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


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#31 olddude

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:21 PM

Count me among the Friends of Hilarion. (And ignore that I did dance bits of the part in a rep class, at the age of 60, with - of course - Wilis mostly in their 20s and 30s!)

But here's another scenario. We are here talking about Hilarion and Albrecht and forgetting that "dance is Woman". If Hilarion is a more or less good guy, his death serves to illustrate the blind power and the terror of the Wilis. Act 2 is at least as much about Myrtha as anyone else. And I've seen some really terrifying Myrthas - it's a great, great part. She's a female Rothbart! She's also a Lilith figure, the opposite of Giselle, independent, a man-hating temptress and a destroyer. The Wilis have some lovely dancing, but in the right hands they can (and should, in my humble opinion) be pretty scary - maenads, not grumpy party girls. The more powerful Myrtha and the Wilis are, the more impressive is the power of Giselle's love in saving Albrecht.

For this to work, you also need some genuine sympathy for Albrecht. Somewhere else on this site, Nureyev's interpretation (I've never seen it) is described as centering on Albrecht's epiphany; after Giselle's death he realizes how much more she meant to him than he thought and is not just remorseful, he's genuinely transformed.

It could work.

#32 GeorgeB fan

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:46 PM

I should have never discovered this thread! LMAO!!

Because when I first joined this marvelous board we had a discussion about Hilarion and Albrecht and my opinion has not change after nearly ten years.

I'm ALL for Hilarion!!

One of my all-time favorite Hilarion was John Gardner's from ABT and it's his performance that I measure all other Hilarions by. His Hilarion was human. His wasn't a cardboard villain. Instead of giving us one-note, Gardner gave us many, which is what a great dancer is supposed to do.

He played Hilarion as a honorable man, a decent man, a man who was sincerely in love with Giselle. All he wanted to do was to make her happy and I believe if she gave herself a chance she would have been happy with him...or at the very least had a much longer life to live. And of all the Giselles I've seen dance the role opposite Gardner - whether it was Amanda McKerrow, Susan Jaffe, etc - they all gave off the appearance as if they did liked Hilarion. She wasn't scared of him or fearful of him. You got the sense she viewed him as a friend...which only adds to the drama. For me it's that version of Hilarion that actually makes the story more richer, more complex, more emotional and more tragic. When he goes after Albrecht, Gardner always made it clear, Hilarion wasn't going after him in terms of revenge, but more at protecting Giselle because he knows she's being deceive, which she is. Even after being rejected by Giselle, Hilarion was still looking after her. Here was a man who could have possibly made her very happy but the poor darling wasn't in love with him...she was in love with the more glamorous Albrecht. When it comes to the matter of love we often don't think rationally with our head but more emotionally with our hearts. She fell for that "noble" men who was trying to get his groove on before marrying the woman he promised to marry. He was nothing but a smooth talker. He was like one of those horny teenage boys who drove some unexpected girl up to Make-Out Point trying to seduce her in the backseat of his car. "C'mon baby. Everybody is doing it. Don'tcha want to show me how much you love me?" And that's basically what he was trying to do in the first few moments of the ballet. He wanted some booty. He ain't nothing but a two-timer. Hilarion wouldn't have done it. Gardner's Hilarion was a gentleman.

And there we have Giselle. A poor, sweet, innocent peasant girl who gives her bad heart to a guy who doesn't deserve it. And what happens? She dies because of it. Jerk!!!!

I'm having sooooooo much fun writing this!! LOL!!

Yeah, yeah...it was clear that Albrecht was falling for Giselle and when she died it was obvious he felt enormous guilt. Of course that guilt didn't stop him from trying to blame Hilarion for it. All Hilarion did was tell the truth about his lying butt. Jerk!!

I do not like Albrecht - no I don't.

That's why I love Jerome Robbins' The Cage. That Novice did to that male insect what Giselle should have done with Albrecht...kill his butt and feed his body to her fellow Wilis!:FIREdevil:

#33 leonid17

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 05:47 AM

I really like Albrecht. He is not a cad, he is a young man who sees a beautiful young woman and is attracted to her. He knows he cannot appear to her in his usual attire otherwise she would not countenance his approaches, so he disguises himself.

There is no indication that Albrecht is a rapist, instead he flirts with Giselle and in doing so, his feelings deepen and he gets lost in those feelings and at least for the moment, he forgets both who he is and in the course of minutes, his own status.

Hilarion, who has historically been cast as an older man and to the audience it is quite clear, that Giselle would not be attracted to him. This boor pursues Giselle and she rebuffs him and is undoubtedly frightened by his advances. Who wouldn't be? All that hair, the smell of dead game and then, the age of the man. Get lost.

