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Hi! I see that NYCB is performing Harlequinade this winter. Is that a staging of Millions d' Harlequin or an entirely new ballet by Balanchine using the original score and libretto? The choreography is credited to Balanchine but I seem to remember reading somewhere that it's a revised version of the original choreography. Thanks!

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If you go to NYCB's website you can read more about Harlequinade.

Here's the intro:

As a student, Balanchine danced in Marius Petipa's Les Millions d'Harlequin. In Balanchine's two-act version, which he created for the 65th anniversary of the original production, the choreographer, by his own admission, "attempted to remain faithful to the spirit of Petipa's dances" and follows the tradition of the commedia dell'arte.

I'm looking forward to seeing it performed having only read about it in Villella's biography.

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greetings, j-m, nancy reynolds' REPERTORY IN REVIEW notes that balanchine performed in the petipa HARLEQUINDADE (premiere: 1900) as a boy, and in citing some of suki schorer's recollections of the ballet's creation at NYCB, notes that 'presumably, [balanchine] caught the spirit, if he did not reproduce all the choreography, of the original.' the text then adds that 'he [balanchine] has said that this was precisely his intent.'

i know the late 20th c. recension of the ballet in USSR from a maly theater prod. by petr gusev (one of balanchine's contemporaries) on tape, and it compares remarkably similarly in many ways w/ what balanchine staged at NYCB, first in '65 and later expanded in '73. i've often felt that if one knew only the suite of dances for children that balanchine added in '73 one would have a fair idea of his masterly gift at ballet making in general and at petipa-lineage choreography in particular.

the work hasn't been revived in a good while now, so i hope when it's brought back for the centenary it can resemble its one-time enchanting self.

the pantomime is likely about as close as any other part of the staging to the original as balanchine knew it from petrograd.

the designs could use a re-vitalization, since these, by rouben ter-arutunian, were always somewhat make-shift as the scenery dervied in good part from recycling the setting r.t-a. had originiallydone for a '53 NYC Opera prod. of CENERENTOLA production.

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When Balanchine expanded his ballet in 1973, the intention seems to have been to make it into a full evening work, like Midsummer Night's Dream, with the plot dispatched in the first act, and the second act given over to divertissements. I don't now remember whether Harlequinade was indeed always performed on its own after '73. The forthcoming revival pairs it with other works as curtain-raisers -- Serenade, Apollo, and Chopiniana. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I too have fond memories of Deni Lamont in the original cast, as well as of Suki Schorer, Pierrette to his Pierrot. Also memorable were Shaun O'Brien as a foppish suitor in a fantastic costume, the fabulous Gloria Govrin, "Big Glo," as the Good Fairy, and, of course, the incomparable principals -- Edward Villella and Patricia MacBride. It was magical, alright, and I hope some of that magic can be recaptured.

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Peter Boal and Margaret Tracey took the lead roles for the '93 revival. These were not dancers I would have cast in those roles, but I must say it showed a side of Boal I never would have suspected. Quite a breakthrough for him! :)

Still, I hope that this time The Powers cast a true demicaractere dancer -- not a prince -- as Harlequin.

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The thing I didn't like about the '73 revival was the changing of the father's part from a Dr. Bartolo-type to Don Quixote. Otherwise, it was fine, with the addition of a corps of grotesques and many more children than in the first production (the little Harlequins, some of whom in that production were Gelsey Kirkland, Colleen Neary, and Nanette Glushak).

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I'd like to see Ringer as Columbine with Millepied as Harlequin. De Luz and Bouder as Pierrot and Pierette. It would be interesting to see Bill Irwin's Harlequin Studies and compare it to Harlequinade. Both derive from Comedia del Arte.

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