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Mary J

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Everything posted by Mary J

  1. "A Little Night Music" is an excellent example of bad casting with an eye to the box office. It paired Len Cariou (in the Broadway role he originated) with Elizabeth Taylor who was overweight and looked exhausted the entire movie. I hardly believe it was her singing voice. I am amazed it ever made it out of pre-production! And "The Sound of Music" overcame strange casting by generating some sort of chemistry between its principals - Julie Andrews (who was too old but performed valiantly) and Christopher Plummer (who didn't sing but never let his distaste for the part show through). I, too, missed the Baroness/Max songs, and also hated the "I have confidence" or whatever it was called - one of the worst songs ever in terms of an energetic melody and incomprehensible lyrics!
  2. I generally like Miss Bonham Carter but her casting as Mrs. Lovett is far from ideal, on so many levels. I can only think, in my highly skeptical way, that they cannot put too high powered an actress in that part for fear that Mr. Depp (who is very talented but not at all suited for the title role, IMHO) will be overwhelmed. It is my understanding that Sondheim retains a fair amount of control as author of the piece, so apparently Tim Burton has bewitched him into agreeing to this cast. It is a double shame that the original Broadway cast of Cariou and Lansbury was never recorded and that this movie version, if weak, will be the one many people see/ remember. I found the recent revival fascinating and effective because the lyrics were so much clearer and the reduced orchestration very eerie but dramatically powerful - and Sondheim has such a way with words. In that regard particularly, any comparison with A. L. Webber (one b? two b's?) doesn't hold up.
  3. I saw The Lesson a number of times and I didn't see anything erotic about it unless you are into sadism. It is pure abuse of power. There may be something phallic about pointe shoes (as I recall, it is when the pupil wants to dance on pointe that the Teacher goes out of control) but in that case virtually every classic ballet would be erotic, too! It is very effective and surreal - especially with the distortions in the class room mirrors. It is hardly meant to reflect on ballet training - except metaphorically, of course.
  4. Get this set! I remember it from its original issue some time in the 1960's and would highly recommend it. I think it was intended as a companion to the Art of the Prima Donna thing that Bonynge did for his wife, Joan Sutherland.
  5. Mel - I agree about Citizen Kane - just don't get its appeal. And, very recently, A History of Violence - walked out before the end, and I thought I could sit through anything.
  6. Cynthia Gregory lives in Greenwich, CT, and I see her out and about in public from time to time. She is still striking, and very gracious when approached.
  7. Brief Encounter French Kiss All This and Heaven Too Now, Voyager (I listed these in no particular order, but it rather sounds like Acts I, II, III and IV!)
  8. Thanks! He must be a much younger brother since I would have guessed a difference of generations based on his appearance.
  9. Is the Garry Grant who dances Alain related to the immortal Alexander Grant who originated (I think) that role? He certainly resembles him. This is a charming DVD, BTW, and I watched it twice all the way through upon receiving it yesterday.
  10. I have not purchased autographed shoes but I do have signed shoes that were given to me by Merle Park, Cynthia Gregory, Cynthia Harvey and Paul Sutherland (who was a friend of mine). I also have an interesting pair of pointe shoes that are not autographed - decades ago I was shopping for pointe shoes at Freed's here in NYC and when I brought them home I looked at the bottom and one of them had "LANDER" written in pen on it. This was about 1969 -
  11. I thought I was the only one who read Motel of the Mysteries! It was given to me by someone with a wacky sense of humor who haunts used book shops. The illustrations are amazingly complex. I went to see the Gates last Wednesday, and I enjoyed the spectacle. On a sunny day, with bright blue sky and the wind blowing, the saffron color and relative stiffness of the fabric made the Gates seem festive and flag-like. The effect of the Gates on my perception of hills and curved paths was rather dramatic - I was seeing things about the park that I do not normally "see." The color really is NOT orange, to my eyes. It has virtually no red to it. Throngs of people filled every section of the park, and the vast majority of them were smiling, and interested. Not many works of "art" (however it can be defined) have that effect any more.
  12. Some of the most famous ads in the 1960s were for Blackglama mink coats, worn by such prominent types as Fonteyn and Nureyev. One of the very best subway ads of all time, I think for the NYC classical radio station WQXR, had ABT dancer Joey Carow (looking very James Dean) in a tux on a motocylce in front of Lincoln Center.
  13. Thanks, Helene! I couldn't have said it better myself. My friend Michele spent two years choosing music (including writing some herself), and then using it in the class setting to see what dancers liked and didn't like. The time in the studio recording (and re-recording) also took away from other earnings. She is absolutely dedicated to her accompanist practice, and loves to play for dancers, so this was a labor of love. But she also has to pay rent. This is not big bad greedy record company - this is someone in the ballet community, struggling just as dancers struggle to make ends meet.
  14. Just think of the price as amortization - the more often you practice to the cd, the lower the per use cost! (Sorry - I am a finance type!)
