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Question #11: Is Hilarion a good guy, or a bad guy?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 22 April 2001 - 05:06 PM

When I started going to the ballet, a caddish Albrecht and a good-hearted Hilarion were both enough of a novelty to warrant mention. Now, both are usual, the latter nearly standard.

In the Beaumont libretto, Hilarion is the villain. He's not an evil man, but an intelligent rather arrogant one (and coarse as well, but he's used to being Top Dog in that village). He acts in revenge because Giselle scorned him. I've seen interpretations where Hilarion thinks that if I only tell her the truth, then she'll love me. Not in the original. He wants to publicly humiliate her, it seems. He finds the sword and mantle and picks his moment to reveal them -- when everybody is there to watch, 36 seconds after Giselle is crowned Queen of the Harvest.

What interpretations have you seen? Do you like him as a hero or a villain?

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 09:47 PM

Ahem! Now see here! As the Sole Surviving Member of the Original Hilarion Defense League, I must of course take vigorous exception to any suggestion that Hilarion is anything less than a truly noble soul, cursed with a less-attractive container than his rival!

After all, doesn't he stand up for true National Loyalty in supporting the marriage of his Duke (Albrecht) to the daughter of the Duke next door(Bathilde)? Isn't he acting on behalf of Family Values by exposing a fraud (and an outsider, yet?) Isn't he generous(rabbits)? Isn't he spritually moved by Giselle's death to stand a vigil at her graveside? Isn't he the Boy next Door?

We figured out, we OHDL, a ballet to some of the "Mam'zelle Angot" score for Albrecht to get Carabosse, Giselle to get Dr. Coppélius, Myrtha to get Golfo(they were deliriously happy with one another) and Hilarion, who had spent most of his time up a tree to escape the tirading Wilis and some lost Polvetsians, got the Prettiest Girl In The Company, all courtesy of the Sugar Plum Fairy!

How we proposed to keep Civil War from breaking out over the PGITC company part, I don't think we ever resolved.

#3 Juliet

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Posted 26 April 2001 - 09:24 PM

Well, if you ask the folks at the Bolshoi, we all KNOW who they think the Real Good Guy is.
He didn't get the holographic sequins or the jaunty velvet beret, but he got that great green outfit and Those Boots to show off his beats......

[ 04-26-2001: Message edited by: Juliet ]

#4 cargill

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 10:13 AM

Juliet, Wasn't the Bolshoi Hilarion dressed in mustard yellow with red trim (and a red Shriner's hat)? Whatever he was wearing, he was most definitely a central character, and got a dramatic suicide, not murder, when he hurled himself off the cliff like he thought he was Siegfried. This concept definitely did not work for me.

#5 Juliet

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 10:50 AM

Juliet has Production Amnesia.....

who had the green outfit and lots of extra dancing to do ? I thought it was Wilfrid who had the outfit like he came out of a crackerjack box.....

#6 cargill

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 11:22 AM

Juliet, perhaps the man in green with lots of extra dancing was von Rothbart in ABT's new Swan Lake.

#7 Juliet

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 12:25 PM

You *are* silly. That was The Iguana.

I'll check. I could have sworn it was the Bolshoi production......not important, really--

#8 Kyeong

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 08:38 AM

I don't think he is a good guy, though I cannot say he is exceptionally bad. He was selfish and violent in his love, at least to an ordinary degree, which might be enough reason for his death.

He seemed to expect Giselle to love him, at least partly because he was relatively wealthier and held a rather higher social position, which I imagine suffocated Giselle, who liked dancing, i.e., a girl who was not so interested in something practical and pragmatic and hated to be fettered by such things (I think she couldn't accept her actual social class). Or, simply because he loved her. When unanswered, his emotion revealed what it truly was - he, who actually loved himself, decided to ruin Giselle's love, and further, herself. Or, he was just foolish in believing that without Albrecht, Giselle would have loved him, which in turn also shows the degree of his love - a love for the then available one, not for the right one.

#9 stinger784

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 08:44 AM

Isn't the player known as Albrecht more the villian since he seems to run from town to town looking for a quick fix? I mean he even disguises himself and changes his name to Loys? Where is the honesty in that? So what he doesn't want to marry Bathilde, look at the controversy he created by coming across this cute little grape girl. Would Hilarion really have been "the bad guy" had Albrecht not shown up? I do not think so. Giselle may have just rejected him and she and he would have gone on their merry ways. But with the competition at hand with Albrecht showing up, I think it changed the playing field and Hilarion was trying to make things right by uncovering the truth about Loys!

