Wheat or corn?
Posted 16 May 2001 - 12:46 PM
I always like that moment, because it reinforces the old idea that nature can tell us things, like the daisy in Giselle. But it seems that wheat is the more likely plant for Austo-Hungarian peasants to trust, since it was so important. Whenever I read that it is corn Swanhilda uses, I just have visions of Oklahoma. The corn fields of Hungary sounds wrong, somehow.
Posted 16 May 2001 - 01:15 PM
Posted 16 May 2001 - 01:58 PM
I think Kathleen's explanation is right. But one still reads "ear of wheat," which confuses things further. (An "ear of corn" which, if shaken, would rattle, might be cause for concern.)
I also think Mary's point, that the ear of whatsit is a deliberate reference to nature -- peasants trust nature, we read newspaper horoscopes.
Posted 16 May 2001 - 02:52 PM
"fruiting spike" -- now there's a term to throw around at your next cocktail party!
I think I have now reached the absolute limit of my store of knowlege on things botannical ...
Posted 21 May 2001 - 08:44 PM
Posted 21 May 2001 - 09:51 PM
Posted 22 May 2001 - 11:24 AM
Posted 03 June 2001 - 06:44 AM
The French have for years been convulsed over the American taste for maize eaten straight off the cob. At Cannes, during the film festival, they boil up pots and pots of them, laughing up their sleeves all the time, as maize in France is traditionally thought of only as fit for fodder for pigs!
Posted 15 November 2006 - 07:08 AM
Coppélia - Synopsis of the Ballet
Suddenly a disturbance in his house propels a startled Dr. Coppélius into the village square! Not wishing to join the villagers, he returns to his house. The Burgomeister suggests that Swanilda "listen to the wheat:" if she hears anything when she shakes it, then Franz is her true love.
The Ballet Met
However I also found this synopsis from the ABT website:
The Burgomaster enters to announce that at a celebration the following day the Lord of the Manor will present dowries to all couples who wish to marry. Asked if she will marry Franz, the pouting Swanilda puts a sheaf of corn to her ear. Thus, according to old custom, the corn will tell her if her lover is faithful or not.
I also found this from the Ballet of San Jose Silicon Valley:
The priest, Father Jedermann, who arrives to bless the wheat harvest, tells the legend of the stalk of wheat, which when shaken will tell who is to be married. Only Swanilda hears the prediction of the wheat, but since she is still angry with Franz, she pretends to hear nothing. Franz listens and hears the wheat's message.
San Jose Ballet
I also found this:
Instead she will hold up an ear of wheat to her ear and if it rattles when she shakes it, then she will know that he loves her. When she does this however, it does not rattle. When Franz does the same thing he tells her it does rattle. She does not believe him and runs away heartbroken.
Classical Ballet Synopsis
As well as this:
He suggests the old custom of shaking a stalk of wheat to hear the special sound that will tell her that Franz still loves her. Everyone gathers around, but to their surprise, Swanilda hears nothing. Franz, of course, just laughs it off.
From the results that I have found it seems that the general idea is that it is wheat and not corn that Coppelia uses.[/font]
Posted 16 November 2006 - 09:45 AM
i believe the 'original' intention(s) involved an ear of corn, but (i seem to recall that's what ivor guest's study on coppelia indicates, ditto a few historical essays on delibes' score) somewhere along the way the stalk of wheat became much more workable as a ballet prop, etc.
as noted, however, none of this comes from careful research.
certainly i've not seen any use of ears of corn in my time seeing the ballet - since the early 1970s.
Posted 16 November 2006 - 10:25 AM
The use of the word CORN for any of various cereal plants or grains, such as wheat in England, or oats in Scotland.
Posted 16 November 2006 - 11:18 AM
I think Kathleen is exactly right. When Americans talks about "wheat" and Britons talk about "corn" they're actually referring to the same thing. Folk traditions tend to be very old, so it's unlikely that a ritual such as shaking the stalk would have incorporated a plant that had been introduced to the European continent just a few centuries earlier. However, if any choreographer got it into his or her head to reset the ballet in, say, Mexico, then it's conceivable that the heroine might even use an ear of maize instead
I think this may be an example of the "two great coutries separated by a common language" phenomenon: although in the US the term "corn" is generally used to refer to the grain also known as "maize" or "Indian corn," elsewhere in the Engish-speaking world (with the possible exception of Australia) it's used to refer to ceareal crops generally, such as wheat or oats.
Posted 16 November 2006 - 12:08 PM
it would seem swanilda's prop was always meant to be a stalk of wheat and 'corn' only came into the mix as a result of mis-translation into english of one growing thing for another.
Posted 16 November 2006 - 12:16 PM
Not to be contrary or anything.
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