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Bathilde, capricious or sweet lady?


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#1 Mr_Hulot

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 10:37 AM

A friend of mine will do the character of Bathilde soon. Do you have any advice to give? Personality traits of character, movements on the scene, references, etc?

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 12:59 PM

Hello, Mr_Hulot and welcome to Ballet Alert!

The answer to your question depends a lot on the production she's in. Just from the blocking and the "lines" (the mime), she can be played either way. I personally care for a "nice" Bathilde (she's too good for a rover like Albrecht!) That's another thing that makes Giselle a great show. Even the supporting cast has meaty material. The details of movement we can trust to the ballet master!

#3 esperanto

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 10:59 AM

I've also wondered about her. Sometimes she seems nice and sometimes she's an aristocrate who think nothing of giving away a "bauble" and yet takes no heed of what she's being told about Giselle - her heart problem and he mother's request that Giselle not dance. She's used to getting her way.
and by the way, has anyone ever wondered about the fact that though Giselle & Albrecht seem to know each other a long time she introduces him to her friends for what looks like the first time.

#4 sandik

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 02:49 PM

In the production staged for Pacific Northwest Ballet recently, that reached back to old notation and other documents to reconstruct what they felt were the original intentions of the choreography, Bathilde has a very sympathetic side, appearing to Alberecht at the end of the ballet when he is mourning at Giselle's grave. As Mel says above, you can play her in many different ways, but I thought that these choices at PNB last year were very effective.

#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 03:24 PM

I like sweet Bathilde. At the end she's just another victim also been played by Albrecht, along with Giselle. I mean, the woman even accepts him back after witnessing Albrecht/Giselle final fling before the grave entering scene, according to the original scenario !-(whereas I just want to scream, "dump'im, dump'im !! Posted Image ). No, Bathilde suffered her own portion. It is a miracle she didn't join Giselle during the mad scene. "Double madness" would have been very effective, can you guys imagine...?

#6 atm711

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:48 AM

I prefer the tone-deaf aristocrat....it's probably one of the reasons why Albrecht was roaming....Posted Image

#7 leonid17

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 03:05 PM

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]The name Bathilde means warrior and the same named character in the ballet seems far removed from Saint Bathilde of the same name.[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Verdana][size=3]Bathilde is a condescending bitch of the nobility being the daughter of the Duke of Courland who plays out a charade of being interested in the peasant girl called Giselle as an amusement.[/size][/font]

[size=3][font=Verdana]Interestingly, the name Giselle is d[font=Arial]erived from the Germanic word gisil meaning "hostage" or "pledge". The name may have originally been a descriptive nickname for a child given as a pledge to a foreign court. [/font][/font][/size]

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]Albrecht was often a surname but also the first name of a number of Dukes of Prussia, Wurtemberg etc.[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]Albrecht is a dastardly roué, who takes on a disguise pretending to be a peasant so that he can get into Giselle’s……………hum… good books. After all he is going to marry a social equal. He is definitely not a Romantic hero.[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]To Bathilde he dismisses her inquiry as to his clothes saying, “Oh no reason, I was just having a bit of fun”. The swine.[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]In the Act II Giselle’s power arising from her innocence and purity over powers the vengeful Willis and saves Albrecht. The stupid, sweet girl, but it does make the ballet something of a morality [/font][/size][/font][font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]tale and everyone goes home moved and happy.[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial][font=Verdana][size=3]The ballet was first produced in 1841, but the famous “mad scene” was not introduced until Fanny Elsller first danced the role. See Galina Ulanova’s remarkable performance as Giselle [/size][/font][font=Verdana][size=3][/size][/font][size=3][font=Verdana] where in the mad scene you can see that in the last moments before her death she is running away from the scene not into the arms of Albrecht who steps in her way to stop her.[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]Sometime ago Ari posted, “Leigh, you’ve touched on a problem I’ve had with Giselle for years now. The trouble, I think, is that ballerinas I’ve been seeing in the role have no conception of innocence. They confuse it with naïveté, which is NOT the same thing.”[/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial][size=3][font=Verdana]I think Ulanova conveys innocence better than most.[/font][/size][/font]

#8 esperanto

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 09:58 AM

What about Giselle's death? Originally she was supposed to have plunged the sword into her heart...which is why she is buried by herself in the woods. although, even so, how come her grave has a cross on it? Wouldn't it have been unmarked?

