Alexandra

Carabosse

25 posts in this topic

Should this role be danced by a man or a woman? Or does it matter?

I'm adding this -- forgot it the first time: should Carabosse be on pointe or off? Is it a mime role, or a dancing role?

[ November 08, 2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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i don't have a preference. however the best carabosse that i've ever seen, live or on film, was monica mason at the royal ballet!

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I thought Mason was wonderful as well -- both on film and on stage. One of the few performances that's really captured by video, I think.

I amended the original question, adding two more issues wiht Carabosse -- didn't want you to think you were seeing things, Mme. Hermine. smile.gif

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It's a mime role, and not on pointe, but I've seen it done effectively by either sex. When done by women, I prefer the glamorous, self-centered approach (NYCB and POB's are both like that) while men en travesti tend to do crones (but always self-centered, that is Carabosse's character! <miming> "You forgot ME!")

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I kind of like the idea of splitting the difference, where a male dancer en travesti can really make an UGLY Carabosse, and then, thanks to the healing power of forgiveness, she gets smartened up and gorgeous (switch to the female dancer) for the wedding, to which she is invited, complete with rats and amphibians as attendants, but nice white rats this time, and pretty green frogs instead of toads, all in beautiful livery.

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Did anyone see Merill Ashley's Carabosse at NYCB?

I heard she was very good.

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I think a great Carabosse can be done by either a man or a woman, but it is definitely a mime role. There has to be a huge contrast between Lilac and Carabosse. But it can't be campy, the way ABT currently does it, like a drag Queen Elizabeth I. There is a wonderful description of Cecchetti's version, in Benois' memoires, I think, that sounds absolutely chillling. And yes, I thought Merrill Ashley was a very good Carabosse--I just wish the Martins' version had let her do the complete mime scene.

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I don’t have a preference for a male or female Carabosse and have seen some remarkable ones over the years. Apart from those already mentioned I would like to pay tribute to Alexander Grant and Lynn Seymour in various RB versions and Natalya Dudinskaya in the Kirov film from the 60’s.

Dancers such as Monica Mason and Anthony Dowell had of course danced Aurora and Florimund earlier in their careers and it would be interesting to know how their experiences in the other roles coloured their concept of Carabosse.

The dancer I would most liked to have seen in the role would have been Robert Helpmann. Did he ever dance it? I used to love him as the dominant ugly sister in Cinderella and I can just imagine the kind of performance he would have given. I know she isn’t a dancer, but after seeing her study in pure evil in the film “Dangerous Liaisons” I think Glenn Close would be a natural for the role too.

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Originally posted by Mashinka:

but after seeing her study in pure evil in the film “Dangerous Liaisons” I think Glenn Close would be a natural for the role too.


Not to mention her study of pure evil in 101 Dalmations! smile.gif Seriously I agree with what you said about Glenn Close 100%.

I am in such awe of Dowell's Carabosse in the recent RB version. Admittedly his is the only one I've seen but he made such a tremendous impact on me and virtually stole the show from Aurora.

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I thought Muriel Maffre was a wonderful Carabosse at San Francisco Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. She is a principal dancer with the company, and I thought it was unusual since there are resident character dancers. Parrish Maynard (a principal) was also cast as Carabosse, but not on the night I was in attendance. It's interesting SFB cast both men and women for the role.

What I liked tremendously about Muriel's Carabosse was her capability to show indignance, anger, but also a deeply wounded pride when her character is not invited to the festivities. She really shows she is hurt, yet holds her own. I found it very touching, which is something new for me in watching a Carabosse.

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I saw both Maffre and Maynard do Carabosse and both were excellent. Maffre's was a very sexy Carabosse, which was an interesting wrinkle. Maynard's was classic, with a lot of power. The interesting thing was seeing Maffre do Lilac opposite Maynard's Carabosse after seeing her in the role the day before. I imagined all sorts of crazy insights. It was fun.

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My all-time favorite was Alexander Grant - he was all wounded ego and spitting anger. I loved the monkey attendants in the Messel production, too. I really don't care if the role is done by a man or a woman - as long as it isn't campy. Of the women whom I have seen in the role I liked Monica Mason the best - although Seymour also made a good job of it.

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Robert Helpmann certainly did do Carabosse - in the famous RB Messel production in the 1940s he used to double it with Prince Florimund.

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I love the scenes involving Carabosse (I've said this on some other post as well.)The music is so exciting and fits her character so well! I strongly feel that the scenes involving her really need to be executed with great artistic skill and acting capabilities. If I go to see (or see on a video) Sleeping Beauty, I really want Carabosse to scare me and send chills up my spine. It is easy in some versions to get bored with her (or him.)

For instance, the Kirov version (DVD with Lezhina.) I think that Carabosse is boring and that there is not enough acting. He/She is not scary enough. I guess in my personal opinion, I would rather a woman than a man to play this part. I like how in the Dutch National Ballet's production (DVD with Sylve,) Carabosse is more of an "Evil Queen" like figure - meaning, pretty and a sort of mirroring image to the lilac fair, only evil. (Even in the Disney cartoon, it looks like she has some makeup on) Ha Ha

The scenes that she is involved in - I say the more special effects the better. Thunder, Lightning, Wind, Smoke, Green Lights, etc etc etc. It should, in a way be a Halloween like scene. (Again, these are all my opnions, maybe I am nuts)

A lot of times, in productions, and actually I have yet to see...Carabosse's death in Act II is not really understood (does she die?) I think there should be more of a dual scene between her and the prince rather than him just being able to slip by her and kiss the princess. I think there should be a well choreographed fight scene in which she uses some magic or something to try to stop him. Maybe something like in "The Phantom of the Opera," (the musical) Act II when the phantom uses pyrotechnics to try and harm Raoul.

