whetherwax

Extra PDD in Het Nationale

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In my DVD with Sylianne Sylvie and Gael Lambiotte there is a PDD after the wake- up kiss. The Lilac fairy tells them to dance together and all the other sleepers fade away - (to clean up dust of 100 years I guess) It seems very appropriate, like a time when they can get to know each other before the Wedding and not be rushed to the altar. It is not in my other Sleeping Beauty DVDs - Paris Opera and Australian Ballet, and I'm learning enough to realise that some PDD s are interchangeable. Where does this lovely little PDD usually hide?

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In my DVD with Sylianne Sylvie and Gael Lambiotte there is a PDD after the wake- up kiss. The Lilac fairy tells them to dance together and all the other sleepers fade away - (to clean up dust of 100 years I guess) It seems very appropriate, like a time when they can get to know each other before the Wedding and not be rushed to the altar. It is not in my other Sleeping Beauty DVDs - Paris Opera and Australian Ballet, and I'm learning enough to realise that some PDD s are interchangeable. Where does this lovely little PDD usually hide?

That Pas de Deux is called The Awakening Pas de Deux and it only appears in that DVD. The Awakening Pas de Deux was originally choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton for a Royal Ballet production in 1968, and it was one of the very few things that was liked by the critics. The critics loathed that production because it followed hot on the heels of the much loved Messel production that had served the Royal Ballet from 1946 to 1966 and they criticised everything from the medieval setting to the costumes. It was a case of Mother's baking is best.

I think that it was a shame that the 1968 production was so disliked. From my research, it seems to have been a very magical production and the audiences seems to have taken it to its heart for it lasted four years before being replaced by the MacMillan production in 1973.

In the Dutch National Ballet DVD here, the production was by Sir Peter Wright who helped with the 1968 production and he included the Awakening Pas de Deux with steps of his own devising. If you want to see the Ashton Awakening Pas de Deux, it is in a recording of The Sleeping Beauty danced by the Royal Ballet in 1978 and is in the New York Library for The Performing Arts and it is very romantic and wholly appropriate to the story.

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Many thanks for your post, CHazell2, and welcome to Ballet Talk!

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Whatever else to say about the "Plantagenet Sleeping Beauty", that pas de deux was wonderful. It's set to an entr'acte written for the original production of 1890, but was cut, along with the panorama, which broke down in rehearsal. The original violinist who was to play it was Leopold Auer, the Maryinsky's concert master.

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Whatever else to say about the "Plantagenet Sleeping Beauty", that pas de deux was wonderful. It's set to an entr'acte written for the original production of 1890, but was cut, along with the panorama, which broke down in rehearsal. The original violinist who was to play it was Leopold Auer, the Maryinsky's concert master.

Why didn't you like the Plantagnet Sleeping Beauty, Mr Johnson. I would have thought that it would have made a very refreshing change after the Messel Sleeping Beauty, which had not aged very well.

I think if the critics had been more forebearing and the teething problems had been ironed out, then I think that it would have been a long lasting production and one that the Royal Ballet would've been justly proud of.

I don't agree with Ismene Brown's opinion that the Sleeping Beauty is nothing more than "a mass at the high altar of ballet." It is a fairy tale first and foremost. In my view, equal emphasis should be given to the story as well as the dancing.

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non amo te sabidi nec possum dicere quare hoc tantum possum dicere non amo te

Actually, I can tell why I didn't like it. First, it seemed to do some violence to the story as a fairy tale, where the princess fell asleep in the Medieval period, and woke up during the Enlightenment. That's 500 years. It seemed to have channeled Raymonda somewhere along the way. I had yet to see some of the horrors that could be perpetrated on poor Sleeping Beauty. I can wait the whole rest of eternity to see Mark Morris take on the second half of the story about Prince Desiré's mum and dad, who are ogres. (I know, I know, everybody's in-laws....)

Sets did not accommodate familiar blocking. Oman's palette was light and sweet, but insufficiently strong to balance the mighty Petipa choreography. It would have been better for "Ruses d'Amour", to cite another Glazunov/Petipa ballet. I think that there is the whole reason it drew criticism: It was like Glazunov to Tchaikovsky.

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I take issue with that opinion, Mr Johnson. From what I saw, the period seemed to take place wholly in the Middle Ages. As you know the Middle Ages lasted a couple of centuries. There are absolutely no grounds for suggestion that Aurora awoke in the Enlightenment. I wholly respect your opinion but to suggest that Raymonda was involved is wholly ridiculous.

