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7 hours ago, bcash said:

Why is that the case though? Isn't the Met season their only "main season" in the entire year? One would expect them to be fully prepared.

Yes true.  However they consider themselves a “touring” company.    They spend Fall season at the State Theatre, December doing Nutcracker, spring touring and visiting at least 4 cities and spend the rest of that time rehearsing for the Met.

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14 minutes ago, Ilovegiselle said:

Yes true.  However they consider themselves a “touring” company.    They spend Fall season at the State Theatre, December doing Nutcracker, spring touring and visiting at least 4 cities and spend the rest of that time rehearsing for the Met.

Also, it's an eight-week season, which just raises inherent logistical difficulties. They can't really fully prepare all eight (or so — depends on the year) programs in advance, given that, at the start of the season, some are still nearly two months off. And then once the season is underway, it must be crazy trying to manage rehearsals for what's currently on, what's about to be on, and what's a few weeks down the road but particularly challenging for any of a variety of reasons — all while maintaining the quality and energy of nightly performances. Once the season starts, there are no breaks, for either rest or catch-up. I don't mean to excuse ABT from any problems with quality — they claim to be "America's National Ballet Company," after all. But with the Met season they've got a monster on their hands.

Edited by nanushka

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Back to Harlequinade.

One big reason why I love the Petipa-Ratmansky and Balanchine versions above all existing Russian Soviet versions - Lopukhov, Gusev, Burlaka-after-Gusev, etc: The Soviet editions all present the Serenade music with tenor vocals (singing from the pit or in the wings). This most famous of Drigo tunes was not intended to be literally sung during the ballet. Rather, as ABT (& NYCB) correctly present it, it is an instrumental tune, with Harlequin opening his mouth as if singing, while his Scaramouche friends stand by and pluck their lutes. The audience imagines how he sounds, the great charm of the episode. Later in the act, this is countered by Columbine’s wealthy suitor, Leander, attempting his own discordant serenade...and, in Soviet versions, this remains without an offstage vocalist. I’ve never understood why Gusev and other Soviet/Russian stagers of this ballet insist on a tenor in the wings or pit actually singing the serenade. 

By the way, as far as I can tell the only readily-available CD recording of any portion of Harlequinade is this famous Serenade (Serenata)...but almost all are the vocal version (Gigli being most celebrated). The only all-instrumental version that I’ve found is in flautist James Galway’s CD “Man with the Golden Flute” - track 2 (BMG Classics label, 1992 reissue of a 1976 LP). It’s a gorgeous CD for all 11 tracks. Highly recommended.

Maybe some day this delectable 80-minute ballet will be recorded in its entirety, as Richard Bonynge once recorded Drigo’s Magic Flute and substantial portions of Flora’s Awakening

Edited by CharlieH

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51 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

The only all-instrumental version that I’ve found is in flautist James Galway’s CD “Man with the Golden Flute” - track 2 (BMG Classics label, 1992 reissue of a 1976 LP).

There is another instrumental track on an album of assorted violin/piano transcriptions, available here on Amazon. (It's also on Sirius.)

Edited by nanushka

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44 minutes ago, nanushka said:

There is another instrumental track on an album of assorted violin/piano transcriptions, available here on Amazon. (It's also on Sirius.)

Thanks, nanushka. I’m hoping that it’s also available in traditional CD, not just MP3. Once I find a link to a CD, I’ll post. Update: I’ve searched and, alas, it’s only available in streaming on the US Amazon site. Maybe CDs of this exist in Hungary; I’ll be checking with family in Budapest.

Here’s the Amazon link to the James Galway CD, a slightly different compilation than what I noted above but with the Drigo Serenade:

https://www.amazon.com/James-Galway-Serenade-Franz-Schubert/dp/B000003EUV

 

Edited by CharlieH

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54 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

Thanks, nanushka. I’m hoping that it’s also available in traditional CD, not just MP3.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's not — that's the tradeoff for having so much music (including older, once-rare recordings) readily available now. It's easy enough to put it onto a CD oneself, though, if one requires a physical copy. (It's all digital anyway, whether one buys it as an object or as a file — though sound quality can vary.)

