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Petipa, the Imperial Russian Ballet, and ApotheosisesApotheosis in Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Raymonda, etc


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#1 EricMontreal22

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:45 PM

This is an odd topic, I know, but I figure some of you experts can help me out. What's always fascinated me about many of the Imperial Russian ballets is how they almost all had final Apotheosises. Nowadays these Apotheosises are almost always performed as a final moment or pose for the major characters--most Sleeping Beautys have everyone posed around the happy couple, Nutcracker likes to have Clara (with or without her Prince) either flying off or waking up from a dream, Swan Lake has the couple reunited in the heavens, Raymonda is usually similar to Beauty's pose, etc.

However when originally performed the apotheosis was much more stylized--it seems to me. I've only seen two--Sleeping Beauty's in its reconstruction and Awakening of Flora's in its reconstruction. Sleeping Beauty the characters remain on stage but the backdrop reveals a scene with Apollo, etc, that I believe is meant to represent the harmony of the court (and be another reference to Louis Quatorze's court). Flora also opens up to a posed scene of Gods, etc.

So it seems that for their time the Apotheosis was a living tableau or pose, that while it may have had characters from the piece some how symbolised or represented the ballet. The exception is Swan Lake which I believe has always been the couple in the Heavens (but it was created first for the Bolshoi and not with a libretto by Petipa or anyone else which may be the reason--or maybe in the 1870s they didn't have these apotheosises yet--Bayadere's is fairly simple as is Don Quixote's I believe).

Does anyone know about the other famous original apotheosises? In the score for Raymonda I believe the apotheosis is called "the tourney/tournament" which always made me think it was jousting knights or something similar.

Nutcracker though has the most fascinating--Beaumont's book describes a Giant beehive with happy bees, representing a succeful community with everyone having their role (these apotheosises also I think were done to a theme that in some way complemented the Tsar). Does ANYONE know how this bizarre apotheosis was staged? it just seems so... random--especially since Tchaikovsky merely returns to the opening Kingdom of Sweets theme in his music. Was it a drawn beehive and bees? Were kids of the chorus dressed as bees? Did the audience get it or were they completely confused? did the rest of the characters stay on stage in front of the beehive, or? Or maybe baumont is wrong and there was no beehive?

(I'm sure Wiley's amazing Tchaikovsky's Ballets book has something on this but my copy is across the country in Montreal and I really don't remember).

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:55 PM

Look at a bee-skep, then look at the Crown Imperial of Russia. See?

#3 EricMontreal22

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Posted 20 January 2009 - 10:00 PM

OK I that actually makes some sense and would have been obvious to audiences. But do we know for sure how the bee-skep was presented? was it constructed, did it have people in outfit, etc?

#4 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:49 AM

Eric, you need to take a look at this. I wrote it over 10 years ago.

http://www.balletale...y/Nuts/Nuts.htm

#5 EricMontreal22

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:27 PM

Thanks so much! It looks like it answers a lot of questions that the other sources I've found have merely brought up (like why we have a Prince Whooping Cough!). So it sounds like Clara and the others were present around the beehive. Man, I wish there was a photograph of this.

Cheers!


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