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The ending of Balanchine's La Sonnambula

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From a review by Guillermo Perez of Miami City Ballet's production, posted in today's links:

"The ballet turned this strange couple into resurrection figures, granting them heavenly ascent after the sleepwalker took the dead poet, cradled in her arms, into a tower. Her light -- in fact their spirits -- rose, not just to the top tier, glimpsed through windows, but beyond, through the moonlit clouds."

At NYCB this scene used to be done that way too, with the light ascending into the sky. In recent years, the light has stayed in the upper rooms. The former carries the suggestion of transcendence; the latter, of necrophilia. Does anyone know how it was done originally, in Ballet Russe "Night Shadow" days or in the early NYCB days? And which version do you like better?

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That's interesting, kfw. It's certainly supported by the very mournful music that accompanies the movement of the light.

I'd always thought of the light rising in the sky as the joining of the Sleepwalker's and Poet's souls. It doesn't work, as FF noted, when the light doesn't escape the house, which has been (the ballet implies) a prison for the Sleepwalker.

At the end of the ballet, the assembled guests and entertainers watch the light rise. When the light moved across the sky, we could see the cast, their backs to us, watch it move from left to right. If the light does not move, that movement, which must be done not in unison but still showing the movement at the same rate, need not be so meticulously rehearsed. I wonder whether the shortening of this sequence was an attempt to simplify the rehearsal process.

This is a ballet rich, rich in mystery. I think it needs the light in the sky.

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i don't know if there are reviews that specify what happened at the very end of SONNAMBULA during the ballet's premiere performances. SOMEwhere i think i saw a repro of d.tanning's setting. if that scheme includes a sky above the baron's castle, i'd bet the 'into the sky' direction is 'original.'

in fact the new prod. at nycb didn't include any sky originally when it was first shown after balanchine died. then when the drop(s) got damaged in saratoga (i think) soon after the initial showings in nyc, a new arrangement was produced, allowing for the sky to show beyond the castle's second story.

(on wag suggested that it was balanchine's ghost/spirit that caused the set to crash to floor and thus need re-doing b/c the initial alan vaes designs so misunderstood this aspect of the production.)

certainly the zack brown's for ABT under baryshnikov included this 'heavenward' detail, and baryshnikov danced the poet at NYCB under balanchine's tutelage.

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