Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

La Sonnambula is approaching......and I need some input...!


  • Please log in to reply
53 replies to this topic

#16 Bradan

Bradan

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 16 posts

Posted 05 January 2011 - 02:56 PM

if you can locate these vids, the following were filmed and telecast (the second was commercially released).

Balanchine and Cunningham: an evening at American Ballet Theatre / co-produced by WNET/New York and Danmarks Radio ; produced by Judy Kinberg and Thomas Grimm ; directed by Thomas Grimm. 1988.(60 min.)
Host: Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Danced by members of American Ballet Theatre.
Writer, Holly Brubach ; lighting, Jorgen Johannessen, Tim Hunter.
Duets / choreography, Merce Cunningham ; music, John Cage (Improvisation no. 3) ; design, Mark Lancaster ; danced by Melissa Allen, John Gardner, Jennet Zerbe, Clark Tippet, Amy Rose, Robert Hill, Amanda McKerrow, Gil Boggs, Kathleen Moore, Ricardo Bustamente, Christine Spizzo, and Wes Chapman.
La sonnambula / choreography, George Balanchine, staged by John Taras ; music, Vittorio Rieti after themes of Vincenzo Bellini ; scenery, Zack Brown ; costumes, Theoni V. Aldredge ; danced by Leslie Browne (coquette), Michael Owen (baron), Mikhail Baryshnikov (poet), Alessandra Ferri (sleepwalker), Johan Renvall (harlequin), John Gardner, William Stoler, Robert Wallace (acrobats), and others.


This is currently up in four parts on Yahoo video, if you want to catch it there before it's taken down: http://video.yahoo.c...3527055/9774301

It also has a young Julie Kent in the 'danse exotique' with Gil Boggs :)

#17 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,453 posts

Posted 05 January 2011 - 04:43 PM

these may have been scanned for this site previously, but if not, here are 3, undated Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo publicity shots from the early years of THE NIGHT SHADOW, all documenting Dorothea Tannning's original designs.
1] Alexandra Danilova and Frederic Franklin as the Sleepwalker and the Poet
2] Frank Hobi and Ruthanna Boris in the Blackamoors Dance
2] 2 masked ball dancers, as a Fan and Fish - perhaps Frank Hobi and Joy Williams

Attached Files



#18 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 05 January 2011 - 07:56 PM

Ow wow...those pics are beautiful, rg...! (I specially loved the "fan and fish" duo...) Has the ballet changed a lot in terms of costume design...?

#19 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 05 January 2011 - 09:28 PM

Thanks for those images, rg! As you can imagine, they're startling in the best way to those of us who saw the ballet from Kent's day at NYCB on.

Cristian, I hope you haven't overlooked the glimpses we get of the ballet in the intro by Villella on this page:

http://www.miamicity.../Sonnambula.php

Here we see their costumes, which are different from but essentially similar to* the ones in the video linked to by Bradan (which seems to have been up for over two years), but more important, of course, we see some of the action.

*Whoops! See below, in Post #34. (The headresses on the blackamoors changed a little bit over the years, but that's not what I meant, incorrectly, as it turns out.)

Edited by Jack Reed, 06 January 2011 - 06:59 PM.


#20 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,453 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 04:53 AM

re: NIGHT SHADOW/SONNAMBULA designs, yes, the changes have been serveral at NYCB and are different variously around the world of ballet companies.
Joy Williams (Brown) told me when i writing an essay for a recent Tanning exhibit here in NYC's Drawing Center, that she recalls so many difficulties w/the Tanning masks that a number fell off in the dress rehearsal and in some cases may not have made it to the stage thereafter.

the following is from the Balanchine Catalogue on line, and cuts off during Balanchine's lifetime, subsequent to the Frances/Levasseur re-design, there were at NYCB two others both by Alain Vaes, the second of which adjusted the first which apparently got damaged in Saratoga soon after it appeared on stage at Lincoln Center:
<<
Note: At a masked ball with entertainments, the Poet pays suit to the Coquette, who is escorted by the Host. After the guests go in to supper an apparition in white enters, a beautiful Sleepwalker. Entranced, the Poet tries to wake her, but she eludes him. The jealous Coquette informs the Host who, enraged, stabs the Poet. The Sleepwalker reappears and bears the Poet's body away. The role of the Poet was choreographed on Frederic Franklin, who could not perform at the premiere owing to injury.

