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Question #5: Who is Albrecht's realtor?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 Alexandra

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Posted 16 April 2001 - 12:37 PM

I'm sure this did not trouble the audience in 1840, but has anyone else ever wondered how on earth Albrecht acquired that hut? Eminent domain? Built it overnight? Squatting?

What do you think of the hut, and what, if anything, can be done about it?

(p.s., thanks everybody for participating -- this forum is off to a great start, and I think will prove to be fun)

[ 04-16-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

#2 Jane Simpson

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Posted 16 April 2001 - 03:44 PM

Alexandra, I wonder if the alternative interpretation of Berthe's mime scene - well known in the Royal Ballet, though maybe not everywhere - might throw some light on this question? It deals with Berthe's complaints about the tumbledown state of her cottage, and how the repairs were assessed and carried out: maybe Albrecht's is an empty hut which is waiting for the same firm of builders to get round to fixing it? Though of course that wouldn't explain how he came to have a key...

#3 Juliet

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Posted 16 April 2001 - 03:57 PM

Or is he carrying on his other peccadillos in Bathilde's cottage.....does he have a key from prior assignations......

I didn't know about this mime....very interesting--thanks!

#4 cargill

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Posted 16 April 2001 - 07:47 PM

A somewhat related question is, if Albrecht lives in the castle visible from the village, why didn't Giselle recognize him--he must have been wandering around hunting with his buddies for years. The solution I came up with is that the castle belongs to Bathilde's father, and Albrecht is from another duchy visiting his fiance. Of course, that does not explain how he hooked up with his real estate agent.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 16 April 2001 - 07:59 PM

And, if he had lived in the village for long enough to be really in love with Giselle (or have her be really in love with him) why didn't the local secret police figure out who he was? In the earlier ABT version, it seemed as though this was Albrecht's first day in the village -- Giselle introduced him to the others, the mother was extremely suspicious of him, as well she might be, the Tall Dark Handsome Stranger being the person all good mothers must warn their daughters against. If Albrecht has a hut there, then why don't the villagers know who he is? If the villagers don't know who he is, that means he and Giselle have been fooling around in the brush..... There's also a bit of mime, when Giselle runs out of her cottage in response to Albrecht's knock, that has her go straight up to the door of the hut and courtsey -- SHE knows where he lives. 'Tis a puzzlement.

Jane, why does Albrecht need a key while Hilarion, the village break in artist, just walks through the front door (in some productions; in others, he jimmies the window. One Bolshoi production had a sliding window).

At first, I just accepted this, but after 200 or so "Giselles" it's become a major dramaturgical annoyance. I want Wilfrid to trudge on and take the "For Sale by Remax" and that cute little red balloon off the front lawn before Albrecht's first entrance. Two solutions I've seen, one low budget, one high are: the Moscow Festival Ballet, which just brought their touring production to the DC area, simply dispensed with the hut. Albrecht dumps his sword and cloak in the woods. (And prances around wearing white shirt and tights and a sparkling silver vest, just what the average Silesian would wear on a Saturday.)

Erik Bruhn's production for the Royal Danish in 1978 added what I think is a brilliant solution. He gave the hut to Albrecht's old nurse, now pensioned off and living, with her husband, in the village. It not only triples the adult population of the village, but gives Albrecht an excuse to visit -- he's a kindly boy who still looks in on Nanny -- and a place to change clothes. The know what he's doing, but are both doting and doddering and merely admonish him to be careful.

