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A modern "reference" version of Swan Lake?


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#31 Natalia

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 11:24 AM

I seem to recall an interview from a couple of years ago in which Alexei Ratmansky (then A.D. of the Bolshoi Ballet) expressed an interest in staging the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake from the Stepanov notations. He and Yuri Burlaka (the current AD of Bolshoi) were considering it together, at the time that they were staging the "reconstructed" Corsaire. I recall that Ratmansky said something to the effect of "It's a shame that this greatest version of Swan Lake isn't performed anywhere in the world.." which prompted me to write in one of the on-line fora -- perhaps BalletTalk -- "Go to London!" In sum, it was considered for the Bolshoi. It's a shame that this came to nothing.

#32 leonid17

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 12:19 PM

I seem to recall an interview from a couple of years ago in which Alexei Ratmansky (then A.D. of the Bolshoi Ballet) expressed an interest in staging the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake from the Stepanov notations. He and Yuri Burlaka (the current AD of Bolshoi) were considering it together, at the time that they were staging the "reconstructed" Corsaire. I recall that Ratmansky said something to the effect of "It's a shame that this greatest version of Swan Lake isn't performed anywhere in the world.." which prompted me to write in one of the on-line fora -- perhaps BalletTalk -- "Go to London!" In sum, it was considered for the Bolshoi. It's a shame that this came to nothing.



I posted a link to a Ratmansky interview you refer to http://entertainment...icle2073183.ece in Ballet Talk on July 28 2007 which the reference to ‘Swan Lake’ and Ratmansky which you responded to knowledgeably as follows (in full), “Perhaps Ratmansky should go to London to see the Royal Ballet's 'Swan Lake,' which is the 1895 Petipa-Ivanov, with the exception of David Bintley's Act I Waltz and Ashton's Act III Neopolitan Dance. It's not as if the Bolshoi would be the only company out there doing the 1895 Swan Lake.

#33 Sacto1654

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 11:42 AM

I posted a link to a Ratmansky interview you refer to http://entertainment...icle2073183.ece in Ballet Talk on July 28 2007 which the reference to ‘Swan Lake’ and Ratmansky which you responded to knowledgeably as follows (in full), “Perhaps Ratmansky should go to London to see the Royal Ballet's 'Swan Lake,' which is the 1895 Petipa-Ivanov, with the exception of David Bintley's Act I Waltz and Ashton's Act III Neopolitan Dance. It's not as if the Bolshoi would be the only company out there doing the 1895 Swan Lake.


Let's try this corrected link:

http://entertainment...icle2073183.ece

I would LOVE to see Ratmansky attempt this with the American Ballet Theatre--if he can find the right dancers!

#34 Sacto1654

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 11:59 AM

Speaking of the "reference" version of Swan Lake, I'm really glad the Mariinsky Ballet doesn't perform the Vinogradov version from 1988. I've had someone describe to me the choreography of the Vinogradov version and the end of the ballet had a scene that looked a bit too much like the average large-scale Las Vegas production. :crying: All the more reason why I think the Konstantin Sergeyev 1950 version is the closest thing to the "reference" version of the ballet, with the Sir Frederic Ashton version for the Royal Ballet being a close second (some would say the closest because it's almost identical to the original Petipa/Ivanov 1895 version).

#35 leonid17

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 03:51 PM

Speaking of the "reference" version of Swan Lake, I'm really glad the Mariinsky Ballet doesn't perform the Vinogradov version from 1988. I've had someone describe to me the choreography of the Vinogradov version and the end of the ballet had a scene that looked a bit too much like the average large-scale Las Vegas production. :crying: All the more reason why I think the Konstantin Sergeyev 1950 version is the closest thing to the "reference" version of the ballet, with the Sir Frederic Ashton version for the Royal Ballet being a close second (some would say the closest because it's almost identical to the original Petipa/Ivanov 1895 version).