Revisions: The Entertainers' dances (also called DIVERTISSEMENTS) have been changed often by the many companies that have staged the ballet. Examples in three principal companies include: Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas: MOORISH DANCE sometimes substituted for BLACKAMOORS' DANCE; until about 1950, HARLEQUIN DANCE omitted; 1950, SHEPHERDS' DANCE (PASTORALE) changed from two couples to one, HOOP DANCE replaced by ACROBATS' DANCE for three (various combinations of men and women). New York City Ballet: 1960, name changed from Night Shadow to La Sonnambula, HARLEQUIN DANCE restored (for a man instead of a woman; frequently altered for various performers), ACROBATS' DANCE retained from de Cuevas production (HOOP DANCE omitted); 1967, SHEPHERDS' DANCE (PASTORALE) changed from two couples to a pas de trois for a virtuoso man and two women; 1979, BLACKAMOORS' DANCE eliminated. American Ballet Theatre: 1981, HOOP DANCE rechoreographed by John Taras as GYPSY DANCE, BLACKAMOORS' DANCE retitled DANSE EXOTIQUE.

New Productions by Balanchine Companies: 1960, New York City Ballet, with scenery and lighting by Esteban Francés and costumes by André Levasseur.
>>

#21 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 05:30 AM

A note about La Sonnambula's music: the score was composed by Vittorio Rieti, and is based on themes and arias from a number of Bellini operas (I Capuletti ed i Montecchi, Norma, I Puritani, and La Sonnambula). The plot, however, has absolutely nothing in common with Bellini's opera of the same name. Since I know the operas well, I find it very disconcerting to watch a ballet set to what sounds like a mixtape of Bellini's greatest hits -- minus the words and the voices to boot! It's not all that different from the music for Western Symphony, come to think of it ....

I wish NYCB and / or the Balanchine Trust folks would go back to calling it Night Shadow -- a much more evocative title, IMO, and more in keeping with the ballet's mood. Bellini's opera has a happy ending and there isn't a poet in sight ...


I also find the music a bit unsettling as the ballet unfolds. Like Kathleen , I'm familiar with the Bellini operas that the score is derived from. In a sense it's not too much more than just an arrangement of the Bellini tunes and I'm not crazy over this kind of thing to begin with.

And for people that are familiar with Bellini's opera, I think Night Shadow is a more appropriate name, easier to pronounce (Sonnam-BU-la is a bit tricky) and doesn't lead expectations towards Bellini's operasemiseria plot.

All that said, La Sonnambula/Night Shadow is a slightly quirky but pretty interesting and evocative piece.

#22 perky

perky

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 653 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 08:08 AM

Oh I don't know Richard53dog, once I finally started to pronounce La Sonnambula correctly it made me feel instantly smart and worldly, at least for a few days! It does sort of trip off the tongue in a romantic, mysterious way.

I love the pictures of Danilova as The Sleepwalker. I'm used to seeing only blondes (Kistler, Whelan) dance this role. She seems less ethreal and more sensual. More moody. I like it.

#23 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 08:56 AM

And here I've been pronouncing it Son-NAM-bu-la all these years!

But I agree whole-heartedly that in effective performance it can be quirky and evocative, to the point of unsettling. As Edwin Denby put it (in November, 1946, reflecting on seeing the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo original the previous season),

The progress of the piece is "romantic" - it is disconcerting, absurd and disproportionate; but its effect when it is over is powerful and exact. It gives you a sense - as Poe does - of losing your bearings, the feeling of an elastic sort of time and a heaving floor. As a friend of mine remarked, "When it's over, you don't know what hit you." Night Shadow bears no resemblance to the recent Balanchine "classic" pieces - no resemblance to their firm dance lilt and their formal transparence; though it is not a mimed piece, its effects are related to mime effects.


