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Leigh Witchel

The Lilac Fairy

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when i first met Arlene Croce she noted more than once that the Kirov's production of SLEEPING BEAUTY (the K. Sergeyev one toured here in the early 1960s) left a memorable impression due partly to the authority and beauty of Inna Zubkovskaya's Lilac Fairy (feya Sireni).

i never saw her perform myself.

i have a number of photos of Zubkovskaya (nee Izraeleva) but i don't know that i have one of her Lilac.

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Bergsma was also my first Lilac Fairy--Unfortunately, I only have very dim memories of the performance itself but I have extremely vivid memories of how wonderful she seemed to me. I don't think any Lilac Fairy I have seen since Bergsma has made the same kind of impression.

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:) This may surprise everyone, but I actually prefer the Nureyev Paris Opera version, where both fairies are not danced in a tutu, they present an image of a much more superior being, They are dressed in lovely court costumes, equivilant to the King and Queen, In fact the roles are mimed. they are very gracious in the case of the Lilac Fairy, who wears a beautiful lilac coloured dress, in the period style. There is a much longer variation for the Prince in the vision scene, and when the Lilac Fairy comes to him she plays a major role, and clearly takes up the stage. When Princess Aurora arrives into the vision, she is drawn to the Fairy, and does her biding. After the scene, the Prince and Lilac Fairy travel in a boat, and then alight in front of the palace, where the evil Carabosse is spinning cobwebs, with her attendants who were the knitting girls. The Lilac Fairy exciiles the evil one, who collapses to be carried off to her doom. The latter character is played by a woman, not a Man, and is still fairly beautiful, but a mis guided and evil person. wearing a lovely costume with dark blue satin and sparkling jewels. The whole Paris Opera production is excellent, the costumes are exquisit, it is lwell lit and the scenery is very true to life, representing a wonderful palace,ballroom, and a woodland glade.

On the DVD the cast are{Aurelie Dupont (Aurora) Manual Legris, (Prince) Beatrice Martel(Lilac Fairy)

Nathalie Aubin(Carabosse).The fairies are Ruby, Emerald ans Saphire.Lead Fairy Diamond and her Cavalier.

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I agree with Nanarina, having recently seen this DVD, I enjoyed this production as well. The Lilac Fairy, is a central role, and I thought that the mime was especially clear and not lost,as it sometimes can be. I don't remember any male variation being as long as the one in the vision scene here in Nureyev's version! Magnificently danced by Manuel Legris. Rudi certainly loved his rondes des jambes!

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:P Yes... Ruddi and his passion foir R.D.J's. he was a real devil about them, I can remember him adding them to his Solo's, even when they were not part of the original choreography. He seemed to be really hung up on them. I think the extra long Prince's solo he put in the vision scene of Sleeping Beauty, is really effective, you have to be very patient, as it seems to go on and on. The stamina the Male lead needs to portray this must be huge, you can see Manuel Legris using his breathing control to be able to continue to the end. But he makes it so effortless. The portrayal and steps that are used by the Prince in this version, takes the role out of the usual supportive cavalier status, to a man with feeling and expression, looking for his special love to fill his loneliness. The Lilac Fairy comes to his rescue by showing him Aurora, when she asks hum "why are you crying"? he tells her "it is because he has not found love". The DVD is well worth buying to enjoy the performance and production. It really excells over the Royal Ballet version from an aesthetic point of view.

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I think the Paris Opera production has some nice costumes, some of the sets have a grandeur but with vulgar kitsch touches and for me the Paris Opera style has (Yvette Chauvire excepted) always shown too much semaphoring of the physicality of the steps they are executing and in general, the epaulement of the last two generations of dancers is a generally a killer.

Rudol Nureyev has to take some blame. but the significant legacy of Sylvie Guillem in the performance of academic classical ballet in Paris and across the world. has left a most negative impact and influence.

Chac un a son gout.

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I think the Paris Opera production has some nice costumes, some of the sets have a grandeur but with vulgar kitsch touches and for me the Paris Opera style has (Yvette Chauvire excepted) always shown too much semaphoring of the physicality of the steps they are executing and in general, the epaulement of the last two generations of dancers is a generally a killer.

Rudol Nureyev has to take some blame. but the significant legacy of Sylvie Guillem in the performance of academic classical ballet in Paris and across the world. has left a most negative impact and influence.

Chac un a son gout.

Yes, but the Paris Opera is not the only company guilty of this, it seems to be a modern requirement, which actually effected the Bolshoi and Kirov, their lifts and general technique amazed the West when it was first seen here. The higher the leg extends the better, as far as some people are concerned, making a modest arabasque or movement look insignifigant to the eye, which nowadays looks restricted. Sylvie Guillem's amazing technique, won her grteat aclaim and brought ballet into the realm of athletiscim, which had only been seen in visiting companies mainly from Russia.

Now we have got used to this style of dance, it is hard to return to the older rechnique as it is not as exciting or spectacular. As long as it is not over the top, and retains the elements of musicality, lyricalism and careful performance, which is appriopriate to the role being danced, it is acceptable.

