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Rome Ballet's RevivalsPaul Chalmers' & others' work


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 06:24 AM

The Rome Opera Ballet, directed by Carla Fracci, seems to be gaining a repulation for interesting revivals of long-neglected 19th & early-20th-C ballets. Their upcoming revival of the very important early-19th-C. "La Vestale" by Salvatore Vigano, staged later this month at Caracalla by Paul Chalmer ("the Canadian Lacotte") is but one of the intriguing delights in their upcoming (or recent-past) repertoire. This fall, Chalmer's version of Filippo Taglioni's "La Gitane" -- staged for Rome Ballet in 2004, after an earlier staging for Verona -- will be performed at the Teatro Nazionale.

We've already discussed Chalmer a bit in a thread about his mid-1990s 'recreations' of Petipa/Drigo's "The Talisman" for Padua and "La Fille du Danube" for Verona. Chalmer has been based in Leipzig, Germany, since 2005. Why he hasn't been discovered by the ABTs, POBs and Kirov-Mariinskys is a puzzlement. More power to Rome & to Carla Fracci!

On the early-20th-C front:
Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer have staged 'approximate recreations' of three 1920s-Balanchine works, "La Chatte," "Le Bal," and the 1928 version of "Apollon Musagete."

My initial reaction: "Whoa! Since when has Rome crept into the forefront of ballet companies that present historic recontructions?"

Any insights into Rome Ballet and any of the above productions is most welcomed. I am totally fascinated by this news & in awe of Chalmers and the others who care enough to bring the treasures of ballet history to life.

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:08 AM

The best-known of several operas called "La Vestale" is by Spontini (1807). The vestal virgin Giulia is distracted by her love for the general Licinio and allows the sacred flame to go out. She is about to be buried alive for her sacrilege, when the flame is miraculously rekindled.

#3 Natalia

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:42 AM

Thanks, Farrell Fan. The lead-ballerina character in the ballet version is named Emilia, according to the Lincoln Kirstein tome "Four Centuries of Ballet Masterpieces" (or similar title - workin' from memory here). The original 1818 ballet by Vigano used Spontini's score, in orchestral arrangement. It's interesting that Chalmer is also using the Spontini score with a few additions (Beethoven, etc.). This ballet was all-the-rage at its premiere, with Vigano especially praised for his innovative use of corps de ballet, in naturalistic groupings, unlike the military precision & uniform compositions of his predecessors Noverre, Didelot, etc. Sounds very much like the argument, almost 100 years later, about Gorky or Fokine-versus-Petipa.

#4 richard53dog

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 10:48 AM

Thanks, Farrell Fan. The lead-ballerina character in the ballet version is named Emilia, according to the Lincoln Kirstein tome "Four Centuries of Ballet Masterpieces" (or similar title - workin' from memory here). The original 1818 ballet by Vigano used Spontini's score, in orchestral arrangement. It's interesting that Chalmer is also using the Spontini score with a few additions (Beethoven, etc.). This ballet was all-the-rage at its premiere, with Vigano especially praised for his innovative use of corps de ballet, in naturalistic groupings, unlike the military precision & uniform compositions of his predecessors Noverre, Didelot, etc. Sounds very much like the argument, almost 100 years later, about Gorky or Fokine-versus-Petipa.


Natalia,

I'm assuming Vigano's ballet was premiered in France? Spontini's opera was premiered in Paris to a French libretto, like a few other Italian Clasical era composer pieces, maybe most important being Cherubini's Medee.
So Paris would have been familiar with Spontini's opera

In Spontini the heroine is Giulia ( as FF notes), or actually the French version of the same. But in another version of the opera by Mercadante, the heroine is Emilia. Perhaps Vigano took his heroine's name from there?? But the music from Spontini?

Richard

#5 bart

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:35 PM

The issue of music seems complicated, according to the Teatro dell'opera website. Somehow my original post seems to have disappeared, so here's some detail and a LINK.

The Teatro dell'opera's summer season at the Baths of Caracalla includes one full-length ballet along with 3 operas.

VESTALE, a ballet in 2 acts based on a libretto by Salvatore Vigaṇ. Choreographer: Paul Chalmer. Music by Beethoven, Rossini (or Cherubini, in another page on the same website) and Spontini.

5 performances: June 24, 25, 27, 28, 30. Carla Fracci will dance the Gran Vestale.

Here's the Link: http://www.operaroma...LE/20060624.htm

Incidentally, Fracci seems to be a bit of a cultural heroine here, at least based on some internet and magazine skimming I've been doing. The revival of the Ballet is attributed largely to her influence and connections.

