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


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#31 carbro

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:21 PM

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.

It appears to me, Jack, that the costumes in MCB's video are the very same that ABT used. Makes sense to rent someone else's rather than to go to the expense of hiring your own designer and manufacturing your own costumes, doesn't it?

I adore this ballet. I just hate it when the audience ruins the piercing, climactic moment in the main pdd.

#32 kfw

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:57 PM

I adore this ballet. I just hate it when the audience ruins the piercing, climactic moment in the main pdd.

By laughing? Ugh. There was some of that when Suzanne Farrell Ballet danced it in Washington this past November, unfortunately.

#33 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 06:26 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...



Oh, yes...DEFINITELY. Cox is one of those almost extincted dancers whose great charisma can save a ruined ballet night. He was also a great character dancer, one of those who looked as if those roles came out effortlessly-(a la Massine). You don't find those very easy nowadays. I miss him a lot too. :(

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?



Nothing at all! And I'm very thankful of all posters for the great responses and memories. I even got a full video with Misha on it...! (To be honest, when I was starting to get too excited after some minutes of viewing, I closed the clip...I didn't want to ruin my first live view of this choreography...) :)

I think you did not see MCB's 2005 performances...


You're right, Jack. Confession. I had already made up my mind to give up on ballet viewing after my first and only encounter with MCB-(Giselle)-right when I came from Cuba. Ballet Talk made me reconsider my decision and that's why I went back to explore a little bit inside the Balanchine world... :cool:

#34 Jack Reed

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 06:34 PM

It appears to me, Jack, that the costumes in MCB's video are the very same that ABT used. Makes sense to rent someone else's rather than to go to the expense of hiring your own designer and manufacturing your own costumes, doesn't it?


Spending more time with the two videos, I see that you're quite right, carbro! Both show the designs of Theoni V. Aldredge, credited onscreen in the ABT video and in the MCB program book from the 2004-2005 season, which also leaves no doubt with this additional statement: "Costumes and scenery courtesy of American Ballet Theatre". (Sheesh, makes you think about hanging up your keyboard.) Comparing the two brings out some other differences, though; MCB's tempos are a little livelier, I like Mary Carmen Catoya in "Blackamoors" better than Julie Kent, nobody compares with Misha, and so on.

(Cox was the only Prodigal in my experience to compare with Villella and Baryshnikov, though, thus my wish to see his Poet.)

#35 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 07:00 PM

Chrisian, one of the interesting things of the original production (yes, Christian, I saw that) were the elaborate masques and head pieces.


How did I miss your post, atm...? and HOW is that I don't get surprised at your personal experience on ballet viewing anymore, atm...? :clapping:

#36 Jack Reed

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 02:10 PM

I think the summary of the ballet rg posted in #20, above, is skimpy, although it gives some indication of what happens on stage. To round it out, here's the rest of Denby's remarks, the passage just before the part I quoted before, which takes more account of what may happen in us onlookers:

To Poe lovers in the dance public... the mysteriousness of Balanchine's Night Shadow [the original title]... is recommended. Mysterious is the interaction of its elements: the vapid ballroom dances; the winsome exhibition numbers that have a perverse and cruel undertone; the elaborate, encircling artifices of the coquette's pas de deux; the directness and space of the sleepwalking scene; the massed mime chorus in unison at the end.


How effective the MCB performances will be remains to be seen; Denby was writing about the premier ones, supervised by Mr. B., and Arlene Croce wrote in Playbill, Jan.-Feb. 1970, about some more he presented (quoted in Nancy Reynolds's Repertory in Review):

The emotions of the ballet comes in a series of nervous shocks, as deeply pleasurable as in a horror story. The ending - is there a finer one in all romantic ballet? - is high traumatic bliss. The pas de deux roles are unthinkably reversed. Now it is the Sleepwalker who claims the inert body of the Poet, accepts it in her arms, and carries it away forever.

The ideas in La Sonnambula are perfectly clear derivations from the romantic ballet of the nineteenth century, but they are forced even beyond the neurotic extremism of Giselle and La Sylphide. The Poet's character as a hero who engages a divine force is not morally shaded. When he dies he is vindicated, but in a manner that anathematizes not only the explicitly anti-romantic society on the stage but all humanity as well. The ironclad arrogance of the gesture makes the real suffering we've witnessed seem like a personal secret accidentally disclosed. It keeps you at a distance, though you may find yourself in tears.


Reynolds also quotes Maria Tallchief, the original Coquette:

Balanchine's so mystical, which not many people realize. Look at Night Shadow, where [at the end] all you see is people looking up, at something - a light. People so often think of him as someone who does steps - mechanical, dry steps - and this is so completely opposite from what he is. To me, his great glory is his wonderful mysticism - he's a poet, really, more than anything else.