So bitter with jealousy is Hilarion as to Albrecht's suit, he seeks to denounce this handsome interloper whom he sees in his fantasy of Giselle as a rival. At his first opportunity, he denounces Albrecht by summoning the Duke of Courland and he has lead us into a descending tragedy.

Giselle becomes lost in her wild emotions and her heart begins to give way. At the moment of death she wants Albrecht, not her mother and definitely not Hilarion.

Giselle the ballet,is a Romantic tale of a young man's attraction to beautiful girl from the wrong side of the tracks that leads to what was already a suggested by her mother, an early death.

Myrtha in her forest realm quickly seizes the opportunity to destroy Hilarion, the cause of Giselle’s death and although destined to marry Bathilde, we are left with the image of Albrecht still loving Giselle and she loving him.

Giselle the young girl/woman dies of a weak heart never to be touched by old age. She remains perpetually young in our memory of this romantic period tale, rather than being saddled by ugly hairy children from Hilarion and worn out at thirty years of age.

#34 Helene

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 07:19 AM

Wow, those are our options? :speechless-smiley-003:

It's a wonder the human race survived the 19th century.

#35 leonid17

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 10:23 AM

Wow, those are our options? :speechless-smiley-003:

It's a wonder the human race survived the 19th century.


I have gone back to read your reply twice and each time I have laughed out loud.

#36 sunday

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 11:36 AM


Wow, those are our options? :speechless-smiley-003:

It's a wonder the human race survived the 19th century.


I have gone back to read your reply twice and each time I have laughed out loud.


I thought of Darwinism in action :D

#37 bart

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 04:52 PM

I thought of this thread when I read Vladimir Vasiliev's interview (with Nina Alovert) in the Summer 2010 Ballet Review. Vasiliev mentions that the role he danced most was Albrecht However ....

I told [Lavrovsky] that I didn't want to dance Albrecht, but Hilarion. Give me that role. In the second act I would like to give myself such a dramatic variation that the audience would be left speechless and I also wanted to dance in the first act. But it didn't happen.

When I began to explain this to Grigorovich he said, "You will ruin the basis of the ballet. One actor is a dancer, the other an actor." But I think that it's the other way around: the triangle will be enhanced if the two heroes, almost equal, both dance. One is educated, well read, and able to express his thoughts; the other, no less in love, maybe even more so, but unable to speak a single word because he is unable to express his feelings.

Hilarion is one of the many who surround her, but the Count is another matter. Albrecht says, "Your eyes! God, I am losing my mind -- they are like the sun!" This is how he draws Giselle in. But Hilarion also loves her, so they should be equals. Just like Spartacus and Crassus later in Grigorovich's Spartacus.

I confess this strikes me as quite an appealing idea, for a limited run at least. How about Vasiliev as Hilarion and Nureyev as Albrecht?. Now THAT would have been an evening to remember.

#38 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 07:45 PM

How about Vasiliev as Hilarion and Nureyev as Albrecht?.


The other way around... :FIREdevil:

#39 Kerry1968

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:46 PM

Would it be fair to say that most contemporary versions of Giselle present Hilarion in Act 2 as holding a solitary vigil at Giselle's grave, whereas older versions of the ballet tended to present Hilarion in the company of others at Giselle's grave? And does the image of a solitary and forlorn Hilarion tend to make the character more sympathetic?

#40 sandik

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:47 AM

Giselle the young girl/woman dies of a weak heart never to be touched by old age. She remains perpetually young in our memory of this romantic period tale, rather than being saddled by ugly hairy children from Hilarion and worn out at thirty years of age.


I haven't been following along with this thread, so missed this exchange back then -- I've often thought that the choice in Giselle (G choosing between Hilarion and Loys/Alberecht) is linked to James' choice between Effie and the Sylph in La Sylphide -- between the daily world he knows and the spiritual world he longs for. Hilarion is a familiar part of a known world for Giselle -- he has probably been a part of her community for as long as she can remember. Loys/Alberecht is a mystery. She doesn't know who he really is, but she does know what he isn't -- he isn't part of the old and familiar territory. One of the main themes of Romanticism that seems to have been active in ballet is a curiosity about the foreign and exotic.

#41 sandik

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 09:49 AM

Would it be fair to say that most contemporary versions of Giselle present Hilarion in Act 2 as holding a solitary vigil at Giselle's grave, whereas older versions of the ballet tended to present Hilarion in the company of others at Giselle's grave? And does the image of a solitary and forlorn Hilarion tend to make the character more sympathetic?


