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Titania and Oberon: Just Another Royal Couple?

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#1 Nanatchka


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Posted 27 June 2002 - 09:52 AM

On another thread, Leigh Witchel suggested that in Balanchne's Dream Oberon and Titania are figureheads( rather than lovers)-- royal consorts with "separate bedrooms," an impression he finds enhanced by the presence of the Cavalier. I I went to Balanchine's Dream twice this week, and took this into consideration, though not wthout my own bias, since I like to think they're in love. Please post what you think about them! Here's my take:

Peter Boal, in his eloquent reaction to the pair of young happy lovers--this is the spot where he sees how happy they are, and then looks ruefully at the magical "wild thyme"--ie that red flower--he is holding.,clearly indicating his own sorrow at the rift in his relationship with Titania. (I supose you could argue that he is sad they were never in love in the first place, but that seems a stretch). This rift is happily mended at the end of the first act, as all are the rifts among the mortals, thus restoring order in both kingdoms, earth and fairy. ( Note:Damian Woetzel is less invested in that moment with the flower and the lovers, but does nothing to make you think he doesn't love Titania. He's a less brooding, more easy-going Oberon.) Although Oberon and Titania do sleep in separate parts of the forest, they do leave at once point together. Exit, stage left, she on his arm. (In a grander time of bigger houses, people did have their own rooms. So restful, not to mention the closet space, and not at all to say they didn't visit one another. And perhaps spend the night.) Darci Kistler, being a lively Titania, seems like a mettlesome wife with a handsome young companion--the Cavalier--to go dancing with while her husband is otherwise occupied. She'll show him! In these performances, Kistler and Charles Askegard chose to make goo-goo eyes at each other while standing upstage on either side of Titania's rose bed, while Kyra Nichols and her cavalier looked at each other at different times--theirs was a much lower key deal. However, in either case, just looking at the architecture of the relationship--the King rules, the Queen dances with a handsome man in a silly costume--I couldn't help noticing that this was the relationship Balanchine had with his own wives and consorts--he ruled the Kingdom, and they danced (on his stage, mind you) with handsome young men, right in full view of the world. Thus you see mirrored real life in real art. Back to you, Leigh....

#2 Alexandra


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Posted 28 June 2002 - 07:08 PM

I think Leigh will be posting on this later, but I didn't want to let such a good question go begging :mad:

I've never thought of Balanchine's Oberon and Titania as lovers, certainly not as Hallmark Greeting Card type of lovers. It never occurred to me that they were, mostly, I think, because Balanchine gives Titania a cavalier as a partner.

I've also always thought of Balanchine's Midsummer as using choreography to show the mismatchings in the Shakespeare. Titania is tall, Oberon short; but in the second act, the pas de deux couple is reversed: she short and he tall. Titania has two cavaliers, of course, The Cavalier, and Bottom; both are imperfect relationships. (Leigh reminded me that the first Titania was Melissa Hayden who, while not a delicate sylph, was not tall. I'd only seen tall women dance the role -- first von Aroldingen, then Kistler and Calegari. Adams, who was winding down her career at that point -- often injured, often replaced -- would have been tall and stately.....

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 28 June 2002 - 07:29 PM

My answer actually grew into an essay - a long, fascinating conversation on the two ballets (Ashton's and Balanchine's) with Alexandra helped to form it. In any case it was long enough I thought it was best to put it in a separate thread.


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