rkoretzky

Apollo

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Do readers have a preference regarding the "full-length" Apollo, versus the truncated version?

I do. After much thought, I would always prefer to see the entire ballet. I recall a conversation that I had, with a member of this board, whose favorite Balanchine ballet is Apollo--he mentioned that he loves the "sunburst" ending of the shorter version. I agree that it is a magnificent tableau, albeit only as part of the choreography in the longer ballet--instead of a stunning conclusion. BUT.

The prologue, early variation, and conclusion give a context to the piece. It all makes so much more sense when you see the whole story unfolding. The music is so glorious--Suzanne Farrell did mention in her talk at the dance museum last Friday that she wondered why Mr B would want to cut any part of the score.

Did ABT ever have Apollo in their rep? It seems to me that they did--this question is brought about by the "what Balanchine ballet should aBT do next?" I'd love to see them do a full Apollo. And parenthetically, have any of you seen NYCB do the full length? I seem to think that I have--at SPAC, during the 1993 Balanchine celebration. But I am perfectly willing to admit to being incorrect on this. The memory isn't what it used to be....

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Interesting question, especially Farrell's comments in your related posting (that she thought Balanchine may have eliminated the first variation because it presents the youthful, clumsy Apollo and male dancing had gotten to a level of virtuosity where Balanchine didn't want a male dancer to look clumsy.)

Is it possible that Balanchine had a split view of the ballet as a work for demi-caractere dancers or classical dancers? Maybe he pulled the birth scene and the variation out to make it less demi-caractere? But then again, he did that when Baryshnikov took the role, and I think he saw Baryshnikov in demi-caractere roles (Rubies, et al.)

I answered your Apollo question about ABT on the other thread - they have the '57 Apollo in rep. NYCB alternated it with the later version in repertory, and I believe you're correct, they did it for the '93 celebration.

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I suspect I'm the member who said he liked the sunburst ending. If so, I've changed my mind and prefer to see the full Apollo every time -- with the Stravinsky score intact. The ending going upstairs to Mount Olympus is good, too. :innocent:

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Interesting question, especially Farrell's comments in your related posting (that she thought Balanchine may have eliminated the first variation because it presents the youthful, clumsy Apollo and male dancing had gotten to a level of virtuosity where Balanchine didn't want a male dancer to look clumsy.)

How far back did Farrell go with this observation? I have photographs of Andre Eglevsky (with Alonso, Zorina and Kaye) from 1943 performing Apollo---and Eglevsky was not behind the 8-ball when it came to virtuosity. B)

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I saw the San Francisco Ballet long version earlier this spring and, while I enjoyed seeing this version once in a while, I prefer the shorter, starburst ending, which always moves me terribly. There is a bit of clumsiness to going up the stairs, and the birth scene is a bit old fashioned for my taste, not so High Modernist. That said, I did, however, like seeing the "wheelbarrelling" at the beginning. And as much as I like Stravinsky, a little less sometimes strengthens the whole.

Incidentally, the SF readings of Apollo, especially with Gonzalo Garcia, while not brilliant, were very, very good (better than the 1990s, post-Ib Andersen NYCB ones, but maybe there are more persuasive opinions on this).

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*--> Yes, Baryshnikov brought Apollo to ABT when he returned as AD, and the company performed it fairly recently. I missed Carreno's performances in it, which remains a major source of personal frustration.

*--> I like the full version, but I love the sunburst as the final tableau. Can we make our own shortened long version, Farrell Fan (along the lines of the Kirov's New Old classics)?

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I suspect I'm the member who said he liked the sunburst ending. If so, I've changed my mind and prefer to see the full Apollo every time -- with the Stravinsky score intact. The ending going upstairs to Mount Olympus is good, too.  :innocent:

Yes indeed, FF--you are the mystery guest!

After reading responses, I am more convinced than ever that the full length Apollo is the one that makes sense, musically, choreographically and textually. As to the question of when Balanchine made the eliminations, I don't know the answer, but it was certainly much later than the 1940s, wasn't it?

Related questions: to whom did Mr B give Apollo? Who has a say in which version is performed? I would guess the Trust?

If I were staging Apollo (uh-huh, we all can dream, right?), I would do the entire ballet. But at the "sunburst moment", I would have a long pause to give the audience the pleasure of taking it in. Something so magnificent shouldn't be rushed. And then I would go on and finish the job.

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. . . I prefer the shorter, starburst ending, which always moves me terribly. There is a bit of clumsiness to going up the stairs, . . .

I love the sunburst (who could not love it?) but that slow ascension to Parnassus, and those arms reaching slowly and majestically, are what moves me.

