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J. Billings

A selection of music by Maurice Ravel.

17 posts in this topic

I was recently looking for a composition by Maurice Ravel entitled "Daphnes et Chloe" Suite 2. On the Tower Records site it is listed as "suite/ballet".

Question: Is there an actual ballet with the name "Daphnes et Chloe" or is that music associated with a ballet of another name?

Thanks.

skater

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Oh, yes, there definitely is a ballet entitled "Daphnis and Chloe" - the way most conductors play it, it's slightly over an hour in length.

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As Mel states the ballet of Daphnis & Chloe is approximately an hour long. However Ravel later made two suites from the existing music. I have a recording of the complete ballet version, so I'm not certain about what is included in the suites. For ballet fans it is always essential to scrutinise the programme notes as there are suite versions of so many ballets e.g. Nutcracker, Romeo & Juliet, Firebird etc. and it is usually best to acquire a complete version.

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Thank you for your replies, Mel and Mashinka. I have ordered the music from Tower and now my next question is: Do either of you know where one can purchase the ballet on vhs video? I buy many ballet videos fron Kultur but they do not list Daphnis and Chloe and a search on their website and with Yahoo and Lycos turns up nothing. Any suggestions? Is it another "lost ballet"? Thank you.

skater

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The most recent major treatment of the score was by Sir Frederick Ashton for (natch) the Royal Ballet, but that was in the early 1950s, if memory serves, and didn't last until the videotape era.

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Well, so much for hoping to get "Daphnes et Chloe" on VHS video. So, essentially, it is another "lost ballet", in that regard. Oh well! At least I can listen to the music. :)

Thanks Mel.

skater

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The original version of Daphnis & Chloe with choreography by Fokine is indeed lost, though I once saw a solo from the ballet recreated by Anton Dolin.

The Royal Ballet version by Ashton has had several revivals since the '50's, in fact the first time I saw Margot Fonteyn dance was in the role of Chloe in 1964. Since then the ballet has been revived at least twice, the latest viewing being about 2 years ago, when many people were shocked that the beautiful Craxton designs had been substituted for something very inferior.

There have been other versions too. I remember seeing Baryshnikov as Daphnis in a Kirov version in 1974 and I believe the POB used to dance a version also.

The score of the ballet is so beautiful and so vibrant that it has become a concert hall staple here in the UK and the music is far better known than the ballet is. I am sure it will inspire many more choreographers in the future. But it is a great shame that Ashton's Daphnis isn't available on video. It deserves to be much better known.

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The Ashton Daphnis does survive in Benesh notation. I recall seeing photos of the choreologists working with the Royal in '64, correcting or adding details.

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There is a version of "Daphnis et Chloe" in the POB's repertory, it was choreographed by George Skibine in the late 50s (Lifar might have done a version too). I remember seeing some photographs of Claude Bessy in that work. It hasn't been danced by the company for decades, but was danced by the POB school a few years ago (but perhaps it was only a pas de deux)?

I agree that the music is wonderful- well, I'm a fan of Ravel in general...

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there was a short-lived staging of 'd&c' for n.y.c.b's ravel festival, by john taras, as i recall it had a 'biker' look--black leather chic--and starred peter schaufuss, but it is most memorable to some of us who were around then for prompting arlene croce to note in her assessment of the work that not even 'flame throwers would get [her] back for a second look.'

then if mem. serves there was a graeme murphy(?) version for the sidney dance company that was promoted by a picture of daphnis on a skateboard.

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Hans Van Manen and John Neumier also created versions of Daphnis and Chloe as, I believe did Glen Tetley.

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By the way- have there been any successful ballets on Ravel's "Ma mere l'Oye"? I remember reading about a Robbins ballet on that score for the Ravel festival, but it seems to have been short-lived. I find this score so beautiful, I'd really like to see some ballet on it...

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robbins's 'ma mere' has had a reasonably long life, coming and going in rep over the years. not lately though. if mem. serves the ballet's full title is: MOHTER GOOSE (FAIRY TALES FOR DANCERS). it was given as a revival in 1990 for the little festival of robbins ballets put on at nycb. i believe it also had some performances beyond that but don't have my files at hand to double check my ever faulty memory.

the scheme of the work was a back-stage/let's-put-on-a-show event, with dancers in practice clothes listening to a reading (mimed) of the tales and then taking it upon themselves, supposedly spontaneously, to enact them by getting little props and costume bits out of trunks and then presenting skits of 'sleeping beauty' 'hop o my thumb' 'beauty and the beast' and 'laideronnette, empress of the pagodas' arlene croce wrote rather favorably of it during its premiere season.

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I remember the Robbins ballet as being absolutely charming. I'd love to see it again. John Cranko also used the score for his ballet Beauty and the Beast. That used the entire score with the exception of one section.

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Coming late to the party to echo Mashinka's remark about purchasing more than one version. I have three "Swan Lakes," all different from one another. (This is nothing, of course, compared to the issues presented by "Carmen," for example, so I suppose it could be worse!

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Back to "Daphnis" for a short observation: Ravel's score seems to have been influenced by the same sort of "motor" theory of composition that was championed in the 1920s by the great theoretician/teacher Nadia Boulanger, who influenced Prokofiev and Copland into using it. The individual "numbers" in the score have a tendency to go on and on, sometimes passing from one to the next apparently without pause. It can (but it doesn't have to) make a musical work difficult to choreograph.

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The tendency of the various sections of Daphnis and Chloe to flow one into another reflects Ravel’s description of the music; he insisted on calling it a ‘choreographic symphony’. Likewise, ‘La Valse’ is described as a ‘poeme choregraphique’. La Valse was played in 1920, but not choreographed till 1928 (by Nijinska for Ida Rubinstein). For the record, Daphnis & Chloe was composed 1909-12, and produced in Paris in 1912 then London in 1914; the suites were made in 1911 and 1913. I saw the Ashton version in 1975, with Wayne Sleep as Bryaxis, the pirate chief; he enjoyed that! Sibley and Dowell played the title roles. Regarding the re-designed production (which I saw at a schools’ matinee a few years ago) I happened to be doing a course at the ROH (on opera in schools) when the new designs were being debated. We had a talk from the production manager who seemed to be having a hard job bringing it in on budget because of the idea of using a vast blue roller at the back of the set, revolving slowly towards the audience, to give the illusion of the waves of the sea lapping on the shore.

Regarding the Skibine version, I've seen a photograph of this, featuring George Skibine and his wife Marjorie Tallchief as D and C. The info says she was at POB from 57-62.

It seems that this great score has been mothballed by the ballet companies; time for a revival somewhere!

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