Differences among Petipa ballets
Posted 04 June 2001 - 08:50 AM
I hadn't realized that the Maryinsky version was redesigned. I seem to remember some of the original reviews (read in translation only!) were somewhat critical of the costumes. Was it redone when Vzevolovsky left?
And about differences of style within Petipa ballets which have been lost, I think it is too bad that ABT dropped Medora's character solo on the boat. It was done in the Boston production and was just charming, and was a refreching break from all the classical pointwork.
Posted 04 June 2001 - 11:53 PM
Posted 05 June 2001 - 04:53 AM
Doug, I really enjoyed your article on SB when I read it in Ballet Review.
I can understand why (given the social and political connotations of the time) the mime and certain sumptious portions of Petipas ballets were removed but why were the solos, especially if they were more difficult, changed?
And why did Konstantine Sergeyev change Sleeping Beauty? He was considered a very controlling director, did he just want to put "his" stamp on the rep.?
And Doug, why did Lacotte not use the noted choreography where it could be found and fill in the rest through memories and his own in-the-style of Petipas choreography? There is more to bringing a ballet back to life than costumes and scenery. Did Lacotte do the same thing with Paquita at POB?
James, I think you'll find Zakharova's Aurora interesting. She opened the Kirov's run of the ballet at the Met in 1999 and some of the things she did caused a gasp of astonishment to roll around the theatre -- astonished by the things she could do physically and astonished that she would do it in this ballet. Although I appreciated many aspects of her and Vishneva's perofmances, it was generally considered that Altynai Asylmuratova was all-around the better Aurora. Unfortunately, we did not see Ayupova, who did not perform in New York during the run.
Posted 05 June 2001 - 08:23 AM
Posted 06 June 2001 - 06:15 PM
I'd have to check on the Maryinsky redesign of BEAUTY. It may have been redesigned by Korovin when Gorsky revived it at the Maryinsky on Feb 16, 1914. That sounds right to me. This was apparently when the new Lilac Fairy variation was added by Lopukhov.
Mel, I hadn't thought that Sergei Legat did notation work, but I can't rule out the possibility. I've found that most notations made after 1903 are in the hand of Nikolai Sergeyev, with the exception of variations and excerpts that were notated by students.
Dale, I'm not sure why Konstantin Sergeyev changed the classic ballets, but I assume he wanted to put his stamp on productions and perhaps also felt the need to "update" them - ? Most of his BEAUTY changes came in the Prologue, with the choreography for the large corps of Lilac attendants. The fairy variations were retained but became awfully watered down, as well.
Being a purist, I like to see dances in their original form, so far as possible. Obviously bodies and aesthetics change, but it is possible to retain the steps. AGON looks so different now from the filmed version of 1960 but the actual steps have changed very little.
Re: DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH, Lacotte felt it was not possible to revive the ballet from notation and also felt the ballet was too long. Not being a reader of Stepanov notation, a decision to stage the ballet from notation would have greatly altered his plans and contribution to the revival.
The new POB PAQUITA appears to be similar to PHARAOH in this regard, although I have not seen it so I can't make a good judgment here, and I've also not worked much with the PAQUITA notations.
James, I haven't seen Perm but I have heard now and again that their productions of 19th-century Russian ballets have changed less than the Kirov productions.
Moving on to SWAN LAKE, I like the fact that young student girls performed as swans in the first lakeside scene. They remind me of the young girls in MOZARTIANA - not cute, but simply smaller people.
Children were used on a regular basis in 19th-century ballets and I'd love to see a return to that practice. I suppose having a school connected to the professional dance institution is often the deciding factor.
Posted 07 June 2001 - 01:19 AM
I assume that this quest for the "original" in ballet is mostly a recent one and not shared by everybody.
[ 06-07-2001: Message edited by: Marc Haegeman ]
Posted 07 June 2001 - 01:43 PM
I also think that improved communication (this sort of message board, for example) and greater access to resources have begun to allow these issues to be researched and discussed.
For me, it ultimately comes down to correct attribution. The mid-late 20th century saw an incredible amount of misattribution of choreography to Petipa that was really the work of others (or in such altered form as to be unrecognizable as Petipa's). Other arts genres - music, visual arts - would not tolerate these misattributions, particularly when used for marketing purposes. I don't feel there's anything inherently wrong with changes to old choreography (although I don't understand why a completely new ballet isn't made in the first place), but those changes should be correctly attributed. Using Petipa's name to sell a production that includes very little of his choreography is wrong, in my opinion. I think the US suffered the most here, taking as gospel truth many 'after-Petipa' productions that bore little choreographic resemble to his real work.
This issue is slowly being addressed, as far as I can tell. Attributions are being sorted out. Those working to recover old steps are contributing, as are those choreographing new versions of old ballets and taking responsibility for them. Good things, all around.
Posted 07 June 2001 - 02:43 PM
I'd be tickled-pink to see *any* revival of the complete music, designs, and stage-action of BARBE-BLEU or KALKABRINO, any time in the future, regardless of steps (notation or not).
What gifts the Bolshoi/POB and Lacotte have given us, with the recent full-length revivals of PAQUITA and DOCH! Unfortunatey, it appears that the Bolshoi has killed DOCH. Perhaps ABT can buy the sets/costumes/musical score from the Bolshoi and you can teach the right steps, Doug? I'm serious. Does anyone have Kevin Mckenzie's e-mail address? Someone should plant the seed.DOCH FARAONA is a beautiful ballet which would nicely meet ABT's full-length-classics mandate. Enough renting of 1960s European productions (ONEGINS, MERRY WIDOWS, etc.). ABT should be reviving the long-lost great classical ballets.
