Alexandra

Fairies, Fairies and More Fairies

34 posts in this topic

Fairy variations -- and especially, fairy names -- over the years have changed. Some productions even change the numbers of the fairies (I have a vague memory of Nureyev making one fairy a "doubles" variation.)

What have you seen? What do you like?

I once read a Russian commentary that each fairy has a movement motif that later occurs in Aurora's wedding solo (the idea being, of course, that this is the way to show that she is the sum of their gifts.)

What role do the fairies play in the ballet?

And, last by not least, who are the super fairies of your viewing days smile.gif ?

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I recall the ABT production in which I saw Cynthia Gregory that all the fairies made an appearance, dancing in the ensemble pieces and the individual variations. This is the only time I've seen the jewel fairies (gold, silver, sapphire and diamond) appear as a pas de quatre for 4 ballerinas and not with a male dancer thrown in which I think is a definite no-no.

I love the music Tchaikovsky wrote for the fairies, especially the Lilac Fairy's theme (sheer heaven!) and the scintillating triangle and strings variation he wrote for the Diamond fairy.

Marguerite Porter of the Royal Ballet is the most beautiful Lilac Fairy I've seen.

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The Ashton/Wright production of the late '60s had the Lilac Fairy, accompanied by other fairy "friends", return to "bless" the wedding. I can't remember all the names now - except there was one called "the Rainbow Fairy." It was originally danced by Georgina Parkinson. It makes sense for the fairies to return - after all, they were there to bless the baby Aurora, and the Lilac Fairy saved the day. It's always too bad when she doesn't get to do more than bouree or walk around and wave her arms a bit at the end.

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felursus, I'm writing this without checking, but I think that the fairies returned in the original apotheosis -- wasn't it that Apollo, surrounded by the fairies, appeared on a cloud? (That image, by the way, is an interesting one -- not very pure, to have late 19th century fairies messing around with one of the great classical gods.)

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Actually, I think it was more Louis XIV, the compleat Absolute Monarch, in the guise of Le Roi Soliel, and all to the tune of something most people think is Russian, but it's actually French. The melody of the apotheosis is "Vive Henri IV", a French song of the early Renaissance. And a further yes to the fairies forming a tableau about the image of Apollo.

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if mem. serves, the fairy variation ashton created for g.parkinson, esp. for the prod. that came to be nicknamed the 'plantagenet BEAUTY' because of the medieval decor by j.t.oman, was danced to the 5/4 'sapphire' variation written for the 'jewel fairies' quartet, and was called the 'fairy of joy' (though parkinson did, if mem. still serves, wear a rainbow emblem on her costume), later ashton's solo choreography was moved and inserted into the 'florestan pas de trois' as ashton had renamed the jewel fairy divertissement in act 3. the appearance of apollo in the apotheosis of an english BEAUTY was last done, in an british prod. in the late 30s(?), there's a picture (by gordon anthony(?)), which alastair macaulay drew many people's attention to in the wake of the kirov's re-instating apollo and his quadriga in the final tableau.

[ November 10, 2001: Message edited by: rg ]

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So interesting, RG. Too bad the Kirov set was so dreadful, it really defied those connections one makes among productions, at least it did with me. I was so busy being vexed....Must go see if anywhere in this topic we discuss the Bristish production that changes centuries between acts. When I was little, seeing the Royal here in NYC, I would worry about what happened when people woke up in the castle after 100 years. What if you had gone to the party and your dog stayed home? Etc. I used to pretend that the Lilac Fairy put the whole surrounding area to sleep, too....I used to love her so.

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Never fear, Nanatchka, the Perrault makes it clear, the entire kingdom falls under the Lilac Fairy's spell, so even the pets are safe! Desiré/Florimund would be better having Steve Irwin with him on the way into the castle with the amount of understory he's got to break through!

I remember seeing the Kirov Beauty for the first time in 1964, and being disappointed in the sketchiness of the sets that they used.

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Very confusing, these fairy names. I grew up with the Sadlers Wells Crystal Fountain, Enchanted Garden, Woodland Glades, Song Birds and Golden Vine. I knew the French names Candide, Coulante, Miettes qui Tombent, Canarie and Violente because they were the names used on my records. Then Purity, Vitality, Generosity, Eloquence and Passion arrived, and I think the Kirov brought Sincerity into it as well. It would be a lot simpler if we used the French names - which are, after all, the ones Petipa used. Thank heavens the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse remain unchanged.

