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Farrell Fan

Mozartiaphonia (no intermission)

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Under Recent Performances, Manhattnik provides an excellent, insightful account of the January 8 NYCB performance.

This is somewhat extraneous, so I'm posting it separately. I was bothered by there being just a pause, no intermission, between Mozartiana and Polyphonia, to the detriment, in my opinion, of audience appreciation.

NYCB Tuesday night performances start at 7:30 this season. This seems the wave of the future -- both New York City Opera and the Philharmonic have gone to 7:30, and I have little doubt that soon all NYCB performances will also. No problem. But trimming intermissions from the usual two to one seems designed to please people who don't like ballet and would like to get out of the State Theater as soon as possible. Although short ballets like Monumentum Pro Gesualdo and Movements for Piano and Orchestra (and now Duo Concertant, thanks to the Suzanne Farrell Ballet)actually have their appeal enhanced when performed consecutively I think works like Mozartiana and Polyphonia shouldn't run into one another.

I'd be interested in hearing what others think.

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Thanks for the kind words, Farrel Fan.

I think it's been a long-stated goal of Peter Martins' to get people out of the theater as quickly as possible. Certainly he said as much in an interview explaining the benefits of his "two-act" Swan Lake. (And it did certainly make me want to get out of the theater as quickly as possible!).

A year or so ago NYCB frequently passed out and collected questionnaires from audience members. I imagine the new emphasis on shorter evenings has something to do with the replies. Although I don't mind the earlier curtain (some nights, anyway), I think great care needs to be taken in the replacement of intermissions with pauses. It works sometimes, but as Farrell Fan noted, it can also detract from some of the ballets presented. I have rather mixed feelings at this point.

I do hope that NYCB will tune the mix more than they're doing now.

I really hope they'll find ways to make people WANT to stay at the theater. I do see something inherently self-defeating with an approach that seems to tacitly admit that people really don't like being at the ballet and that the company should help them get the hell out as soon as possible.

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The POB performances start at 7:30 PM too (and even sometimes earlier for some very long operas). It sometimes is not very convienent to have dinner (before might be a bit too early and after a bit too late), but I think such an hour might have been chosen to enable the people who come from the suburbs to be able to catch a metro or suburb train to go home after the performance, even for long ballets... And that doesn't mean that they don't like ballet.

I agree that sometimes, pauses are necessary between two very different ballets to get into the proper atmosphere. On the other hand, I've sometimes been bothered by having two or three 20-minutes intermission in a program with relatively short works (like the recent mixed bill at the Paris Opera), it's a bit frustrating to be in the theater and to have the feeling to be spending more time in the halls and foyers than

watching the stage!

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I admit to not being the average ballet-goer; but I loved the pauses because for me they're social. I regard meeting friends on the promenade and getting to talk about the previous ballet as part of the evening.

That aside, I have felt like we don't get a chance to digest the ballets or be in the right frame of mind for the next one by the pauses. I was wondering how others felt as well. The contrast between Monumentum and Movements is deliberate, but seeing Monumentum, Movements, Duo Concertant and Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux in a rush blends them all into an indiscernable mass, a metamasterpiece. You can put four perfect diamonds on the same ring, but they might have more impact presented alone.

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I love the diamonds allusion....

That said, I am a fan of a pause between two shorter ballets..... Intermission after a 20+ minute ballet, followed by another 20+ minute ballet makes me nuts.

Maybe a five minute pause? (I didn't keep track, but thought that it was adequate.) Then a proper intermission for restroom breaks, working the lobby, buying next year's calendar, getting coffee, etc.....

Frequently I like to remain in my seat during intermission, thinking about the ballet I've just seen.....I don't necessarily object to getting home a little earlier, either, especially in the winter season. I don't think it is a mark of wanting to hie oneself out of the theatre.......

At the opera on Monday night, there was indeed an intermission--after an hour and 45 minutes.....(I was ready.)

I guess no matter what they try, they can't please us all....

