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Seeing the Ultimate Interpretation and Never Going Back


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#1 Helene

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 09:57 AM

Mashinka posted a link to an appreciation of Hildegard Behrens by Germaine Greer in the "Other Performing Arts" forum.

http://www.guardian....ldegard-behrens

In it, Greer wrote,

She is the reason I gave up going to performances of the Ring. I don't want anyone else's Brünnhilde to blur my memory of her doing it with the Vienna State Opera in April 1996.


While I appreciate the sentiment, and have applied it temporarily, for example leaving at the end of the act after Vinson Cole sang Werther's monologue, not wanting anything to mar my memory of it. But it's hard for me to imagine, unless I was pretty sure I was at the end of my life, that I would boycott one of the greatest works of music and theater and miss the chance that I could hear a young great or soon-to-be-great or a singer I never appreciated but had an inspired performance. If I had decided that no one could ever dance Aurora like Fonteyn and boycotted "Sleeping Beauty", I would have missed any number of wonderful dancers in the role. (And, of course, some not very wonderful dancers in the role and some wonderful dancers I haven't liked in the role :) .)

Thoughts?

#2 richard53dog

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:26 AM

Mashinka posted a link to an appreciation of Hildegard Behrens by Germaine Greer in the "Other Performing Arts" forum.

http://www.guardian....ldegard-behrens

In it, Greer wrote,

She is the reason I gave up going to performances of the Ring. I don't want anyone else's Brünnhilde to blur my memory of her doing it with the Vienna State Opera in April 1996.


While I appreciate the sentiment, and have applied it temporarily, for example leaving at the end of the act after Vinson Cole sang Werther's monologue, not wanting anything to mar my memory of it. But it's hard for me to imagine, unless I was pretty sure I was at the end of my life, that I would boycott one of the greatest works of music and theater and miss the chance that I could hear a young great or soon-to-be-great or a singer I never appreciated but had an inspired performance. If I had decided that no one could ever dance Aurora like Fonteyn and boycotted "Sleeping Beauty", I would have missed any number of wonderful dancers in the role. (And, of course, some not very wonderful dancers in the role and some wonderful dancers I haven't liked in the role :) .)

Thoughts?



I had read this article a few days ago after being directed to it from an opera board.

I thought the idea of avoiding future performances was silly, to say the least, time does NOT stand still and there are always new performances to explore. And who can tell when the next great experience will arise?????

And my point of view goes back quite a ways at this point, I've been attending opera, ballet and theater performances for more than forty years.

I hope NEVER to say, "ok, that's the best that that piece can be done, I don't have to see that particular work ever again"
That would be entrance to official "old-fart-dom"

#3 Helene

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 11:58 AM

I hope NEVER to say, "ok, that's the best that that piece can be done, I don't have to see that particular work ever again"
That would be entrance to official "old-fart-dom"

And here I always thought the entrance to "old-fart-dom" was attending performances regularly, but insisting far and wide that they don't make them the way they used to.

#4 Jane Simpson

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 01:13 PM

I do actually have some sympathy with this idea, in some circumstances. For instance I wouldn't dream of staying away from Bayadere for ever even though I don't really expect ever to see a better Nikiya than Asylmuratova; but on the other hand I saw Paul Taylor's Roses once and though it perfect, and I'd be quite reluctant to see it again - nothing to do with particular dancers (I can't even remember who they were), more that I'd be so disappointed if it didn't work for me next time. I think it's more to do with one's personality than a sign of age!

#5 bart

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 02:22 PM

Germaine Greer, a writer I have enjoyed often in the past, is no stranger to hyperbole or to eccentric pronouncements. You might say that this has been one of the secrets of her success.

A performance that leaves you wanting NOT to see the work again is one that, it seems to me, has failed.

#6 richard53dog

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 02:42 PM

I hope NEVER to say, "ok, that's the best that that piece can be done, I don't have to see that particular work ever again"
That would be entrance to official "old-fart-dom"

And here I always thought the entrance to "old-fart-dom" was attending performances regularly, but insisting far and wide that they don't make them the way they used to.



I think these are just two variations of the same idea. At the root is the idea that the best performance was in the past, has already happened, and will not be bested by anything in the future. Whether you whine about the inadequacies of the current performances compared to the one from the good ole days or take the affected stance that you you will not need to see anything since it couldn't possibly be better really boil down to the same thing.

Greer's choice of words is rather odd and gives a hint of another twist to the mix. She is AFRAID to see another Brunnhilde because it MIGHT undermine her rosy memories of Hildy. Ms Greer, you need to get a life.

#7 lmspear

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 05:38 PM

I saw one performance of the David Blair staging of Swan Lake for ABT led by Martine van Hamel and Jonas Kage that left me with a satisfied feeling that I had seen the best possible performance. Now I don't remember the details of that performance, just a beautiful feeling that that performance was Swan Lake as it was meant to be danced. It would be okay if I didn't get to see it again, but I would always want to see it if given the chance.

#8 carbro

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 09:04 PM

Welcome to BalletTalk, lmpsear.

Mine, to the degree I had one, was also a van Hamel Swan Lake, with Kevin McKenzie. The only thing wrong with it was that it was Baryshnikov's, not Blair's, staging. It was, as it turned out (did she know it at the time?) her final ABT Swan Lake, and in it the dance, mime and gesture were completely integrated so that it was impossible to untwine each from the other. No false steps, the van Hamel musicality at its best, it so completely satisfied my idea of Odette/Odile, after so many years of others that one way or another fell short*, that I doubted any other performance of Swan Lake would leave me not wanting something. I did swear off SL for a while after that, but as a balletomane, how long could I hold out? Really!