Posted 07 June 2001 - 07:35 PM
Again, this is not an opinion on the artistic merits of Lacotte's productions -- I haven't seen them, though I remember Jeannie's glowing report on Paquita! -- but how can they be thought of as revivals? I admit, though, that I personally find it pretty questionable for a performing art to try to renew itself by doing pastiche versions of its older repertory. If the occasional production works (as Lacotte's do, in the eyes of many), of course that's great.
On the other hand, if actual notation exists for some lost "classics" and if an artist with enough creativity and musicality to bring notation to life were to appear on the scene to stage those works (big ifs), the possibility for genuinely enriching ballet's heritage would be greater than some pseudo-revival. I don't mean a pious attempt to make everything exactly as it was (impossible anyway and, in my opinion, not even desirable) -- but stagings that would at least try to give one more of a genuine sense of ballet's choreographic heritage.
Posted 07 June 2001 - 08:48 PM
Should've spent the money on Pharoah's Daughter rather than the Pied Piper.......
give Cleopatra a run on the Egypt theme....
lots of special effects, (but please spare us any inflatable lotus blossoms!),
a whole line of coordinating stuff to make the marketing people go pitter-pat,
you wouldn't have to do any of your own choreography ,
goddesses and divas are a lot more appealing these days than rats.
Think of the possibilities! You could bring it to Washington instead of Nutcracker....we'd love it!
[ 06-07-2001: Message edited by: Juliet ]
Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:06 AM
Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:33 AM
Ashton's "Fille" is one example of a revival that's rechoreography. It doesn't pretend to be Petipa, although it doesn't pretend to be completely original either. (Much of the "stage business" is from prior productions.) But Ashton was a choreographer, and his ballet could stand on his name. Same with Balanchine's Nutcracker and Coppelia. (I don't know if the Royal still has the Ivanov reconstruction, done with John Wylie, that did use the Stepanov notation in rep or not.)
Otherwise, the interest in these "revivals" is because of the desperate need for new classical choreography. If the same energy were put into that as in the new Faux Classics, I think we'd be better for it, but I think the revivalists aren't skilled enough to do that. Hence they dig up the past. There are ballets from the past that I would adore to see, but not through the imagination of a less-than-master choreographer guessing just which four-note theme Beethoven may have used open that lost symphony -- to go back to Drew's reference to Acocella's article.
Posted 08 June 2001 - 10:26 AM
Needless to say, it would be preferable to stage a 'Paquita' or 'Doch' from the notations. However, I (and many others, judging from enthusiastic ovations in Paris & Moscow) thoroughly enjoy the "in the spirit of Petipa-style" productions as beautiful works of art, in and of themselves.
Posted 08 June 2001 - 12:14 PM
I do think there is an element of trying to piggyback off Petipa's name. If I, a bad painter (and I am a very bad painter, or at least was the last time I tried it, in third grade) can't sell my portraits either because portraits are out of fashion or they're no good, but can wiggle into a niche because, say, everything Leonardo did burned and now exists only in descriptions by writers, I might not have a market for my own "Girl with a Smile," but would get a lot of attention for: "Revived! Years of painstaking historical research and mixing original Renaissance paints: Leonardo's Mona Smiles Again." Except it wouldn't look like the "Mona Lisa" -- and wouldn't even if I could actually paint.
I don't have any problem with people liking the revivals. (And I don't think anyone was trying to say that.) If I'm given Kool-Aid and I've only had water, I'll love it. If somebody says, "Psst. Have you tried champagne?" I might like it better. I won't know about the champagne if I'm only given the Kool-Aid. Of course, I may well prefer the Kool-Aid, but at least I'll know.
[ 06-08-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 08 June 2001 - 02:02 PM
The POB 'Paquita' was better than Kool-Aid! It was Spanish Freixenet, compared to Dom Perignon.
Back to main topic...
Actually, I am quite interested in Doug's original theme. What are the best versions of Petipa (or Petipa revisions of Romantic French/earlier Petersburg) ballets out there? How many continue to be danced...in full-length versions or in excerpts?
At last count (& from the top of my head), following are the Petipa ballets that continue to be performed, complete or excerpted. Please add to the list, Doug & others, if you know of other Petipa-era ballets being performed in Russia or elsewhere:
- Venetian Carnival ("Satanella pdd")
- Doch Faraona
- Little Humpbacked Horse
- Naiad & Fisherman
- Vain Precautions/Fille mal Gardee
- Vestalka (I've seen excerpts at Vag.Acad.))
- King Candaule-Diana & Acteon pas
- Don Quixote
- Roxana (excerpts now in Don Q)
- Markitanka (Vivandiere pas de six)
- Diable a Quatre (excerpts at Vag. Acad)
- Sylphide (Petipa's revision of Taglioni version)
- Sleeping Beauty
- Nutcracker (Ivanov...but of the petipa Era)
- Swan lake
- Cavalry's Halt
- Kalkabrino (solos performed at Vag. Acad)
At least portions of all of the above are still performed somewhere. What may I be missing? I'm interested in knowing what our travelers/scholars may have seen, that is unusual? Where are these excerpts performed? How accurate are they?
[ 06-08-2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]
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