I always love Hilarion better. I mean even his name is cooler and he gets to dress up like Robin Hood. You really can't beat that.

#10 stinger784

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 08:47 AM

And another thing...

Albrecht realizes what he has done in the opening of ACT II when he walks to the grave site. Is he sad that Giselle has died? Yes. But I think his true emotion is that he has led her to her death and he realizes the pain he has caused and feels guilt, not love.

#11 sunday

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 09:41 AM

When I said to a certain ballerina that I consider Giselle a stupid girl, she couldn't stop laughing. I think she agreed.

One could consider Giselle a good natured but silly peasant girl that rebukes a perfectly good husband candidate to fall stupidly in love with a charming stranger. The rebuked solicitor realizes that the charming stranger is of high rank and, probably wants only to have a roll in the hay with Giselle, and forget her. So Hilarion decides to show Giselle the wrongness of her ways but, alas, he misjudges Giselle frailty and causes her death.

It could be considered also that the night of sex and prompt fleeing of her paramour will cause the death of Giselle.

And so, one may conclude that the evil one in this history is Albrecht. And then that stupid girl goes and saves the culprit from the gentle hands of Myrtha.

Women... :wallbash:

#12 bart

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:27 AM

In the Beaumont libretto, Hilarion is the villain. He's not an evil man, but an intelligent rather arrogant one (and coarse as well, but he's used to being Top Dog in that village). He acts in revenge because Giselle scored him.

The 1840s, wihen Giselle was created, was a time of revolution in Europe. But classical ballet has always been a remakablyi socially conservative art. So, I'm not surprised that the noble Albrecht would have been idealized while the peasant, Hilarion, even though clearly one step up from most of the others in the village, would have been an object of ambivalence, suspicion, and even dislike.

I don't think he is a good guy, though I cannot say he is exceptionally bad. He was selfish and violent in his love, at least to an ordinary degree, which might be enough reason for his death.

Thanks, Kyeong, for reviving this fascinating topic. I know from your posting elsewhere that you, like me, attended the recent Boca Ballet Theater performances of Giselle, with Marcelo Gomes as Albrecht and William Hoppe as Hilarion.

In that production, Hoppe struck me as one of the most genuinely "good" Hilarions I've ever seen.

Hoppe crafted a youthful and rather light character who is genuinely infatuated with Giselle and quite gracious about it. For example: his delight and spontaneity while presenting his gifts of food and flowers, or filling Giselle's mother's pitcher of water). He was (as usual) the only person in this daft little village to have doubts about the obviously elegant young man, attended by a rather grand servant, who had recently moved into town and seemed to be in the process of charming and seducing the naive Giselle.

This Hilarion's growing mistrust of Albrecht was touching.(It helps when you do the mime well, as Hoppe did.) He is not the brightest lightbulb in the world, so his miming of puzzlement and his attempts to solve the puzzle struck me as genuine and rather sweet.

His big scene -- the revelation that Albrecht is nobleman -- did not have the the feeling or force of an act of vengeance. He was, for me, the detective (young Sherlock?) out to astonish his neighbors with his discoveries and, at the same time, save Giselle from a fate worth than death.

This Hilarion was a well-meaning agent of Giselle's madness and death. It was Albrecht, however, and his deceptions that were the cause.

There are disadvantages as well as advantages to a "good" Hilarion.

The biggest loss to Act I is that Hilarion is more interesting if he conveys a sense of menace and makes you wonder how far he will go. (Some Hilarions have actually been so desperate that they are scary.)

One advantage to Act II, however, is that I found myself really caring about Hilarion's fate at the hand of the wilis, something I usually don't think about at all.

#13 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 10:44 AM

...and also, let's not forget that the music for the Fugue of the Willis was left intact, without the now common cuts , so he had a lot of dancing to do in this scene. Indeed he looked tired and ready to collapse...

#14 bart

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 11:11 AM

Thanks for that information, Cristian. Now that you mention it, it did seem that those upward thrusts of the arm (fingers splayed) looked more realistic than is often the case. :wink:

#15 atm711

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Posted 13 August 2010 - 11:49 AM

Imagine, if you will, that Giselle married Hilarion. I think she would have made the poor fellow's life miserable. Here was a girl who liked life's finer things. She was attracted to Albrecht because he had none of the rough edges of the village lads; also loved jewelry and fine clothing. She might have been another Emma Bovary :sweatingbullets: ---but then we would not have that great 2nd act.


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