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First, a medal of Good Board Citizenship to Farrell Fan for starting a new thread for a new topic instead of raising it on the original thread. Good going!!! smile.gif

It's a good point, too. I think this is the wave of the future. Cutting down on union time? Getting everyone home? I very much agree with Juliet that they can't please everybody, but there has been a change in the past few years and I sense a new trend. (Why should I expect that a new trend would be anything but bad?)

At last year's Balanchine celebration there was a pause between ballets where once there would have been an intermission. I can't remember which ones -- I believe it was "Mozartiana" and "Prodigal Son" but I'll be glad to stand corrected on that. I remember that one of the ballets had a complicated set, so there was a frantic air about the pause. You could hear large heavy objects being thrown around backstage. There was no atmosphere. It actually made people anxious -- it was the talk of the one intermission.

I have hopes that the concession people, sensing a loss in income, will rise up and stop this before we get used to it. I like early nights, too, but I don't want to go to a banquet and be served the second course while I'm still trying to eat the first. Hmm. Maybe they'll figure out a way to let us take home a doggy bag -- Juliet, this way everyone would be pleased. "Those of you who wish to see the ballet, please feel free to stay. Those of you who wish to go home, here is a video of last night's performance."

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Alexandra, could you explain what "union time" is?

Perhaps one solution would be to have some "long" and some "short" programs in the week, so that people can choose the hour which suits them better. The Maison de la Danse in Lyon does that, if I remember correctly (starting at 7:30 PM some days and at 8:30 PM some other days). Well, of course there will still be some unhappy people when they realize that the program they're interested is on a day with the wrong hour! smile.gif

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NYCB is doing just a few of these shorter performances, at least this season: Tuesday nights start at 7:30 and have only one intermission. I assumed that the reason, or at least one reason, was to cater to (and possibly increase) the suburban audience (or, as we snotty manhattanites would put it, the B&T crowd). People might be more willing to attend a performance if they get home at more reasonable hours.

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Estelle, re "union time" I meant the number of hours -- or perhaps miniutes -- that the stagehands work. One of the reasons for shortening the Petipa ballets is that the program must be over by 11:00 p.m. (when the curtain starts at 8:00) to avoid overtime. I was speculating that perhaps companies are trying to save money by cutting the amount of time the stagehands are on duty.

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In the UK, performances generally start at 7:30. Usually they are over by 10:30pm - at Covent Garden, the orchestra get overtime if the performance goes on beyond then. Sometimes the ROH has performances starting at 7pm on Saturdays - very early, and it can catch people out. I believe they did this as a result of feedback - to allow for those who needed to travel a fair way home. Even finishing at 10:30pm can mean a rush to catch the last train home for some people - you can always see a few people running for the exit at curtain down.

I always thought that one of the reasons that the Royal Ballet had difficulties at the box office in its homeless period was that the Hammersmith Apollo is far from ideal for some people from the travelling home viewpoint. Covent Garden is quite close to major rail stations, which Hammersmith is a 20 or 25 minute tube ride from - offputting if you really must not miss the 22:52.

This sounds rather boring and prosaic I know, but London's unreliable and deteriorating public transport system can deter people from going to theatre and ballet.

Intervals at Covent Garden thesedays seem far too long - 25 minutes, often dragged out longer. They seem dictated by the restaurants in there rather than by the need to move the scenery. One of the justifications of the rebuild was to make the backstage areas much more efficient, so sets can be changed quickly.....but programmes now are if anything, longer than before.

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Thanks for the information about "union time". I have no idea if the same applies in French theaters...

Originally posted by Lynette H:

This sounds rather boring and prosaic I know, but London's unreliable and deteriorating public transport system can deter people from going to theatre and ballet.


The Paris system is not too bad (when it's not on strike), but for the people who live in the suburbs and need to take the RER, sometimes the hours can be a problem too. And I remember, while in Marseille, doing a lot of calculations to see if I could get a train on time after some performances in Aix or Martigues, and finally giving up (I have no car)...