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I think the Paris Opera production has some nice costumes, some of the sets have a grandeur but with vulgar kitsch touches and for me the Paris Opera style has (Yvette Chauvire excepted) always shown too much semaphoring of the physicality of the steps they are executing and in general, the epaulement of the last two generations of dancers is a generally a killer.

Rudol Nureyev has to take some blame. but the significant legacy of Sylvie Guillem in the performance of academic classical ballet in Paris and across the world. has left a most negative impact and influence.

Chac un a son gout.

Here, here, Leonid, regarding Guillem's negative impact and influence. I genuinely can't stand her dancing.

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I think the Paris Opera production has some nice costumes, some of the sets have a grandeur but with vulgar kitsch touches and for me the Paris Opera style has (Yvette Chauvire excepted) always shown too much semaphoring of the physicality of the steps they are executing and in general, the epaulement of the last two generations of dancers is a generally a killer.

Rudol Nureyev has to take some blame. but the significant legacy of Sylvie Guillem in the performance of academic classical ballet in Paris and across the world. has left a most negative impact and influence.

Chac un a son gout.

Here, here, Leonid, regarding Guillem's negative impact and influence. I genuinely can't stand her dancing.

I agree with what you both say about Guillem's style and technique, she woulld not be my favourite dancer, I also find her attitude (personal rather than the balletic one ) is not very endearing, professionally known as Madamoiselle Non!!! Again it is a case of technique over shadowing other essential qualities. But I do not feel negative over other Paris Opera dancers. Some I like, some I do not. It is the total image they project which gains my appreciation/admiration..No Guillam is not even on my list of favourites.

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Memorable Lilacs? Lyubov Kunakova (definitely!). Yulia Makhalina was also interesting to look at. Her lines are absolutely gorgeous when she dances after Aurora pricks herself... However, I don't think she is as "warm" as Kunakova (at least in that particular performance -- video with Lezhnina).

Also, in the scene where Aurora appears and dances a little with the Prince (for the 1st time) these two ballerinas do it a little differently. For example, when Aurora seems to escape from the Prince, and runs behind the corps de ballet, Kunakova seems to help the Prince capture her, whereas Makhalina almost tries to prevent him from capturing Aurora... I just thought it was an interesting observation.

Yes, Kunakova was lovely, and she stood out to me. She did have a warm stage personality and you were drawn to look at her. I am pretty sure I saw her dance live.

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Although the production was in no way worthy of her, Nichols was

a wonderful Lilac--regal, with grandeur and delicacy and

tremendous attention to detail, including gesture. I imagine

Lallone would be good in this role as well. Lucky viewers who

got to see Adams (!) and Bergsma, by all accounts one of the

most wonderful dancers ever at RB, in this role. Bergsma talks--

in the interview in Striking a Balance-- about the role, the solo,

and how nervous it made her, especially when she was first cast

in the New York run. She seems similar to Adams in more than one

way: self-effacing, modest, characterizing herself as a 'nervous'

dancer, and not quite convinced of her own overwhelming virtue.

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My favorite Lilac Fairy of all time is Deanne Bergsma. I saw her when she apppeared in the role for the first time in NY on opening night. Forget which year. She simply amazed everyone.

What do you think of having Lilac as a non-dancing role? I much prefer her to be one of the fairies.

I believe I saw one productin (was it the new Bolshoi version?) where she appeared as a dancing role and then later on she came in in a full dress, non-dancing.

what do "you all" think ?

Esperanto

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Posted (edited)
On 11/9/2009 at 1:12 PM, mussel said:

I don't want start a new thread, so I post my Lilac-related question here.

If Lilac's gift to Aurora was to neutralize Carabosse's curse, what was the gift that Lilac was about to grant when she was interrupted by Carabosse?

 

On 11/9/2009 at 1:49 PM, Hans said:

I believe it is wisdom, as the lilac represents wisdom in Russian folklore.

 

On 11/9/2009 at 1:50 PM, Mel Johnson said:

It is never stated, either in the ballet's libretto, or the original Perrault tale, but it must have had something to do with wisdom. A tradition of Russian baby- and childhood is to be given a birthday party where the baby or child is lain or seated under a lilac bush. In Russian tradition, the lilac is a symbol for wisdom.

 

Since the Lilac Fairy plays such a pivotal role in The Sleeping Beauty, this thread is naturally interesting and important. Particularly the illuminating exchange quoted above. 

Essentially, this immortal fairy tale intimates that wisdom and love enable a human being to understand and cope with Reality. 

The Sleeping Beauty centers on a romance between two strangers born many years apart who fall in love with each other at first sight. This appears nonsensical. Yet it is an affair brought about through the intervention of a supernatural being symbolizing Wisdom! 

What Prince Désiré and Princess Aurora have in common is their "royal" pedigree. (The word "Beauty" as opposed to "Princess" in the title is crucial: it humanizes the story.) Their capacity for love and wisdom is among their key attributes.

Edited by Royal Blue

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Royal Blue said:

 

 

 

Since the Lilac Fairy plays such a pivotal role in The Sleeping Beauty, this thread is naturally interesting and important. Particularly the illuminating exchange quoted above. 

