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Catalabutte


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#1 Hilarion

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 07:26 PM

I just saw Boston Ballet's version of The Sleeping Beauty last night, and I noticed that one of the characters named in the program is "Catalabutte," a role danced by a man. However, Catalabutte is not mentioned in the synopsis, so I have been wondering who he (or she) is in the ballet. Is that the name of the hapless courtier who forgot to add Carabosse to the list of invitees to Aurora's christening?

#2 Herman Stevens

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Posted 15 May 2005 - 07:37 PM

Yes, he's the MC whose wig goes out the window.

#3 rg

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 06:54 AM

r.j.wiley's rich source materials on tchaikovsky's ballets give translations of the world premiere production's cast list regarding catalabutte as follows:
Catalabutte, Cheif Master of Ceremonies - Mr. Stukolkin (Timofei Alexseyvich Stukolkin [1829-94], a leading character dancer at the Maryinsky, would eventually perform as Drosselmeier)
wiley's translation of catalabutte's first appearnce in the ballet reads as follows:
"Catalabutte, surrounded by coutriers, verifiest he list of invitations sent to the fairies. Everything has been done according to the king's command, and is ready for the celebration. The court is in full attendance; any moment they expectthe king and queen, and also the arrival of the invited fairies."

#4 Marga

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 09:09 AM

Catalabutte is the guilelessly guilty character who has a swath of hair heartlessly torn off his scalp by the good King when Carabosse arrives at the christening party.

This action makes me so queasy that when the scene is imminent I look away because I can't bear to watch it. When the hair-costuming and acting is well done, it seems so much like a real scalping. I could do without that part, integral to the story as it is! :FIREdevil:

#5 rg

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 11:12 AM

i haven't seen the boston staging but traditionally it is carabosse who pulls the hair from catalabutte's head.
wiley's translation of the original 1890 libretto puts the action this way:
'Carabosse mocks [Catalabutte, who has just fallen at the evil fairy's feet, begging forgivness and promising to serve her faithfully until the end of his days], laughing, and entertains herself by pulling out tufts of his hair and throwing them to her rats, who devour them. Soon Catalabutte's head is completely bald."
in the recently released US telecast of THE SLEEPING BEAUTY (by VAI) ashton's carabosse is recorded pulling out tufts of catalabutte's hair, neatly on the rhythm of the music tchaikovsky wrote to underscore the scene.

#6 Marga

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 01:45 PM

i haven't seen the boston staging but traditionally it is carabosse who pulls the hair from catalabutte's head.

:blush: Of course you're right -- thanks for the speedy correction! I guess my image of Carabosse doing the ghastly deed got transmogrified in my mind to the King, who does interact with Catalabutte, but indeed as a good King, to console him.

In different videos I have seen it done different ways (when I was still looking at the act :FIREdevil: ). It's been shown as one abrupt removal of hair down the middle, from front of scalp to back, as well as the way you describe in your post, the pulling out of tuft after tuft until the poor fellow is completely bald.

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 May 2005 - 01:51 PM

Catalabutte is rather like the Lord High Chamberlain, who in England is a Great Officer of State employed only for coronations and such like. During the off-years he's sort of the Lord High Everything Else.

#8 Hilarion

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Posted 21 May 2005 - 06:22 PM

Thanks, all.

Fortunately, the Boston Ballet's Catalabutte was merely reprimanded by the king, although Carabosse did manage to box his ear. It's odd that the infant Aurora should be the primary object of her wrath, after Catalabutte confessed his guilt to her (in the BB version, anyway). But I suppose if Carabosse had turned him into a toad and but spared Aurora we wouldn't have much of a ballet.

Still, I sympathize with Catalabutte. If only his office's budget hadn't been cut...

#9 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 22 May 2005 - 02:31 AM

i always figured she chose the infant to most effectively punish the king and queen for the slight to her by taking away the child for which they had waited so long and whom they loved so much


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