Act IV problems
Posted 05 August 2001 - 08:22 AM
Posted 06 August 2001 - 11:15 AM
One problem that many productions face in staging ACT IV is what to do with Odette and Siegfried or, more specifically, how should Von Rothbart's spell be broken. Should the lovers drown themselves or should Siegfried reaffirmation of love for Odette do the trick?
Posted 06 August 2001 - 12:43 PM
I think the old David Blair Act IV that ABT used to do is just perfect, and I wish they'd blow the dust off it and bring it back.
Posted 06 August 2001 - 10:39 PM
Posted 07 August 2001 - 12:32 AM
I guess Act IV has been interpreted so many different ways that choreographers can have a field day with it - thus leaving it wide open to be abused. I remember a Festival Ballet version (Beryl Grey) that happened to premiere during the Easter season that ended with the swans in the pattern of a huge cross on the floor with the "resurrection" of Siegfried and Odette. One would have had to be a visitor from Mars or from some remote location where there were no Christians to have missed the point of that staging!
Posted 10 August 2001 - 06:37 AM
Some productions of Swan have ended with Act III, even, when Siegfried runs from the scene back to the lake.
Posted 20 August 2001 - 06:13 PM
The 1895 version included mimed conversation and a pas de deux that was really a pas d'action, in which the lovers conversed about the situation and brought some sense of closure to it.
There followed a final action scene in which the lovers commited suicide and Rothbart was destroyed; this is similar, isn't it, to the end of GOTTERDAMERUNG, with the characters dying or committing suicide? The singing stops early on and the music continues during the action scenes. Same in SWAN LAKE - the dancing stops, but the action continues.
This ending is still acceptable in the GOTTERDAMERUNG. Is it unacceptable in SWAN LAKE or ballet in general? Or is it the melodrama that we don't want to see? I'm not sure of the answers, but the larger question may be whether tastes have changed so much that 19th century ballets can no longer be presented as intended by their creators?
SWAN LAKE Act IV is a very good example of the difficulties that changing tastes present.
Posted 29 August 2001 - 04:25 AM
The most recent performance of Swan Lake that I have seen was the staging by Derek Deane for English National Ballet (not his in-the-round arena version, but the staging which toured various theatres in the UK in his last season as AD). This is a good, dramatic, straightforward telling of the story, but when it comes to the ending Odette and Siegfried sail away into the heavens on what can only be described as a jet-propelled flying bed… tacky! I was sitting high enough in the theatre to be able to cut them out of my line of vision. This was much better. The rows of swans diagonally on the floor facing the direction (upstage) where O and S had met their fate matched perfectly (and sufficiently) the drama of Tchaikovsky’s score, ending on that enigmatic unison B, neither major nor minor (though the firmness of that B somehow reassures me of the love between O and S, despite the tragedy). The rest is left to our imaginations. (The point has been made about presenting 19th century drama before a 21st century audience, e.g. as for Wagner’s Ring. I have seen a staging of the Ring which could only be described as minimalist-abstract in its approach; the power of the music was able to assert itself). Not only do I find the apotheosis-vision in Swan Lake to be very sentimental, but the Soviet era ending where a fight with Rothbart might result in a severe case of dislocated wing for R (as in the Kirov production) strikes me as being unbelievably corny. Directors should trust Tchaikovsky and not try for over-statement. Surely the point is that it is a tragedy, which results in the death of the two lovers who are caught up in something they cannot control; this is especially true for Odette. (Siegfried needs a bit of analysis, given his background – his pensive solo at the end of Act I tells us that there is trouble ahead). The parallels with Romeo and Juliet are there, aren’t they? Imagine a contrived happy ending for that story…….
[ 08-29-2001: Message edited by: Richard Jones ]
Posted 29 August 2001 - 05:08 PM
One point that I feel I have to refute is the story that the original 1877 production contained music by other composers. This is a long-standing belief bolstered by Russian archival items which have become supplemented over the last thirty years by the discovery of the "other side of the conversation". Tchaikovsky insisted that all the music for the new ballet be his, and even composed new bits to replace the interpolations. What happened to the score after he wasn't around to hear, has not come to light yet, if any such evidences exist.
For an uproarious version of a happy ending for Romeo and Juliet, see the Royal Shakespeare Company's acting edition of Nicholas Nickleby!
Posted 29 August 2001 - 07:07 PM
While I don't like the Drigo orchestrations, at least we know that he took the job very seriously. In his memoirs he stated that he was given the very ungrateful task of rearranging and reorchestrating parts of SWAN LAKE and tried his best to emulate the great composer, Tchaikovsky. Nevertheless, the 'salon' quality of his own orchestrations is very apparent, particularly in the interpolated variation for Odile in Act III.
I also agree that the Dance of the Little Swans in Act IV has just the right melancholy flavor, much more so than the interpolated Valse Bluette.
Re: Siegfried - it should be noted that he did not have a variation in Act I in the 1895 staging. In 1877, he appears to have danced the pas de deux that in 1895 would become the Black Swan pas de deux in Act III. So, all Siegfried solos in Act I of any 20th-century productions are further interpolations themselves and not part of Tchaikovsky's original conception.
Posted 30 August 2001 - 08:40 AM
Posted 30 August 2001 - 09:05 AM
Posted 30 August 2001 - 10:26 AM
Posted 30 August 2001 - 08:43 PM
Posted 22 September 2001 - 12:05 AM
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