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How do you like your Swan Lake?

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#16 Guest_Juliet Shore_*

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Posted 19 March 1999 - 11:39 AM

Thank you Kevin! I appreciate your answering so quickly. Alas, it is as I feared. I wish Martins would leave well enough alone with the choreography. I will try to concentrate on the technique and production...

But it will still be a live performance, a good orchestra and, reputedly, very beautiful costumes. Beats sitting through a lot worse...

#17 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 19 March 1999 - 04:09 PM

Paul, the "plinky-plinky music" Cargill mentioned for the final act, is actually Tchaikovsky music as well. None of it was composed by Drigo (best known for his "Le Corsaire" pas de deux), who orchestrated some very little known piano pieces (mainly from Tchaikovsky's opus 72 -- ravishing to hear in their original form, by the way) as part of the rather drastic revision of the ballet (new plot by Modest Tchaikovsky, new choreography by Petipa and - let's not forget him - Ivanov, revision of the music by Drigo) for the Maryinsky in 1895 (indeed like Cargill remarked two years after Tchaikovsky had died), which actually saved the ballet from oblivion yet turned it also completely upside down.

It was this 1895 production that became the standard one, but in fact very little of what we see and hear in it is what it should be. The most famous example is the popular Black Swan pas de deux, which is here danced to music originally composed for Act I (nothing to do with Odile; the pas de six Tchaikovsky wrote for the encounter between Odile and the prince at the ball was removed, and sometimes survives in a variation unhappily interpolated in the last Act.)

In the Ken Russell film "The Music Lovers" there is a scene in which Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain) is attending a performance of "Swan Lake": the Black Swan pas de deux (with Georgina Parkinson, I believe), quite incorrectly danced to the music from Act I, since it was only staged that way after the composer died.

Anyone wishing to see a version of "Swan Lake" more respectful of Tchaikovsky's music should turn to the Vladimir Bourmeister production, which is in the repertory of among others the Paris Opera Ballet. A nice break with familiarity.

#18 Natalia


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Posted 19 March 1999 - 04:58 PM

There is a very good video of the Paris/Bourmeister SWAN LAKE starring Marie-Claude Pietragalla. It's on the European PAL & SECAM formats. Americans with multi-system TVs & VCRs can also enjoy it.

This version was originally produced for the Moscow-based Stanislavsky Ballet, of which Bourmeister was a founding choreographer/director. The Stanislavsky made its long-awaited USA debut just this December in Washington, DC's Kennedy Center. One of the three programmes on view was this SWAN LAKE. [Truth be told, one of the few highlights of this paltry ballet season in DC, so far.] The Bourmeister SWAN emphasizes dramatic realism but, best of all (for me), it resurrects many portions of the Tchaikovsky score that are usually omitted...the most notable being the melancholic Act IV "Dance of the Little Swans" music. [Of course, Ashton didn't do a shabby job with that lovely piece of music, either!]

- Jeannie Szoradi

#19 Giannina


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Posted 19 March 1999 - 07:45 PM

I'm so excited I can hardly think. I'M GOING TO NEW YORK FOR THE BALLET!!! Not Kirov (wedding, remember?) but in May. I need advice on which weekend offers the best program, and I need it fast. If I go the weekend of May 8 I see ABT's "Romeo and Juliet" and NYCB "Swan Lake". I was excited about "Swan Lake" til Kevin Ng nixed it. Just how bad was it, Kevin? On the weekend of May 29 I get "Giselle" and Durante (well, that's Ed's choice) plus a mixed bag at NYCB:
Sat. mat....
Allegro Brillante
Aurora's Wedding
Theme and Variations
Dale; how do you feel about these choices? Any help anyone can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Did I mention I was excited?!


#20 Paul W

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Posted 19 March 1999 - 08:06 PM

Thanks cargill, Marc, and Jeannie for the Drigo related discussion. I'm on information overload right now! Need to see the four act version of Swan Lake to really understand what you've conveyed. I am going to Ottawa to see Swan Lake by the National Ballet of Canada in May. Kevin, I may have seen Kyra Nichols in that Balanchine version I remember from a few years ago, but at that time I was not focused much on the names of dancers. I do recall the lead ballerina was lovely.

#21 Kevin Ng

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Posted 19 March 1999 - 10:47 PM

Paul, I am glad you have also seen the Balanchine version of Swan Lake.

Giannina, the programme of NYCB on the weekend of 29 May looks heavenly, with these Balanchine masterpieces like "Mozartiana", "Diamonds ,"Serenade", "Theme and Variations". I hope you can catch the divine Kyra Nichols in most of these ballets. I envy you being able to see them.

#22 Natalia


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Posted 20 March 1999 - 08:52 AM

Oh, Giannina, you're a lady after my own heart! I'll be in NY then, too, expressly for the last three days of the NYCB Tchaikovsky Festival...which happen to be my absolute-favourite ballets in the NYCB repertoire. The very thought of seeing them all in a concentrated period of time makes my head spin. It's a thrill to see just one of them on a programme...let alone a full programme of these. It's sort of like eating a meal that consists of only rich desserts! Maybe we can exchange notes & impressions on this forum, after the fact.

- Jeannie Szoradi, Washington, DC

#23 Steve Keeley

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Posted 20 March 1999 - 04:35 PM


I'll be making two trips to NY in May: the first, from May 12-16, to see Viviana Durante with Angel Corella in R&J, plus two casts in "La Bayadere" (Jaffe/Herrera/Carreno and Kent/Dvorovenko/Malakhov); the second trip will be Memorial Day weekend for the two NYCB programs you mentioned plus Viviana's "Giselle." So that weekend will be my suggestion. (Yes, I am actually flying cross-country twice just to see Viviana Durante. Am I devoted, or what?)

If you do come the weekend of the 29th, let me know. There will be two other Ballet Alert/a.a.b. denizens joining me at those performances and we can all get a chance to say "hello" to each other face-to-face.


#24 Natalia


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Posted 21 March 1999 - 05:53 AM

Steve -

Did you read my post to Giannina, just above yours? I, too, will be in NY for those same performances & will be delighted to see you again, as well as Gianninna & the other 2 Ballet Alert/AAB posters. I'm staying at the Radisson Empire. Let's arrange a meeting place & time, as we come closer to the week-end, OK? Cheers, Jeannie

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