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Amy

Carabosse - Male performer vs. Female performer

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Now here is something I would really love to hear everyone's opinion on - do you prefer Carabosse to be played by a man or by a woman?


This video is a comparative viewing of Alexey Loparevich of the Bolshoi Ballet and Kristen McNally of the Royal Ballet playing Carabosse the Wicked Fairy in the Prologue.




I, myself, am a Petipa purist, but I actually prefer Carabosse to be played by a woman rather than a man because I think the women do a much better job at playing the Wicked Fairy.


In the original 1890 production, Carabosse was played by a man - Enrico Cecchetti (who also danced the Bluebird) and since the première of The Sleeping Beauty, Carabosse seems to have become a unisex role as some productions have her played by men, some by women and others occasionally switch between men and women. It is true that the 1890 production portrayed Carabosse as an old, ugly fairy, but as you can see from the video, the Royal Ballet portrays her in a younger light, which I personally think is a really good touch to the role.


The reason I think the women play Carabosse better than the men is because they make the character feel much more intimidating. With many of the male performers, we get some comic relief and are usually presented with a very mad old woman, but with the women, we are usually presented with a real badass villainess! I find that a female performer gives Carabosse a very dominating stage presence the minute she enters the stage, as well as a lot more character to the role. I also prefer the portrayal of her as a young wicked fairy rather than an old wicked fairy because well, villains don't need to be physically unattractive and scary looking in order to be evil and intimidating.

In fact, in various reviews I've read from the British critics on the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty, Carabosse has been described as "sexy"... well there's nothing wrong with a sexy villain or villainess lol!


From all the portrayals of Carabosse I've seen so far, the Royal Ballet's portrayal is by far my favourite - I think that Carabosse as a young wicked fairy and played by the women is a brilliant portrayal of the character. Some people may even say that this portrayal makes her a bit like Maleficent from the Disney Sleeping Beauty... well in all fairness, unless Carabosse can also turn into a fearsome fire-breathing dragon, I doubt she'd be able to take on the Mistress of All Evil... Lol!!


Now in all fairness, some of the men who regularly play Carabosse are really good actors and do a really good job at the role, e.g. Igor Kolb from the Mariinsky. They don't feel as if they're just men dressed up as women, so well done to them! Lol!


So do you all prefer Carabosse to be played by men, women or both? And which production's portrayal of Carabosse is your favourite?


Enjoy! smile.png

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I don't have a gender preference for this -- there are so few places where men and women are exchangeable in the standard ballet rep -- I'm glad for those opportunities.

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I think both male and female interpretations can be good, and agree that Igor Kolb's Carabosse is outstanding. The best Carabosse I have ever seen is Elena Bazhenova of the Mariinsky. She is a very beautiful woman and really makes sense of the Carabosse being an evil woman, but still a beautiful fairy. Her mime and expressions are outstanding - so clear, and she makes total sense of all her interactions with the Lilac Fairy, the Queen and so on. Also, the parts where she is dancing with her attendants, she actually dances and doesn't just caper, as some Carabosses do. She also has outstanding hand and arm movements and amazing stage presence . I have to say that in the performance that I saw of hers she totally dominated the stage and was more impressive an artiste than the Lilac Fairy.

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I agree with MadameP......I have seen both performers she mentions. Igor Kolb is an outstanding Carabosse and so is Elena Bazhenova. Most men are too large and campy when they portray Carabosse, but Igor Kolb is totally believable as a female Carabosse and he does not overdo it. Instead he becomes her.

So basically I like either sex in the role, although I do think that most of the time a female is more believable only because some of the males overdo the whole thing and make Carabosse seem like an over the top caricature.

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I think both male and female interpretations can be good, and agree that Igor Kolb's Carabosse is outstanding. The best Carabosse I have ever seen is Elena Bazhenova of the Mariinsky. She is a very beautiful woman and really makes sense of the Carabosse being an evil woman, but still a beautiful fairy. Her mime and expressions are outstanding - so clear, and she makes total sense of all her interactions with the Lilac Fairy, the Queen and so on. Also, the parts where she is dancing with her attendants, she actually dances and doesn't just caper, as some Carabosses do. She also has outstanding hand and arm movements and amazing stage presence . I have to say that in the performance that I saw of hers she totally dominated the stage and was more impressive an artiste than the Lilac Fairy.

I agree with MadameP......I have seen both performers she mentions. Igor Kolb is an outstanding Carabosse and so is Elena Bazhenova. Most men are too large and campy when they portray Carabosse, but Igor Kolb is totally believable as a female Carabosse and he does not overdo it. Instead he becomes her.

