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MozartianaIs it a great ballet, or great only in parts?


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#1 Phaedra392

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 07:46 AM

I love this ballet, especially the variations for the two principals, but the fugue seems to have been shoe-horned in, and the pas de quatre to the minuet has a feeling of not really belonging. Both seem to be there because the music is there, rather than "belonging" to the dance. Does anybody agree?

#2 Ray

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 08:21 AM

I love this ballet, especially the variations for the two principals, but the fugue seems to have been shoe-horned in, and the pas de quatre to the minuet has a feeling of not really belonging. Both seem to be there because the music is there, rather than "belonging" to the dance. Does anybody agree?


What great questions, Phaedra--I'm going to review my tape again. I always had trouble with the opening movement (the Ave Maria) as I find it a bit too sentimental (please don't hit me!)--I mean think of the layers of sentiment here: Mozart filtered through Tchai's Romantic orchestration, rearranged by Balanchine to be danced by his last muse and her little girl doubles (it's practically Victorian, like the costumes). And the praying hands reaching up and opening to cambre back--a bit kitschy, no?

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 08:25 AM

Which fugue? Do you mean the Gigue?

I think both the Gigue and the Menuet are needed structurally. Balanchine creates a whole series of parallels and balances in Mozartiana - the four women of the Menuet are a counterweight to the four little girls in the Preghiera. The man in the gigue *should* be the "negative" to the "positive" of the man in the pas de deux (the original intended cast was two dancers of similar build, Ib Andersen and Victor Castelli - who was replaced because of injury at the opening by Christopher d'Amboise), but it's no longer cast that way - now it's Mutt and Jeff. Farrell's role is the balancing point of all.

#4 Farrell Fan

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 08:33 AM

Mozart filtered through Tchai's Romantic orchestration, rearranged by Balanchine to be danced by his last muse and her little girl doubles (it's practically Victorian, like the costumes). And the praying hands reaching up and opening to cambre back--a bit kitschy, no?

No.

#5 Phaedra392

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 12:28 PM

OMG -- I did mean the Gigue. Please forgive.

#6 Klavier

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 06:25 PM

OMG -- I did mean the Gigue. Please forgive.


No reason to. It is a gigue that opens as a 3-voice fugue, and in its original piano version, one of the trickiest pieces Mozart ever wrote. Betcha Mutt and Jeff didn't know that.

#7 vipa

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 07:27 PM

Which fugue? Do you mean the Gigue?

I think both the Gigue and the Menuet are needed structurally. Balanchine creates a whole series of parallels and balances in Mozartiana - the four women of the Menuet are a counterweight to the four little girls in the Preghiera. The man in the gigue *should* be the "negative" to the "positive" of the man in the pas de deux (the original intended cast was two dancers of similar build, Ib Andersen and Victor Castelli - who was replaced because of injury at the opening by Christopher d'Amboise), but it's no longer cast that way - now it's Mutt and Jeff. Farrell's role is the balancing point of all.


Agreed. If you imagine taking the Gigue or Minuet out I think you'll find a tremendous unbalance to the piece. Every time I see it I find more connective tissue.

#8 carbro

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 09:15 PM

And the praying hands reaching up and opening to cambre back--a bit kitschy, no?

I'm with Farrell Fan on this. But I think it depends on the ballerina. If in the depth of her heart she doesn't believe the moment, we won't either. Fortunately, I've seen only one or two performances of this -- early essays by the dancers -- where the Prayer failed to stir me.

If you imagine taking the Gigue or Minuet out I think you'll find a tremendous unbalance to the piece. Every time I see it I find more connective tissue.

Yes. Each movement is so brilliant on its own, I'd hate to lose any. And the finale resolves and binds them into an inseparable unit.

This may not be a perfect ballet, but it's darned close.

#9 atm711

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 03:30 AM

I always had trouble with the opening movement (the Ave Maria) as I find it a bit too sentimental-a bit kitschy, no?



In the first version I saw of this work the 'Ave Maria' segment was tucked into the middle of the ballet---and there you might get away with talking 'kitsch' (well, maybe)---the girl was draped on a horizontal pole carried by two men....IMO Balanchine was so overcome with the beauty of the score that he got carried away, no matter which woman was dancing to the music. But I tell you, the highlight of that earlier Mozartiana was the dancing of the pdd at the end by Danilova & Franklin---that's what I miss when I see the latter version.