That characterizes pretty well the effect on me, watching the performances at NYCB decades ago, with Allegra Kent as the Sleepwalker, Karin von Aroldingen as the Coquette, and Shaun O'Brien as the Baron (I can't see my Poet's face well enough in memory to recognize him, so there must have been a few, probably Nicholas Magallanes and - ah, there he is - definitely Peter Schaufuss among them), and of course the old magician himself on his stool in the (audience left) wing to keep on eye on things. How well and in what ways MCB's performances compare this time I consider to be worth seeing (in the Broward CPA, in my case). I haven't seen the entire video linked to above yet, but so far I don't consider Ferri a very effective Sleepwalker.

#24 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,330 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 09:21 AM

I've only heard it pronounced So-NAM-boo-lah by opera announcers. I must not have been listening carefully enough.

#25 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 09:43 AM

For me "La Sonnambula"-(in Spanish La Sonambula...same pronunciation)-is easier than "Night Shadow"

#26 kfw

kfw

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,320 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:27 AM

Oh I don't know Richard53dog, once I finally started to pronounce La Sonnambula correctly it made me feel instantly smart and worldly, at least for a few days!

Aha! My own few days have just begun. :lol:

#27 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 12:33 PM

I've only heard it pronounced So-NAM-boo-lah by opera announcers. I must not have been listening carefully enough.



Yes, that's correct. My spelling is misleading, I didn't mean to suggest that the accent is on the third syllable, but that's how it ended up.
What I was getting at is that the third syllable is often mispronounced, as it would be in in the first syllable of BEAU-ty rather than as BOO, which is correct.

#28 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 01:00 PM

But to steer back to the heart of the matter --

The part requires the ability to communicate a sense of vulnerability but also amazing internal strength.

Kent was the best in my experience: the otherworldliness, the strange ability to feel the presence of obstacles without seeing them, the ability to impersonal gossamer while also being strong enough to move forever on point. Kent was down at MCB to set the ballet last time around; I wonder if she will return (as she did for the reprise of Bugaku.)

Kronenberg is a taller dancer than Kent, with less of the gossamer. But she also combines strength and vulnerability. Haiyan Wu, the other sleepwalker of 2005, is a slight dancer who seemed to lack the stage presence and strength the role requires, most visibly in her obvious struggle to carry the Poet's body in her arms.


That's pretty much the Kent I saw - and no one has come sailing out of the corner on her first entrance like Kent did, going like gangbusters. (Ferri, in the video linked above, tries; she looks like she needs more coaching. Having seen more of Ferri in the video now, I think she's more the virtuoso and less the enigma with the qualities bart and I are thinking about here.)

With that video available, I hope I'm at less risk of giving something away which is more effectively discovered in the theatre, by offering that the central pas de deux of the Sleepwalker and the Poet is one far removed from the happily-resolved type of 19th-century romantic pas de deux. As we see the Poet begin to discover very early in their strange interaction, after her series of solo sequences about the stage space, he can affect the Sleepwalker in all sorts of physical ways, but he cannot reach her mind. I don't think anything around her registers until, at the end, she encounters his body; and her reaction, finally, then, nearly overwhelms her, and, coming from someone whom we have only seen as very remote up 'til then, it's pretty strong for us too.

I do look forward to seeing Kronenberg, not least in the hope that whatever was clouding slightly her "T&V" in November is now long past. She has quite a range of tone, including the grandeur of that role and the cool command of her Siren; and who knows how Wu has developed since then - casting against type, like this role, can do that - and for that matter, who knows who else Villella may have by now!

#29 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,269 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 01:58 PM

Want to know something...? I see Albertson in the role-(using extensions...? her hair is in a neck middle section square bob...)

http://www.miamicity..._1287170060.jpg

#30 Jack Reed

Jack Reed

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,533 posts

Posted 06 January 2011 - 02:35 PM

Albertson? Well, we'll see. Playing AD and thinking who would look good in this has led me to some unhappy thoughts, frankly: I think I would like to see Jeremy Cox as the Poet and maybe Deanna Seay as the Coquette, but I'm going to try not to dwell on it.

Seeing your post reminds me, Cristian, to ask how we're doing in response to your original query. Do you feel anything specific is lacking?

I think you did not see MCB's 2005 performances, but I assume you've looked at the video linked to here, which will give you a pretty good introduction as to the action and sound of La Sonnambula. (I heard Bellini's opera some time after seeing the ballet, so I have had some experiences like those described here, only in reverse: Hearing a tune Rieti had used, I could think, Oh, hello, I know you.)


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):