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"Pierrot Lunaire," by Tetley or anyone else

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Today's links has several reviews of the Royal Ballet's recent production of Glen Tetley's Pierrot Lunaire, performed to the Schoenberg score for solo vocalist and instruments.

I remember being bowled over by a recording of this score when I was in college, :wallbash: but have never seen it on the stage in any form. I know that Nureyev danced it late in his career.

Has anyone seen this new production -- or any other? I'd really appreciate hearing your impressions. The reviewer mentions that Ballet Rambert also has it in rep. What about other companies, including American?


HERE'S A QUOTE from one of today's reviews of the Royal's performance:

"Pierrot lunaire, Tetley's first surviving ballet, was made in 1962 to Schoenberg's score for narrator and ensemble. Orchestral textures shift and change, as Linda Hirst declaims the German text with wails and sung lines. The ballet opens with Tetley's best image. Rouben Ter-Artunian's set is a white scaffolding tower, lit with stark white light. Pierrot swings from a bar, body arched back into a crescent: he is the moon. Ivan Putrov is an innocent Pierrot, throwing himself into Tetley's mix of ballet and modern dance steps, avoiding the saccharine of the wide-eyed expressions.

"Carlos Acosta is lithe and aggressive as the experienced clown Brighella, strutting and mocking Pierrot. Deirdre Chapman is a mercurial Columbine, pugnacious, wistful or aggressive by turns. The cast of three carry the ballet, personalities clear and bold.

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the NYPubLib for PerfArts has some 22 entries on PierrotLunaire, here are a few of them.

The magic of dance, part I [videorecording] / BBC-TV production in association with Time-Life TV and RM Productions, Munich ; producer, Patricia Foy.

U.K. : British Broadcasting Corporation, c1979.(60 min.) : sd., col.

Series :Magic of dance ; Part I.

Notes :Part I: The scene changes.

:Narrator/host: Margot Fonteyn.

:Historical consultant: Ivor Guest.

:Introduction by Fonteyn discussing her early training and career, with background shots of present-day Shanghai and London -- Swan lake: Act II pas de deux (7 min.) / performed by Natalia Makarova and Michael Denard -- Interview with Fred Astaire (5 min.) -- Fascinating rhythm [excerpt] (4 min.) / choreography, Roland Petit ; performed by Luigi Bonino and Ballets de Marseille -- Sammy Davis Jr. discussing and demonstrating several styles of tap dancing (8 min.) -- Galina Ulanova in a 1954 film excerpt of Romeo and Juliet with the Bolshoi Ballet (ca. 4 min.) -- The greatest (3 min.) / performed by Virginia Johnson and Eddie Shellman -- The corsair: pas de deux (ca. 8 min.) / from a 1964 film, performed by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev -- Interview with Nureyev -- Pierrot lunaire [excerpt] (3 min.) / choreography, Glen Tetley ; performed by Nureyev -- The sleeping beauty: Act III, Grand pas de deux (10 min.) / performed by Lynn Seymour and Rudolf Nureyev.

Pierrot lunaire c1979. 56 min. : sd. color

Notes :A BBC co-production with RM Productions, Munich. Directed by Colin Nears.

:Choreography: Glen Tetley. Music: Arnold Schönberg. Scenery and costumes: Rouben Ter-Arutunian. Lighting: John B. Read.

:Performed by members of Ballet Rambert: Christopher Bruce (Pierrot), Lucy Burge (Columbine), and Leigh Warren (Brighella). Music performed by Sally Burgess, soprano, and chamber group conducted by Charles Darden.

CONTENTS. - Spoken commentary on the making of the ballet by its choreographer, Glen Tetley, and its designer, Rouben Ter-Arutunian. (1st 20 min.) - Performance of the ballet Pierrot lunaire (last 36 min.)

Nureyev/ produced by Antelope Films Ltd. in association with Orfeo Films, Radio Telefis Eireann, and Reiner Moritz Associates Ltd. ; produced and directed by Patricia Foy. c1991. (90 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences NotesReissued as a videotape by Home Vision, a Films Incorporated company.

