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Farrell Fan

A curtain-raiser for Giselle?

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In the Summer 2005 issue of Ballet Review, Leigh Witchel, reviewing the National Ballet of Canada, writes: "Pairing Giselle with Stravinsky Violin Concerto is a nice bonus for the audience. Once upon a time an opening ballet before Giselle was standard."

I'm old enough to remember that era, but probably because I am I can't remember the ballets I saw. My current opinion is that Giselle doesn't need a curtain-raiser. But what do you think would make a good one?

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i think boston ballet did giselle preceded by Allegro Brillante.

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I do not think it needs or should have a curtain raiser. The ballet, IMO, is well stated and long enough to make an evening.

Boston did Allegro Brillante, I remember, once with A Midsummer Night's Dream. But, they probably have done it with other ballets as Giselle, though I am not sure. This was back in 1992 - gosh time flies!!

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Not "Giselle", but related...I remember when SFB in the late 70's danced "Concerto Barocco" before Ashton's "La Fille Mal Gardee" which at that time we danced in two acts. Boy, that seemed like a bit much to me! All the corps in Barocco were Lise's friends, and I was one of them. Actually, it was great to do all that dancing in one evening... :) I believe "Giselle" can stand on its own, and certainly "Fille", too! We only did that one season for "Fille"...

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Super topic, Farrell Fan.

I'd go with something small in scale and rather meditative.

How about Balanchine's solo, Pavane (Ravel, Pavene pour une infante defunte). Is this still performed?

Or Elegie (Stravinsky), another woman's solo. (Indeed, a Farrell solo for a Farrell Fan.)

Or -- as a back-story for the Giselle we are about to see -- how about showing a couple of young dancers who might be preparing the evening's performance of Giselle and Albrecht: Balanchine's version of Afternoon of a Faun?

EDITED TO ADOPT MEL'S CORRECTION ON AFTERNOON OF A FAUN. Sorry !!

Edited by bart

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The way we live now, 2 hours in the theater seems like enough to most people -- indeed, the old ballets are losing their intermissions, as ADs compress them to get audiences on the road home early.

SO Giselle no longer seems too long --

BTW it is NOT a good idea to pad Giselle by lengthening the first act with MORE hops on pointe and expanded takes on the peasant pas de deux -- Even a version as well done as Helgi Tomasson's, which has VERY nice choreography for his peasant pas de cinq, and some sweet extra dances (WELL constructed) for Giselle and Albrecht, is too much -- it over sweetens the first act, making it a kind of petit trianon diversion rather than a swiftly moving story. You can't hang all that bric-a-brac on a poor country girl.

Gina I wish I'd seen your double- bill -- it sounds VERY nice. The cool thing about Stravinsky Violin Concerto and Giselle is the way SVC has all those character steps in its finale -- the dancers enter WAVING "Hello" to each other like they do in Giselle.

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Or -- as a back-story for the Giselle we are about to see -- how about showing a couple of young dancers who might be preparing the evening's performance of Giselle and Albrecht:    Balanchine's version of Afternoon of a Faun?

I think you may mean Robbins' version. I don't recall that Balanchine ever did a version of Faun.

But remember this, all, ballets of the nineteenth century were performed on double bills with entire OPERAS! And we say we have more disposable time now!

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Houston Ballet kicked off the evening with Maninyas by Stanton Welch, then Giselle. I do not recollect the length of Maninyas.

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I'm old enough to remember that era, but probably because I am I can't remember the ballets I saw. My current opinion is that Giselle doesn't need a curtain-raiser. But what do you think would make a good one?

I agree Giselle doen't need a curtain raiser; this is largely a relic of an earlier era when the idea seemed to be that audiences needs to be given their minutes worth.

The Met Opera used to tack onto short operas either short ballets or one act operas.

A common example was Salome which had concerts, short Puccini operas (i.e. Tabarro

or the odd ballet ( for instance, Apollo ) Other ballets were also appended

to other programs.

At the Met this has pretty much been dropped, The first opera I saw at the Met was

Hansel and Gretel even in 1967, this was considered too short to LA Ventana was danced to precede it. I came in pretty much at the end of this practice.

Again, I agree with Farrell Fan that no curtain raiser is needed, the what would I pick for Giselle? Obviously, nothing

Richard

Edited by richard53dog

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From the point of view of the direction, a compelling reason to pair Giselle with another ballet is the absence of male roles. Violin Concerto has 12 men in it and kept them active. In companies with block instead of repertory proramming where only one ballet occupies a long stretch of performance and the rehearsal period before that's a consideration. It did pair nicely with Giselle. If I programmed a curtain raiser with Giselle it would be something with a male corps such as that or Allegro Brillante.