54 minutes ago, CharlieH said:

...it’s only available in streaming on the US Amazon site.

No, it's available for purchase/download as well, at the link I posted.

Edited by nanushka

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Nanushka, I meant MP3 as a non-CD form. Download is not a CD...with the jewel case, notes in print and such. I’m the old-fashioned collector of CDs and DVDs (and books with words on paper) for a physical library with bookshelves. Charlie’s Ballet Collection can be touched! :)

Thanks again for the tip. My nephew in Budapest knows where the CD is available, by the way. Hurray!

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Many downloads have the actual CD liner notes available as .pdfs and/or extensive info available online, for those for whom the tactile isn't as important.  I can still invoke the way people lovingly and carefully handled their LP's, so I can appreciate the difference.

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16 minutes ago, Helene said:

Many downloads have the actual CD liner notes available as .pdfs and/or extensive info available online, for those for whom the tactile isn't as important.

Indeed, and those can also be printed, and empty jewel cases purchased. There are ways of getting to a physical end product from non-physical computer files (for those to whom the tactile is important), when and if those are the only options. But it sounds like for this particular album — at least for those with connections in Hungary! — that's not the case.

Edited by nanushka

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22 hours ago, nanushka said:

Indeed, and those can also be printed, and empty jewel cases purchased. There are ways of getting to a physical end product from non-physical computer files (for those to whom the tactile is important), when and if those are the only options. But it sounds like for this particular album — at least for those with connections in Hungary! — that's not the case.

For those with connections in Budapest, the physical CD is most readily available. On the other hand, do I want to spend $20+ for 3 minutes worth of Harlequinade music, since I already have that tune in the lovely James Galway version? Maybe not. I can change my mind when I visit family in August.

A few other tunes from Drigo’s Harlequinade are included in the “Music from the Imperial Ballet” CD’s by noted ballet pianist Igor Zapravdin (based in Vienna). They may be out of print; unable to find an Amazon USA link but it might be found through other ways.

The best possible outcome would be that an orchestra somewhere is inspired to record the full Drigo score. There’s a bit of hope because ABT’s Harlequinade is a co-production with the Australian Ballet. Queensland and other Australian symph orchestras have occasionally produced ballet recordings.

Edited by CharlieH
Added Igor Zapravdin note

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I attended the Friday evening performance with Sarah Lane, Jeffrey Cirio, Stella Abrera and David Hallberg, and was quite pleasantly surprised! I had seen the excerpts of Harlequinade at the Spring Gala and wasn't all that impressed, and I exchanged one of my subscription tickets for something else. I almost exchanged the other one... but so I'm glad I didn't. I liked everything about this ballet: the dancing, the costumes and the sets. Based on the early reviews, I was expecting a lot of empty seats, but that was not the case at all. While it wasn't a sell-out, the house seemed to be well sold. This is a lighthearted ballet. You can’t go in expecting Swan Lake or Romeo & Juliet. Some comedic ballets just don't work for me, but this one did. It is steeped in history, which I appreciate, and you can tell that a lot of thought, effort and work went into this production. If you can, try to attend the final performance tonight... or catch it at the Kennedy Center next year.

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3 hours ago, BalletFan said:

I attended the Friday evening performance with Sarah Lane, Jeffrey Cirio, Stella Abrera and David Hallberg, and was quite pleasantly surprised! I had seen the excerpts of Harlequinade at the Spring Gala and wasn't all that impressed, and I exchanged one of my subscription tickets for something else. I almost exchanged the other one... but so I'm glad I didn't. I liked everything about this ballet: the dancing, the costumes and the sets. Based on the early reviews, I was expecting a lot of empty seats, but that was not the case at all. While it wasn't a sell-out, the house seemed to be well sold. This is a lighthearted ballet. You can’t go in expecting Swan Lake or Romeo & Juliet. Some comedic ballets just don't work for me, but this one did. It is steeped in history, which I appreciate, and you can tell that a lot of thought, effort and work went into this production. If you can, try to attend the final performance tonight... or catch it at the Kennedy Center next year.