Does anyone know about the libretto -- or the part of Gran Vestale, which she will be dancing, according to the listing, in all performances?

#6 Natalia

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 12:38 PM

Richard, from what I recall from the Kirstein book, the ballet Vestale premiered in La Scala, Milan. Kirstein wrote about the splendor and cost of the production being possible only because La Scala was a privately-run venture, supported by the wealthy subscriber-owners, compared to the state-run institutions in France, Denmark & elsewhere, where musicians, dancers, craftsmen and others had to abide by state labor codes and state wages.

#7 richard53dog

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 01:32 PM

Incidentally, Fracci seems to be a bit of a cultural heroine here, at least based on some internet and magazine skimming I've been doing. The revival of the Ballet is attributed largely to her influence and connections.

Does anyone know about the libretto -- or the part of Gran Vestale, which she will be dancing, according to the listing, in all performances?



Bart, I think the Italians became very possessive of her after she made her first big success abroad. She speaks of this humorously in the documentary Portrait of Giselle. But she has been important to the Italians for a long , long time

As an Italian-American I'm a bit discouraged that opera seems to be losing its audience in Italy. But back in the 60s and 70s this wasn't so. And Fracci has an important opera connection, being the great-great niece of Giuseppe Verdi. The American program books always used to proudly explain this in her bios. This probably means less than it used to but on the other hand she has been around long enough to be a legend all by her self.

I won't venture a thought on what the role of the Gran Vestale will entail.

Richard

#8 Farrell Fan

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 01:53 PM

Perhaps the Gran Vestale is a Vestal extra-Virgin. I'm glad to make the belated acquaintance of a fellow Italian-American, Richard.

#9 bart

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 05:41 AM

Ditto, Richard and Farrell Fan (though only mezzo-italiano -- and northern, to boot, which often doesn't seem to count in the US). My grandfather's dedication to opera records and the top ring of the Met was my first contact with the Italian love of music.

#10 sandik

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 09:51 AM

Fracci had a great deal of success in Romantic-era work in her own dancing life -- it doesn't surprise me that she's turning to that repertory as a director. Richard mentions the Portrait of Giselle video, where she does talk about that part of her career, but there's also a video of early Romantic ballets (sorry, the name of the program escapes me right now) with Fracci, Alonso, Thesmar and Evdokimova in selections from Sylyphide, Robert le Diable, and Pas de Quatre where they all speak at length about the period and the style.

#11 richard53dog

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 10:24 AM

Fracci had a great deal of success in Romantic-era work in her own dancing life -- it doesn't surprise me that she's turning to that repertory as a director. Richard mentions the Portrait of Giselle video, where she does talk about that part of her career, but there's also a video of early Romantic ballets (sorry, the name of the program escapes me right now) with Fracci, Alonso, Thesmar and Evdokimova in selections from Sylyphide, Robert le Diable, and Pas de Quatre where they all speak at length about the period and the style.



Sandik,

This documentary is called The Romantic Era (very apt!)

Richard

#12 bart

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 12:08 PM

In her bio in the program of the current Rome Opera production, she is given such accolades as °the Taglioni of the 20th Century" and "the Duse of Dance."

Fracci has been Director of what is called the "Corpo di Ballo del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma" in 2000. The ratio of opera to ballet performances for the regular and summer season is 11 operas to 5 ballets (all full evening works).

Last December, the Ballet performed Nutcracker (Lo Schiaccianoci), choreographed by Jean Yves Lormeau after Petipa. The March Giselle was credited to Coralli, Perrot, Petipa, and Anton Dolin, as set by Fracci.

In early May the Ballet performed "From Goethe's Faust." It's described as a "Balletto in due tempi (times? tenses?) di Beppe Mengatti". Mengatti was the director. Choreography was by Wayne Eagling, set to the music of Lizst. Somehow this does not sound like it was a restoration of the sort Natalia mentions.

Their Lago dei Cigni this coming October is credited to Petipa, Ivanov and Galina Samsova.

#13 sandik

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Posted 03 June 2006 - 10:44 PM

Last December, the Ballet performed Nutcracker (Lo Schiaccianoci), choreographed by Jean Yves Lormeau after Petipa.


Shouldn't this be "after Ivanov?"

#14 bart

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Posted 04 June 2006 - 04:46 AM

Just quoting. :flowers:

#15 bart

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 05:37 AM

Has anyone seen the Vestale performances in Rome? Or come across a review that can be linked or reported on here?


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