#6 felursus

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 12:23 AM

I LOVE the Eric Bruhn solution. I think I had mentioned the problem of Albrecht's property ownership/rental in a post elsewhere. In most productions it looks like Wilfred has found the cottage for him. Wilfred, of course, is too fancily dressed to have PERSONALLY found the cottage - but I'm sure he could always command a flunkey to dig up something for him. Perhaps none of the villagers recognize Albrecht because of the convention that one can be completely disguised by dressing in a manner different from one's station in life. So as soon as Albrecht dons a peasant outfit, no one would THINK of associating him with the elegantly dressed noble they were used to seeing. It's quite possible that he has a habit of picking up pretty peasant girls in different villages. People didn't travel far from home in those days, so no one would know. I think Berthe is suspicious not only because he's a stranger but also because he's got no visible means of support - and there's Hilarion, who's got a good job as a forester. Nevertheless, if Albrecht's not a complete cad, then the nurse solution is positively brilliant.

#7 Jane Simpson

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 11:12 AM

I like the Erik Bruhn Solution at first sight, but when I think about it, it doesn't hold water - it's inconceivable that a doting old nurse wouldn't have told anyone at all that the handsome young stranger was her darling Master Albrecht, and in a village telling one person is as good as telling everyone!

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 11:36 AM

Ah, but old habits die hard, and they do everything he tells them. There is a small mime scene in that production that makes it clear that they try to caution him and are completely deferent to him. Also, the village may know that the Nice Old Couple used to work up at the castle, but they don't see Albrecht with him. He goes in to change his clothes when no one is around, and when the hunting party announces its arrival, they tell him, "No, don't come into the house it's dangerous. Go into the woods." So they know what he's doing, rather like the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.

The "just ditch the stuff in the woods" solution is simpler, though. Then you have to deal with, how does Hilarion know exactly which rock he hid the sword under, but since all of that happens in the wings and we don't see it, they got away with it.

#9 CygneDanois

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 08:06 PM

How did Hilarion find the sword if it was in the nurse's house? Was she just not at home then?

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 17 April 2001 - 10:34 PM

Yes, CD. The Nice Old Couple had stepped out -- forget why. It was worked out in the action -- they go offstage, not back into the house.

#11 Nanatchka

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Posted 20 April 2001 - 12:13 PM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by alexandra:
[

....At first, I just accepted this, but after 200 or so "Giselles" it's become a major dramaturgical annoyance.


Poor Alexandra! Too many Giselles!You're watching it from the inside-- like worrying about the props the way the prop mistress would. But tell us, if you really really love the dancing, do you still worry about the real estate? Or does suspension of disbelief require sensible underpinnings? I tend toward the latter myself, I must admit. I don't care what the rules are, but within the system I want consistency.

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 20 April 2001 - 12:58 PM

I think suspension of belief requires sensible underpinnings. It also helps if the dancers can convince you that THEY know how Albrecht got that cottage. It never bothered me with Nureyev and Dowell. That's where they lived. End of discussion.

I once read (perhaps in her autobiography) that Fonteyn knew everything about Giselle -- the furniture inside her house, what she ate, etc. -- but nothing about Odette. She felt that Odette (we'll get to her in a few weeks) was an abstraction of Woman, where Giselle was a person. I think that kind of thinking by the dancers makes a huge difference.

Back to Albrecht's hut, the original set for the second act of "Giselle" was quite different, much more elaborate, than what we're used to. Trap doors, moonlit ponds, fronds everywhere. Not to forget the gaslight and its blue ghostly glow. Perhaps there were more houses in the village -- or at least indications of houses -- so that you're not looking at an early version of urban renewal.

#13 cargill

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Posted 23 April 2001 - 02:00 PM

I seem to remember, Beaumont again?, that the original stage design called for a huge mirror to resemble the lake where the wilis emerged, but that it wasn't possible to do. With the proper lighting, I think that would be a wonderful ghostly effect.

#14 Jane Simpson

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Posted 30 April 2001 - 03:40 PM

Someone has just reminded me that David Bintley's production for the Birmingham RB actually starts with Wilfred coming on and negotiating to hire the cottage - so you'd be able to relax, Alexandra, and enjoy the rest of the evening! (Though I don't know if you'd approve of the real horse...)

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 30 April 2001 - 05:05 PM

Drat! He stole my idea!!!!! ( ;) )


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