#37 carbro

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 11:32 PM

I don't know whether MCB's production, like ABT's, will include the hoop dancers. I never saw this in NYCB's performances. As I remember from ABT's program notes, this was an interpolation by John Taras, who staged it for ABT, and the steps are the same as those that Balanchine learned as a boy for the Candy Cane dance in the Nutcracker. I just played it without the music (it begins at about -6:44 in Part II), and I couldn't make it fit, so I'll have to assume that Taras did some cutting and pasting.

#38 bart

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 04:55 AM

I don't know whether MCB's production, like ABT's, will include the hoop dancers. I never saw this in NYCB's performances. As I remember from ABT's program notes, this was an interpolation by John Taras, who staged it for ABT, and the steps are the same as those that Balanchine learned as a boy for the Candy Cane dance in the Nutcracker. I just played it without the music (it begins at about -6:44 in Part II), and I couldn't make it fit, so I'll have to assume that Taras did some cutting and pasting.

I wish I could remember what MCB did last time. The original Night Shadow had, according to Choreography by GB, a hoop dance with 4 women. The text (p. 171) is rather convoluted, but as far as I can tell the Hoop Dance was omitted from at least some subsequent productions. And then:

American Ballet Theater, 1981: HOOP DANCE rechoreoraphed by John Taras as GYPSY DANCE.

But by the 1988 taping (the Baryshnikov-Ferri performance) it was back to a Hoop Dance danced by 3 men.

(I can no longer find parts 2-4 on YouTube. Only Part I seems to be up. Huh!

Incidentally, in 1946 Harlequin -- a role played by Edward Villella in the 1961 NYCB revival, was danced by a woman: Marie Jeanne. Can it be the that there were no men, in 1946, capable of dancing that kind of choreography?

All an all, Sonnambula seems to have had rather a confusing history since it chanaged its name from Night Shadow. :wink:

#39 Mel Johnson

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 06:28 AM

Incidentally, in 1946 Harlequin -- a role played by Edward Villella in the 1961 NYCB revival, was danced by a woman: Marie Jeanne. Can it be the that there were no men, in 1946, capable of dancing that kind of choreography?


Sure, consider the time frame - WWII had just ended, and soldiers and sailors were awaiting discharge "on points", which points were derived largely from combat service. Most male dancers who had been drafted or who had enlisted were not assigned to combat duty and had to wait well into 1947-8 before their numbers came up.

#40 bart

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 09:56 AM

Thanks, Mel, for the reminder about the dearth of available male dancers in that period. Balanchine clearly wanted a Harlequin in his ballet, so he found one ... in Marie Jeanne.

Marie Jeanne was famous for whizz bang technique -- speed, stamina, jumps and beats -- beyond the ability of most of the men she danced with. But I don't recall reading about her as being good at "fun.". Obviously, she was. I wonder whether the 1946 called attention to the fact that she was a woman -- or tried to disguise it.

Incidentally, Marie Jeanne [Godwin] lived a long life, dying in 2008. Here's Frank Anderson's obituary in the NY Times, which focuses on her two most famous roles, Concerto Barocco and Ballet Imperial, both of which she danced for Ballet Russse right after the war:
http://www.nytimes.c.....erson"&st=cse

#41 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 10:03 AM

I don't know whether MCB's production, like ABT's, will include the hoop dancers.


MCB presented a couple in a "Dance Orientale", one Harlequin and a tarantella for two couples.

#42 Jack Reed

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 10:20 AM

Aha! So they've consigned the Hoop Dance to the dustbin. (Or left it there. Mr. B. tossed it years ago, and MCB didn't do it in 2005 either, IIRC.)

That's okay with me, actually, it reflects Mr. B's practice, and when I saw it in 2002, I thought it the weakest of the four divertissements: As I wrote here at the time, http://balletalert.i...dpost__p__59288), Frederic Franklin restored the Hoop Dance to the Cincinnati Ballet's performances of La Sonnambula in October 2002 for their Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo festival; five women rotated through the four roles among the three CB performances.

(The casting of the ballet did not completely follow the historic theme of the occasion and restore "Harlequin" to a woman; two boys alternated each other in it among those three performances.)

#43 Mel Johnson

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 11:52 AM

I wonder whether the 1946 called attention to the fact that she was a woman -- or tried to disguise it.


Consider the exit for the Harlequin variation -- a headfirst dive into the #2 wing stage left. Then try to imagine somebody like Andre Eglevsky doing that. :speechless-smiley-003:

#44 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 12:55 PM


I wonder whether the 1946 called attention to the fact that she was a woman -- or tried to disguise it.


Consider the exit for the Harlequin variation -- a headfirst dive into the #2 wing stage left. Then try to imagine somebody like Andre Eglevsky doing that. :speechless-smiley-003:


Our Miamian Harlequin actually jumped as if into a pool...! Never seen that before... :speechless-smiley-003:

#45 sandik

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 02:31 PM

... The Croquette ,jealous of the Poet's interest in the Sleepwalker, informs the Host of the Poet's flirtations throughout the evening"


Oh, many thanks -- I needed a giggle today!


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