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So why is Myrtha the queen and not someone else?


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#1 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 07:17 AM

well they're all wilis, right? and supposedly the same thing(s) happened to all of them, so why is she the queen? maybe something worse than what happened to the others happened to her?

#2 samba38

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 09:54 AM

And who names these people? Her back-up wilis have names as well, right (Myrta and the Enforcers -- a girl group gone bad)

#3 CygneDanois

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 10:45 AM

The two demi-soloist wilis are Moyna and Zulma.

#4 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 11:06 AM

so maybe there's a wili hierarchy? could it be a like a hereditary monarchy? or did she maybe get the job because she was dumped in a worse situation than any of the others and has to protect her turf...wonder what she gets out of it? hazard pay for her toes after all the bourrees....film at eleven! :mad:

#5 cargill

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 11:11 AM

In one of the early librettos of Giselle, the wilis were supposed to come from all different parts of the world, and dance in their native costumes (more Romantic interest in folk color). Either Moyna or Zulma was supposed to be a Persian maiden, I think and hence the exotic name. I suspect that in real life Myrtha was a Very Important Person, and that is why she is their leader. Do you think that Bathilde will become a wili?

#6 samba38

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 03:28 PM

Bathilde loves herself too much to die brokenhearted over Albrecht. She'll flounce around peevishly for a few weeks until some other prince crosses her line of vision.

#7 cargill

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 04:05 PM

This is somewhat off topic, but the flouncing Bathilde is something that bothers me about ABT's production, unless they have toned it down a bit. Recently she has come across as a Joan Crawford caricature, flicking her hand contemptuously at Giselle, and practically shrieking with annoyance when Giselle accidentally touches her in the mad scene. She is a lady, and wouldn't act like that. I think she should be cool, but gracious--after all she does have enough heart to give Giselle a present. (I miss in ABT the little bit of mime when she tells Giselle that she too is engaged and they are girls together). Counts like Albrecht didn't grow on trees in that small little world, and Giselle is partly her tragedy too--she is being publically humiliated when her finace so clearly prefers a little peasant girl. The old Royal Ballet production used to have her turn her back on Albrecht in cold contempt, which is much more effective than ABT's recent shrieking meanie approach, I think. And of course in the original, she was good enough for Giselle to give Albrecht to.

#8 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 04:29 PM

Exactly, Mary, the Wili Moyna seems to have been an odalisque, Zulma a bayadère, and there were Wilis from several more or less exotic places, each performing a characteristic 'national' dance. Although the exotic dances are gone, the various rhythms can still be heard in the score.

The original Myrtha also seems to have been a completely different character than we are used to now. More an amusing seductress (more sylphide ?) than a cold-hearted leader of ghosts.

#9 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 04:43 PM

I've always thought of Bathilde as being a bit like May in The Age of Innocence - not evil, just the wrong match for Albrecht. Actually, I think the same thing of Hilarion for Giselle, not bad, just unsuited.

Now that I think of it, would that sort of parallel work in casting? If I got to set Giselle, I would make sure Bathilde's costume made her stiff - not bad or evil - just stiff, upright and formal. (A high lace collar, full sleeves. . .) She's the palace, etiquette, society and duty. With a young, sincere Albrecht, this would work as a contrast to Giselle.

In the same way, I would try and cast a Hilarion who was physically badly matched with Giselle, just so people could see immediately they are not meant to be together. I'm just trying to figure out how to do this. . .way too tall? I thought Kronstam's casting of Peter Bo Bendixen as Hilarion to Riggins' Giselle was fascinating because both Riggins and Bendixen are very good looking, but in different ways. Riggins is callow and blond - it suited Ryom's wide-eyed, innocent face. Bendixen is dark and angular, and looks experienced. Dark and Fair distinctions would read more to a Danish audience than they would to me (and I think they're used here) but also, there's just the sense you get about Bendixen's Hilarion that he is rough, not just around the ages, but that even though he loves Giselle, he would be more than she could handle.

What about Hilarion? Should he just be too coarse, or would it make dramatic sense to intimate that he is sexually "dangerous"? (I don't mean he mauls her, just casting someone with that sort of dark magnetism to contrast with a purity in Albrecht and Giselle) Is that too much Freud for the ballet?

*

I'm adding this in after posting - I just wanted to throw it out and see if people thought this would be a possible reading with the right cast.