Executive producer, Mick Csaky.

Narrator: Cliff Morgan.

Pianist: Philip Gammon.

Interviewees: Rudolf Nureyev, and Rashida Evgrafova, Taisiam Khalturina, Anna Udel'tsova, Natalia Dudinskaya, Roland Petit, Maude Lloyd, Margot Fonteyn, Ninette de Valois, David Wall, Sylvie Guillem, Marina Vivien.

Documentary on the life and career of Rudolf Nureyev, told through interviews with the dancer. Topics include his childhood in the town of Ufa, where he studied folk dancing ; his ballet training with Anna Udeltsova and the Kirov School's Aleksandr Pushkin ; his early career with the Kirov Ballet ; his defection to the west and initial affiliation with the International Ballet of the Marquis de Cuevas ; his friendship with Erik Bruhn ; his partnership with Margot Fonteyn and tenure with the Royal Ballet ; the creation of Frederick Ashton's Marguerite and Armand ; productions he has mounted for other companies ; his contacts with George Balanchine ; his experimentation with modern dance ; his work as film actor and director ; and his leadership of the Paris Opéra Ballet. He is seen dancing in excerpts from Le corsaire, The sleeping beauty, The nutcracker, Giselle (with Fonteyn), Marguerite and Armand (with Fonteyn), Apollo, Pierrot lunaire, Aureole (with Vivi Flindt, Eva Kloborg, and Anne Sonnerup of the Royal Danish Ballet), Swine lake (with Miss Piggy), and his own stagings of Swan lake, The nutcracker (with Merle Park), Don Quixote, and Cinderella (with Sylvie Guillem and Charles Jude). Observations of Nureyev as a dancer and a private person are offered by his sister Rashida Evgrafova, his teachers Taisiam Khalturina and Anna Udel'tsova, and various colleagues and associates.

Glen Tetley : Pierrot's tower / produced by Michael Blackwood Productions in association with Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) ; produced and directed by Michael Blackwood.

U.S. : Michael Blackwood Productions, c1995.

(58 min.) : sd., col. with b&w sequences

Notes: Original container labeled "titled version" ; copyright date given as c1997.

Executive producer, Harro Eisele ; editing, Elizabeth Long ; photography, Nils Post ; sound recordist, Paul Veld.

Profile of Glen Tetley, dancer, choreographer and teacher, as told in his own words. The program centers on Tetley's restaging of his ballet Voluntaries for Het Nationale Ballet in Amsterdam at the invitation of artistic director Wayne Eagling, and there are numerous scenes of Tetley in rehearsal with the company. Tetley looks back on his long career, spanning ballet and modern dance, which began when Jerome Robbins engaged him to dance in the musical On the town. Film clips show him dancing an excerpt from John Butler's Carmina burana and the slip jig from Agnes de Mille's musical Juno. Tetley also discusses his many choreographic works, beginning with Pierrot lunaire (1962) ; his creations for Nederlands Dans Theater and Ballet Rambert ; Field figures (1970) for the Royal Ballet ; his collaborations with designers Nadine Baylis and Rouben Ter-Arutunian ; his works for the National Ballet of Canada and other classical ballet companies. In scenes from his private life, he is seen at dinner with colleagues Eagling, Jaap Flier, Toer Van Schayk, Rudi Van Dantzig, and Augustus Van Heerden, and at home in his medieval tower in Spoleto, Italy, which he equates with the tower in Pierrot lunaire.

