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POB Coppélia


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#1 katharine kanter

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 04:51 AM

Yank this thing of the boards as soon as possible ! Where was the ol'Vaudeville hook when we needed it ?

Have already seen it twice, walked out at the interval.

For those of you out there who do not know, this is a completely "rethought", if that is the word, "Coppélia" by the POB's former ballet master Patrice Bart. Not a step remains from Saint Léon's original. This Thing dates from 1996, has huge chunks of music glopped in from the opera "Lakhme" and God knows where else, and is an absolute unmitigated mess, cast of thousands galumphing over the stage in all directions, meaninglessly.

Why Bart says he had to bring in that brilliant mime Claude de Vulpian to instruct, is beyond me, because he as simply wrecked all the lovely mime passages in the original.

The dances are messy and complicated, the variations either dull, or dire. The intrigue is impossible to follow, something Freudian and sexually triangular (Where would this country be without a sexual triangle ?)

Lionel Delannoe as Frantz was so much under the weather, that the less said the better, and Elisabeth Maurin as Swanhilda seemed, for whatever reason, terribly ill at ease, even shaky. Perhaps the gruesome choreography had got to them both.

Sole redeeming feature of the evening: some exquisite instants from the twenty-year old Myriam Ould-Braham (whose quality of movement is simply extraordinary) and from that beautiful redhead Fanny Fiat. As for Emmanuel Thibault as one of Frantz's little friends - well, what foreigners must think about seeing a dancer of the extraordinary quality of Thibault, in the seventeenth row third from the left, with Delannoe up front as "premier danseur", is a peculiar question better not raised here.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 08:27 AM

Katharine, you intrigue me. Did you walk out at the interval both times? smile.gif

Balletmasters turned "choreographers" often miss the mark. And the after-Nureyev generation certainly as a model to emulate smile.gif

I admire Bart's work as a balletmaster at Paris -- I didn't realize he was now "former." That, to me, would be unfortunate. He was quite good keeping the lines straight, coaching, staging other people's productions. He could see where something was out of style, and he could fix it. They've lost Patricia Ruanne -- a very good stager, judged by the "Diaghilev in Paris" tape. Another man whose name escapes me at the moment died a few years ago.

Back to Coppelia, I don't think of Elisabeth Maurin, a dancer whom I admire, as one of nature's Swanhildas.

#3 Estelle

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 08:56 AM

Maybe it has changed very recently, but as far as I know, Bart still is ballet master- something like "ma^itre de ballet associé à la direction de la danse". However, he seems to be more and more absent to stage his own choreographies elsewhere (especially in Berlin). There are several other ballet masters or repetiteurs, I don't have the list here but it includes Fabrice Bourgeois (former sujet, husband of Fanny Gaida), Clotilde Vayer (former premiere danseuse). I don't remember if Aleth Francillon and Viviane Descoutures are still there. Also, Jean Guizerix (former principal) was ballet master for a while, but left. Alexandra, I think that the man you are thinking about is Eugene Poliakov (the present version of "Giselle" was staged by Bart and Poliakov).

I haven't seen that "Coppélia", and what I've read about it doesn't make me feel like seeing it... I hope that the "traditional" version hasn't been abandoned completeley except for the POB school (which danced it last season).

I agree about the qualities of Myriam Ould-Braham and Fanny Fiat. Ould-Braham was promoted as coryphee at the last competition, but the fact that Fiat was not even ranked among the six first was a surprise to me.

A few words in defence of Lionel Delanoe (I can't do the umlaut with that keyboard): a few seasons ago, he suffered from a very serious back injury during a performance. From what I've read, he couldn't even walk at first, and it was thought for a while that his career would have to stop (he's about 35 now). It is good to see that he has recovered, but he's more fragile, and somehow his dance isn't really what it used to be. Well, perhaps casting him in that role was a bad decision from the direction, but he deserves some indulgence (and, as Romoli, he has made a lot for the company, saving a lot of performances...)

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 09:07 AM

Yes, Estelle, it was Poliakov. I watched one rehearsal when the company was in DC long ago, with Nureyev's Swan Lake (Guillem was 19!) Bart worked with one row of swans and Poliakov with the other (the swans were chattering, quite loudly, during the whole thing). It was fascinating to watch them, because they really did seem to be two men with the same mind and eye.

Delanoe was "the little redhaired boy" then, because we didn't know the dancers' names. smile.gif

I hope they've kept the traditional production, too. Again, if you're not better than the original choreographer, don't try to improve him.

#5 Terry

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 09:37 AM

It's just an awful, awful production. First,I found the sets to be completely unsuited to the whole comedian aspect of the story. Most disturbingly, I didn't understand what Wilfred Romoli's role had anything to do with the original story of Coppelia. And where are the marriage pas de deux and festivities at the end?! Maurin doesn't capture the light and freshness of Swanilda and her technique was disappointingly unstable; moreover, her partnership with Delanoe lacked any real chemistry as lovers. As for Delanoe (Frantz), I could not distinguish his dancing from any of his "friends," still, amongst them, Mallory Gaudion and Emmanuel Thibault were technically remarkable. Two of Swanilda's friends caught my attention: I must mention the tender and exquisite Myriam-Ould Braham, who in my opinion, should have performed Swanilda instead of Maurin. Dorothée Gilbert possessed a charming character as well, but I found Braham to be more natural and at ease.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 09:43 AM

Hi, Terry. Good to read you again.