  15. As an opera fanatic, I would hope the music would be considered more important by a director than Altman suggests! It isn't just incidental music, after all -
  16. A friend of mine, Michele Goritz, who teaches piano and also plays for class and rehearsals for several local ballet studios and companies, has just very recently released a ballet class CD of piano music which includes several pieces of Chopin but also a nice selection of other music including some of her own compositions. She worked with a ballet teachers on both the tempos and the length of the tracks and the cd is unconventional for its relatively slow tempos and 4 to 8 bar introductions. I am only a humble (and currently sidelined) adult ballet student, but I find it perfect. The Cd is called Etudes en danse, and if you go to the web site www.michelegoritz.com you can listen to some excerpts, and purchase the cd if you like it. Michele would love to get comments and suggestions, too! Her late mother was also a dance accompanist, so it must be genetic!
  17. What a fabulous topic - I would choose: Fonteyn Maximova Sibley Fracci Kirsten Simone Karsavina Carmen de Lavalade (anyone else ever see ABT's "The Four Marys"?)
  18. For anyone coming to New York, the two hotels closest to Lincoln Center, the Empire and the Mayflower, are both closed! My guess is they will be demolished for more expensive high rise apartment buildings. I used to be able to find relatively inexpensive rooms at the Mayflower from time to time, and it was quiet and charming - the suites had little kitchens and comfortable sitting rooms - I guess those days are gone.
  19. Another comment about the photographs in the book - I was disappointed! I have the Keith Money books and several others with fabulous photographs of MF - like the one on the back cover of the Daneman book, which I love (just look at her hands!). I thought the photos used were not the best available, and there were not enough of them. I know it can be difficult and expensive to get all the necessary permissions, and then print and bind in glossy pages, but ballet is such a visual art that it seems a real shame. But, of course, Alexandra's book about Kronstam spoiled me with its wonderful range of clear and expressive personal, rehearsal and performance photographs.
  20. I watched the Cinderella video a couple of days ago. Let's start with the bad news. This performance was broadcast in color but is recorded in black and white, which leads to some strange distortions in the sections where there was magic afoot (no pun intended) - namely, the fairy godmother and the seasons. At least as I saw it, they appear to have been filming against a blue screen to get some "effects" so that the dancer is very blurry - Merle Park as Spring is almost indistinguishable and they have superimposed a flower pattern on the floor that is very distracting; Beriosova as Winter is somewhat clearer although there are snowflakes hanging over her head that get in the way (visually) occasionally. There is no "Prince around the world" segment - maybe there wasn't one in this production or maybe they omitted it because of time limitations. Finally, the "set" for Cinderella's house is actually cut up into "rooms" so sometimes a lovely piece of choreography is broken up moving from the kitchen to the drawing room. The table in the middle of the drawing room also gets in the way of much full-out movement at times. I was fortunate enough to see Fonteyn in Cinderella in the middle 1960's, and it is a very sympathetic role for her. I think the waif scenes are actually more touching than the triumph scenes at the ball and the final pas de deux. Her musicality and lovely footwork are obvious throughout. I guess what surprised me the most was the sense of sensual abandon in the pas de deux with the Prince - she is so warm and involved! Her port de bras are like caresses and embraces, and there is much leaning and cuddling - Somes is very handsome, Alexander Grant energetic (if a little sloppy). Having two of the major choreographers of the Twentieth Centruy as the step-sisters is very camp, and they have a lot of business in their major scenes. The other surprise for me was Julia Farron as the Fairy Godmother. She was strikingly beautiful.
  21. I am about a third of the way through this book. I have not seen it in stores at all so ordered through Amazon. I started reading in the middle, with the early Nureyev years, since that is the period of her dancing that I saw for myself, and then went back and started at the beginning. The book is well written and very thorough but I am having the strange experience (and this is not meant as a criticism of Ms. Daneman) that I am no closer to understanding MF than before I started. It is as though I am accumulating a whole bunch of facts and still feel a certain remoteness about the actual person. MF clearly had a way of walling herself off from facts or feelings that she could not handle, and her taste in men (Constant (what a misnomer!) Lambert, and Tito Arias??) was unfortunate, but this tendency makes her seem a rather compartmentalized personality which makes her seem less warm and appealing than I expected. Nothing will change the fact that I adored Fonteyn as a dancer, and for me some of the most illuminating passages describe her dancing in roles I did not get to see.
  22. Unfortunately, I am also a member of the put it down and didn't pick it back up group.
  23. Well, so much for Life Guards subtle charm!
  24. I also love Michael TIlson Thomas! His Giselle is very symphonic - and his recording of the Prokofiev Romeo is heart-breaking. He manages such exquisite balance between the difference sections of the orchestra. I also went ahead and got the Mogrelia version - it sounds very "danceable" - perhaps a little slower than concert versions. I remember in the LP record age (decades ago) there was a recording of Swan Lake conducted by one of the Bolshoi conductors that was performance speed. What a difference!
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