Quiggin, on 27 August 2012 - 12:34 PM, said:
And here is an announcement (I don’t know if it’s been posted here before) of another bit of foolishness:
New York Times Oct 15, 1949 Garbo May Appear in Ballet
Greta Garbo, film star, may appear at the Paris Opera House in the title role of Phedre new ballet by Jean Cocteau, Georges Auric and Serge Lifar. Auric, composer of the music, said today, “Miss Garbo, who is at present in America, has accepted in principle. She is at present in possession of the manuscript. * * * We are awaiting her definite decision. If she accepts she will mime the role. She will not dance.”
Fascinating story, Quiggin. Dirac has already responded to your post on the newest Hollywood's Golden Age thread.
Alas, Phedre was fated to open in 1950 without Garbo -- but with Tamara Toumanova. .
I was encouraged to do a little Google research, and came across some interesting material on the danzaballet.com
site, including a ghastly photo of Toumanova and Lifar emoting -- and a gorgeous head shot of Claude Bessy -- from this production. There's a summary of Cocteau's libretto, as well as a selection in which Lifar discusses his choreographic ideas, such as they were. Google Translate does a respectable job of turning Lifar's pompous French into comprehensible -- if sometimes unintentionally comic -- English. The concept of a "deaf theatre dance" is priceless..
BALLET BY SERGE LIFAR
We presented Phaedra in 1950. It was not my first encounter with Phaedra. This theme has long attracted me by its plastic values and the contrast made between purity Athletic Hippolyte and tragedy of Phaedra.
Having composed myself a book by Euripides, I settled in 1938, the opera, a ballet choreography called Hippolyte, carrying wreaths, with music specially written by Vittorio Rieti. Various circumstances, then the war, prevented my job to face the public. In 1942 and 1944, during demonstrations devoted to dance and poetry, I remembered my drafts and I returned to the own of Racine, including the story of Theramenes.
These were the preliminary choreography that I composed for a "cutting" by Jean Cocteau, with music by Georges Auric, whose simple power chords and accentuate the dramatic action with happiness. It is a "choreographic tragedy" and a true reflection of Racine's Phaedra. The verb declaimed, almost incantatory poet, replaces the body that speaks, the gesture that says. All this is possible only with a high concentration, tighter, very thorough recount regarding dances soloists highlighted - effect of contrast - the dynamic sets.
The faces of the dancers is a screen, a series of tragic masks: it not only mimics, but he dances. Most of the time, part expressive "narrative" in a way, is confirmed in the facial features, which, in a sense separates from the body, plastic and dynamic element. The choreography of Phaedra, I tried to make a fusion of the two separate plans of these two people who come together here more closely than usual, so much so that the face and body dance speaks!
The plastic lines are deliberately very simple, with a geometric simplicity, sometimes hieratic, as befits the grandeur tragic characters, however, they remain fundamentally musical (because it is a real musical gesture, because the dancer's body must "know how to sing ! '). The elevation of Hippolytus opposed to "down to earth" Phaedrus, a "down to earth" tragic and full of dynamic pressure and plastic cruel to Oenone: only pure Aricie can follow in his flown by!
The action unfolds in waves, through a series of crescendo that abruptly diminish, stop, better bounce, like the breath tragic as the frequency and intensity of breathing drama. This is not a linear, horizontal, but a series of ups and downs, which causes anxiety and gives deaf theater dance its true aspect of tragedy.
-- The Book of dance, musical French Journal Publishing, Paris 1954.
That last sentence -- with its bizarre "deaf theater dance" is a botched translation on multiple levels. The actual sentence in French is: Ce n’est pas un développement linéaire, horizontal, mais un enchaînement de hauts et de bas, qui provoque une angoisse sourde et confère au théâtre chorégraphique son véritable aspect de tragédie.