Posted 27 August 2006 - 03:35 PM
Posted 27 August 2006 - 07:28 PM
Posted 27 August 2006 - 09:20 PM
For the greatest ballet based on a work by a Russian writer, I would vote for Ivan Turgenev's play A Month in the Country, as choreographed by Sir Fred Ashton. It is available for a free read on the Australian Gutenberg Project site:
Posted 28 August 2006 - 08:59 AM
Eugene Onegin (the Charles Johnston translation)
War and Peace
Crime and Punishment
The short stories of Gogol
Short stories and plays by Chekhov Ė especially ĎThe Lady with the Dogí and ĎThe Three Sistersí
I havenít read The Brothers Karamazov or The Idiot yet, I regret to say.
There are new translations coming out all the time Ė I just picked up the latest Anna Karenina -- but I have a partiality for the old ones by Constance Garnett, odd as they are in some respects, because thatís where I encountered many of these books first.
I would say that all of the above are important reading, but if you are forced to choose, get at least one Tolstoy and one Dostoevsky under your belt. The Gogol stories are great for starters, too.
Thank you for starting the topic, Lovebird. I hope others will chime in with their opinions.
Posted 28 August 2006 - 09:40 AM
My own introduction was through War and Peace, which I started reading after seeing the 50s very abridged Hollywood movie (the one with Audrey Hepburn as Natasha -- dubbed into Spanish -- don't ask!!). Sergei Bondarchuk's late 60s film version is the better and more faithful film, but I could never get over the absence of Hepburn. The book was in the old Louise and Aylmer Maude translation in a small but very fat Oxford Uinversity Press edition. I still use this volume, which has required re-binding more than once.
A good relatively short intro to Turgenev is Fathers and Sons. To Tolstoy: the youthful Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. To Gogol: The Nose; also, The Overcoat. To Pushkin's prose: Queen of Spades, which has been made into a Tchaikovsky opera. To Dostoevsky: short stories like The Gambler. To Chekov's prose, the stories recommended by dirac. The 20th century is another huge area: one good intro would be Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita. And Victor Serge, imprisoned under Stalin but later able to get to western Europe: Conquered City, and The Case of Comrade Tulayev.
And, for something very weird indeed, Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov (19th century), the tale of a man so wrapped in laziness, ennui, and the existential blahs that his biggest daily decision is whether or not to bother to get out of bed. (I saw a wonderful stage play based on this last year.)
I wonder how many of these literary works -- and others not mentioned so far -- have been turned into ballets?
Posted 28 August 2006 - 10:24 AM
Posted 28 August 2006 - 10:53 AM
A virtue of films is that they can focus on the main characters (who they are, what happens to them) by drastically downplaying the social, political, religious, cultural environment in which they live, using it primarily as a background.
A good film can hook you on the story of the main characters. If it leads you to the novel, you'll find a much richer world, and one that can be pursued at a more leisurely and thoughtful pace.
I'll give you an example taken from opera rather than film. This coming spring, Florida Grand Opera will perform a new opera, composed by David Carlson, based on Anna Karenina. Carlson says of his librettist and director:
So, I guess you could say: "If you loved the movie, you really DO have to read the book."
Posted 28 August 2006 - 11:04 AM
Well...Iím not sure Iíd call that a virtue -- more of an unavoidable misfortune. I did see a movie version of Anna Karenina before reading it (Garboís second reading of the role, with Fredric March) and was puzzled by all the stuff about Levin and Kitty I had to plow through when I got to the book. I did eventually learn to appreciate those segments of the book, but I think it took longer because I had seen a more streamlined version first. On the other hand, I donít blame filmmakers for concentrating on Anna Ė if you have only two hours or so to get your story told, you have to focus on her.
Posted 28 August 2006 - 11:30 AM
I wonder if anyone has actually tried to publish a version of the novel that includes only her relationship with Karenin and Vronsky, as the Garbo film does.
And what about ballet? Out of curiosity, I Googled "Karenina" and "Plisetskaya," and came up with this 1988 NY Times review of the ballet created for her in 1972. Plisentskaya was 62 at the time of this performance. Vronsky and Karenin are there. But -- as in the case of Balanchine's mothers-in-law -- Levin and no Kitty seem to have been jettisoned.
Posted 28 August 2006 - 08:25 PM
Posted 29 August 2006 - 03:22 PM
Yes, comic writing is most difficult to 'get' in translation. I always wanted to study Russian but it was one of those things I never got round to, alas. I will have to seek out 'Resurrection' - that's another thing on my to- do list.
Posted 29 August 2006 - 03:42 PM
Um, I think perhaps Plisetskaya is having some years added on to her. Sources seem to agree that she was
born in 1925; I think she celebrated her eightieth birthday last year. Bart, maybe you are thinking of Ulanova or some other older Russian ballerina?
I have a cheap Russian bootleg VHS of her in Anna Karenina with the ill-fated Alexander Godunov. I think it's a lot of fun, there are more costume changes for Plisetskaya than one can imagine. Tolstoy???? Was he involved???
This movie is sort of nostalgic for me because it brought back memories of when I first saw Plisteskaya, it was late in the game, but geez is the game over yet? But it captures that period when she was a bit dimished
but her magnetism was intact.
Posted 29 August 2006 - 03:52 PM
. A novel that has a special place in my heart is Tolstoy's Resurrection. I have re-read many times and each time I find something else that really speaks to me. The female character, Katiusha is my favourite female character in Russian literature, with respects to Anna Karenina.
Lovebird, if we count things such as poems and plays, Pushkin's writings generated a heap of operas.
In addition to the ones you mention, there are Boris Godunov, Ruslan and Lyudmila, the Golden Cockerel, The Tale of the Tsar Sultan, Mozart and Salieri, The Stone Guest as well as some less well known ones.
An oddity opera-wise is Franco Alfano setting of Resurrection. This doesn't stay too close to Tolstoy!
Posted 29 August 2006 - 04:25 PM
Though the last time I re-read it, I got bogged down when the Mason started in on Pierre about his wife.
I had seen the BBC tV version before I read it, ALL 26 episodes (they ran on KQED twice a week all summer, and i scheduled the week around them). Let me recommend that series to anyone who's curious but afraid of W+P. Young Anthony Hopkins played Pierre, and he was wonderful. The whole thing was wonderful; I had to read the book after just to get back
Posted 29 August 2006 - 04:30 PM
I'm still inching my way through Anna Karenina and savoring it all, even the footnotes. So far, the jewel has been Tolstoy's description of Karenin's internal life.
0 user(s) are reading this topic
members, guests, anonymous users
Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases: