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Do you cast for Act I or Act II?


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33 replies to this topic

#16 Ostrich

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 09:52 AM

Well, I have only seen an excerpt of Alonso dancing Giselle, and only in the first act, but I must say that I found her a pleasure to watch - very lively, very "real". She is evidently much influenced by Alicia Markova's interpretation, but personally I prefer Alonso's more cheerful (I could add, less simpering) interpretation of Giselle. However, if anyone asked me, "who IS Giselle?" my answer would be: equal tie between Carla Fracci and Galina Ulanova.

Interestingly enough, Art076, I would certainly have classed Alina Cojocaru as one of those ballerinas with a better second act than first act. Her act one was very good - as you say, she acts it all very naturally, but to me, it was her act two that really classed her with the "great" Giselles. She brought a truly spiritual quality into her dancing and masterfully kept up the illusion of being a disembodied spirit throughout the second act (I've never believed that Giselle really turns into a willi - she just comes back to save Albrecht).

Wasn't Olga Spetssivtseva famous for her first act?

#17 Ostrich

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 09:54 AM

I forgot to add Yvette Chauvire. Wasn't she also particularly famous for her first act? I can't judge myself, having only seen her in very brief excerpts of Giselle.

#18 MakarovaFan

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 11:04 AM

And what about Spetzitseva? While I've only read about the magic of her Act II, the film footage of her Act I looked wonderful indeed, especially her creepy mad scene

#19 sz

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 11:11 AM

What about Alonso? I have heard a lot said about her (I even own a video tape in which Arnold Haskell says that she IS Giselle).  I wonder if anyone who saw her would agree.

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I saw Alonso at the Met a long time ago, but she was too much a mature woman then for the role. I would love to see a film of Alonso's Giselle when she was in her twenties. Does such a film exist?

"IS" Giselles?

Gelsey Kirkland IS, most certainly was, Giselle, just as Aprile Milo (opera) IS Tosca. And one act in either story would not stand up well, for me, without the other being brilliantly, believably done. Sort of like watching R&J. The death scenes would be most strange to watch without convincing beginnings of innocent, blooming love and its drama unfolding.

Alina Cojocaru, without hesitation, is my favorite Giselle of today's women (in both acts).

#20 Cygnet

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 02:40 PM

:yahoo: & :) Cojocaru is my favorite Giselle too. Another Giselle I admire is Ferri. In the past I adored Makarova & Asylmuratova: Their acting and footwork - especially in the mad scene and Act 2 was mind-boggling. In the distant past, (well, my distant past :D) Fracci was peerless. My least favorite was Galina Mezentseva.

#21 canbelto

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 04:54 PM

Carla Fracci's Giselle was wonderful in Act 1 -- innocent, beautiful, dewy. But her Act 2 was IMO too cold, icy, and remote. In the video with Erik Bruhn I never sensed the love and compassion she felt for Albrecht. Her final farewell to him didnt leave me in a puddle of tears as it usually does.
I've seen excerpts of Cojocaru's Giselle (Act II) and my it is beautiful.

#22 sz

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 09:53 AM

Carla Fracci's Giselle was wonderful in Act 1 -- innocent, beautiful, dewy. But her Act 2 was IMO too cold, icy, and remote.

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I'm in agreement with you re Fracci's Act 1, though I've only seen her on film. Fracci's Act 2 left me cold too.

Ferri can be divine in Act 2, but she doesn't (now-a-days) quite capture the innocent, fragile, young maiden of Act 1.

I would think Act 2 of Giselle is much more difficult to cast than is Act 1. Lots of dancers are dewy, beautiful, youthful, but not many can transcend the earth. And lately I've been thinking that, acting wise, quality changes, Giselle might be far more difficult to accomplish for a ballerina, than is Swan Lake, from White to Black. Swan Lake is technically more demanding, but Giselle is the greater challenge overall.

#23 Hans

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 10:35 AM

A greater challenge IMO because the dancers can't hide behind lots of steps--they have to act, something few know how to do these days.

#24 richard53dog

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 10:42 AM

Carla Fracci's Giselle was wonderful in Act 1 -- innocent, beautiful, dewy. But her Act 2 was IMO too cold, icy, and remote.