I first saw the Kirov's Sergeyev version as a teenager in 1961 and subsequently on a number of other occasions. It can only be called a "reference" production for the Kirov Ballet alone, as it is not an "authentic" version of the Petipa/Ivanov original and I do not know on what basis you can elevate its status to that of "reference" production as I understand that it included inherited material later than the origiinal . Please elucidate further in respect of actual choreographic content of the Sergeyev production as this subject is considered important, as shown in earlier postings.
As referred to earlier by others, the latest RB choreographic version is closer to the Petipa/Ivanov production and has a greater claim to being a "universal reference" production than any other current production in spite the two clear amendments it contains, as mentioned elsewhere.

#36 Sacto1654

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:13 PM

As referred to earlier by others, the latest RB choreographic version is closer to the Petipa/Ivanov production and has a greater claim to being a "universal reference" production than any other current production in spite the two clear amendments it contains, as mentioned elsewhere.


As I said earlier, I would agree because other than a few changes here and there, the current Royal Ballet version is pretty much what Petipa and Ivanov envisioned in the 1895 production. I think if Petipa were alive today he probably would recognize the Royal Ballet version easily.

However, ballet fans east of the former Iron Curtain would probably prefer the Sergeyev version, if only because that version has been performed pretty much unchanged all over Eastern Europe since it premiered in 1950. Petipa might not recognize the Sergeyev version, especially since (I believe) it integrated the major changes in the corps de ballet choreography in Act II (or Act I Scene 2 as it's known in Russia) by Agrippina Vaganova introduced in 1933.

#37 leonid17

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 05:24 PM

Petipa might not recognize the Sergeyev version, especially since (I believe) it integrated the major changes in the corps de ballet choreography in Act II (or Act I Scene 2 as it's known in Russia) by Agrippina Vaganova introduced in 1933.



Please tell us how Sergeyev could possibly have known about the Vaganova production?

#38 rg

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 06:48 PM

there seems to be a confusion here between Konstantin Sergeyev and Nicholas Sergeyev.

but in any case don't most soviet versions of SWAN LAKE refer more to Gorsky's first lakeside scene than to Ivanov's?

i suspect Gusev's 'sense' of Act 2 for Burmeister also came through a 'Gorsky' line, if memory serves today's Burmeister stagings look very Gorsky for this lakeside and much less Ivanov-esque.

Swan lake : Burmeister and Gusev after Ivanov and Petipa, M)
Original title: Lebedinoe ozero. Chor: Vladimir Burmeister (Acts I, III, IV) and Petr Gusev (Act II) after Ivanov and Petipa; mus: Petr Chaikovskii; lib: Vladimir Begichev and Vasilii Gel'tzer; scen: A. Lushin; cos: E. Arkhangel'skaia. First perf: Moscow, Stanislavskii and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, Apr 25, 1953, Stanislavskii and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater Ballet.

#39 Hans

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 08:56 PM

Does anyone happen to know which production is performed on the 1968 video with Yevteyeva as Odette? I just received this DVD today, but it contains precious little information. Yevteyeva is marvelous, though. :)

I think we may have to come to terms with the idea that no Swan Lake today is really all that similar to the original 1895 production. Perhaps the general choreographic outline is still there as well as some of the steps, but unless someone takes the notations and reconstructs the ballet à la Sleeping Beauty, what we see today is not a reproduction of Petipa's and Ivanov's work. Even the Royal Ballet's production differs in major ways from what is known about the Petipa/Ivanov version, although it is probably the one that adheres most closely to it.

Edit: I found the answer to my question...in plain sight on the back of the DVD case :wink:. It says 'Screen Adaptation: Konstantin Sergeyev', so now I know who to blame.

#40 Sacto1654

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 09:28 PM

I think we may have to come to terms with the idea that no Swan Lake today is really all that similar to the original 1895 production. Perhaps the general choreographic outline is still there as well as some of the steps, but unless someone takes the notations and reconstructs the ballet à la Sleeping Beauty, what we see today is not a reproduction of Petipa's and Ivanov's work. Even the Royal Ballet's production differs in major ways from what is known about the Petipa/Ivanov version, although it is probably the one that adheres most closely to it.