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From the point of view of the direction, a compelling reason to pair Giselle with another ballet is the absence of male roles.  Violin Concerto has 12 men in it and kept them active.  In companies with block instead of repertory proramming where only one ballet occupies a long stretch of performance and the rehearsal period before that's a consideration.  It did pair nicely with Giselle.  If I programmed a curtain raiser with Giselle it would be something with a male corps such as that or Allegro Brillante.

Another that might work is Kammermusik II, which has both a male corps and the advantage of brevity (20 minutes). Interesting, how so many suggestions have been Balanchines, given his supposed dislike of Giselle (does anyone know why?).

I can see, especially, that a regional company travelling to a major venue with a really fine Giselle might wish to have a varied curtain-raiser, in order to display more of its talent to a new audience. Still, for companies with world class principals, I don't really need anything else on the bill. Certainly not for any of the recent ABT Giselles at the Met.

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I wouldn't mind seeing Giselle paired with The Magic Flute, which would be a pleasant contrast.

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I remember a great pairing: Makarova in Voluntaries (Shibata in the pas de trois), followed by Kirkland in Giselle.

That was during the brief period when the peasant pas had been excised from Giselle. Audiences like to leave early, yes, but generally if the curtain falls less than two hours after it rose, they feel cheated.

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On a London tour in 1997, the Kirov performed Symphony in C with Giselle.

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Personally I can't imagine Giselle with something before it! It is my favorite full length ballet, and I like to sit down and prepare myself, and as soon as I hear the strains of those opening measures, I am transported into a different world. :-)

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I remember a great pairing:  Makarova in Voluntaries (Shibata in the pas de trois), followed by Kirkland in Giselle.

That was a memorable pairing, and it was apt, as this quote from choreographer Glen Tetley suggests: “although there is a fall into gravity or into death,” there also is “a continual lifting, a continual trying to soar, like angels, in what is almost a constellation of light.”

But as you also point out, Baryshnikov had excised the PPD, so that Giselle wasn't "whole." One wonders why Tetley, and especially Voluntaries, has vanished from ABT. It was certainly a hit. Perhaps the problem is that it requires an organ? In any case, I'd like it back into the rep, even though I don't feel ABT's current version of Giselle needs an intro piece.

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In the days when Ballet Theatre had an opening ballet before Giselle---there was no peasant PDD in the first act, which made the ballet considerably shorter, and, IMO, made for a better flow of the action.

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as i recall when ABT's david blair production of GISELLE, danced alternately at the start of its life in nyc in 1968 by either serrano(?) & fernandez and fracci & bruhn, the curtain raiser at the new met op house was michael smuin's PULCINELLA VARIATIONS.

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On a side note: In the NBoC's upcoming fall season, there will be another pairing of a full length ballet and a one-act piece- The Cage and La Sylphide!

Giselle and Stravinsky Violin Concerto were enjoyable but made for a very long program, especially considering that Kudelka presented his "Contract" alone, even though it is just under 90 minutes and has no intermission.

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ABT always adds a second ballet to LaSylphide.

Now, pairing The Cage with Giselle -- some would call that redundant! :blink:

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as i recall when ABT's david blair production of GISELLE, danced alternately at the start of its life in nyc in 1968 by either serrano(?) & fernandez and fracci & bruhn, the curtain raiser at the new met op house was michael smuin's PULCINELLA VARIATIONS.

Yup, I saw this at the The NJ Arts Center(it now has been privatized and has some other name) in Holmdel in early Summer 1969.

As I recall, in three nights I saw Fracci and Bruhn in Copellia and Giselle and Serrano and Fernandez in Swan Lake. I would have guessed that Pulcinella

Variations was a curtain raiser for Copellia, but I'm sure rg's memory is much more reliable than mine.

I saw all these dancers quite a few times, EXCEPT Toni Lander danced with Bruce Marks in Pulcinella and it was the only real ballerina role I saw her do. She retired pretty soon after that.

Would Lander have done Myrtha? I no longer have the program but it doesn't ring a bell

Richard

Edited by richard53dog

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I saw a performance of 'Giselle' with two 'closing' ballets :excl: The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1950) opened with Chauvire's Giselle and followed with the 3rd Act of Paquita with Danilova, and closed with a ballet called Birthday with Mary Ellen Moylan...... :blink:

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Remember, La Sylphide opened as with a curtain-raiser of Act III of Rossini's Moise, which has its own fifteen-minute ballet!

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Although I think it is unnecessary, if it does have a curtain-raiser it should be something of Perrot's like the Pas de Quatre.

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