I used to be puzzled by the Breadcrumbs (Miettes) until I read somewhere that it was a Russian custom to sprinkle breadcrumbs in a cradle as a symbol of fertilty and plenty. The Lilac Fairy symbolises Wisdom, again in accord with a Russian tradition that a baby placed under a lilac bush would acquire that quality. I have Robert Grescovic to thank for those explanations.

My memorable fairies are Ann Jenner's Songbirds, Antoinette Sibley's Golden Vine, Sarah Wildor's Breadcrumbs and the Lilac Fairies of (in the past)Deanne Bergsma and, in the Kirov's reconstruction, Daria Pavlenko, who positively radiated benevolence and wisdom.

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So many fairies, so little time! But on my unforgettable list is Bergsma as the Lilac Fairy, followed by Kyra Nichols. I also love the memory of Yan Chen in the Songbird fairy, in the current ABT production. Her upper body was just so calm and flowing, while her feet did all the work (or so it seemed). Usually that variation is just so skittery and cute with all that hand flapping, but she was elegant and effortless. It was a real revelation to see it done that way. It isn't Petipa, but Ashton's variation for Georgina Parkinson as the 7th fairy in the pre-raphealite verion was lovely, all melting arms and quick jumps. Parkinson was just beautiful in it.

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Thanks for reminding me of Ann Jenner's Songbird Fairy - she was truly remarkable in the role. Also, Monica Mason as the Golden Vine fairy - those pas de chats on pointe!!!!

The words to "Vive Henri Quatre" may be found quoted in Tolstoy's "War and Peace". I can't remember most of it - the second line, however, is "Vive ce roi vaillant". Henri IV was the king who converted to Catholicism to take the crown of France. ("Paris is worth a mass" is the quote attributed to him.)

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First of all, thank you so much for your kindness, Alexandra !

All the postings here made me very happy, because

they reminded me of a lof of beautiful fairies !

My favourite fairy is Songbird Fairy. And Lesley Collier defines the role for me. I hadn't realise Petipa's intention before I came across her dancing. Unfortunately I haven't got any opportunity to see her real dancing of Songbird Fairy on stage.

I know Darcey Bussel is one of the wonderful Princess Auroras, however she made really an excellent Lilac Fairy when she was very young.

I also do love the second female variation of "Florestan and his sisters". In the "old" production of Royal Ballet, it was not a role for a fairy. However in the "new" production of Royal Ballet, it is danced by Sapphire Fairy.

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In the score, the fairies' names are:

1. Candite (Honesy, candid)

2. Coulante. Fleur de Farine (Running. Flower of the Flour)

3. Miettes qui Tombent (Crumbs which fall)

4. Canari qui Chante (Canary which sings)

5. Violente (Violent)

6. La Fee des Lilas (The Lilac Fairy)

The only one that confuses me is the Coulantes fairy. Flower of the Flour? I read somewhere what the Miettes fairy is but I can't quite remember. Anyway, those names are usually shortened in the programmes to:

1. Candite

2. Coulante

3. Miettes

4. Canari

5. Violente

6. Lilas

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Flour is rice flour. Face powder. Beauty.

Crumbs means health (good appetite). It was a Russian custom to sprinkle bread crumbs over the new baby. Kinda itchy, if you ask me.

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And today the crumbs are considered a choking hazard!

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Flour is rice flour.  Face powder.  Beauty.

Crumbs means health (good appetite).  It was a Russian custom to sprinkle bread crumbs over the new baby.  Kinda itchy, if you ask me.

Really? Is that what it means. I see... I asked my French teacher and she said it litterally means "Flower of the Flour" and doesn't make sense. She's an idiot lol. Neways, thanks of the info.

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maybe it's like creme de la creme --

in effect, cake flour, the softest....

the cool thing about the fairies is the variety in hteir music and their dances -- each one so particular, so vivid, and so different....

i think of their toe-hops as Petipa's way of showing the latet in pointe work, but with a very poetic aim -- he makes them tiny like Shakespeare's fairies (who used walnut shells for their carriages), like dragonflies and other creatures that can run around on the surface of water.

