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Royal Ballet season 2005/6


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 08:59 AM

What a wonderful season! It's so imaginative, so balanced, so.... so ADULT! May Ms. Mason's repertory signal a new, 21st century international trend!!!!

#17 bart

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 09:32 AM

I agree -- a well-thought-out season. Makes me envious.

But, regarding the original Messel designs: am I correct in thinking that this is the version that we see on film with the young Margot Fonteyn? (Don't know the date, but it's the one that is always shown in Fonteyn documentaries. My copy was videotaped from TV long ago and has no credits.)

If so, what is so great about this look? I am impressed that people are so delighted to see it return -- but the posts sos far contain almost nothing specific about what elements of the production/ sets/ costumes/ etc./ are admirable --or why. (This question intruded into the thread on bad costuming, when several people mentioned the entire current production as something they destested). Once again: will someone be specific about what makes the Messel designs so worth restoring?

Edited by bart, 21 April 2005 - 09:34 AM.


#18 Drew

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 10:05 AM

Ari -- you may know more about this than I -- did the Kirov reconstruction look to you like the Royal's old version (i.e. pre Ashton/Macmillan/Dowell)?

I do think the Kirov reconstruction at least claimed to seek a level of literal archeological faithfulness that the traditional Royal production never, to my knowledge, did. The Lilac Fairy solo is an obvious difference and the Royal also had, over the years, various little additions by Ashton, including an awakening pas de deux (that I assume this production will not include) that signaled that the Royal thought of Beaty as "theirs." I rather assume, and even hope, that that is the approach they are taking -- "their" Beauty. Even the choice of Wheeldon for a new garland dance fits this picture. What I would really love to see would be a return to a more "Ceccheti" style of dancing -- which the Kirov version does not remotely aspire to...but that may be a farfetched idea on my part.

(The only Royal production I saw before Dowell's was the one Ashton did in 1970. And I don't have the kind of memory that would have enabled me to make a serious comparison between that production and the Kirov's new-old version which I saw when they first performed it at the Met in New York. I am not without bias, since without question the Sleeping Beaty performances I have seen that most answer to my "inward" eye's image of the ballet were performances of the Konstantin Sergeyev (i.e. Soviet) version danced by the Kirov during a tour of the U.S. in, I guess, the eighties. But at the risk of exposing myself as a Sleeping Beauty dilettante I suspect that had more to do with the purity and quality of the classical dancing than the details of the production--about which I don't have expert knowledge or recall.)

#19 Ari

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 05:16 PM

Ari -- you may know more about this than I -- did the Kirov reconstruction look to you like the Royal's old version (i.e. pre Ashton/Macmillan/Dowell)?

I do think the Kirov reconstruction at least claimed to seek a level of literal archeological faithfulness that the traditional Royal production never, to my knowledge, did.  The Lilac Fairy solo is an obvious difference and the Royal also had, over the years, various little additions by Ashton, including an awakening pas de deux (that I assume this production will not include) that signaled that the Royal thought of Beaty as "theirs."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well, this is a complex subject. I hope that ballet scholars with greater knowledge than me will jump in here.

I never saw the Messel production danced by the Royal (except on film) so I can't compare it to the Kirov's reconstruction. But I do know that both versions used Nikolai Sergeyev's notations as a base. Konstantin Sergeyev, who staged the Soviet version that Russian audiences are so familiar with and love so dearly, went his own way -- what Tim Scholl, in Sleeping Beauty, a Legend in Progress, calls "drambalet," "one that well represents the Soviet ballet's hobbyhorses of the postwar period."

