Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Act IV problems


  • Please log in to reply
33 replies to this topic

#16 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,738 posts

Posted 28 September 2001 - 05:17 PM

I wonder if Tchaikovsky was still getting his land legs with "Swan Lake," especially, as Richard points out (great post!) with no Petipa to guide him. I'm no musical expert, but it does seem to me that "Sleeping Beauty" and "Nutcracker" have a transparency and structure that "Swan Lake" for whatever reason -- interpolations or fussing with this part and that part -- doesn't have for me. When I listen to the latter two, it's as if the music is almost telling me what to see and how the action is unfolding. There are parts of the full-length "Swan Lake" where I'm emotionally moved and yet still not clear on what's supposed to be happening, and quite a few of those parts are in Act IV. (But "Swan Lake" is still my favorite. Go figure.)

I remember reading that Kenneth MacMillan was unhappy with the libretto of "The Prince of the Pagodas," but there was only so much tweaking he could do, because the tight construction of Britten's score would not permit it. "Swan Lake," on the other hand, perhaps offers too many allurements to those inclined to wholesale revision.

#17 Richard Jones

Richard Jones

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 43 posts

Posted 01 October 2001 - 05:08 PM

I think that what appeals to us all in the music for Swan Lake is its colour; a strong dose of Russian passion! I agree that Sleeping Beauty has a transparency of structure (and fine scoring, inevitably), but the combination of the dark fatalism of some of the music of Swan Lake with the vulnerability of Odette is irresistable!

Prince of the Pagodas was originally a Cranko choreography. I think Cranko may have had strong control over the project; I seem to remember reading something about this.

I have re-discovered a programme I have of Swan Lake as performed in Prague in the 1994/5 season, using the 1982 production by Jiri Nemecek in collaboration with Olga Skalova. I haven’t seen the production; the programme was given to me by my son who was visiting Prague with fellow art college students at the time.

For the fourth act, the following summary is given (just love the translation!):

“In the middle of the night the swans are waiting for Odetta. She is coming with her heart broken. The Prince has not kept the oath. The Red-beard brings the wild storm. He is celebrating his victory but the Prince is coming back. He is begging Odetta and her mates to forgive him. He fights with the Red-beard for the last time. The love gives him superhuman strength and the Prince wins. However Odetta cannot be saved. Both lovers have to die because of love-betrayal. Prince’s victory over the Red-beard brings redemption to others. The swans have been transformed into the girls – they will live on and remember for ever the love of Prince and Odetta”.

It’s interesting to compare this with the Soviet version, because in 1982 Prague would still have been strongly under Soviet control. The programme states that Nemecek, who was trying to preserve the legacy of Petipa and Ivanov, staged the ballet in 1963 in collaboration with Ruzena Mazalova. This followed productions in Prague by Soviet artists.

#18 Joseph

Joseph

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 265 posts

Posted 18 June 2005 - 10:07 AM

Why in some Act IV versions of Swan Lake there are both black swans and white swans? I always was confused by this, especially as a child...

#19 Marga

Marga

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,022 posts

Posted 18 June 2005 - 02:46 PM

Not finding any information on the subject elsewhere (I'll bet Major Mel has something!) I'll give you my own thoughts:

1) after the confusion of Act III, the poor prince really can't tell black from white anymore, making it all the harder to find his own beloved swan queen among all the Odette/Odile lookalikes and heightening his state of angst as he tries to sort out good from evil, which thrills the audience with the .....

2) exciting visual choreography: black swans counterbalanced by white, traveling in opposite directions, encircling and prohibiting access to Odette, which initiates the .....

3) psychological effect, particularly as they auger the coming (usually) tragic climax, which promotes the idea that .....

4) everything in life is, after all, simply black and white -- and that is something that even a child can understand! :)

#20 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,779 posts

Posted 18 June 2005 - 03:08 PM

i always thought they were cygnets, aren't cygnets darker than their parents?

#21 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 18 June 2005 - 04:24 PM

Yes, they're supposed to be cygnets.

#22 Marga

Marga

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,022 posts

Posted 18 June 2005 - 06:25 PM

Yes, they are cygnets (my daughter has danced the role several times, being of the shorter persuasion), although in Act II the same cygnets are never black, which is confusing, too.

Looking for the deeper meaning is what I do to reconcile the fairy tale with real life, as fairy stories often have a moral to them. Choreographers who revamp traditional ballets do the same, sometimes mercilessly toying with the elements of the original. Has anyone seen what James Kudelka did to Swan Lake?
:) :wacko:

#23 Joseph

Joseph

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 265 posts

Posted 19 June 2005 - 08:21 AM

Thanks everyone!