Also, I know that Act III can be technically called "Aurora's Wedding," but I wish there was some way that the story could actually be continued and not just be all over and spend a whole act on the wedding. If and when I produce a full lenth SB, hopefully someday :-), I am going to find a way to keep the story line going and yes, like Mel suggested, invite Carabosse, or even have her storm in at the end, to try one last time to ruin Aurora's life because of her bitterness about the invitation. I don't know, something though...Without totally changing the beauty of the third act divertisments, etc etc.

As far as pointe / no pointe, I guess it depends. Pointe is good, but the female has to obviously be extremely technically talented and have superb acting skills. Even on pointe, the production can still use all the scary sets and props, along with lighting designs. Oh yeah that is another thing, I think she should have at least four attendants, these costumes need to be scary as well.

Ok, enough for now... I can't sleep and I saw this thread so I thought I would write a bit. Goodnight! :)

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Should this role be danced by a man or a woman?  Or does it matter?

I'm adding this -- forgot it the first time:  should Carabosse be on pointe or off?  Is it a mime role, or a dancing role?

[ November 08, 2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]</p>

The best Carabosse I have seen was Lynn Seymour of the Royal Ballet. Totally dramatic and wonderful. It is a mime role definitely

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There is no longer any hard and fast rule about Carabosse being done en travesti. It's just that the precedent was set at the first performance by Enrico Cecchetti doubling the role with the Bluebird. The original list of the polonaise/processional and the guests arriving at the wedding features an entree for the old lady, this time invited! At one time in the Messel production, she did appear in the final apotheosis, once as a threat who is driven off, and in another tinkering, as an Eumenid, who's been transformed into a genteel wedding guest, just with the invitation. The power of love smoothes everything over.

There is a small amount of dancing in the Prologue for her/him, full of character coupé turns and stamping, but sometimes, that's left out. Some productions of the prologue made it actually hazardous for Carabosse to enter in her carriage made from a wheelbarrow (a borrowing from the Russian witch Baba Yaga). The high-speed turns made with the vehicle could have tipped the old girl out, and sometimes, she exited standing up in the thing, shaking her fist at the assembly. Risky business.

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It's just that the precedent was set at the first performance by Enrico Cecchetti doubling the role with the Bluebird.

That surely explains Carabosse's absence from Act IV in the original staging!

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Actually, there is an entree for her and her rats in the procession, but I've never seen any evidence that this plan was carried out. I've always thought it was a lovely idea. Just substitute a glamourous senior character ballerina and behold the transforming power of love!

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I remember loving Susan Loher in Ben Stevenson's version for National Ballet of Washington.

Her face was exquisite and I loved her bat wings.

Right now I'm watching Anthony Dowell and he is brilliant.

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I found this video is fascinating....

The
is from a rehearsal with Monica Mason giving her ideas on the role of Carabosse to Kristen McNally.

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I found this video is fascinating....

The
is from a rehearsal with Monica Mason giving her ideas on the role of Carabosse to Kristen McNally.

Agreed. I very much like the way effective way she passes on the tradition. Thank you for posting the video. Of course this is interesting, as apart from playing the role herself, Monica Mason had witnessed brilliant performances by Alexander Grant and Stanley Holden.

I would however refer to earlier posts on this subject and my new take on such casting.

There is no longer any hard and fast rule about Carabosse being done en travesti. It's just that the precedent was set at the first performance by Enrico Cecchetti doubling the role with the Bluebird.

However I personally can never get my head around a female Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty no matter how well performed as for me it interferes with the

symbolism of the good fairies played by women. A contrast is required and Carabosse should so far removed from an ordinary or elevated female and their fairytale positive attributes. Psychologically having a man play in the context of this fairy tale version concretely distances Carabosse from Aurora, the good fairies, Aurora's friends etc.

I have seen three women play Carabosse in a most committed way(perhaps I admired Seraphina Landsdowne most) but they also me for robbed the traditional balance despite their individual excellent performances.

I remember this subject being addressed in "Who are your favorite character dancers, in which roles?" at the end of 1996. I then said my favourite characterisations of Carabosse were Alexander Grant, Anatole Gridin and Stanley Holden. Anthony Dowell's height took him out of the emploi for the role and he was in my opinion too camp.

The precedent for Carabosse being danced by a woman was set by Carlotta Brianza who at fifty years old having been invited to recreate her original performance of Aurora in Diaghilev's 1921 production of "The Sleeping Princess" chose to perform Carabosse and it was in its way a marketing gimmick no matter how brilliantly she played it.

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:) I can remnember being on tour in the provinces, and David (Flossie) Gordon, as Carabosse. The Rats came on with such a speed, pulling the chariot, which turned sidewayys onto two wheels, and toppled over, flinging the un suspecting performer out onto the stage.

Fortuinatly he was only a little bruised and battered. He was a real character and made the most of

the episode.. trying to create a laugh from the dancers and straff around him

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My first Carabosse was Alexander Grant so I'm used to the idea of a man's doing the role. Having said that, I admit that once

i got used to a female as in POB and Dutch Ballet Co's I could see her as a beautiful over-looked and outraged fairy. (although in the original story she was old and had been away "from circulation" so long that everyone forgot about her.)

Monica Mason really sent chills down my spine. Elizabeth McGorian's Carabosse was an excellent portrayal. Yuri Vetrov in the Bolshoi;'s old production reminds me of Bette Davis. But I prefer her- oops, him - to the new one .

I saw a very old kirov production in which the Prince does fight his way with a sword to the Castle.

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I liked Celia Franca in it, tho I didn't care for Nureyev's Sleeping Beauty.

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