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Giselle's "Fugue des Willis"


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:18 AM

The misterious-(and always cut off)- "Fugue des Willis"...



#2 carbro

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:46 PM

When English National Ballet (then known as London Festival Ballet) brought their Giselle to the Met in the 1980s, they included this. It sounds like an ill-fitting interpolation, doesn't it? Jarring. But as I recall, program notes called it authentic.

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:57 PM


When English National Ballet (then known as London Festival Ballet) brought their Giselle to the Met in the 1980s, they included this. It sounds like an ill-fitting interpolation, doesn't it? Jarring. But as I recall, program notes called it authentic.


Thanks a lot, carbro, for the info. I got interested after reading a picture caption in Octavio Roca's book "Cuban ballet". The photograph shows Alicia Alonso, Royes Fernandez and Mary Skeaping, and the caption reads:

"Alicia Alonso and Royes Fernandez with Mary Skeaping backstage in Havana. Skeaping, who was in the National Ballet faculty, was reponsible for adding the long-lost "Fugue des Willis" to Act II of  Giselle in the 50's"



#4 bart

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:38 AM

A 2007 review of an English National Ballet performance contains the following:

Mary Skeaping's production of Giselle, first mounted for London Festival Ballet in 1971, was the product of several years of research. Skeaping herself danced the ballet with Pavlova in the 1920s, and in recreating it worked closely with Tamara Karsavina, who performed the role in Tsarist St Petersburg.


http://www.guardian....07/jan/14/dance

Just checked with Robert Grescovic's Ballet 101. He refers to Hilarian's fatal confrontation with the willis "Entree d'Hilarion, Scene et Fugue des Wilis." However, in the video being described -- Makarova and Baryshnikov, ABT, 1977 -- this music does not appear in the scene of Hilarion's fatal confrontation with the willis. .

Does anyone know who composed the music? Or what steps and action are danced to it?

#5 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:56 AM

A 2007 review of an English National Ballet performance contains the following:

Mary Skeaping's production of Giselle, first mounted for London Festival Ballet in 1971, was the product of several years of research. Skeaping herself danced the ballet with Pavlova in the 1920s, and in recreating it worked closely with Tamara Karsavina, who performed the role in Tsarist St Petersburg.



http://www.guardian....07/jan/14/dance


Who wrote the music?


Just as carbro notes, the music also sounds  to me like an interpolation, but the clip I posted claims it to be by Adam.. If anything, it seems it never made it to the Stepanov notations.

#6 rg

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 06:44 AM

Doug would know more authoritatively, but my understanding, such as it is, is that this music is Adam's but that it likely didn't make it to Petipa era productions of the ballet in Russia.
I believe it's on one or more recordings of the full Adam score (perhaps on the Zhuritis(sp?) releases) and not nec. noted to be an interpolation. (Hartford Ballet's version of GISELLE, for another, staged by Kirk Peterson included this fugue.)
The interpolated pas de deux is another item included on some older recordings, of which some are still only available on vinyl, but there, if mem. serves, it's clearly noted to be a later addition.

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 09:22 AM

Just thought of adding this piece of info I just read...

"[Skeaping]-also included the controversial fugue in Act II - she regarded the narrative during the fugue as central to the ballet’s conflict between the supernatural and the religious. At this point in the ballet, Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, sends wave after wave of wilis (a species of vampire women who died having been jilted by faithless lovers) to lure Albrecht from the safety of the cross on Giselle's grave."

http://www.ballet.co...enb_giselle.htm
 



#8 doug

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 05:59 PM

Yes, the fugue is by Adam and part of the original Giselle score. I believe Marian Smith explains in her book that, at least in 19th-century theater, a fugue symbolized something sinister and evil. Adam also included a fugue in Le Corsaire to depict the mutinous disagreement between Conrad and Birbanto.

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 10:57 AM

I finally found a recording that can be shared showi the whole "Fugue des Willis" in its original context.  Here it is, in CD # 2, part 7, at the end of "Entree d'Hilarion, Scene et Fugue des Wiillis".   Apparently it takes place just before the PDD.   I'm sure many of you will enjoy it as much as I did.