Ah, the bread-crumb fairy is my girl.... there was a great thread about this several years back, and I dug out my Wiley and quoted Petipa's detailed and poetic instructions to Tchaikovsky, how he wanted to hear the sound of hte bread-crumbs falling in the music. I can't find it exactly again, but Petipa loved what Tchaikovsky provided, the little plucked-string sounds making a delicate melody.....

It was VERY beautifully danced in SanFrancisco (where Helgi Tomasson renamed her the Fairy of Tenderness and set it at a quite slow andante) by Shannon Lilly, who did hte toe hops with a silky, soft, exquisite quality and exquisite line in he upper body....

there's some controversy about this variation, Sergeyev's version does not have a quick temps de fleches at the end of the phrase (which most Russians now use, and TOmasson used in his). That was certainly the Royal Ballet's version, until Makarova's staging -- I wonder if she changed that(???) Jane, Mel, Glebb, do you know?

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Flour is rice flour.  Face powder.  Beauty.

Really? Is that what it means. I see... I asked my French teacher and she said it litterally means "Flower of the Flour" and doesn't make sense. She's an idiot lol. Neways, thanks of the info.

"Fleur de farine" does indeed literally mean "flower of the flour", and it means a very white flour. It's a somewhat archaic term (it can be found in some translations of the Bible for example) so it's not very surprising that your teacher didn't understand it, especially as she's not supposed to be a ballet expert.

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In the score, the fairies' names are:

1. Candite (Honesy, candid)

2. Coulante. Fleur de Farine (Running. Flower of the Flour)

3. Miettes qui Tombent (Crumbs which fall)

4. Canari qui Chante (Canary which sings)

5. Violente (Violent)

6. La Fee des Lilas (The Lilac Fairy)

The only one that confuses me is the Coulantes fairy. Flower of the Flour? I read somewhere what the Miettes fairy is but I can't quite remember. Anyway, those names are usually shortened in the programmes to:

1. Candite

2. Coulante

3. Miettes

4. Canari

5. Violente

6. Lilas

I'm a bit confused with Violente's variation.If the fairies are wishing the different virtues for Aurora, why wish her this" virtue"( or does Violente have a different meaning)It is my favorite one though.Anyone?Thanks

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Coulante is not only "flour", it's "face powder". This fairy confers beautiful skin. Miettes is a part of good fortune (and good appetite!), as a Russian tradition was to sprinkle the baby with breadcrumbs after the baptism. (a symbol for the Holy Sacrament) Violente is for "energy". And her variation is certainly energetic!

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Violente is for "energy". And her variation is certainly energetic!

I've heard (BUT I'M NOT SURE) that Violente also is authority or power (energy) since her pointing of the fingers should symbolize electricity. ´

Also the variation (the music) of the second fairy in the florestan pas de deux.

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Are the fairies from the pas de quatre in act 3 all originaly female? In the 96 Royal version, the gold fairy is a male and I think I've read on this site that that is a more recent phenomenon. The Gold fairy music is not used on that particular DVD but it's lovely and for some reason it just sounds like a male variation.

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We've been discussing the fairies in the Prologue.

Act III contains either a pas de trois ("Florestan and His sisters") or a Jewels quartet (Diamond, Sapphire, Silver and Gold). Sometimes it's a Jewels trio. None of these has fairies.

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act 3's jewel quartet was originally conceived as a foursome of additional fairies: the fairy of gold, of silver, of sapphires and of diamonds. (see p. 372 of wiley's A CENTURY OF RUSSIAN BALLET, where he provides his translation of the 1890 libretto.) i think there are sketches and even photos of the original 'jewel' foursome all fitted with fairy wings.

arlene croce once complained about the libretto/plan, suggesting that by act 3 audiences didn't need any more fairies.

several stagers have of late given the 'gold' variation to a male dancer - macmillan for ABT and martins for NYCB, as we know the music was given in the final version of the 1890 staging by petipa, to aurora in lieu of the 'vision' solo tchaikovsky composed for act 2, which for some reason he didn't think apt and thus omitted.

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Violente is for "energy". And her variation is certainly energetic!

I've heard (BUT I'M NOT SURE) that Violente also is authority or power (energy) since her pointing of the fingers should symbolize electricity. ´

Also the variation (the music) of the second fairy in the florestan pas de deux.

Sorry if this has already been mentioned (I'm tired): I have an idea that the pointing may also symbolise curiosity... :)

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