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The Music of "Fille du Pharaon"

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Is the Pharaoh's Daughter Pugni's first work? I can't find much info on the net about him. To me, Pugni has always been the master of the cute, buoyant tune that everyone just loves but all of the Pharaoh's Daughter is quite bland and none of the music really stood out. This is why I'm asking if it was his first work - because it's very simple - even for Pugni.

Also, is Pouni the same person as Pugni? Maybe like the zillion ways of spelling Tchaikovsky. On my recording of Paquita one of the pieces is by Pouni and I can't find anyone called Pouni on the internet, are they the same person?

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Actually, he is listed in the online edition of Grove's, according to which: "In 1823 he contributed to the ballet Il castello di Kenilworth performed at La Scala, but Elerz e Zulmida in 1826 was the first wholly by him."

Here's the complete list of his ballets as listed in Grove's.

Perf. Milan, La Scala, pubd Milan: Elerz e Zulmida (L. Henry), 6 May 1826 (?1827); Edoardo III, ossia L'assedio di Calais (Henry), 15 Feb 1827, with music by Rossini, Mozart, Meyerbeer (1827); Pellia e Mileto (S. Taglione), 28 May 1827 (1827); Agamennone (G. Galzerani), 1 Sept 1828 (1828, 1832); Adelaide di Francia (Henry), 26 Dec 1829 (1830); Guglielmo Tell (Henry), 19 Feb 1833 (1833); Monsieur de Chalumeaux (Galzerani), 14 Jan 1834 (1834)

Perf. London, Her Majesty's, pubd London: Ondine, ou La naïade (J. Perrot, F. Cerrito), 22 June 1843, complete (1844); La Esmeralda (Perrot), 9 March 1844 (London, Milan, 1845); Eoline, ou La dryade (Perrot), 8 March 1845 (1845); Kaya, ou L'amour voyageur (Perrot, J. Weiss), 17 April 1845 (1845); Catarina, ou La fille du bandit (Perrot), 3 March 1846 (1846), as perf. La Scala, 1847, with addl music by G. Bajetti, complete (Milan, 1847); Lalla Rookh, or The Rose of Lahore (Perrot), 11 June 1846, collab. F. David (1846); Le jugement de Pâris (Perrot), 23 July 1846 (1846); Coralia, ou Le chevalier inconstant (P. Taglioni), 16 Feb 1847 (1847); Fiorita et la reine des elfrides (Taglioni), 19 Feb 1848 (1848); Les métamorphoses (Taglioni), 12 March 1850 (1850)

Stella, ou Les contrebandiers (A. Saint-Léon), Paris, Opéra, 22 Feb 1850, complete (Paris, 1850)

Perf. St Petersburg, Bol'shoy: Voyna zhenshchin [The Women's War, or The Amazons of the 9th Century] (Perrot), 23 Nov 1852, as Wlasta l’amazzone del IX secolo, ossia La guerra delle donne (Milan, ?1855); Faust (Perrot), 14 Feb 1854 (Moscow, n.d.); Doch Faraona [Pharaoh's Daughter] (M. Petipa), 30 Jan 1862, complete (St Petersburg, n.d.); Théolinda l'orpheline, ou Le lutin de la vallée (A. Saint-Léon), 18 Dec 1862, complete (St Petersburg, n.d.); Konyok gorbunyok, ili Tsar-devitsa [The Little Hump-Backed Horse, or the Tsar's Daughter] (Saint-Léon), 15 Dec 1864, complete (St Petersburg, ?1864)

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Anthony NYC - what is the 'online edition of Grove's"?

"Fille du Pharaon" is anything but Pugni's 1st work. He created many ballets way before this ballet, and he dies 8 years after its premiere (premiered in 1862, he dies in 1870). I think the music of Pugni is great, I mean its not classical music, its ballet music!

I have a performance of Ananiashvili in "Fille du Pharaon" its the premiere (@ the Bolshoi via Lacotte). The music sounds way different than that of the performance DVD now available of Zhakarova. The orchestrations in many numbers are alot different. I know that the conductor Sitnikov re-arranged many of the numbers Pugni worte for "Fille du Pharaon". My guess is that the original numbers were used (perhaps from the old Bolshoi staging) for the premiere. The re-orchestrated ones came later. You should hear these versions that are in the Ananiazhvili premiere that I have. Talk about Bland!

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Solor, the word in the press is that the Kirov would not allow the Bolshoi access to the original orchestral score of Fille du Pharaon, so the Bolshoi was forced to make an arrangement. I'll state again that with regard to 19th century ballet music and choreography nothing can be assumed. :tomato:

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Click on "subscribe" to find out why I don't use the online edition of a very valuable reference which I consult, on the average, once a month.

Pugni was one of a bunch of composers of "musique dansant" whose tunefulness was often the work of others. He and some of the other "dansants" cribbed music from then-popular theater works and dance tunes. In fact, some of the more obscure French operas of the Second Empire period only live on in quotes in ballet music! Cf. the Taglioni variation in "Pas de Quatre": The principal theme is the second of the "Kettenbrucke" waltzes by Johann Strauss, Sr. The subtitle of the Strauss was "The Wonder of the World" which was meant to celebrate the great suspension bridge in Budapest. Pugni used it as an implied compliment to Taglioni.

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Solor, the word in the press is that the Kirov would not allow the Bolshoi access to the original orchestral score of Fille du Pharaon, so the Bolshoi was forced to make an arrangement. I'll state again that with regard to 19th century ballet music and choreography nothing can be assumed.  :)

In the interview on the new DVD with Lacotte, he states that indeed the Mariinksy would not give up the originl Pugni score. The Bolshoi used there own score that they have had for a looong time from the Gorsky stagings, etc. But, I tell you, if you could hear the perfomance I have with Ananiashvili compared with the new DVD release of the Zhakarova performance, there are differences in the music in many sections.