I, too, attended the Friday evening performance and thoroughly enjoyed the ballet. I think expectations play a role here. After reading many negative reviews along with the positive ones, and having disliked Whipped Cream and disliked even more The Golden Cockerel, I was expecting another ballet that would disappoint me. Not so. Harlequinade had much more ballet dancing than I expected, and I realized that seeing mime performed by trained ballet dancers is altogether different from seeing mime performed by others. The ballet line is present, which is the thing that my brain seeks out when I go to the ballet.

I also think that much of my  pleasure came from the exquisite performance of Sarah Lane, who handled the technical challenges with no problem and sparkled her way through the role of Columbine. David Hallberg's sad Pierrot had me laughing at his ability to sustain the pathos of his character across an evening. There were more children than I would have liked to see. After all, unlike at the Mariinsky, we are not seeing children who were picked from hundreds of applicants for their turnout and flexibility, and schooled under a regimen that we in the US would find unacceptable. They were cute, but one would have been more than enough. On the other hand, they do help fill the house and raise the enthusiasm of the audience.

Overall, I think that Harlequinade is a good addition to ABT's repertoire, even though it probably cost many arms and legs. Next, however, instead of resurrecting another quirky ballet from the past, I hope that Ratmansky could turn his attention to replacing ABT's God-awful  Acts I and IV of our beloved Swan Lake.

Edited by angelica
addition about children

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Angelica, you hit the nail on the head with your Swan Lake investment comment. If they're going to perform SL yearly, Acts I & IV need to raise the bar. Harlequinade may have more staying power than The Golden Cockerel, but I don't see ABT bringing it back very often in the future.  

It took me a long time to figure out what kept Harlequinade from being 100% successful for me, but I think it boils down to: 

1. A lack of pantomime experts coaching the dancers (maybe I'm wrong? Edward Villella is amazing, but he's not specifically an expert in historic pantomime)
2. The Met is not the right venue. It would be perfect as a smaller scale traveling show. Or at least in a smaller theater. 
3. Too many children whose discipline wasn't quite up to the task of sustaining their large cut of Act II. 

I enjoyed it enough to see it twice (on a budget & during a 50-hour workweek, so that's really saying something). I absolutely love the choreography for Colombine, the corps, and Pierrette. 

https://balletdecour.com/2018/06/09/abt-harlequinade-shut-up-we-cant-hear-the-pantomime/

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I was also at last night’s show and loved it! Or, loved many things about it. Yes, the storyline is thin and silly but i think there are many merits to this production. It was gorgeously done and the costumes are incredible. I especially liked the dresses on the Polonaise ladies. As others have noted, the heavy mime seemed either problematic or disinteresting to some. The people sitting in front of and around me kept turning and looking at their companions with expressions of what are we watching or why are we watching this? Those same people had very muted reactions during the applause and bows, but many in the house were very enthusiastic. 

I agree that the children’s section in Act II was way too long. They were adorable and very well rehearsed, but they repeated the same prancing steps over and over. Just when I thought it was ending it started all over again!

I did love the comedy and thought it was very well done to great effect. The entire cast was meticulously rehearsed and I agree that rehearsal time devoted to this ballet is probably the reason for the Bayadere mishaps and poor execution of last week. Lane was magnificent and handled the prickly choreography easily with grace, grandeur, beauty and sheer joy. Cirio was terrific and I thought he projected really well, though i was sitting up front. (I imagine Whiteside is perfect for this role.) He was fun and funny and I didn't see any partnering issues. He and Lane dont have the same chemistry as she does with Cornejo or even Simkin, but here I thought they worked well together. Abrera was so lovely and her role was a perfect fit with her humor and impeccable timing. She and Hallberg played off of each other really well. And, Hallberg! Who knew that this perfect prince could play such a sad and witty character. 

Despite the overly long children’s section, I enjoyed Harlequinade very much. Yet, I don't have the desire to buy a last minute ticket to see it again today before it closes. I think it could use editing/tweaking and may be better as a condensed one act ballet or as divertissements. The lark section was gorgeous and could certainly be shown as an excerpt. I don’t know if this ballet as it is has staying power and would attract enough ticket buyers (especially ones who saw it this year) if they repeated it again next season. 