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I'm in agreement with you re Fracci's Act 1, though I've only seen her on film. Fracci's Act 2 left me cold too.

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Fracci's Giselle Act II was it's own kind of creation. Of course it's hard to recreate the atmosphere of a stage performance with a film. Fracci's Act II Giselle had almost none of the village girl from Act I.

Try to picture the HUGE romatic tutu, her heavily powered face and arms, the blue black night stage lighting . She was really hardly there at all, but there were just wisps of the village girl coming through. She was almost more illusion than anything else

What you ended up with was this almost completely surreal creature that somehow entered and exited the action. She used just about no facial expression. But she saved Albrecht, almost being unaware of what she was doing.

Is this the only way to do it? Of course not. But it worked for Fracci. No oversize operatic acting, not from Verdi's grandniece (or whatever the relationship is) and it really was magical. I get a little shivery thinking about what it looked like.

This was one of the first Giselles I saw, so like so many things along these lines
first(almost) impressions count for a lot.

Richard

#25 canbelto

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 05:27 PM

I think Act 1 is hard to pull off, but it's Act 2 that packs the real emotional punch, and therefore I tend to favor dancers who are successful in Act 2, even if they weren't so successful in Act 1. For instance, Natalia Makarova. Her Act 1 was so-so: well danced, but without much of the wholesome bubbly charm I like in an Act 1 Giselle. But in Act 2, I finally understood why she was a legendary Giselle. I can't watch another Giselle without thinking of the effortless way her leg floated up in her developpes, or her beautiful circular bourreeing offstage at the end. Most of all, you felt the love and compassion she felt for Albrecht. And that was a mean feat too, considering her Albrecht was the miscast and awkward Mikhail Baryshnikov, who looked stoned the entire performance. Many legendary portrayals can't live up to their own legend. Not Makarova.

And which brings me back to the point of why Fracci's Giselle left me cold in Act 2: for me, Act 2 is all about love. Love lost and found and lost again. If a Giselle can't make me feel that she loves Albrecht, that's it for me. When I look at the pictures (and excerpts) of Nureyev and Fonteyn's Giselle, what stands out for me is the love they obviously conveyed towards each other. Fracci doesnt convey love -- she acts like she's already a Wili. Giselle is not yet a Wili. She is still capable of love. That's what's missing for me.

#26 Hans

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 08:40 PM

Did Fracci ever dance Nikiya? Richard's description of Fracci's Act II reminds me of Asylmuratova's Kingdom of the Shades.

#27 sz

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 08:47 AM

>...for me, Act 2 is all about love. Love lost and found and lost again. If a
>Giselle can't make me feel that she loves Albrecht, that's it for me....
>Fracci doesn't convey love -- she acts like she's already a Wili.
>Giselle is not yet a Wili. She is still capable of love

Yes! Act 2 is the night Giselle is to be initiated as a Wili. She should not
already be one. The power of her love must radiate through the ethereal
facade. It's a rare accomplishment, but breathtaking when it happens.

#28 bart

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 09:03 AM

Yes! Act 2 is the night Giselle is to be initiated as a Wili.  She should not
already be one.  The power of her love must radiate through the ethereal
facade.  It's a rare accomplishment, but breathtaking when it happens.

This raises a hypothetical question: what kind of Wili will Giselle turn out to be? A reformer and humaniser? Or another Moyna, Zulma ... or even Myrtha?

#29 Michael

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 09:04 AM

Right about Act II being the night when Giselle is to become a Wili -- Thus it's a drama for her as well as for Albrecht, she is holding on to something, her fate is up in the air too, there is a dramatic inner tension for Giselle in Act II as well as for Albrecht -- There are probably as many ways to play this out as there are Great Giselle Act II's, but conveying a serious dramatic conflict for herself, as well as for Albrecht, is the key to all of them.

#30 canbelto

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 10:23 AM

Did Fracci ever dance Nikiya?  Richard's description of Fracci's Act II reminds me of Asylmuratova's Kingdom of the Shades.

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I dont think Fracci ever danced "tutu" ballets, like La Bayadere, Swan Lake, or Sleeping Beauty. I could be wrong, of course.


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