Essentially, this immortal fairy tale intimates that wisdom and love enable a human being to understand and cope with Reality. 

The Sleeping Beauty centers on a romance between two strangers born many years apart who fall in love with each other at first sight. This appears nonsensical. Yet it is an affair brought about through the intervention of a supernatural being symbolizing Wisdom! 

What Prince Désiré and Princess Aurora have in common is their "royal" pedigree. (The word "Beauty" as opposed to "Princess" in the title is crucial: it humanizes the story.) Their capacity for love and wisdom is among their key attributes.

In the reconstruction videos I've seen it doesn't really look like "love at first sight." That seems to have come in later versons

What I saw was when Désiré kisses Aurora he moves away before she gets up. She gets up and immediately moves to her parents and apparently doesn't look at the Prince at all. Aurora says she's been kissed and turns to the Lilac fairy. Then the Lilac fairy takes center stage and explains what just happened. She then takes the Désiré's hand and leads him to the King and Queen where he professes his love and asks permission to marry their daughter where they immediately accept. He then runs to Aurora but she moves to the other side of the stage. Its only when the Lilac fairy takes both of their hands and joins them together that they hold hands. Then they move together to the King and Queen who put their hands on top of Désiré's and Aurora's as the final seal of their engagement.  

So to me it doesn't look like love at first sight. It looks more like a royal marriage arranged by the wise and good Lilac fairy and sanctioned by the King and Queen. Prince Désiré may be in love but Aurora doesn't seem to have any say. Her marriage has been decided for her and she accepts it without question. That was after all the duty any proper royal princess during that era. It was a match made by the heavens, not love. At least that's how I interpreted it. 

The 2006 Royal ballet version, which I saw on DVD, on the other hand looks very much like "love at first sight." Désiré kisses Aurora and stays by her side. She wakes up, smiles, and immediately joins arms with him. Although in that version it feels like the roles of the Lilac, King and Queen are quite diminished in favor of boosting Aurora and Désiré.

If I'm not mistaken is seems that in nearly every other version (royal ballet, Sergeyev, Nuréyev) the Lilac fairy doesn't even appear in Aurora's bedroom when Désiré kisses her. She's gone after leading him to the castle and doesn't show up again until the wedding party as a guest. She's only present in the bedroom in the reconstruction and the recent Grigorovich. I haven't seen the Ratmansky so I can't say if she's there or not. 

Edited by NAOTMAA

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I hadn't looked at this thread in quite awhile, but what fun to come back to it.

Pacific Northwest Ballet performs the Ronald Hynd version, which is based on the Royal from the 1950s, I believe.  In this one, the prince fights his way through the Enchanted Forest to the side of Aurora, finally dispatching Carabosse right before the Awakening.  The Lilac Fairy is not a part of those activities.

I've always felt that both the Prince and Aurora were following the dictates of their communities -- when the two of them are face to face at the beginning of the Wedding pas de deux, it seems to me like a parlay -- they bond through the challenges of the duet.  In many ways, it reminds me of the big duet in Balanchine's Diamonds, where they approach each other on a serpentine path, but end up in the middle together.

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Posted (edited)

What are thoughts on Lilac as a tutu role or character role?

SPW's version for BRB has Lilac as a character role and for me that works best.  Her dress is almost a mirror image of Carabosse's and they seem much more equally matched.  You get a bit of an idea in the animated header for BRB's current tour:

 

https://www.brb.org.uk/whats-on/event/the-sleeping-beauty#gallery

 

(Try  refreshing the page if a still image appears)

 

 

Edited by JMcN

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My problem is that I'd like to see it both ways!  The original was certainly much closer to this example from the BRB (thanks for the link to the header -- I wouldn't have seen it otherwise and it's quite lovely) -- as I understand it, Lilac wore an ankle-length gown and heeled shoes, and carried a wand that was about the same size as a walking staff.  This obviously would affect what she was able to do. 

And your observation that she's a visual counterpoint to Carabosse in this costume is very astute.  There are moments in the choreography where that twinned aspect are pointed up, and this costume would certainly reinforce that.

But there are some wonderfully dancey sequences in the score, especially in her variation, and I would be so sad to lose those moments as well.

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In the prologue of the BRB production her "role" danced by a 6th Fairy.

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Posted (edited)

The greatest Lilac Fairy I have seen a recording of is Dame Beryl Grey. Dame Beryl - still going strong at 90 years old (and with a book out for those who want to learn more) - made her debut as Odette / Odile on her 15th birthday, so perhaps she was even younger when she debuted Lilac Fairy.

For those who can find the recording, Beryl Grey was just extraordinary. Total control, legs like steel, yet with such grace, musicality and, above all, real expression and meaning.

 

Edited by Sebastian

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In the recent Disney version, why couldn't she stop the curse?

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1 hour ago, Vs1 said:

In the recent Disney version, why couldn't she stop the curse?

Are you thinking of the 1959 version?

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Just now, sandik said:

Are you thinking of the 1959 version?

No, the Jolie

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