Dance excerpts choreographed by Tetley (in order of appearance): Voluntaries / music, Francis Poulenc (Concerto for organ, strings and percussion) ; sets and costumes, Rouben Ter-Arutunian ; lighting, John B. Read ; danced by Het Nationale Ballet: Nathalie Caris, Alan Land (pas de deux), Coleen Davis, Boris de Leeuw, Jahn Johansen (pas de trois), others ; Muziektheater Orchestra conducted by Tibor Varga -- Pierrot lunaire / music, Arnold Schoenberg ; sets and costumes, Ter-Arutunian ; danced by Rambert Dance Company: Christopher Bruce, Leigh Warren, Lucy Burge -- Sargasso / music, Ernst Krenek ; danced by Nederlands Dans Theater: Gat Galya -- Circles / music, Luciano Berio ; danced by Nederlands Dans Theater -- Mutations / music, Karlheinz Stockhausen ; danced by Nederlands Dans Theater: Johan Meyer [Meijer] -- Field figures / music, Stockhausen ; danced by the Royal Ballet: Rudolf Nureyev, Deanne Bergsma -- Greening / music, Arne Nordheim ; scenery and costumes, Nadine Baylis ; danced by the Royal Danish Ballet: Mette Honningen -- Ricercare / music, Mordecai Seter ; danced by Nederlands Dans Theater: Joke Zijlstra, Nacho Duato -- The rite of spring / music, Igor Stravinsky ; danced by National Ballet of Canada: Owen Montague -- The tempest / music, Nordheim ; danced by Norwegian National Ballet: Ketil Gudim, Per Lie -- Alice / music, David Del Tredici ; danced by National Ballet of Canada: Karen Kain, Rex Harrington, Kimberly Glasco, Peter Ottmann, others.

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Thanks so much, rg, for your response. It's wonderful that so much information exists. The Rouben Ter-Arutunian set (Ballet Rambert's production and I think also in the new Royal production) is apparently very central to the success of this ballet. I've seen the Nureyev documentary, but did not recall the inclusion of PL.

Rudolf Nureyev first performed PL in Copenhagen in 1976, according to Diane Solway, and included it on a Friends of Nureyev program that played on Broadway in 1977. He had first seen Ballet Rambert doing it in 1969 and wanted to learn it then, but Tetley resisted at that time, gave permission a decade later, and then refused a revival in the 80s when Nureyev was head of the POB.

Tetley's initial doubts about Nureyev had to do with style and personality. He says, "There was something compellingly earthy, physical and direct about him, and the character of Pierrot is innocent, vulnerable and easily manipulated. Rudi could be shockingly earthy." In other words, a good Petroushka, but no Pierrot.

By the 80s, Tetley considered that Nureyev could no longer handle the role in terms of technique -- especially the "airborne quality". Nureyev offered him Patrick Dupond, but Tetley says he did not want to return to the POB after an unpleasant experience with another ballet . ("Sure they're wonderful dancers, but heavens, the attitude!")

Tetley speaks of the "introspective, gossamer quality" of the Schoenberg score. I imagine that it is not easy to find a vocalist and musicians with the skill and expertise to bring this difficult score across to the dancers, not to mention the audience.

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I'm about to fall asleep, but have just returned from seeing Pierrot for the first time, and I have to say wow. The music has been much criticised, but I didn't have problems with it, and I think it fairly set the atmosphere for the piece. As for Ivan Putrov's performance - wow. I have to admit that when I first started watching the Royal Ballet I did not like Putrov at all - I found him cold, inaccessible, and his dancing had a quality of arrogance (to my mind) which I found off-putting. Over the past two seasons, he's grown immensely - beginning with Prodigal Son, carrying on into Spectre de la Rose and Requiem, and having a stable partnership hasn't hurt him. He's always had a nice ballon and clean line, but character portrayal was not always clean cut - and this goes for his opening night performance of La Sylphide, which I loved, but at times his characterisation was very vague. Tonight, I sat watching thinking 'This is Ivan Putrov? Really? It looks like him but...' Wow. If he begins to invest in all his roles this way, stop what you're doing and buy your tickets to London now. And, someone, please - after seeing him in this, I dare say we need to see him in Petroushka.

Diedre Chapman was wonderful - and she has performed this role before with Rambert. I did however find Carlos Acosta a bit cartoonish - you know, the evil green monster thing in Superman (the new one that came out maybe 2-3 years ago). It did seem he was trying too hard almost.

In my opinion though, not to be missed if you are in/can get to London. Only four performances left!

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