I don't know that you can make this an unequivocal statement -- I think that there have been solitary Hilarions in the past and Hilarions that appear in company in contemporary productions, but your underlying idea is a powerful one -- I do think we are more apt to try and "understand" Hilarion's motives and actions if we see him as an individual.

#42 esperanto

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:09 AM

-----------------------------.
When I first saw Giselle Hilarion was always a villian with a beard. I was told that a beard was at one time considered a sign of "the bad guy". IN recent years he's become more sympathetic.
His bad luck was to be caught in the forest by the Willis.
You're right about Gediminas Taranda. I never saw him in Giselle but he must have been excellent. His is the best A (you know whom I mean) in Raymonda.


At one time Hilarions always looked a bit rough or even significantly older than Giselle but that isn't so often the case now. As a rule of thumb Albrecht should always be better looking and possess a gentler manner than Hilarion otherwise you can spend the entire ballet puzzling over Giselle's choice. Anyone that ever saw Gediminas Taranda's Hilarion will know exactly what I mean.



#43 California

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:18 AM

Would it be fair to say that most contemporary versions of Giselle present Hilarion in Act 2 as holding a solitary vigil at Giselle's grave, whereas older versions of the ballet tended to present Hilarion in the company of others at Giselle's grave? And does the image of a solitary and forlorn Hilarion tend to make the character more sympathetic?

Coincidentally, I've been watching the Teatro Alla Scala DVD with Zakharova and Bolle (which is worth getting, by the way). Act 2 opens with Hilarion alone at the grave. Then five of what seem to be his friends enter on the other side; they appear to be horsing around, drinking, etc. They try to pull Hilarion away from the grave to join them, but he pushes them away. Then the friends seem to hear something and force Hilarion to run off with them. But Hilarion does appear very sympathetic in that scene, especially as he seemed so vindictive and bitter in Act 1. This was recorded in a live performance in 2005, with a 2011 release date on the DVD, but I don't see information on when they did this staging.

#44 esperanto

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 11:18 AM

Hi "OLDDUDE"
Myrtha in the Dutch production is a terrifying Queen of the Willis. Just before watching this performance I saw a Youtube clip of Monica Mason reahersing Giselle. She stressed that sthe dancer should always be giving the impression of watching, listening and hearing. This the Dutch dancer did.

Count me among the Friends of Hilarion. (And ignore that I did dance bits of the part in a rep class, at the age of 60, with - of course - Wilis mostly in their 20s and 30s!)

But here's another scenario. We are here talking about Hilarion and Albrecht and forgetting that "dance is Woman". If Hilarion is a more or less good guy, his death serves to illustrate the blind power and the terror of the Wilis. Act 2 is at least as much about Myrtha as anyone else. And I've seen some really terrifying Myrthas - it's a great, great part. She's a female Rothbart! She's also a Lilith figure, the opposite of Giselle, independent, a man-hating temptress and a destroyer. The Wilis have some lovely dancing, but in the right hands they can (and should, in my humble opinion) be pretty scary - maenads, not grumpy party girls. The more powerful Myrtha and the Wilis are, the more impressive is the power of Giselle's love in saving Albrecht.

For this to work, you also need some genuine sympathy for Albrecht. Somewhere else on this site, Nureyev's interpretation (I've never seen it) is described as centering on Albrecht's epiphany; after Giselle's death he realizes how much more she meant to him than he thought and is not just remorseful, he's genuinely transformed.

It could work.



#45 Kerry1968

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:08 PM


Would it be fair to say that most contemporary versions of Giselle present Hilarion in Act 2 as holding a solitary vigil at Giselle's grave, whereas older versions of the ballet tended to present Hilarion in the company of others at Giselle's grave? And does the image of a solitary and forlorn Hilarion tend to make the character more sympathetic?

Coincidentally, I've been watching the Teatro Alla Scala DVD with Zakharova and Bolle (which is worth getting, by the way). Act 2 opens with Hilarion alone at the grave. Then five of what seem to be his friends enter on the other side; they appear to be horsing around, drinking, etc. They try to pull Hilarion away from the grave to join them, but he pushes them away. Then the friends seem to hear something and force Hilarion to run off with them. But Hilarion does appear very sympathetic in that scene, especially as he seemed so vindictive and bitter in Act 1. This was recorded in a live performance in 2005, with a 2011 release date on the DVD, but I don't see information on when they did this staging.


Thank you! I added it to my Amazon order, along w/ Teatro alla Scala's Raymonda (pre-order).


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