#10 bart

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 05:50 AM

But I tell you, the highlight of that earlier Mozartiana was the dancing of the pdd at the end by Danilova & Franklin---that's what I miss when I see the latter version.

I'm not sure which of the smilies is an ENVY smilie, but I would love to add one here. Can you tell us about it and what makes it stand out so much in your memory?

Edited to add: This topic got me to look at the photos on pp. 30-31 of Robert Garis's Following Balanchine (partly because I did not know that there was a version prior to the early 80s performances). There's a beautiful and rather haunting photo of Danilova in white tutu with a vaguely oriental white veil and white plume on her head, standing on pointe, face in profile. Garis writes:

[David] Denby had described the oriignal Mozartiana as sunny, but the new ballet was about as far from being sunny as possible, with its ballerina dressed in somber black-tinged tulle, her cavalier in a dark purple vest, and the nine other dancers in black. "Ave Verum Corpus" was now the first movement (Balanchine had rearrnaged the order of the Tchaikovsky suite for his new version), composed in the form of a prayer that was not only completely serious in tone but danced with naturalistic gestures.

I've only seen that second version, at around the time it was revived. I recall very active, inventive variations for the woman and the man, but have very little memory of how they related to each other in pdd.

As to Phaedra392's original question: the various parts struck me as being well-suited to each part of the music, but not adding up to an integrated visual or emotional unity. More like something you might entitle "Mozart Pieces". Nothing wrong with that, however. :clapping:

#11 rg

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 06:05 AM

all i know about regarding the ending of the earlier MOZARTIANA's pdd, which i never saw, concerns the very ending into the final pose. from commentary and a photo - with toumanova and jazinksy? these document that the ealier version ended the way the second mov. of SYMPHONY IN C now does, and has apparently, since its '46 premiere. so, as balanchine is quoted as saying somewhere, he had to give his 1981 version MOZARTIANA a different ending pose for the pdd b/c the first one got recycled in his bizet ballet.

#12 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 06:57 AM

From an article of mine in sometime in 2004 for Dance View:

Franklin coached [Nikolaj] Hübbe and Miranda Weese in the version of Mozartiana he danced with the Ballet Russe. He had seen the 1933 version with Tamara Toumanova and Roman Jasinski and believed that their first pas de deux was different than the one he danced. The music is used in the 1981 production currently danced for the entrée to the theme and variations section where the ballerina's partner first appears. The second pas pas de deux, which he taught, is the same as was done in 1933. It is to the same music, the ninth variation, as the long pas de deux from 1981. In the earlier versions, the other variations were taken not only by the danseur and ballerina (as done today), but also by some soloists. As Franklin taught the steps, it was also obvious why Balanchine didn't revive this version in 1981. He cannibalized the ending of the pas de deux; the same ending is now the ending of second movement Symphony in C, where it seems as if it could belong in no other ballet. There are echoes of other ballets as well; a diagonal of lunging poses recalls Concerto Barocco, a work created in 1941.

The differences between the ’45 and ’81 versions? The old version is much less packed than the new; a test of the gifts and virtuosity both of Suzanne Farrell, with her rococo excess and of Ib Andersen, one of newest dancers at that time, whose quicksilver beats and changes of direction shaped the man’s part. There’s more air in the earlier version, but it also needs to be filled with the mystique of the dancers, otherwise it looks static. Balanchine made his final version for the gifts of Farrell and Andersen, just as Balanchine remade the ’33 entrée for Danilova because she was a completely different dancer from Toumanova.



#13 Phaedra392

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 07:15 AM

The reference above to Ib Andersen's "quicksilver beats" evokes vivid memories of my first viewings of this ballet. I will never forget the incredible clarity and speed of Andersen's feet, along with his light, effortless jumps. God, he was thrilling.

#14 bart

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 08:49 AM

Thanks, Leigh, for those paragraphs: a reminder of the linfluence that individual dancer-muses, with their unique gifts, had on Balanchine when he was was revisiting his choroegraphy.

#15 Roma

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 10:05 AM

Mozartiana (1981 version) is among Balanchine’s greatest masterpieces, and, I think, one of the greatest masterpieces in any art form. But it’s a delicate work. Not in architecture, which is superb and breathtaking, but in musical phrasing and the tonality, the intention given to the steps. There have been some impressive readings of the ballerina role, though none that I saw ever came close to the wonder that Farrell was in it. The prayer gestures sometimes look positively domestic.


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