A Giselle in her late teens, and young for her age; Hilarion is several years older and has courted before. He thinks it's time for him to settle down, she is the prettiest girl in the village and he is genuinely charmed by her. But from her point of view, he's just too old, and even a bit frightening - he wants marriage and children *now*, too little courtship, it's too real. I give you rabbits, we make babies. In walks Albrecht, who is refined, gentle and a dreamer, like her. It's a spiritual match. They both see each other as idealists, and their love is pure. Would this work? It makes the revelation of his prior engagement even more painful to Giselle - she's being betrayed on all sides.

What do you think? Does this particularize the story or betray it?

[ 04-17-2001: Message edited by: Leigh Witchel ]

#10 Yvonne

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 05:47 PM

When I watch "Dancers", I always find myself thinking that if I were Giselle, I would surely choose Hilarion (Victor Barbee), over Albrecht (Baryshnikov) - (IMHO) he's better looking!
:mad:

If you have the seen the version of Giselle with Mezentseva (sp?), you will see that their Hilarion definately does NOT suit Giselle - much too old - and physically Giselle seems to dwarf him in size.....well, at least in my opinion!

#11 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 06:38 PM

I keep mulling over my imaginary staging of Giselle in my mind!

Is it throwing the wrong spin on the story to consider Bathilde and Hilarion opposite sides of the same coin - "the wrong choice"? I know that changes the original intent (there wouldn't have been a reconciliation scene with Bathilde.) It has a logical structure and symmetry, but is it forcing the story?

If I were staging the ballet, the place I would do this is in the mad scene. Nothing major - I would just make sure Bathilde did not leave immediately, and by where she is placed in relation to Albecht, Giselle and Hilarion, you can create the connection and implied comparison.

#12 Drew

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 06:45 PM

Leigh Witchel -- I think your scenario is plausible, but I actually have enjoyed versions where Albrecht too is obviously in some way "wrong" for Giselle. (His love for her need not be played all that "spiritually" -- I don't know that Gautier, of all people, would have pictured it that way.) I could even imagine a production in which, from a certain point of view, Hilarion IS the right pairing for her -- which is exactly what makes Albrecht attractive.

(Whatever their earlier origins, by the mid-nineteenth-century the dark/light codings did have ethnic and racialized connotations -- Just take a look at some of the 19th century illustrations of the Nibelunglied in which the bad guys are uniformly semitic in terms clearly corresponding to nineteenth-century cliches...so for twentieth century productions, although I think it's fine to draw on physical contrasts for particular casts I'm not sympathetic to it as a way of building theatrical or "moral" symbolism for a production as a whole.)

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 07:51 PM

I could actually imagine such a production as well - Reading Mary Cargill's description of Malakhov and McKerrow in Giselle and the story they implied with yet a different slant shows again that the regisseur should recreate the relationships and details of the story with each new cast. Malakhov's Albrecht has a different personal history than Carreno's, Kronstam's or Riggins', and so on throughout the cast.

#14 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 08:17 PM

in 'a portrait of giselle' markova is interviewed and says she was always told that giselle didn't care for hilarion because he had a red beard!

#15 felursus

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 09:18 PM

I think Giselle falls for Albrecht because he's romantic. Hilarion is probably quite a bit older - he's a forester, which would have given him some social cachet in the world of peasants, because he had access to the produce of the forests (rabbits, birds, wood). Remember this was an era when the ordinary peasant couldn't take anything but fallen wood from the forests and couldn't hunt rabbits. Nevertheless, Giselle is probably feeling "trapped" by her assigned "fate" - to marry Hilarion. Albrecht is younger, handsomer, and more interesting. Sort of like a teenager falling in "love" with a movie or rock star. She can't love HIM - because she doesn't really KNOW him - Giselle loves the IMAGE she has of Albrecht. Hilarion is certainly fond of Giselle (although he isn't always played that way - a lot of people play him as though he just thinks of Giselle as his "property"), and doesn't want her to wind up as the dupe of the cad, Albrecht. And Giselle WOULD have been duped. Albrecht could never have married her - he's got to marry Bathilde and fulfil his royal duty. Giselle would have wound up "barefoot and pregnant" - although perhaps provided for in Albrecht's cottage.

So I actually think that the GOOD pairing is Giselle and Hilarion and it is Albrecht who is "wrong". Admittedly, it would be hard to cast for that: just as a matter of practicality in partnering one couldn't have too great a mismatch in height. One also isn't likely to have dumpy, peasant-looking ballerinas in a ballet company! It would really be casting against type to cast a soubrette-type woman against a "princely" man.


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