Yes, in the years since, I have seen some beautiful, poetic, moving Odette/Odiles, (Jaffe with Carreno, Part with Gomes to name just two), and I'm glad to have seen them. But I now have a standard of what can be done with the role, and with all of my O-Os since that transformative vanH night, in the recesses of my mind there's a gap between what I see and what I feel I could have seen.

I hope NEVER to say, "ok, that's the best that that piece can be done, I don't have to see that particular work ever again"
That would be entrance to official "old-fart-dom"

Could depend it on one's familiarity with the work? If we, as audience, have worked out our interpretations and find it realized before our eyes or ears -- and every bit as fantastic as our imagining -- where can we go from there?

I saw Paul Taylor's Roses once and though it perfect, and I'd be quite reluctant to see it again - nothing to do with particular dancers (I can't even remember who they were), more that I'd be so disappointed if it didn't work for me next time. I think it's more to do with one's personality than a sign of age!

Pfffft. There goes my familiarity theory. :) :)

I don't know who you saw, but I've seen five or six lead casts of Roses, and no one has equalled the deep tenderness of Cathy McCann with David Parsons, the originators of the major duet. Also, since Linda Kent left the company, her role has been watered down considerably. Her startling tumbling moves became mere cartwheels with a fraction of the impact. I'm now wondering whether I should retire Roses. :wink:

#9 LiLing

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 09:13 PM

Mashinka posted a link to an appreciation of Hildegard Behrens by Germaine Greer in the "Other Performing Arts" forum.

http://www.guardian....ldegard-behrens



While I appreciate the sentiment, and have applied it temporarily, for example leaving at the end of the act after Vinson Cole sang Werther's monologue, not wanting anything to mar my memory of it. .)

Thoughts?


I once slunk out of an ABT performance after Dark Elegies for that reason, skipping the closing "send em home happy" ballet. Guess who I ran into at the bus stop. Mr Tudor!

#10 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 September 2009 - 10:13 PM

Close to that, but not exactly the same case, I did swear not to go back to another performance of Giselle after coming back home from the very first one I saw after the "standard" one had been in the past for quite a period of time...Well, later on I DID surrender and went back for another Giselle. I did not comply with the former vow for many reasons: One, because when I saw it announced, I noticed that the performers had been part of that "standard" at one point-(which in this case doesn't get reduced to just the principals, but the whole concept of the ballet). And I'm glad I didn't keep my own promise.
On the other side, I've met some balletomanes here in Miami that had openly tell me that they are better off not going to the ballet whatsoever and just keep their old memories and standards alive in their minds and hearts.

#11 atm711

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:30 AM

For years I thought no one could top Farrell in 'Diamonds'---and for years I was right :) --and then I saw Ulyana Lopatkina! Did she top Farrell?---I don't know, but they are two beautiful interpretations.

#12 dirac

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Posted 04 September 2009 - 03:36 PM

On the other side, I've met some balletomanes here in Miami that had openly tell me that they are better off not going to the ballet whatsoever and just keep their old memories and standards alive in their minds and hearts.


After you reach a certain age it's possible to make sterner choices about what you do and don't do with your time. I know a gentleman in his sixties who says he walks out on things with greater regularity than he used to, his rationale being that at his age he has less time to waste. I think along with bart that Greer's remark was a bit of hyperbole, but if after long experience you've seen a performance you think truly definitive and don't want to muck up the memory, I can see making that choice, although I doubt if I would do so myself.

#13 Drew

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 12:22 PM

I never made a vow not to see The Leaves are Fading without Gelsey Kirkland and certainly would be willing to see it without her (or would have been say, had it turned up on a program I had chosen for other reasons)--but, thinking about it now, I notice that, in fact, I never went back to see it since she stopped dancing--even when I was living in New York and the ballet was scheduled frequently with excellent dancers.

I wasn't consciously avoiding it, but it was never on a program with something else I felt a need to see, and I never worked up the interest to see the ballet without her: retrospectively, I think that Kirkland had made it such a moving experience that...well...I wasn't that interested in seeing it without her and my memories of her are indeed so fragile that I didn't want to obscure them further. But I can't say I had thought things out quite so consciously or that I don't understand why it seems a peculiar attitude.

#14 dirac

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 10:50 AM

I think that Kirkland had made it such a moving experience that...well...I wasn't that interested in seeing it without her and my memories of her are indeed so fragile that I didn't want to obscure them further. But I can't say I had thought things out quite so consciously or that I don't understand why it seems a peculiar attitude.


I never saw Kirkland live in the ballet, but given what everyone who did has said about the experience it doesn't sound like a peculiar attitude at all.

Did she top Farrell?---I don't know, but they are two beautiful interpretations.


I don't know, either, but I did see Lopatkina in Diamonds and she was certainly beautiful.

#15 Ballet fan

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 12:57 PM

Actually, in my case even if I think a certain performance is the best that there can be, I always try to see as much performances as I can so I can compare and contrast. The definitive Giselle for me is Galina Ulanova, but I was curious to see Cojocaru's approach to the role so I bought that DVD as well. I was very satisfied with both performances even if Galina is actually my gold standard. The same would happen with any other ballet (classical or modern). A varied exposure tends to be a lot more enriching than just limiting yourself to a performance you consider perfect. It's obvious that you'll like some performances more than others, but if you actually see them, you'll have more of a basis with which to construct an educated opinion.


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