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Perhaps my memory of the production (I haven't looked at anything from it since 1968) has been overwritten by subsequent decor, but that also speaks to the weakness of the set and costumes. If they were that unmemorable, that was a problem. I think that it is inherent about ballets that you have to see them in motion to appreciate comments made about them. And yes, I know that the Medieval period lasted a few centuries. I'd even hazard an opinion that the Early Medieval extends backward into the sixth century CE, but not forward and encompassing past the Renaissance. But now, we're getting into Oscar Wilde territory. What is "Early English"?

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[My recollection is that the designs for that production were by Lila di Nobili and Rostislav Doboujinsky rather than Julia Trevelyan Oman, but they were Victorian Gothic (think the Houses of Parliament) rather than genuinely medieval. There were certainly some very pretty effects, but for me the real problem was that Peter Wright tried to make it a Romantic ballet rather than a classical ballet. On the other hand, when you think what we've had since...........well, it wasn't so bad.

However, much as I admire Ashton's choreography for the awakening pas de duex, I question whether it really fits into the story. After all, the Lilac Fairy has destined Florimond (or Desiree) for Aurora from the moment of his conception. They recognise each other immediately. They already know each other. And I have an idea that in the original story immediately on waking she says something like "My prince, you have been so long in coming".

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Perhaps my memory of the production (I haven't looked at anything from it since 1968) has been overwritten by subsequent decor, but that also speaks to the weakness of the set and costumes. If they were that unmemorable, that was a problem. I think that it is inherent about ballets that you have to see them in motion to appreciate comments made about them.

I quite agree. you do have to see ballets in order to appreciate them. I am in no position to judge because I wasn't alive at the time but that particular production always had a fascination for me. Maybe because people had said that it was so magical and I like the idea of Carabosse having a reptilian tail, that only makes her more scary in my opinion.

I saw the revival of the Messel production in 2006, and I can honestly say that it was a bit of a let down. Up to then I had only heard golden opinions about the Messel production and I was a bit disappointed and I wasn't the only one.

If I was staging a production of the Sleeping Beauty, I would include the Awakening Pas de Deux because it serves as a logical progression in the relationship of Aurora and Prince Desire.

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[My recollection is that the designs for that production were by Lila di Nobili and Rostislav Doboujinsky rather than Julia Trevelyan Oman, but they were Victorian Gothic (think the Houses of Parliament) rather than genuinely medieval. There were certainly some very pretty effects, but for me the real problem was that Peter Wright tried to make it a Romantic ballet rather than a classical ballet. On the other hand, when you think what we've had since...........well, it wasn't so bad.

However, much as I admire Ashton's choreography for the awakening pas de duex, I question whether it really fits into the story. After all, the Lilac Fairy has destined Florimond (or Desiree) for Aurora from the moment of his conception. They recognise each other immediately. They already know each other. And I have an idea that in the original story immediately on waking she says something like "My prince, you have been so long in coming".

Well, that idea may have come from the ballet's original libretto when the Lilac Fairy is also the godmother of the Prince. It certainly wasn't in the original Perrault story. But don't you think the story is Romantic in its way.

What you said about Aurora saying that the Prince took so long in coming, is precisely what the Awakening Pas de Deux is all about. It is a chance to meet one other properly and fall in love. After all the Prince had only seen her in a vision and now he has to woo a real flesh and blood girl. I think the Finale of the second act should come after the Awakening Pas de Deux

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Oops! Alymer, you've caught me. :clapping: I just went down to the cellar to look at my souvenir program from that year, and de Nobili and Douboujinsky it is! I stand corrected.

And yes, there is supposed to be an immediate recognition of the Prince by Aurora. One of the problems with the Messel was that it was TOO immediate and the lights went out almost immediately! The Wright mime and the Ashton pas de deux addition lengthened the scene to much better effect. Definitely keepers!

One thing I keep seeing about the "New Messel" production is that it seems faded, next to everyone's recollections. It may even be for the reasons of the fugitiveness of paint and ink colors, where the costume and scene shops had interpreted what they saw all TOO literally. It's happened before.

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Oops! Alymer, you've caught me. :clapping: I just went down to the cellar to look at my souvenir program from that year, and de Nobili and Douboujinsky it is! I stand corrected.

And yes, there is supposed to be an immediate recognition of the Prince by Aurora. One of the problems with the Messel was that it was TOO immediate and the lights went out almost immediately! The Wright mime and the Ashton pas de deux addition lengthened the scene to much better effect. Definitely keepers!