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I saw the matinee performance. I agree the children’s numbers did not work. It was too obvious that there were a wide range of abilities and the weaker kids stood out like a sore thumb. Not their fault but it really does affect the overall enjoyment since it is a large part of the ballet.  And also agree that there was just too much miming. However, I thought Gabe Stone Shayer was fantastic and really captured the whimsiness  (if that is the right word) of a harlequin. 

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Hmm. ABT is bringing Harlequinade to Costa Mesa mid-January.  I guess the children will be going straight from Nutcracker to Harlequinade rehearsals. 

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I saw opening night and thought the children were well rehearsed and did an excellent job. But I agree that the childrens' dances were too long and I wonder if the purpose was to stretch the ballet into an evening's worth. As presented it's too long to pair with another piece, yet I found it too short to be a full length ballet. NYCB offers Harlequinade with another short ballet ion the program. Maybe shorten the kids part and follow suit? 

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I saw it and loved it as well.  Agreed with the the expectations but loved thought it was inventive. 

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Thanks to all for their reviews. I am just back from the final performance/my first viewing of this piece. I hadn't intended to go, then was intrigued by the reviews from my fellow BAers, then the day's circumstances made it difficult to get there at the last minute... but I am glad I made it. I found this a total charmer, a lovely production, costumes worth the price of admission, and I hope they bring it back next year. I'm a little perplexed by the complaints of "too much mime," which I usually take to be synonymous with "not enough dancing." There was a ton of dancing. Skylar Brandt made hay with the choreography, totally at ease and using her great eyes to charm and command the huge Met space... and Daniil Simkin, what can I say?? I will miss him! Hee Seo was way better than I expected, looking beautiful in the blue costume, with beautiful feet, a beautiful smile, an easy, relaxed manner, and a thoroughly authoritative, professional demeanor. The children... usually I love children in ballets, but now that I think about it, what I mean is that I love SAB children in NYCB productions. These kids got me pondering a distinction I don't usually make, which is the difference between being well trained and well rehearsed. These kids were well rehearsed... but the SAB kids strike me as far better trained and far, far better in an innate understanding of presentation and nobility. I agree with the suggestions to cut out/ cut down the kids section and make this a shorter piece with something else on the program. A few more detailed comments: I found Tatiana Ratmansky not nearly gracious enough as the good fairy. She moves like a modern New Yorker, not like the epitome of grace. Please, get someone like Veronika Part in there! Also Kaho Ogawa stood out in the Larks section - is there some reason I don't understand why she has not moved ahead more? Finally, Daniil Simkin... truly an incredible dancer. Dazzling technique, crystalline form, a true understanding of mime and the arts of comedy and of performance... I'm not sure I can fully articulate it, but he is incredible. 

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8 minutes ago, cobweb said:

The children... usually I love children in ballets, but now that I think about it, what I mean is that I love SAB children in NYCB productions. These kids got me pondering a distinction I don't usually make, which is the difference between being well trained and well rehearsed. These kids were well rehearsed... but the SAB kids strike me as far better trained and far, far better in an innate understanding of presentation and nobility. I agree with the suggestions to cut out/ cut down the kids section and make this a shorter piece with something else on the program. A few more detailed comments: I found Tatiana Ratmansky not nearly gracious enough as the good fairy. She moves like a modern New Yorker, not like the epitome of grace. Please, get someone like Veronika Part in there! Also Kaho Ogawa stood out in the Larks section - is there some reason I don't understand why she has not moved ahead more? Finally, Daniil Simkin... truly an incredible dancer. Dazzling technique, crystalline form, a true understanding of mime and the arts of comedy and of performance... I'm not sure I can fully articulate it, but he is incredible. 

I think one thing is that Balanchine was so amazing at making choreography for children that shows off what they can do. When I saw his Coppélia a few weeks ago I was struck that the man so known for quick footwork and punishing difficulty in his adult variations had children make the slightest movements with their arms, head, neck, waist. He gave the children in the Dance of the Hours this illusion of constant movement without actually forcing them to dance beyond their abilities. Like the Angels in Nutcracker, who actually just make tiny little steps but it looks like gliding.

