Reconstructions: Pros, Cons, Why, Impacts
Posted 14 October 2011 - 09:46 PM
Posted 15 October 2011 - 12:17 AM
Posted 15 October 2011 - 02:56 AM
The answer here will probably depend upon the continuing development and modernization of the Mariinsky archives. As with most places worldwide, the Mariinsky kept an Institutional Archive, but it was hampered by the state of archival science and a terrible understaffing which led to things getting preserved which shouldn't have been, information treasures being trashed, stuff surviving but having become separated from its intellectual content, and all the misery that attends modernizing an old repository. Items surface, and information science is so much better now that interpretation can be made, but a lot of context has been lost, never to be recovered. For all we know, photos of Marussia are there, but mislabeled! This happens a lot in archives.
Posted 15 October 2011 - 11:34 AM
Posted 21 October 2011 - 04:01 AM
In, say, 1997 or 1998, did ANY of you ever dream that you would one day be seeing all of the following Petipa Era ballets, let alone having DVDs of some or all of these ballets in your video libraries?
Naiad & Fisherman (Ondine)
Coppelia (also in Novossibirsk)
Magic Flute (Bolshoi Academy)
Don Quixote (with some portions & costumes later going to the Mariinsky)
Paquita (and the one-act "Grand Pas" scene at the Bolshoi)
Excelsior (recently revived yet again)
From the Royal Ballet:
Ashton's Sylvia....ok, so it's not Petipa Era but certain has the 19th-C 'perfume' and look...and the lovely Minkus-Delibes score!
In 12 years, we've built a whole freakin' Tsarist repertoire! A cause for celebration for most of us...but I suspect that it irks some, certainly the students of Dudinskaya/K. Sergeyev and others who danced only the Soviet versions in the 50s/60s/70s/80s/90s. (Not that every ballet on the above list falls into the 'Soviet reworkings' category; many had been totally abandoned soon after the Soviet revolution.)
So what's left to reconstruct or rethink in the 19th-C manner? The obvious are 'Swan Lake-1895' and 'Nutcracker-1894,' although at least we can now see elements of those Petipa/Ivanov-era versions at the Royal Ballet, thanks to the work of R.J. Wiley, during Dowell's tenure in the 1980s. Big remaining gaps also include the Pugni/St.Leon-Petipa-Gorsky Little Humpbacked Horse (of which two major 'dansant' scenes have recently been revived: the "Underwater Kingdom" by Burlaka for Chelyabinsk and the "Enchanted Island" for Tokyo Ballet).
My own 'secret wish'? The one-act The Pearl, created for the coronation of Nicholas & Alexandra in 1896...but apart from the portions that were moved to the Underwater Scene of Humpbacked Horse, I don't think that this exists in the Harvard Collection. There's a lot of Humpbacked Horse, though.
So three cheers to the noble 'soldiers' who have brought the Petipa Era -- the entertainment of the Tsars -- back to us in a very short span of time. How very lucky we are!
Posted 21 October 2011 - 07:18 AM
Posted 21 October 2011 - 08:37 AM
That's a good one, cubanmiamiboy. Thanks for the reminder. To its credit, the Mariinsky mainstains a rather decent GISELLE, too. I read somewhere that GISELLE is perhaps the one ballet that stayed truest to Petipa during the Soviet era(tampered-with the least). Of course, it wasn't a 'Petipa' ballet to begin but most of the world knows it in the Petipa-after-Perrot/Coralli version.
Quite a bit of Petipa/Ivanov's Fille (to Hertel's score) exists in the Harvard Collection so, why not?
Posted 21 October 2011 - 08:49 AM
Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:16 AM
Posted 21 October 2011 - 10:02 AM
Posted 21 October 2011 - 11:13 AM
Posted 21 October 2011 - 12:56 PM
Well, remember that whoever's version of Fille is going to be a revival of one sort or another. Ashton's followed Jean Aumer's 1828 staging at least roughly, and even Petipa and Ivanov were working from Paul Taglioni's version for the Berlin Opera! That's the version Gorski revived. Remember, Petipa once said of Gorski, "Will somebody tell that young feller that I ain't dead yet!" Anyway, they all spring from 1789 and Jean Dauberval, although we would barely recognize that presentation.
Posted 21 October 2011 - 04:35 PM
Would Ondine at the Mariinsky (which seemed to last about one year...) count as well then? I had the impression Lacotte was trying to revert to a pre Petipa era version of the ballet.
Posted 21 October 2011 - 06:37 PM
You may be thinking of La Source. Sylvia is all Delibes. And it is a lovely score. Tchaikovsky loved it!
Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:44 PM
I love that there's a venue to discuss this kind of thing. I remember as a kid falling for ballet in the late 80s, I would try to find everything I could about the original productions of many of these ballets, and come up with scattered articles, booklets, and photographs--with descriptions that nearly always contradicted each other. And I have many friends and family members who love ballet, but frankly, questions of authenticity have no importance to them as long as they enjoyed the dancing and performance (which is probably true of most balletgoers, understandably). I've always had a fascination with theatre design, and it does seem to sometimes get forgotten when discussing ballet productions (unless it's particularly awful or ill suited, and distracts from the performance).
Good point! For a long time, the general impression was that this never existed until Diaghilev, I'm sure many people still think this. It's true that he probably took it to a higher level--hiring famous artists, etc--but it's obvious that a lot of thought from the start went into the design. I know that for the ballets Vsevolozhsky actually designed the costumes for (which include Beauty, Raymonda, and I think Nutcracker and the '95 Swan Lake, but am not sure), he did so as early as when the ballet would be comissioned and a libretto worked out.
And speaking of Diaghilev, it was Benois who wrote rapturously about how Sleeping Beauty re-awakened his love for ballet, partly because he saw every element, includig the designs, as a complete whole for the first time, a ballet "Gesamtkunstwerk". So there are several direct connections there.
I admit, I also always thought that one reason these ballets would never have restored productions was that to a modern eye, judging from the photographs, it would look fussy, over-dressed and cluttered, as you say. Also, audiences would have to get used to longer tutus, even more wigs than the Soviets used (;)), those 'modesty shorts" for the men, etc. But when you actually see the results, for the most part the design simply *works*.
That's a good point I hadn't thought of. It's true the pendulum of what people like tends to swing one way or the other, and currently I think many audiences going to the ballet appreciate, and maybe even expect, the spectacle--which for a while seemed to be the opposite where people felt it took away from the purity of dance. Probably another reason why story ballets, even brand new ones, seem to currently have by fair the most mainstream appeal. For non regular ballet goers, it's so expensive to go to a major production nowadays anyway, that, for good and bad, it might be a bit like the Megamusical trend--people want to see some of their money up on the stage.
Unfamiliar works -- like Atys as revived recently by Les Arts Florissants, or rarely produced ballets like Raymonda -- do have a chance of survival or at least playing a role in re-defining our idea of what these works should look like.
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