One thing I keep seeing about the "New Messel" production is that it seems faded, next to everyone's recollections. It may even be for the reasons of the fugitiveness of paint and ink colors, where the costume and scene shops had interpreted what they saw all TOO literally. It's happened before.

What did the Wright mime entail?

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It was actually very brief and simple, and replaces a long bunch of crashes and fortissimo in the score. Something along the line of draw back in astonishment, touch his face, and segue right into the beginning of the pas de deux. It beats, "'Oo th' 'ell 'r YOU?"

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It was actually very brief and simple, and replaces a long bunch of crashes and fortissimo in the score. Something along the line of draw back in astonishment, touch his face, and segue right into the beginning of the pas de deux. It beats, "'Oo th' 'ell 'r YOU?"

Very nice and romantic. Can I ask you what was the mime between the Queen and Carabosse in the Prologue because I have read that there was a extended mime scene between them.

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To tell you the truth, I don't recall it as being that distinctive from the Messel production's, but that the Queen and Carabosse were more downstage in the '68 version. The King and Queen also had more to do after Aurora goes to sleep in Act I. It filled out some music not exploited by Sergeyev. So, in some ways, the Messel was weaker, and in some places stronger than the later version. Different blocking made for different weights to the action. In some cases they were better, in some cases worse.

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To tell you the truth, I don't recall it as being that distinctive from the Messel production's, but that the Queen and Carabosse were more downstage in the '68 version. The King and Queen also had more to do after Aurora goes to sleep in Act I. It filled out some music not exploited by Sergeyev. So, in some ways, the Messel was weaker, and in some places stronger than the later version.

When you say that the King and Queen had more to do after Aurora collapses, is it to the mourning music that comes after Aurora's giddy dance. I simply love that.

In what ways was the Messel stronger than the Ashton and Wright version and what was weaker.

Sorry for asking all of these questions but I have always been interested in the Ashton and Wright version.

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Yes, exactly that place. I love it, too. A lot of the "Ashton" versions were actually under the general supervision of Ninette de Valois, and "Madam" would take credit for it. It was part of the ongoing feud between those two. One thing is certain, though, the Waltz in Act I is pretty much Ashton's, the way it's done to this day. The original was notated, but it had something like 72 dancers in it, with students and additional props, like step units! Bring back vaudeville! :clapping:

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Yes, exactly that place. I love it, too. A lot of the "Ashton" versions were actually under the general supervision of Ninette de Valois, and "Madam" would take credit for it. It was part of the ongoing feud between those two. One thing is certain, though, the Waltz in Act I is pretty much Ashton's, the way it's done to this day. The original was notated, but it had something like 72 dancers in it, with students and additional props, like step units! Bring back vaudeville! :clapping:

The Original Garland Waltz is performed in the Kirov reconstruction which I saw back in 2001 when the Kirov came to London. I was in the midst of my GCSES and I absolutely adored it. I didn't see any step units but I did see roses on arches.

I think that the 1946 Waltz by Frederick Ashton is actually better than the new one by Christopher Wheelon.

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Is there a recording of the Ashton and Wright production somwhere. I know that it was broadcast with Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley but it seems to have disappeared.

Does it exist in the Royal Opera House archives?

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Anything by Ashton is so strong, that anyone undertaking a similar dance would have his or her work cut out for them. One of the reasons I like Wheeldon is that he's "Ashtonian", but up against actual Ashton, that's not enough. He needs to learn more, and the only way he can do that is to make more dances.

Even if videos of productions don't make it to commercial release, they can often be found in larger libraries' performing arts collections. Usually not for circulation, though.

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Anything by Ashton is so strong, that anyone undertaking a similar dance would have his or her work cut out for them. One of the reasons I like Wheeldon is that he's "Ashtonian", but up against actual Ashton, that's not enough. He needs to learn more, and the only way he can do that is to make more dances.

Even if videos of productions don't make it to commercial release, they can often be found in larger libraries' performing arts collections. Usually not for circulation, though.

Did you see the broadcast? And if so, can you tell me where to look for a copy?

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No, I believe that version was aired while I was on active duty in the Air Force, and the dayroom television was not mine to command. By the time I got out, the ballet had gone to another production.

The next time you're up to London, I would inquire at the main library. University libraries may also be of some help here.

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Where do you mean 'the main library'? It would be easy for me to get up to London as I am at the University of Sussex. Did you see it live?

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I was thinking of the London Central Public Library in Dundas Street, but I'll bet that a better bet would be at the British Library! They seem to have EVERYTHING there!

And yes, I did see the production live at the "New" Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.

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