Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

La Sonnambula


  • Please log in to reply
36 replies to this topic

#16 Ari

Ari

    Gold Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 887 posts

Posted 23 May 2004 - 03:16 PM

I don't think it's important whether the Sleepwalker is wife or daughter.  Her protected, virginal state is what matters.

I agree. While I can understand that it may be important for dancers to work out some kind of logic in the story in order to help them perform, I don't think that that benefits the audience. In fact, I think the contrary is true -- some ambiguity makes it a richer experience for the viewers. It can mean so many things, instead of just one.

With regard to the ballet performed in Denmark, I imagine there must be differences from the version done at NYCB. The Danish version is probably closer to the original, called Night Shadow. (Alexandra, is it really called La Sonnambula today, and if so has the title changed over the years?) Since Balanchine constantly fiddled with his ballets, the version he eventually staged for NYCB in 1960 probably differs in some respects. (The Host/Baron nomenclature may be one of these.)

#17 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 23 May 2004 - 07:30 PM

In Denmark, it's called Søvngængersken. (literally, The Sleepwalker)

And they do call him the Baron (well, Baronen), as does the cast list in "Repertory in Review." I've read Host in reviews, but I have no idea where now.

I would like very much to see Hubbe. I don't think he's anything like Kronstam was in the role (they're so different by temperament and appearance, and as far as I know, Hubbe never worked with Kronstam on this role) -- Kronstam was innocent and not dangerous in this, but Hubbe has an edge to him, and a dangerous Poet would be very interesting indeed! But I think he'd need to have a Baron and a Coquette that were very strong, and oozing decadence.

#18 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,633 posts

Posted 23 May 2004 - 09:52 PM

Q: Did you keep finding new things in it?

Kronstam: You don't find new things in the ballets. You find new things in yourself, because it's yourself that changes.

I like the whole interview with Kronstam, but this comment really struck me today. It seems to imply a different attitude towards classic roles than many directors and performers take today, and a different attitude towards the permanence of the repertory -- it will still be there while you are changing. I have to mull this over.

#19 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 24 May 2004 - 06:00 AM

I think that was my favorite thing, of all he said in two years of interviews. It made me think, too. It was definitely key to his approach -- and how he could keep something fresh over 20 years. Many dancers have the same make up and set of face: this is James, or Albrecht, whether the person dancing him is 20 or 30 or 39-and-a-half. It was his approach to staging ballets, too (which I wish others would emulate!) The ballet was a Platonic Ballet. You didn't go in and rip it apart. You studied it, as you would a strange and wonderful new flower or seashell, until you understood it -- found the Platonic Ballet -- and then staged it. It would be revived by new dancers. It never changes, only the dancers change, and that makes it look new with every cast.

#20 atm711

atm711

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,426 posts

Posted 24 May 2004 - 09:59 AM

I always liked the ballet from the first time I saw it. At the time, I think I grasped what Edwin Denby so beautifully described: "It gives you a sense--as Poe does--of losing your bearings, the feeling of an elastic sort of time and a heaving floor". At that first performance, way back then, I was delighted with the Bellini score and the fantastic gothic surrealist (is there such a thing?) headdresses and masks worn by the party guests. Danilova, Magallanes (later Franklin) and Tallchief danced the leads. Maria Tallchief is still my favorite coquette. She had the necessary dramatic persona for the part, and the sleepwalker was fully realised with Allegra Kent. I have seen quite a few poets over the years, but none that stand out. Kronstam understands the poet so well, I wish I could have seen him. However, someone mentioned Peter Boal----he is such an intelligent dancer I hope to see him.

#21 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 24 May 2004 - 10:05 AM

Thank you for that, atm, and a reminder of that beautiful Denby quote.

I only saw Allegra Kent once, at the end of her career, but for me, she was The One. I also liked Kirkland, who was so ephemeral she was a pair of shoes, a nightgown, a candle and a face. There was no body. But Kent was a person, a mystery with an implied past.