I saw Harlequinade twice and thought one issue was that some of the children were given steps that they couldn't quite execute. They were well-rehearsed and trained but you could see that they were working at their very hardest and so the charm was taken away.

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1 hour ago, cobweb said:

Also Kaho Ogawa stood out in the Larks section - is there some reason I don't understand why she has not moved ahead more? 

I think she's very young? I remember doing some sleuthing because I wondered the same thing. She was radiant as an Odalisque last year and I always want to see more from her. 

This video says she was 10 in 2006, so I imagine it's just a matter of time before she gets more solos. The soloist rank is ready for some newcomers. 

Edited by Inge

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9 hours ago, rkoretzky said:

I saw opening night and thought the children were well rehearsed and did an excellent job. But I agree that the childrens' dances were too long and I wonder if the purpose was to stretch the ballet into an evening's worth. As presented it's too long to pair with another piece, yet I found it too short to be a full length ballet. NYCB offers Harlequinade with another short ballet ion the program. Maybe shorten the kids part and follow suit? 

RKoretzky, the NYCB and ABT versions of Harlequinade both use exactly the same score - no cuts in either version - same running times, with one intermission. NYCB has always opted to present it with with an additional ballet, e.g,, when I first saw it live in the early 1990s, it was followed by Robbins’ The Concert.

The kids’ suite of dances in A2 is titled in the score “The Harlequinade”...in other words, a Harlequinade within Harlequinade! In the first few performances in 1900, the Waltz music of the coda of this kids’ suite was actually an adult character dance for Marie Petipa and one of the Legat brothers, a dance titled “Past and Present Times.” Maybe, in the next go-around, Ratmansky could restore this adult dance’s steps (if they exist in notation), thus cutting short the kids’ participation a bit? I suspect not because the kids’ suite needs to be wrapped up...to end it with the relatively gentle Little Scaramouches Dance...followed up by the lively waltz by two completely-new adult characters, would make little sense. 

I vote for keeping the Coda Waltz for the kids, as Balanchine & Ratmansky did.

One last nugget: The entire Harlequinade kids’ suite was presented on PBS a few years ago, in the “Balanchine 100th Birthday” TV special. Nobody hated it then. I just rewatched my DVD of the show and am amazed by how much of Petipa’s original moves Balanchine kept, such as the ditzy stiff-legged  rocking back and forth of the Little Harlequins’ dance...also, how some of the Harlequins use their slapsticks to tap the shoulders of the others (in Balanchines’ case, all boy Harlequins...in Petipa-Ratmansky, four boys and four girls).

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perhaps worth noting/recalling that excerpts from Balanchine's HARLEQUINADE, including some of the dances he arranged for children, were included in BARYSHNIKOV AT THE WHITE HOUSE, as noted in the NYPL cat:

Baryshnikov at the White House 1979. 

Performance by Mikhail Baryshnikov with Patricia McBride and Heather Watts telecast by WNET from the East Room of the White House, February 25, 1979. Choreography: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. Host: Edward Villella.

  • Duet from Harlequinade (13 min.): Choreography by Balanchine, music by Riccardo Drigo, performed by Baryshnikov and McBride, with students from the Washington School of Ballet.

also worth noting that Balanchine's little Harlequins in both acts 1 and 2 were all "male" harlequins but danced by girl students. 

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There’s that too, RG. In that case (White House) the Coda music  was that of the Alouettes (Larks), with new choreography for the occasion (Baryshnikov, McBride & kids). I read somewhere that the kids dancing at the WH - all from the DC area - included little Julie Kent, then about 9 or 10. I may have read it in a Wash Post interior of Kent, many years later.

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Thanks, CH

re: Petipa's first Bonne Fée in MILLIONS, Anna Petrovna Urakova, here's an undated photocard of her in an unidentified role.

APUrakovaWM.thumb.jpg.eb3096a3397f68d99288a175e47442ad.jpg

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