' letter is normally a CH (as in loch) sound. maybe this is one of those many exceptions to so-called rules of language.
lest we forget there was that time when some English spellings ended the transliteration Sergei D's name in FF, not V, i.e. Diaghileff.

#57 Lukayev

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 08:59 PM

On my tape of "The Children of Theatre Street", narrator Grace Kelly says Balanchine's name like - bAl (rhyming with "pal") - on (as in the word "on") - shEEn (as in Martin.. haha, I had to add that in). I heard somewhere, though it's probably inaccurate, that Balanchine hacked off the '-vadze' and added the '-chine' onto his last name to make it more French-y sounding for the Ballet Russes. Why, I have no idea, I'm just a child. :)

#58 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 01:33 AM

Miss Muriel Stuart, who was a soloist with Pavlova's company, and author of the essential book, The Classic Ballet, said it BAL-onh-sheen, as well. She ought to have known something, as she was a teacher at his School of American Ballet from the days when it was back downtown on Madision Avenue, in Isadora Duncan's former studio.

#59 rg

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 06:34 AM

alexandra danilova is on various sound bites pronouncing mr. b's name the way mel has spelt out miss stuart's prononciation.
as, perhaps, mr. b. liked all things american i don't suppose it bothered him a bit that there was a euorpean and an american way of saying his name, as rechristined by diaghilev(ff) etc.
meanwhile when the powers-that-be at NYCB and SAB have been heard in individual cases to say: Lincoln KIR - styne as opposed to KIR- steen, then i think it's a case of real ignorance and lack of concern for accuracy.
(this in no way, btw, means to loop back to: you say sere-NAHD; i say SERE-nade)

#60 citibob

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 04:16 AM

French words involve NO accented syllables; all syllables must have the same strength. Therefore, the great choreographer is pronounced:
pet i pah


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