I also wonder if it has anything to do with the dining hours in each country. At what time to people usually have dinner in the US and in the UK? And do the people who attend performances usually have dinner before or after the performances? In France, people have dinner have dinner around 7:30 or 8 PM (most restaurants open at 7 PM, for example), so it can be a bit difficult to attend evening performances for the people who need to have dinner at a regular hours (for example people with diabetes).

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Hello, Lynette! Your "boring and prosaic" (and very astute) comment is quite important, I think. Public transport does have an effect. When I first began going to the ballet, the subway in D.C. stopped running at 11:00 p.m. I had friends who never saw the end of some of the longer ballets.

Estelle, I don't think Americans have any particular dinner hour any more. Some families may have a set tradition, but as a society, we don't eat by the clock. I remember reading that one of the reasons that EuroDisney had trouble (aside from trying to forbid wine) was that they were used to American dining habits -- we change our schedule to suit the occasion, so if the restaurants are all crowded at 1:00 we'll happily eat at noon or 2:00. But they found that French people all expected to be fed at 1:00 p.m., and to the Disney people, that was inefficient. (Why can't you people change to fit OUR schedule? Convenience of the customer be damned!)

Some people eat before curtain and some afterwards. Restaurants near theaters have pre- and post-theater menus.

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In Russia it is always a 7 pm (19:00) curtain for ballets & operas. I'm sure that has something to do with the short daylight hours during most of 'the season' in fall-winter-spring, when the sun begins to descend around 3 pm. Besides, the St Petes & Moscow Metros also shut down around midnight. There are several practical reasons for this.

I also suspect a purely-cultural reason: Those curtain calls can go on forever & ever & ever! Sort-of like a 'Nina Night' at ABT. The extra time is needed.

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Many thanks for all your very sensible comments. I have no quarrel with early curtains, provided NYCB will keep the 8 o'clock curtain on other nights. It shouldn't be a problem. Last month there were "Nutcracker performances in early afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, and evening. I don't object to shorter intermissions either, although NYCB's have never struck me as overly long. What does bother me is NO INTERMISSION between ballets that are by different composers, different choreographers, and totally different in mood. That's been happening this NYCB season, and it seems to me to be a disservice to the ballets involved and to the audience. Imagine, say, "Apollo," immediately followed by "Ash." That's a hypothetical example. So far.

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I'm glad we're talking about this because I've really felt rushed out of the theater, especially with no intermissions.

The 7:30 start time on Tuesday's is not that bad. But it does mean that some people have to leave work early to get to the theater, so it some what evens out. And if you're coming from Long Island (for an example), you've got to leave your office or home between 4-5, depending how far out you live. Personally, I go to the theater after waking up, so depending when I get to sleep in the morning, it's a little tough.

But the lack of intermissions is another thing. I agree that there's no time for reflection, which I think is needed between Momentum/Movements and Duo Concertant. A pause between the three seems to group them all together rather than m/m and then Duo. Just because they're all Stravinsky doesn't mean they should be grouped together.

And doesn't the lack of intermissions hurt the concessions (they re-opened the bars on some of the higher rings, so the intermissions might be shorter too)?

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After going through the running times of performances listed on NYCB's web site, it appears the idea is to get people out early -- during the week. For some reason, Soire doesn't need an intermission before and after during the week, but it does on Friday night/weekends.

[ January 15, 2002: Message edited by: Dale ]

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Hi Dale! Happy New Year. We've missed you smile.gif

I wonder if there's been a marketing survey asking about start and stop times? Perhaps weeknight people said, "Hey, I work and need to get home early!" I think the earlier Tuesday start time was to accommodate people who'd asked for it. (The idea of "I'll subscribe to anything as long as it starts at 7:30" is foreign to me, but everyone has different priorities.)

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I assumed that marketing research was one reason NYCB is trying to get people home earlier during the week. One reason for this might be what i think of as the "reluctant date" problem -- a ballet fan might be willing to get home at midnight for a good program, but the less interested spouse/significant other might not.

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