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ronny

Mayerling and the Royal Ballet

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Why are the great resources and talents of the Royal Ballet Company being used for the continuing production of Mayerling? Does anyone know the logic behind it?

The music of Franz Liszt is wonderful, the costumes are fab, the choreography is great, but the story??? What are they thinking?:confused:

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They are thinking that a lot of people like this ballet. Ticket sales.

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I don't quite understand your point here. What exactly is the problem with the story?

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Thanks Juliet... I had no idea that it was so popular. I guess it is a bit of a surprise to me that people would want to sit through the anguish of prince Rudolf and the murder suicide and all that. I have a hard time connecting that to dance but if it sells tickets then it means that there is something there.

Actually I enjoy some sections of it, the first 15 minutes and the first part of the scene in Rudolf's mothers room. Some of Listz's music is really thrilling. Really, I'm quite impressed with the Royal Ballet, they certainly have all the skill and talent to produce anything they want. Very impressive.

Helena, I guess I am just a softy for the more beautiful and lofty kind of things that ballet can do. I am real partial to the fairy tales. But your comments here show me that maybe I need to be a little more tolerant of these other things. So thanks for your repy Helena.

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"I guess it is a bit of a surprise to me that people would want to sit through the anguish of prince Rudolf and the murder suicide and all that. I have a hard time connecting that to dance but if it sells tickets then it means that there is something there."

So you wouldn't sit through suicide and death in Giselle or Swan Lake either then ? Or La Bayadere ?

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Don't worry, ronny, I love the fairy tales, too, and I'm all for the beautiful and uplifting things in ballet. I was just curious to know what you disliked. I have always found Mayerling quite an interesting ballet, because I know a bit about Austrian history, and have been to the Mayerling hunting lodge outside Vienna. The people in the ballet are very real to me. (There are photographs of them at Mayerling, and china that they used.) That does make it a bit more frightening than Swan Lake or Giselle, though!

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Originally posted by Juliet

They are thinking that a lot of people like this ballet.  Ticket sales.

I think the ROH might be a bit scared actually - only 9 performances! No surprise it's hard to get tickets of any sorts.

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Sylvia, I'm just now listening to the CD and music of Delibes from the ballet called "Sylvia". Wouldn't it be great to see the Royal Ballet do a revival of Sylvia. I'll bet that they could do it better than anyone and make it work as never before. Maybe you can talk them into it... and surely they would give you some free tickets:D

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I can't recall, but I'm sure Alexandra or others can - isn't Ashton's Sylvia regrettably considered lost?

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Alas, it is so considered.:)

However, from a scholarly standpoint, even though most of the principals are now gone, a "reconstruction" of the choreography is theoretically possible, even probable, but that leaves aside any considerations of the attitude of the Ashton Estate and Trust toward such undertakings.

(AWK! Post #6001! Woohoo! I gotta get me a life!;) )

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I seem to recall David Leonard (of Dance Books) saying on aab or somewhere that there was enough of Sylvia captured to be able to stage it, if there was the will to do it. (Where he got this info, I'm not sure)

A pas de deux from Sylvia was featured in one of the Royal's Ashton mixed bills from the mid-90s, so some of it certainly survives.

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I think it's revivable. There was an Ashton panel here at the Kennedy Center the last time the Royal was here, and someone asked what more would be revived. The Heir said, regrettably, none. But David Vaughan and Clive Barnes, the other panelists, instantly -- and in unison -- said, "Oh, yes there are," and began to tick them off. "Sylvia" was one of them.

Like many companies, the Royal started filming and, later, making videos of ballets from the 1960s, at least, there's a good chance there's a film record -- don't know whether they've kept it (the famous story is that Antoinette Sibley's Aurora was filmed, but does not survive).

I'll have to be convinced about the capering goats :) but, of course, I'd love to see it!

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Are there any dancers around who might have a good recollection of Sylvia? Didn't Doreen Wells dance it with Christopher Gable in the sixties? ( If only Gable were still with us – he was a memorable Aminta, I understand.)

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Have to admit, I'm a but confused about the talk of the Ashton estate and trust!

I thought Delibes wrote music for a ballet called Sylvia... that was a long time ago... what would any estate have to do with that?? Are you talking about some attempt at a reconstruction of a ballet that was lost?? or what is this estate thing about?:confused:

And Mel, you have a life, you are a great teacher! You give life to everyone with your knowledge. I can't think of a greater profession than that. Congratulations on your 6001 !!

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Thanks, ronny.