Most productions today seem to have Albrecht grabbing the sword before Giselle can commit suicide. Does she die of madness
- or of heart failure - or perhaps a combination of both.?

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 10:57 AM

These are points which still excite controversy even down to today. We've discussed whether Giselle dies a suicide or of a broken heart here, but without coming to a final conclusion, and perhaps we shouldn't.

To be sure, Gautier was part of the anti-clericalism of a frequently-revolutionary society, and showing Giselle's remains excluded from consecrated ground in the churchyard would be a good device to show an uncaring church. Perhaps her grave marker should be some sort of rustic cross, obviously crafted by her neighbors, showing their true compassion for her. Although Gautier may have been anti-clerical, he does not seem to have been an anti-theist. In several works, he indicates that the church gets in the way of the True Words of their religion, so that is one reason why this ballet can yet develop some passionate debates.

#10 leonid17

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 03:44 PM

These are points which still excite controversy even down to today. We've discussed whether Giselle dies a suicide or of a broken heart here, but without coming to a final conclusion, and perhaps we shouldn't.

To be sure, Gautier was part of the anti-clericalism of a frequently-revolutionary society, and showing Giselle's remains excluded from consecrated ground in the churchyard would be a good device to show an uncaring church. Perhaps her grave marker should be some sort of rustic cross, obviously crafted by her neighbors, showing their true compassion for her. Although Gautier may have been anti-clerical, he does not seem to have been an anti-theist. In several works, he indicates that the church gets in the way of the True Words of their religion, so that is one reason why this ballet can yet develop some passionate debates.


What we are missing in this thread is a time line of who staged what where and when, who changed what where and when, who danced what where and when and for us seeing Giselle today the question is, are we all talking about the same ballet?

As to Gautier, he was never the only cook adding to the pot.

#11 esperanto

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 09:02 AM

Mel,

today most productions have Hilarion grabbing the sword before Giselle can plunge it into her heart . Therefore no suicide. In which case there's no real need for Giselle's grave to be in "unhallowed" ground . Just something left over from original ?

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 10:10 AM

I've been in productions where she clearly does not come anywhere near stabbing herself, and those where she very plainly does! In fact, one of the Giselles was so emphatic that she broke the skin and started to bleed all over her nice costume, leading to much consternation in the wardrobe department!

But as leonid says, we have to know what production is being followed, and from where. The Marius Petipa revival has confused matters somewhat, even if brother Lucien was the first Albrecht.

At any rate, we never see a priest around, so maybe the assumption is that she died without last rites, which at the time was also sufficient to keep you out of consecrated ground.

#13 Alymer

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 11:30 AM

According to the libretto as given in Beauties of the Opera "her eye fell on the glittering insignia of Count Albrecht's rank and her own desolation, she seized the sword, and souoght to plunge it in her side. The rapid hand of Loys dashed the weapon aside, but not before a deep and fatal wound had pierced the young and innocent maiden's breast". The account then goes on to state that she continued to dance, imagining to still be dancing with Loys until the final moment of her death in the arms of Batilde and Berte.
So we can assume that Grisi stabbed herself in the original version. And the same source states that Giselle had a headstone with a cross.

#14 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 12:21 PM

Where's that other thread in which we discussed this same matter...? I remember many valuable sources were cited, as back I think as the original libretto.

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 12:22 PM

Where's that other thread in which we discussed this same matter...? I remember many valuable sources were cited, as back I think as the original libretto.


It is here...

http://balletalert.i...es-giselle-die/


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