I believe that the notations used to reconstruct Sleeping Beauty in the original 1892 version could be used to do an almost exact match of the original 1895 version of Swan Lake. Now that Alexei Ratmansky will work for the American Ballet Theatre maybe we might just see such a reconstruction, given that Ratmansky has stated openly in the recent past he does want to do an exact reproduction of the 1895 original.

As such, if you want a version of Swan Lake currently performed that is probably closest to the original, the Royal Ballet version first performed in 1988 is probably the best you can get.

By the way, getting back on topic, I have to make a clarification: what I mean by "modern reference version" of Swan Lake is the version--even with all the changes in choreography since the 1895 original--that has lasted the longest and is still regularly performed today essentially unchanged since its original performance. The 1950 Konstantin Sergeyev version probably meets this criteria, in my humble opinion. :wink: (Interestingly, the Vladimir Bourmeister version from 1953 almost qualifies for my definition if the Stanislavsky Ballet is still performing it today.)

#41 Hans

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 09:41 PM

That does indeed sound like a possibility, and it would certainly be an enormous improvement over ABT's current 'Swan Lake'.

I do have a question, though--according to your criteria, then, a 'modern reference version' of Swan Lake could have absolutely nothing in common with the Petipa/Ivanov as long as it has been performed regularly and remained unchanged for a long time?

#42 Paul Parish

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 11:16 PM

The Royal Ballet's version which I saw first in 1970 remains the most satisfying version I've ever seen --

It had the enormous advantage of being Ashton's setting of sergeyev's notations, with Ashton's own rather considerable and extremely beautiful modifications to the last act -- it is the ONLY version of hte ballet that to my mind achieves simplicity, monumentality, and tragedy in its culmination, and that makes it my candidate for the version of record.

(It also included, and htis is not a small thing, Odette's mime scene ("I'm hte queen of the swans, yonder is the lake of my mother's tears"
as demonstrated here
by Sibley and Dowell; "all the story is there in that lake."

#43 richard53dog

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 06:06 AM

The Royal Ballet's version which I saw first in 1970 remains the most satisfying version I've ever seen --

It had the enormous advantage of being Ashton's setting of sergeyev's notations, with Ashton's own rather considerable and extremely beautiful modifications to the last act -- it is the ONLY version of hte ballet that to my mind achieves simplicity, monumentality, and tragedy in its culmination, and that makes it my candidate for the version of record.

(It also included, and htis is not a small thing, Odette's mime scene ("I'm hte queen of the swans, yonder is the lake of my mother's tears"
as demonstrated here
by Sibley and Dowell; "all the story is there in that lake."


I first saw this too in 1970! Getting old, I guess. But I agree this was a very beautiful version.

It's great to see Sibley and Dowell coaching the mime scene, although some find the mime old fashioned (Makarova was particularly vocal on this point), I find it fits in very well with the notion that the ballet is based on a fairy tale. I'm always disappointed when it is cut. I find it interesting that Nureyev, roughly a contemporary of Makarova, was also unhappy with performing the mime scene when he first came to the West, included a detailed version of the scene when, later, he staged his version for the POB.

#44 Hans

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 10:04 AM

I can't understand people who want to cut the mime from Swan Lake--it tells the story. A bunch of relevés in attitude derrière most certainly do not.

#45 richard53dog

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:16 PM

I can't understand people who want to cut the mime from Swan Lake--it tells the story. A bunch of relevés in attitude derrière most certainly do not.



I can't understand it either. It's not like we are dealing with an art form that is realistic in nature. But often the versions that cut the mime have a dancing Rothbart. I dislike having Rothbart and Siegfried hopping around like two crickets chasing each other in Act 4, leaving Odette to take a quick nap.
Also this kind of "improvement" seems to be a clash in styles, much more mid-20th century type material inserted into the framework of the earlier Imperial
type structure.

I'm not sure I understand the meaning of a "reference" version of Swan Lake but if we are talking about a version that maintains an integrity of preserving as much as possible of the 1895 version while remaining in continuous use for a significant period of time, ABT sure took a wrong turn here. My first exposure to ABT's Swan Lake was the Blair version back in the late 60s. If ONLY they had held onto this and keep it in use it might fulfill something of this kind of reference , or maybe definative, version.


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