So basically I like either sex in the role, although I do think that most of the time a female is more believable only because some of the males overdo the whole thing and make Carabosse seem like an over the top caricature.

Thanks guys, it's really great to hear this; thank you for your opinions. :)

Actually one thing that I forgot to say in my post is that the 1890 libretto states that Carabosse and the Six Good Fairies are sisters.

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Lovely to see the different versions side by side. :)

For this sort of role I like the way a man moves; which usually has a more "weighty" feeling to it, if you see what I mean. (not always, of course, but often)

However, I agree that it depends on the dancer, and that this is one role where it really does not matter to me if the dancer portraying the character is male or female or whatever; it is much more important that the character is wholly believeable.

(actually, that is a deciding factor for all roles, in my opinion..)

-d-

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Thanks guys, it's really great to hear this; thank you for your opinions. smile.png

Actually one thing that I forgot to say in my post is that the 1890 libretto states that Carabosse and the Six Good Fairies are sisters.

I read somewhere Lilac and Carabosse are twin sister. They are the same but different, yin yang of each other, chaos & order, vengeful & merciful...

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I definitely prefer to see males as Carabosse (but only if they can act). I don't really dislike females in the role, but I don't like the "sexy" Carabosse type, like the one from the Royal. Those just feel too modern to me.

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I read somewhere Lilac and Carabosse are twin sister. They are the same but different, yin yang of each other, chaos & order, vengeful & merciful...

Really? Well I suppose that does make sense; they're twin sisters - one of them represents Good and the other represents Evil. It would certainly further explain why in the original version, Carabosse is not vanquished like she is in many modern productions, but rather Good and Evil is balanced as shown through her attending the wedding with the other fairies.

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Calling Carabosse "evil," especially in the context of the original, where there is reconciliation, I think is misguided. It's more a matter of using her strength and power for bad reasons -- vengeance, ego, hurt, anger -- in response to a huge social slight -- there was nothing trivial about her being dissed and not invited -- instead of benevolent ones and then coming around. Love the sinner and hate the sin, so to speak.

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Calling Carabosse "evil," especially in the context of the original, where there is reconciliation, I think is misguided. It's more a matter of using her strength and power for bad reasons -- vengeance, ego, hurt, anger -- in response to a huge social slight -- there was nothing trivial about her being dissed and not invited -- instead of benevolent ones and then coming around. Love the sinner and hate the sin, so to speak.

Yeah I suppose you're right; well in the original context, she's called "wicked". What I was saying about Good and Evil being balanced in the final act, I was actually quoting what Doug said about Carabosse's presence at the wedding in his article on Vikharev's Sleeping Beauty reconstruction. :)

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One of my favorite moments with Carabosse and the Lilac Fairy was in a performance by PNB (the Ronald Hynd production) -- in the first act, after the LF has undermined C's curse. C is sneaking up behind the LF, who is reassuring the King and Queen. I think it was Tim Lynch as C, and I know it was Carrie Imler as the LF -- C starts quite low, and rises the closer she gets to the LF, who turns around just as C is poised to strike and literally stares her down -- LF's focus starts high and as it lowers, so does C, backing away across the stage. It's a very simple sequence, but was incredibly effective.

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One of my favorites was in the NYCB production. Merrill Ashley's Carabosse came in swinging with her whirlwind barrage, all mad.gif and wallbash.gif and devil.gif and angry.png , and Teresa Reichlen's Lilac Fairy paused for a second, and then gave a brief, bow-nod greeting as if to respond, "Good morning. (This conversation starts now.)"

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One of my favorites was in the NYCB production. Merrill Ashley's Carabosse came in swinging with her whirlwind barrage, all mad.gif and wallbash.gif and devil.gif and angry.png , and Teresa Reichlen's Lilac Fairy paused for a second, and then gave a brief, bow-nod greeting as if to respond, "Good morning. (This conversation starts now.)"

Oh, that does sound effective!

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One of my favorites was in the NYCB production. Merrill Ashley's Carabosse came in swinging with her whirlwind barrage, all mad.gif and wallbash.gif and devil.gif and angry.png , and Teresa Reichlen's Lilac Fairy paused for a second, and then gave a brief, bow-nod greeting as if to respond, "Good morning. (This conversation starts now.)"

Oh yes!!! Merrill was one of the best ever in the role! If it's going to be played by a woman, it has to be her!

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