For example - the introduction before at the beginning of the ballet is completely different. The adagio of Aspicia and Ta-or had much more dull, less colorful orchestrations (in act 1), as does the adagio at the beginning of the 2nd act. The harp arpeggios that accompany Aspicia's decent into the bottom of the nile are gone from the Zhakarova perfotmance. There are quite a few others.

My guess was that the re-orchestrated material was not yet prepared

(even the set for act 1 was changed slightly) , or perhaps i was issued later due to the sneering of Pugni's score.

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wow! I didn't realise Pugni composed so many works! My favourites of his works are the Pas de Quatre and the Pas de Trois from Le Corsaire. I really am not fond of La Fille du Pharon. It's not even that the orchestrations are bland! They just have boring tunes! I mean the Paquita variations are bland orchestrations but boy do they have great tunes.

So where have all these old works gone? Are they still available somewhere?

By the way, how do you pronounce Pugni?

Is it pooh-nee, or pyooh-nee, or pyooh-nye or what? I always thought it was pooh-nee but it sounds kinda odd when you say it so I'm going to ask.

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His name is pronounced (Che-zar-ay Pooj-nee) - not real phonetics but good enough.

Yes Pugni composed ALOT of ballets. You think the meoldies in "Pharaon" are dull? Geez. You seem to be a big fan of his, so, if not for this ballet, where in the world else did you hear his music? The only other things in exsistence that can be heard are "Pas de Quatre", "La Esmeralda".

MinkusPugni - Have you ever heard/seen the "La Esmeralda" Pas de Six? It is really quite beautiful and has some lovely music. Theres a number in it by Drigo, but the rest is Pugni. The choreography is superb.

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Roland John Wiley translated a section of Ekaterina Vazem's memoirs in one of his books. The section he extracted mainly concerned Vazem's fights with Petipa during the creation of "La Bayadere" in 1877. However, she also discussed her roles in other Petipa ballets including Aspicia in "La Fille du Pharaon". She mentions that the music of Pugni had no dramatic or local coloring and was often played at balls as accompaniment to social dances.

I studied Italian and the proper pronunciation is "Poo-nyee" He came to Russia after a long and successful career in Italy and Paris composing ballet music. The Pas de Quatre score that we hear in various Kirov videos is by Pugni and predates "Fille du Pharaon" by a decade or more. Evidently he died quite poor after he retired from his position as resident composer to the Imperial Ballet.

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BTW: if Pugni's music for "La Fille du Pharaon" sounds bland and generic, one should remember the circumstances under which it was composed. It was a rush job. Carolina Rosati had a contractual right to a new ballet for her benefit. She wanted Petipa to stage it for her. This miffed the directorate and Arthur St. Leon who considered Petipa a rival and had hindered his progress. The directorate allowed Petipa to stage the work with the proviso that it only take six weeks to stage. There were other ballets and operas being done at the same time but Petipa and Pugni managed to pull the whole thing together in six weeks. Maybe some of it was done beforehand but the music had to be composed and orchestrated probably in a month or less.

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My teacher Marat Daukeyev told me that Cesare Pugni's name was pronounced 'Che-zar-ay Poo-j-nee' when I asked him once. But who knows? I think "Ses-ar-ay Poog-nee' sounds good. I thought that was how it was pronounced. In class when the pianist would play music, often times he would ask us "what ballet is that music? what composer?" I said "Ses-ar-ay Poog-nee' and he laughed and said "its pronounced 'Che-zar-ay Poo-j-nee'.

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It is (to Anglophones)  CHE-sar-ay POOn-yee.  Russians are not always reliable when it comes to Italian names. :P

Yes, the :wink : is needed! Solor is pretty close. The first name is almost the trap the second name is with the tricky "gn". It's more like Che-zahr-eh. Or Che-zah-reh

Why do I even make this point?????? It's sort of personal . Non Italians often mispronounce the "s" between 2 vowels.

It's silly, but a bit of a pet peeve of mine. My last name is Rosa, I'm not Italian , really, but my name is and I sort of dislike it when it's pronounced Ro-sa rather than Ro-za .

But I am very used to this!!!! :dry:


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Self-correction: the mention that Pugni's music was played as quadrilles at balls is from Natalia Roslavleva's "Era of the Russian Ballet" in her chapter on Petipa. I have both this and Roland John Wiley's "A Century of Russian Ballet: Documents and Eyewitness Accounts, 1810-1910" and I am reading them concurrently.

Vazem doesn't discuss "Fille du Pharaon" in her excepted autobiography in Wiley.

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Doug -

Didnt you work with Lacotte on "Fille"? I was wondering if you knew.....

In the 3 films I have of "Fille" (I have 2 bootlegs that I got from a friend:) . The 1st is the premiere, I believe, with Ananiashvili and Filin (This is a professionally shot film, of the premiere I believe). The 2nd is a cam-corder recording with Alexandrova and Scortsov, and the 3rd is the DVD with Zhakharova and Filin.

I noticed in the Ananiashvili film that the music is much different in some sections....for example, the introduction/'overture' before the 1st scene is entirely different than that of the other 2 films I have, which, I think, were filmed later. The music seems to have the same theme, but the structure and arrangements are different. Also, the Adagio's between Taor and Aspicia have different arrangements, as well as some other numbers.

Was the music changed at some point? If so, why the changes? If the music was in fact changed, is the score used at the premiere the orignal Pugni?

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