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Michael

Hugo Fiorato

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Seeing him conduct Flower Festival yesterday, it struck me that Hugo Fiorato undoubtedly goes much further back with Balanchine and Kierstein, with NYCB itself in fact, than any one else still with the company. A neighbor said that he's been there for 50 years (can this be true?). At what, 89 years old, and after a serious illness this past year, Hugo continues to appear on the podium night after night. When much has been made of how special this season is to Kistler and Nichols, the two ballerinas still dancing who were formed (to some extent) by Mr. B., would not some special honor or recognition for Hugo Fiorato be appropriate?

I find, in fact, that I have only a sketchy idea of the details of his career. When and how did he first become associated with Balanchine and NYCB and how has his role changed and developed over the years?

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Fiorato joined NYCB in 1948 as concertmaster under then-principal conductor Jascha Zayde, I believe.

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Hugo Fiorato's association with Balanchine and Kirstein actually predates New York City Ballet. He was the violin soloist in the Ballet Society 1947 premiere of Symphonie Concertante. In the early days of NYCB, he was violin soloist in Ondine, a 1949 ballet by William Dollar to Vivaldi, and in Tudor's Lilac Garden, which premiered at NYCB in 1951. He became associate conductor in 1955.

I'm pretty sure he was first violin in a string quartet which used to play live on radio station WQXR. At any rate, in 1954 he was that for a Robbins ballet called Quartet, to Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2.

I'm grateful to Michael for introducing this subject. I wish I knew more about Hugo's career beyond this bare bones outline. I absolutely agree that some kind of recognition should come his way this year. In the meantime, I've taken to shouting bravo as loudly as I can every time he takes the podium.

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http://www.westportmagazine.com/archive/02...ugo_Fiorato.htm

This is a link to a profile of Hugo Fiorato written by David Rosenberg. You only get the first two paragraphs without subscribing, and it's a year old. Here is a sentence from it:

This is the closing performance of the New York City Ballet’s winter season, and the generous applause is begun by a patron who frequently sits directly behind the podium. As Fiorato bows his head, he says to the familiar balletomane, “Good evening. How the hell are you?"

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The other side of Fiorato is, or at least was, a bit more formal. A friend whose late mother was a close friend of Fiorato's, and who, with her two sisters, spent a lot of time in a car with her mother and him, said that he insisted that children be seen and not heard; they were expected to be silent during those car rides. (Knowing her, I can't imagine that they actually were :flowers: )

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There is a wonderful interview with Fiorato in the new (Winter '03) issue of Ballet Review. Wonderful history of the company and appreciations of Balanchine, Robbins, Violette Verdi, Melissa Hayden (kept a tank oxygen and a jar of honey off stage for recovery in between variations!) -- etc.

Balanchine asked, during the orchestra strikes of the 70's why the musicians wanted more money. When Fiorato ended his explanation saying "why shouldn't a musician make as much as a garbage man?" Balanchine says, "Because garbage stinks!"

I hope the fishing is good for Hugo when he puts his baton on the shelf. Reading this, I was struck with the civility of the generation he is part of, the civilization which is passing away and which we regard today, and our children particularly regard, as it were across an unbridgeable gulf. What a loss. It's becoming quite a different world these days and it is very much our loss.

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Thanks, Michael. I got my copy today and it's a fascinating interview. I've often wondered how Hugo felt when, after Leon Barzin retired, he was passed over in favor of Robert Irving. And more recently, how he felt when Andrea Quinn was brought in as music director. Now I know. He almost quit over Irving, but likes Quinn and didn't want her job of having to hire and fire people. What surprised me was that, according to Hugo, Balanchine didn't like Robert Irving.

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What surprised me was that, according to Hugo, Balanchine didn't like Robert Irving.

I was surprised, too. Does any one know made the decision to hire Robert Irving? Because if Balanchine didn't like him, he certainly worked with someone he didn't like for a long, long time.

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