So why is Myrtha the queen and not someone else?
Posted 17 April 2001 - 10:03 PM
Posted 18 April 2001 - 12:50 AM
Posted 18 April 2001 - 05:57 PM
I have to put a word in on the Dark/Fair dichotomy, because, at least in ballet, it really doesn't have a thing to do with anti-semitisim. I've looked at hundreds of lithographs from the Romantic era and have never seen a drawing that matches the anti-semitic drawings (cartoons? from popular theater?) that Drew referred to. In the Danish tradition, at any rate, the "dark" came from Italy or Spain and had a more supple way of moving. He or she also represented a livelier lifestyle, one might say, not only more overtly flirtatious, but simply more energetic, hot-tempered, etc. In 19th century Denmark, it was the blond who was melancholic; the dark was merry.
As far as "Giselle" goes, I've read the same things as Mme. Hermine -- Hilarion has a red beard. Red beards were the mark of a villain; Von Rothbart (literally, Red Beard) in "Swan Lake."
On Leigh's "staging," the "not quite right for us" version would probably work dramatically. That's what's so great about Giselle -- it's so flexible a story. In essence, it's one more retelling of the extremely popular cautionary tale: everyone knows that Sue is meant for Tommy, except Sue, who chafes at the idea that she has to marry that nice, dull boy next door. Enter the Tall Dark Handsome Stranger. She flirts. If she's lucky, she realizes, just in time (perhaps because Tommy caught typhoid) that He is Not The One and returns to her Intended.
Albrecht and Bathilde....but perhaps Bathilde deserves her own thread. And she's about to get one
[ 04-18-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 18 April 2001 - 06:20 PM
I have no idea if it has any bearing on ballet story telling traditions -- and rather doubt it -- but central European anti-semitic iconography going back centuries, maybe even back into the middle ages, also uses red hair as a code for "jew" figures (including Judas in mystery plays)...
My only point re ballet is not that there is a particular coding in mind when a villain is dark etc., but that by the nineteenth century these "types" did bear connotations that aren't altogether innocent of ideas about racial type and racial purity. So, personally, I'd be unsympathetic to contemporary productions that organize their symbolism in that way. Of course, with a particular cast, theatrical effects are going to emerge and I have no problem w. that...
Posted 18 April 2001 - 08:07 PM
My only point is that I think works of art should be read in the contexts of their time and place, and I'm impatient (as has been evident before ) with layering 20th century [sic] politics or psychology onto earlier works. There's a whole school of feminist theory that would wish "Giselle" off the stage as being a hideous manifestation of sexism (I don't quite understand why, but I'll believe them. I'll still go and see "Giselle."). I don't think it's fair to say that, in this instance, a northern European tradition of dark/fair -- deliberately using it, not an accidental casting -- as a part of storytelling has to be discontinued because of something going on at another time, in another part of Europe. Denmark has its sins, but anti-semiticism is not one of them and I really know of no examples of it in Danish theater art; rather to the contrary.
Sorry. This is far from Myrtha's hierarchical ranking, a manifestation of patriarchal societal norms
Posted 18 April 2001 - 10:42 PM
As far as Myrtha's nobility goes, reading people's comments, I wondered if it doesn't in a way "double" the Giselle/Bathilde opposition of Act I. Actually, if one had a modern production in which Act II was a dream -- mentioned I think on another of the Giselle threads -- one could even imagine a double casting of the role. That would be a little too schematic for my taste and obviously at odds with elements of the original librettists' plan, but there is a way in which both acts see Albrecht caught between a "noble" woman and Giselle.
[ 04-18-2001: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posted 21 April 2001 - 12:25 PM
Posted 21 April 2001 - 02:06 PM
It also occurs to me that that name could be Hobson-Jobsoned a bit and mixed with Marthe, Martha, "Mistress of the house; lady" from Aramaic.
Posted 21 April 2001 - 03:54 PM
Posted 30 April 2001 - 11:09 AM
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