The Delibes music is all free and clear, but the issue with trying to piece Ashton's version of the ballet together, choreographically, is less clear. Ashton's nephew, (The Heir) is a non-dancer, and has one point of view, as noted above, but the Trust, for which David Vaughan seems to be a fairly accurate barometer, seems to have quite another. So the issue is Ashton's version of Sylvia, and not an attempted version of a staging of choreography by Louis Merante.

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A version of "Sylvia" will be performed at the Paris Opera this season, but it is Neumeier's version, premiered in 1997 (great music indeed, but the choreography isn't very convincing for me...) Around 1979, the POB had danced a reconstruction by the late Lycette Darsonval(POB principal), which probably was quite close to Merante's versin, but it wasn't danced again after that...

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Sad to say, there is no Ashton trust to look after his ballets. Those who inherited individual ballets (or their heirs, since some of them have now died) either stage the ballets themselves or commission a balletmaster who they feel they can trust. As to the remainder, left to Ashton's nephew, he too would rely on someone staging them.

As far as Ashton's Sylvia is concerned, at least part of it is notated. Anyone who has Keith Money's book, The Art of the Royal Ballet, can find a picture on p 56 of notator Faith Worth with the manuscript in her hand, teaching one of Sylvia's variations to Melissa Hayden. There are still people around who danced the compete ballet and Christopher Carr, one of the RB balletmasters, stated when he retired a short time ago, that he was convinced the ballet could be restaged.

I have also seen a revival of Sylvia at the Paris Opera which was supposed to be based on the Albert Aveline production, and certainly, quite a bit of it looked convincing.

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However, Ashton's nephew, since so many of the beneficiaries of his uncle's will have died, and the rights reverted to him under the terms of the will, has expressed the need for a Trust, to which he felt David Vaughan was a probable candidate. How far he actually got about putting his expression into action, I have not heard since the days he first expressed misgivings about being so responsible for such a great amount of British cultural patrimony! If he hasn't acted yet, then I guess it's just another paving stone on the road to Hell.:)

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Well, Alymer's point, that there is no Trust at present, is the crucial one. Plainly, the nephew is no Lady MacMillan. :)

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Originally posted by Alymer

I have also seen a revival of Sylvia at the Paris Opera which was supposed to be based on the Albert Aveline production, and certainly, quite a bit of it looked convincing.

That must have been Darsonval's reconstruction? I wish I could have seen it, I've only seen photographs of Denard, Pontois and a few others in it. But it seems unlikely to be staged again now, only Claude Bessy seems interested in staging some old works of the repertory and it probably is a too big ballet for the school...

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Originally posted by dirac

Alymer's point, that there is no Trust at present, is the crucial one.  Plainly, the nephew is no Lady MacMillan.  :)

I quite agree, and my point was that since there is no Trust, even though principals in the matter have stated that it's a good idea, just provides another object lesson for everyone about following through on right thinking!:)

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Now, here is the part I don't get:confused:

Why is there all this talk of Ashton and trusts and all that, when Ashton didn't write the music for Sylvia and Ashton didn't create the storyline for Sylvia...

So why can't some big company like the Royal Ballet company just pick out a talented choreographer (who has NEVER seen Ashton's choreography) and say... "here is the music for Sylvia and here is the story of Sylvia".

"Now, make something beautiful out of it!"

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Ronny, we're talking about two separate things here: Delibes's score for Sylvia and Ashton's choreography. Delibes's copyright expired a long time ago, which means that any orchestra or ballet company is free to use the music without charge or supervision by any of the composer's heirs. Ashton's choreography is considered the best of modern attempts to stage the ballet in its entirety, which is why people have been discussing it here. There's nothing to stop any company or choreographer from making a new version.

I don't know whether ballet librettists have a property right in their work. Interesting question.

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Ronny, they could if they wished very very hard. . . (it really does sound a bit like you're asking us to resurrect Tinkerbelle. ;) )

Here are things to think about. Potential costs of an entirely new production of a three-act ballet are now in the seven-figure range. New productions are a crap-shoot. For certain companies, a failure on that scale could push it into bankruptcy. There is no copyright protection on the music for Sylvia, but Frederick Ashton has already made the ballet, and considering he's one of the major choreographers of the twentieth century, any effort to preserve his work should be praised to the skies. And out of curiosity, who is this talented choreographer you'd like us to ring up? It's not that I'm exactly seeing someone with that sort of facility for lyricism and narrative out there and currently working.

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I'm sure that for seven figures Peter Martins would rise to the occasion.

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