It certainly sounds like an awful production!

#7 katharine kanter

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 10:11 AM

Sat through the entire monstrosity once, a couple of years ago, Alexandra, and was tempted back at the very last minute (7.35 pm to be precise) by learning that Mlle. Maurin was to dance. But could not hack it straight through once again.

Mlle. Maurin has been renowned for the past two decades as Swanhilda - in the ORIGINAL version. She is a marvellous mime, and literally dances with her eyes. She is also a renowned technician. Very much under par last night on both fronts. Would not like to speculate as to the reasons.

As Terry noted, Mlle. Ould Braham's feet do not touch the ground. She seems to have Hermes' little wings to her ankles. Like M. Thibault, the young girl has been criticised for not being sufficiently "modern" , or multi-purpose ("polyvalent"). Déjà vu, ahem ?

#8 aubri

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Posted 22 March 2002 - 10:50 AM

Why am I even Amazed that mis Kanter didn't like a POB performance wink.gif

[ March 22, 2002, 10:50 AM: Message edited by: aubri ]

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 29 March 2002 - 12:56 PM

St Laurens's version is still kicking -- I've seen it here in a very very good school recital, marvellous choreography....

And I don't know who all had their hands on the version the National Ballet of Cuba dances, but even in their loud toe shoes and in front of those awful sets, Lorna Feijoo carried the production over the top, dancing effortlessly, with such high spirits.... Her mime was fabulous -- she did not have to do a gesture large at all for it to register at the back of hte house, and you always knew where Swanilda stood on any question... She's the boss around here, but she's so much fun, you dont mind.

Swanilda is not my favorite heroine, she's so extraverted she's almost a bully, but as a symbol of the power of Nature, the power of women to bring forth life FOR REAL, as opposed to Dr Coppellius' attempts to do it thorugh wiles and cleverness, she's a wonderful thing - and Feijoo had an irresistible, irrepressible charm of an old-fashioned but never out-of-date kind..... We all simply loved her.....

#10 Estelle

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Posted 01 April 2002 - 12:05 PM

http://www.danceinsi...02/f0320_1.html

A review of "Coppélia" by Paul Ben-Itzak (it also deals with "S" by Sasha Waltz at the Théâtre de la Ville).

#11 Helen Chen

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Posted 01 April 2002 - 11:42 PM

Estelle, you mentioned POB school's version, was that choreographed by Mr. Pierre Lacotte?
Just for your information, M. Pierre Lacotte is now in Shanghai for staging his version of "Coppelia" for Shanghai Ballet, which is to be premiered on 9 April.

#12 Estelle

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 12:28 AM

Helen: yes, the POB school version was choreographed by Pierre Lacotte. Actually, he had staged that version for the main company in 1973 (adding a third act of his own), but it hasn't been danced for a while.

In the program notes, he wrote that it was the version of Albert Aveline (POB ballet master, who had staged in in 1936): he had danced it several times in his youth, starting at the age of 10 as one of the kids in the first act, then dancing one of the automats in the second act (and finally dancing Coppélius in the POB school performances!)
He also wrote that in 1983, when it was danced by the POB, Nureyev had asked him to add a male variation in the first act, and so he had added one, on some music from "Sylvia". Later that variation was kept.

Will you see the performances of the Shangai Ballet? It's interesting to know that "Coppélia" will be performed there, and if you attend it, I hope that you will post about your impressions.

#13 Helen Chen

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Posted 02 April 2002 - 01:14 AM

Estelle, thanks a lot for the answer.

It is very interesting that Mr. Lacotte did not charge Shanghai Ballet a single penny for his version. Guess why? As his wife Jesline ( sp?), the jury member of 2nd Shanghai International ballet Competition of last year, found her grandmother's former residence in Shanghai thanks to the help of Shanghai local authority. Mr. Lacotte was very appreciative, thus this cooperation.

Unfortunately I stay in Beijing, and have to miss this performance, but my friends in Shanghai will go and see. Will let you know their impression. It is said this "Coppelia" will also tour US this year.

#14 Kevin Ng

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Posted 09 April 2002 - 05:41 AM

There's a report in China Daily newspaper about this new Shanghai production, pointed out by Ari in the daily links section.

http://www1.chinadai...4-09/64786.html

Helen, do you know when the Shanghai Ballet or National Ballet of China will tour America?

#15 Helen Chen

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Posted 16 April 2002 - 11:09 PM

To Estelle, sorry, my friends didn't go for the premier of Lacotte's Coppelia in Shanghai. I am not able post their thoughts now. Maybe next time.

To Kevin, thanks for the link. So far I am not aware of Shanghai Ballet and NBC's trip itinerary to the U.S. NBC will premier Swedish Choreographer Perl Isberg(sp?)'s Coppelia on 1 May which is said to be a modern version.


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