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The sunburst is a wonderful image, but it pales next to the "freezing simplicity" (Arlene Croce) of the REAL (okay, first and foremost) ending. The ballet has many gorgeous baroque moments (the sunburst, the troika, the Muses lifting and lowering their legs on the floor) but it's the plain, elemental, rough poetry of the birth scene and the apotheosis which frames and explains the other choreography. Who but Balanchine would end with such a divinely ordinary passage?

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I also prefer the shorter version: it is Balanchine showing how to accomplish all that is necessary with economy of means. Only Anton Webern or late Beethoven is comparable. The original "full" version seems long and complicated by comparison. The eliminated parts are "nice" and "interesting" but are a burden that detracts from the main point of the work.

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And I should add, comparable also to the late serial works of Stravinsky himself!

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I disagree -- I find the shortened version much less powerful, particularly the long walk they take to get into the sunburst. I also miss the set-up from the birth, which gives the opening section more context.

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I agree with sandik, and I love Apollo's first solo, which is chopped from the shortened version.

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I am suggesting that Balanchine had (and has) valid compositional (i.e., structural) reasons for making the cuts.

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He didn't need any reason: he had control over his ballets. He was in declining health, and impatient: Baryshnikov had joined NYCB and his health issues curtailed their collaboration. He also allowed the full-length version to be staged throughout the US and Europe concurrently with the truncated version.

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He didn't need any reason, but plainly he must have had something in mind (which wouldn't necessarily require him to forbid performance of the longer version). Also, as Suzanne Farrell notes in her book, cutting away at his own choreography is one thing and doing the same to Stravinsky's work another. She was puzzled enough to bring it up to Balanchine directly: ("You don't usually cut music like that." "No, I don't." End of discussion.)

DanielBenton, yours is an intriguing possibility. I don't know if I agree offhand but it's something to think about. I wonder if Balanchine thought the old choreography a bit dated?

Thanks for pulling up the old thread, cubanmiamiboy.

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Balanchine did cut and re-arrange the movements of other composers' music, notably Tchaikovsky -- Orchestral Suite No. 4 for "Mozartiana", Tchaikovsky Suite No. 3 for "Theme and Variations", Serenade for Strings for "Serenade", first dropping the last movement and then reinstating it as the penultimate movement of the ballet, and adding a violin solo from "The Sleeping Beauty" to "Nutcracker," dropping the male solo, and and moving the Sugarplum Fairy variation to the beginning of Act II -- and Mendelssohn -- dropping a movement of Symphony No. 3 for "Scotch Symphony" and dropping the development section of the Symphony No. 9 for the adagio in the "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act II Divertissement. However, as you note with Farrell's example, changing Stravinsky had been another story for him.

If there was an aesthetic reason, I think he was rejecting the dance style he used for Leto and the birth scene. It's interesting that he did the opposite of Wagner in the Ring, which was meant to be one opera, "Siegfried's Tod," but after Wagner completed the libretto, he decided we needed to know Siegfried's origins, and then about his parents, and then about the gods. Balanchine decided that New Yorkers, anyway, didn't need to know from where Apollo came.

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If there was an aesthetic reason, I think he was rejecting the dance style he used for Leto and the birth scene.

That makes sense to me, and there is also Charles M. Joseph's contention, in Stravinsky & Balanchine: A Journey of Invention, that

Stravinsky originally included [the birth scene] only to make the ballet longer and increase the profit

Joseph bases that on Balanchine's telling John Gruen in Dance Magazine that

the reason [stravinsky] divided the story into two parts was because the society considered each part a separate entity, and in that way more money could be collected.

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Balanchine used different versions of "Firebird" and I think one other piece so that Stravinsky would receive royalties on the newer versions after they expired on the older versions. Stravinsky died eight years before Balanchine took the scalpel to "Apollo," but Vera Stravinsky was alive until 1982, and perhaps she received royalties on the shorter version?

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Balanchine used different versions of "Firebird" and I think one other piece so that Stravinsky would receive royalties on the newer versions after they expired on the older versions. Stravinsky died eight years before Balanchine took the scalpel to "Apollo," but Vera Stravinsky was alive until 1982, and perhaps she received royalties on the shorter version?

Off the top of my head there are a couple of examples where Balanchine used a version of the score that would pay royalties to Stravinsky -- I think that was part of the reasoning.

Essentially, though, Balanchine could change any of his work at any time for any reason -- it was his work. I still think the longer version of Apollo is the better one. But as they say, your mileage may vary!

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These are interesting surmises and educational for me to read.

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