Posted 11 December 2007 - 07:10 AM
Dolin also played Drosselmeyer for the premiere of the Grands Ballets Canadiens production, too. My favorite was Shaun O'Brien with NYCB. He was even better than Balanchine, when he took the part. And the reason that Tchaikovsky doesn't quote the Drosselmeyer leitmotiv later in the score is because of the libretto and the choreographic plan, written, respectively, by Ivan Vsevolozhsky and Petipa. It's in Hoffman. Try to find it in the Dumas translation. The original is way scary and weird. Remember that Hoffman was among the 19th-century Neo-Gothics. The last we see of Drosselmeyer is sitting on the capital of the grandfather clock, flapping his coattails and arms. In Hoffman, there's even a song he's supposed to be singing, along the lines of, "Zig, zig, zig, the Mouse King's time is up!"
That having been said, I cringe inwardly when I see that a choreographer has "gone back to Hoffman, and made it more authentic to the original fairy tale". Let me just say that if you were really true to Hoffman, you'd have crying kids running from the auditorium and some adults, too, scared out of their wits! The original "grim fairy tales"! I also don't care for retired premiers danseurs performing the part as if they're about to break into Albrecht at any second! Drosselmeyer is an odd duck. He's funny-looking, but good-hearted. He does have good sense about him, he's a City Councillor, and is there because of his long friendship with the Silberhauses/Stahlbaums. (Dumas is the "silver house", Hoffman is the "steel tree") He is loving, and gentle, but is rather unlovely to look at. (It's part of the Mouse King's curse) Balanchine added the nephew part to add credibility to the idea that after the lights go out in the house onstage, most of the rest of the ballet is a dream. Or is it? We're left with a question much like another fantasy, Harvey. Is Elwood hallucinating because he can see the rabbit, or are we just a little off because we can't? Is this exclusively Clara/Marie's dream, or are we peeking into the world of magic and miracles, where we are not usually accustomed to go?