I wish I could have seen Danilova in this one. She's the one my friends (who also loved her "Raymonda") remember. All swear she picked the Poet up, carried him 'round the stage (which is true, I think; this has been dropped) AND up the steps in the tower AND all across the little bridge, or whatever it is.

From the photos, I would have liked to see Mona Vangsaae's Coquette. She was in the 1956 Danish production. She looks world-weary, and the seduction, and the danger, is under the surface. She matched my image of the sophisticated European mistress.

#22 Ari

Ari

    Gold Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 887 posts

Posted 24 May 2004 - 10:17 AM

I wish I could have seen Danilova in this one.  She's the one my friends (who also loved her "Raymonda") remember.  All swear she picked the Poet up, carried him 'round the stage (which is true, I think; this has been dropped) AND up the steps in the tower AND all across the little bridge, or whatever it is.

Memory can be tricky when it comes to performances. In her memoirs, Danilova wrote that many people remember her carrying the poet offstage while on pointe (imagine doing that! :sweating: ). Of course, she never did, but she was pleased that she had created that illusion.

#23 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 24 May 2004 - 10:51 AM

i've witnessed arguments -- jovial arguments -- among the Remembers, as to whether she made the trek across the bridge or not. I haven't heard the en pointe version, though (I remember readnig it in Danilova's book, though). Soon, we'll read she picked up the Poet herself..... I guess that's another qualification for Sleepwalker for me. I don't want to see a Sleepwalker who looks as though she COULD pick up the Poet herself.....

#24 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,633 posts

Posted 24 May 2004 - 09:59 PM

The ballet was a Platonic Ballet.  You didn't go in and rip it apart.  You studied it, as you would a strange and wonderful new flower or seashell, until you understood it -- found the Platonic Ballet -- and then staged it.  It would be revived by new dancers.  It never changes, only the dancers change, and that makes it look new with every cast.

Oh dear -- this is so different than current attitudes. I love the idea of the Platonic ballet!

#25 Estelle

Estelle

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,706 posts

Posted 25 May 2004 - 03:35 AM

That discussion is especially interesting for me, as I saw that ballet only once, a few years ago, and it was by the POB school- probably not a very suitable choice, as it's quite a dark and complicated story to be danced by young teen-agers! I wish it had entered the POB repertory instead (I wonder what people like Hilaire or Legris would have looked like as the Poet, for example).

#26 Mashinka

Mashinka

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,196 posts

Posted 25 May 2004 - 05:45 AM

This was always called Night Shadow in the UK and was danced fairly frequently by Festival Ballet (now ENB) John Gilpin was particularly associated with the role of the poet and must have danced it dozens of times. The very last time I saw it Gilpin danced with Fonteyn as the Sleepwalker. The critics thought the role didn't suit her and they may have be right, but I still remember her quite vividly.

#27 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 653 posts

Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:17 AM

What I didn't realize untill I saw the ballet was how important a role the Coquette is. She's such a wicked, flirty little minx. I think it's important for the dancer to somehow show a sort of jaded ennui. That makes it all the more moving when the poet encounters the Sleepwalker's unaffected pure innocense.

#28 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 25 May 2004 - 07:59 AM

It's interesting that every company has had a definitive Poet -- or one can imagine a definitive Poet (and they'll all be different, of course) but the Sleepwalkers have all been so different.

Was Danilova virginal and ethereal, atm? (Or anyone else who saw her?) That's my ideal of a Sleepwalker (and why I liked Kent and Kirkland) but I might be missing other aspects of the role.

#29 Leigh Witchel

Leigh Witchel

    Editorial Advisor

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,466 posts

Posted 25 May 2004 - 08:31 AM

I'm going to plug myself via Danceviewtimes here - apologies!

I wrote a lot about Sonnambula last week, it lives here.

#30 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 25 May 2004 - 08:48 AM

It's not a plug -- I hope people realize that the reason we're doing DanceView Times is because we're trying to give them something more to read! :blushing:

I think readers of this thread will find Leigh's review interesting -- it touches on, among other things, a nonstandard interpretation of the role of the Poet.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):