Beyond the N. Sergeyev choreographic notations, the two productions differ quite a bit, partly because de Valois and Ashton were intent on fashioning the ballet to suit their company and their style -- as everyone who stages Beauty, or any old classic, for their own company, IMO, must do -- and partly because the Sergeyev notations, and the memories of the Imperial era ballerinas they had access to, were all that they knew of the original production. I'm sure they would have been grateful for the historical information that was available to the Petersburg stagers in 1999. They probably would not have used it all, since they were interested in creating a Beauty specially tailored for their company, but I'm sure they would have welcomed the opportunity to pick and choose which aspects of the original to include in their own production. The Kirov/Maryinsky, by contrast, doesn't have the problem of adapting the ballet to their company, since it was made for their company! The issue for them was rather how much of what was done in 1890 is still viable today.

Another difference between the productions is that the Royal's was staged when Sergeyev was still alive, and apparently he changed his mind a good deal. The Kirov's production was done after his death, from his notation.

Incidentally, in his book Scholl argues forcefully that the Lilac Fairy always had a variation in the Prologue (actually, the Sergeyev notation indicates two). She wore a tutu in that act and danced on pointe -- there are photographs.

Once again:  will someone be specific about what makes the Messel designs so worth restoring?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Bart, when people say "the Messel production," they're using it as a shorthand for the whole production, not just the costumes and scenery. This production is famous and holds a special place in ballet history because it preserved, better than any other production at the time, Petipa's choreography and the whole team's (Petipa, Tchaikovsky, Vsevolozhsky) ideas about the ballet. At the time this production was mounted (1946), ballet in the Soviet Union had taken off in its own direction -- one that did not preserve the glories of the Imperial ballet era -- and no other company in the West was bothering to step into the breach. The production is famous for other reasons, partly having to do with Messel's designs -- it was the ballet that de Valois staged to mark her company's move to Covent Garden, where it became Britain's National Ballet, and it signalled a dazzling end to the era of wartime privation with gorgeous, colorful, lavish costumes and scenery.

#20 bart

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 06:02 PM

Ari, thanks for the clarification. I can certainly see that this would be dear to many people's hearts. especially the association with faithfulness to Petipa's original approach.

#21 Drew

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 06:29 PM

Ari -- thanks from me as well...

#22 GWTW

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:10 AM

it was the ballet that de Valois staged to mark her company's move to Covent Garden, where it became Britain's National Ballet, and it signalled a dazzling end to the era of wartime privation with gorgeous, colorful, lavish costumes and scenery


I think that not only did Sleeping Beauty signal an end to wartime privation, it was also exceptionally appropriate - and therefore captured the zeitgeist - as it deals with the restoration of order and the triumph of good over evil.

#23 Jane Simpson

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 07:29 AM

it was the ballet that de Valois staged to mark her company's move to Covent Garden, where it became Britain's National Ballet, and it signalled a dazzling end to the era of wartime privation with gorgeous, colorful, lavish costumes and scenery


I think that not only did Sleeping Beauty signal an end to wartime privation, it was also exceptionally appropriate - and therefore captured the zeitgeist - as it deals with the restoration of order and the triumph of good over evil.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


However, it may have looked gorgeous but the costumes were subject to the general clothes rationing and were not quite as lavish as they looked - wartime privation might have ended but post-war privation hadn't. There was a lot of improvisation in them (pipe cleaners and paper doilies are often mentioned) - maybe you don't need to throw money at a production to make the right theatrical effect?

#24 Estelle

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 01:14 PM

The RB season does look exciting indeed ! And what a sharp contrast between the RB's and the POB's policy: Monica Mason looks as motivated in preserving her company's heritage and respecting its history as Brigitte Lefevre isn't (see for example the homage to Ninette de Valois vs the absence of Lifar in the POB's programming). If I still lived in Paris, I guess I'd just start saving some money for Eurostar tickets instead of POB tickets... ;)

By the way, I haven't had a look at the press releases yet, but are there any plans of foreign tours for the RB ? (I'm not sure, but it seems to me that their last French tour was quite a long time ago, alas).

#25 sinyet

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 10:34 AM

Greetings! Does anyone know any details concerning the October 6 Royal Ballet performance? Is it a gala? :unsure:


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