 

https://play.spotify...460834394965706



#10 Swanilda8

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 06:40 AM

Yes, the fugue is by Adam and part of the original Giselle score. I believe Marian Smith explains in her book that, at least in 19th-century theater, a fugue symbolized something sinister and evil. Adam also included a fugue in Le Corsaire to depict the mutinous disagreement between Conrad and Birbanto.

 

 

"[Skeaping]-also included the controversial fugue in Act II - she regarded the narrative during the fugue as central to the ballet’s conflict between the supernatural and the religious. At this point in the ballet, Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, sends wave after wave of wilis (a species of vampire women who died having been jilted by faithless lovers) to lure Albrecht from the safety of the cross on Giselle's grave."

http://www.ballet.co...enb_giselle.htm
 

 

Fugues were considered one of the most 'scientific' or 'learned' styles of composition and often represent science or knowledge, so I wonder if the evil thing in this case is supernatural/unholy knowledge, a la Faust.  I'm not sure I can make an entirely logical connection there - just something creepy to the 19th century mind about young girls who suddenly possess the secrets of the grave.

 

In any case, thanks so much for sharing this music!  I've never heard it used onstage and I think it's a shame. Certainly I could imagine a contemporary choreographer making something out of the fugal voice relations and the Wilis surrounding Albrecht.



#11 California

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 09:05 AM

PNB did a reconstruction from historic sources in 2011, but I was not able to get to Seattle to see it. Do locals there know if they recreated the fugue scene? They have a lengthy report on the reconstruction, but don't mention that specifically: http://www.pnb.org/A...ry/Giselle.aspx

 

I vaguely remember seeing somebody else reconstruct the fugue, but can't remember where that would have been. Do others remember it?



#12 California

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 09:33 AM

". . . wilis (a species of vampire women who died having been jilted by faithless lovers) . . ."

http://www.ballet.co...enb_giselle.htm
 

Are the Wilis appropriately called "vampire women"? The PNB site quotes Gautier's source on the Wilis:

 


Gautier’s other literary inspiration was a passage in Heinrich Heine’s On Germany, about Wilis, spectral brides who rise from their graves at midnight to dance beguilingly in the moonlight:

 

In parts of Austria there exists a tradition ... of Slavic origin: the tradition of the night-dancer, who is known, in Slavic countries, under the name Wili. Wilis are young brides-to-be who die before their wedding day. The poor young creatures cannot rest peacefully in their graves. In their stilled hearts and lifeless feet, there remains a love for dancing which they were unable to satisfy during their lifetimes. At midnight they rise out of their graves, gather together in troops on the roadside and woe be unto the young man who comes across them! He is forced to dance with them; they unleash their wild passion, and he dances with them until he falls dead. Dressed in their wedding gowns, with wreaths of flowers on their heads and glittering rings on their fingers, the Wilis dance in the moonlight like elves. Their faces, though white as snow, have the beauty of youth. They laugh with a joy so hideous, they call you so seductively, they have an air of such sweet promise, that these dead bacchantes are irresistible.

 

PNB  refers to them as "Vampire-like." Yes, they come out after dark, but they don't have the literal blood-sucking quality we associate with vampires.

 

Also, Heine says they just died before their weddings. I thought they had a more tragic end -- brides jilted on their wedding day and thus dying of grief. But perhaps that nuance was added later in the retelling of the Wilis story.

 

I do think it's interesting that we still have an expression today: "That gives me the wilis." I've asked people if they know where that expression came from and non-ballet-lovers generally don't have a clue!



#13 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 12:47 PM

 

 

I vaguely remember seeing somebody else reconstruct the fugue, but can't remember where that would have been. Do others remember it?

 

 

Speaking seems to had been the main source of this reconstructions.



#14 rg

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 02:03 PM

Kirk Peterson also used the fugue for his production of GISELLE for Hartford Ballet. 

among other aspects, Peterson's staging had Alla Osipenko as his Berthe, in a performance that was ntoable.



#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 19 August 2013 - 11:34 PM

I wish there would be a video of any staging of the Fugue.




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