I know in one upcoming version of Swan Lake, due to premier next year, the "stager" has been talking about making the four little swans black as well (in he second act.) So, the cygnets theory would make sense, though all the points listed do...

Thanks again!
:)

#24 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 19 June 2005 - 08:24 AM

I have an odd feeling that Ivanov/Petipa may have cut the "Pas des Petits Cygnes" in Act IV because they ran out of rehearsal time! So here they were, stuck with these little swans and nothing else to explain their presence. I did see one production that had the Act II little swans in black, and they were always in the first quadrille of the corps. I've seen just about everything happen to this poor old ballet, which seems to be wrenched about partly because, "Everybody knows the original." Well, it's been so long since anybody did a standard version, that now there is a large audience that DOESN'T know what the original looks like. One of the most revolutionary things a company could do right now is produce a plain-vanilla Swan Lake, with no additions or corrections.

#25 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,458 posts

Posted 19 June 2005 - 08:33 AM

the following sentence preceeds wiley's discussion of odette's return to the final lakeside scene in the 1895 production of the petipa/ivanov SWAN LAKE, it comes at the end of a paragraph about the choreographic figures in the last act's waltz:
'The rest of the waltz proceeds as sequence of episodes alternating the corps with soloists; the black swans enrich the complexity of Ivanov's figures to excellent effect (one wonders if the rose-colored swan maidens, contemplated by Petipa, would in fact have been any improvement).)'
real cygnets, i believe, are a kind of mousy brown hue, thus perhaps this was the color that the intended 'rose' hue was meant to suggest. i suppose we'll never quite know...

#26 carbro

carbro

    Late Board Registrar

  • Rest in Peace
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,361 posts

Posted 19 June 2005 - 10:23 AM

Or you could take the approach Balanchine did in his posthumous staging of Act II+ -- by making the whole flock black! I really like the visual effect of that production, but I don't for a moment think it's a genuine SL.

#27 nysusan

nysusan

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 998 posts

Posted 20 June 2005 - 05:11 AM

I've seen just about everything happen to this poor old ballet, which seems to be wrenched about partly because, "Everybody knows the original."  Well, it's been so long since anybody did a standard version, that now there is a large audience that DOESN'T know what the original looks like.  One of the most revolutionary things a company could do right now is produce a plain-vanilla Swan Lake, with no additions or corrections.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Amen. I'm so tired of everyone putting their own spin on Swan Lake - it really stands on its own. I would love to see a plain simple SL with the 4th act intact and no modern interpolations or "streamling" of the Petipa/Ivanov choreopgraphy. I think the ABT Blair staging is probably the closest to the original I've ever seen. Of course, I've never seen the original so I don't know for sure. I love the Kirov's version, though I know the Jester is an addition and of course, the ending is wrong. Reading these archives has made me realize that I don't even know the music as well as I thought I did. I always thought the music of the apotheosis justified the "united in heaven" ending, rather than a straight tragedy. Now it seams that music was an interpolation, too. I would love to see (and hear) a reconstruction like the Kirov's reconstruction of Bayadere.

#28 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,458 posts

Posted 20 June 2005 - 08:41 AM

w/ regard to the use of black for the corps de ballet in balanchine's SWAN LAKE, i think it's important to note that this came to into rep AFTER balanchine died. kirstein claimed balanchine had bought all this black fabric, or something like that, to defend the choice of this look for the alain vaes designs. balanchine's own schemes for the staging - both in the beaton and in ter-arutunian productions - presented a white-dressed corps de ballet and odette.
i for one have never swallowed the undocumented (so far as i am aware) assertion that balanchine wanted this scheme devised under kirstein's watch.
i know balanchine's SWAN LAKE fantasy in I WAS AN ADVENTURESS, w/ vera zorina, shows that swan queen in black but she's also wearing black tights and toeshoes, something that does not pertain in the current NYCB 'black-scheme' staging.
in addition to the new setting and new costumes this post-balanchine re-do involves a corps de ballet of increased numbers, a detail i find unconvincing to the choreography as set by balanchine for a smaller ensemble.

#29 Anthony_NYC

Anthony_NYC

    Bronze Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 290 posts

Posted 20 June 2005 - 11:54 AM

Has anyone seen what James Kudelka did to Swan Lake?
:dry:  :wink:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Is that the one where at the end Odette is pecked to death by the other swans? (I'm not kidding, but I've only heard about it, never seen it.)

#30 Hans

Hans

    Sapphire Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,104 posts

Posted 23 June 2005 - 12:15 PM

I think part of the problem with Act IV is that the powerful music is meant to accompany a huge flood, which most companies can't afford, and to which a lot of flapping and running about in an anguished manner can't really compare.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):