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I just watched this 'Swan Lake' with Wieneropernballeten, Lanchberry, etc., and would be interested to know something about this Nureyev-choreographed version. Is it the only taped version of Nureyev and Fonteyn? Much is wonderful, as I want to see anything of the young Nureyev, who's always glorious, even if I'm not crazy about the make-up and hair, as here; and also Fonteyn in anything.

The surprising thing for me, not knowing that many productions, is dispensing with the traditional Black Swan music and using other music, some waltzes from the first act, I believe; I'm not sure there is anything that hasn't been heard earlier in the ballet in this version, and this probably has to do with how he wanted it danced. That Black Swan music is rather sorely missed by me, as it provides an obviously worldly sound that contrasts boldly with the ethereal Odette music. I would like to know if this is frequently done, or even if it has ever been done. Also, if there's another tape or DVD of Nureyev in 'Swan Lake' even without Fonteyn, but in the more usual version. Thanks.

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I know this isn't a direct answer to your question, but you may find some of the posts in the following threads interesting:

swan lake music, which one is closest to what tchaikovsky wrote?

Swan Lake, Graeme Murphy

RARE ballet music treasure on a CD I just bought!

Siegfried's Black Swan Variation

Swan Lake Music

Nureyev's two Swan Lakes -- like night and day

Swan Lake productions

The 'black Swan' Pas De Deux/'tchaikovsky Pas De Deux'

This may give you an idea of how the music has been used (and some might argue abused) over the years.

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Oh, Helene, thanks so much. I didn't find an exact answer, but directions pointed to it enough; anyway, ridiculous of me for not searching back there by now--I've read a lot of those music archives and they are terrific. You know, I think I was slightly shocked that that particular music was not there. I can see now that musically that Black Swan Music is my favourite music in the whole score, go down the street singing it, etc. : I've just always counted on its being there, providing a 'champagne party' contrast to the rest.

What I think I'll do is get that Bolshoi version 'the Ultimate Swan Lake' which I want to watch over and over anyway and watch the Black Swan pdd in that and this Nureyev one--this will force me to see what some of the choreographic changes were. At this point, all I noticed were the fouettes done to music I'd never heard them done to. I also think there may be some other Fonteyn/Nureyev 'Swan Lake' on that early 90's TV documentary about Nureyev, but not sure; may be excerpts on some other tapes. I loved seeing them do it though, she looks especially good. He definitely gave up his usual ease at 'being a prince' for this Caravaggiesque-trollop look with the makeup, esp. heavy lipstick, and somehow his costume makes him look shorter than I've ever seen him. On the other hand, these kinds of ornaments may actually add to his dancing (at least once, I think I usually prefer the longer look), which I have yet to tire of.

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I watched this once on VHS and was underwhelmed. First of all, Nureyev is done up like Ziggy Stardust which is enhanced by constant closeups. However, Dame Margot is hardly ever seen in closeup - she is strictly photographed in medium or panoramic shots. Maybe this is to de-emphasize her age at the time of the filming. It distances us from Odette/Odile and makes the whole film about the rather fabulous Prince Sieggy Stardust.

As for a record of Nureyev and Fonteyn dancing the original Petipa "Black Swan PDD" - they performed it on a television variety show called "Hollywood Palace" in 1965. Dame Margot is in fine form and nails the 32 fouettés. The episode was available at the Museum of Television and Radio in NYC and could be watched at a monitor in the museum's viewing room. Here is the full information on the episode:


At the end of the PDD Rudi had to hoist Margot on his shoulder and you see him rather ungallantly flinch and toss her off abruptly before taking a bow. Margot looks a little perturbed by this.

It seems that Rudi and Margot also did a "Swan Lake" excerpt on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965



It seems that the BBC and Ed Sullivan Show have several Rudi/Margot appearances in their archives. Hopefully, Sofa Entertainment will put out a ballet compilation tape similar to the one they did for opera singers... The BBC has licensed opera stuff from their archives from the fifties and sixties to EMI.

Also, the Paul Czinner film entitled "The Royal Ballet" has a second act "Swan Lake" filmed in 1958 with a prime-time Margot with Michael Somes.

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It . . . makes the whole film about the rather fabulous Prince Sieggy Stardust.

:) Thanks for a great laugh and for the links to the info on tv excerpts, FP!

Yes, thank you, FP, I will look at these. I'm going to watch in next 2 days the old tape of 'Fonteyn and Nureyev: The Perfect Partnership' and also see what's on there. I think a lot of us first saw them on Ed Sullivan. I didn't know about the Bell Telephone Hour things till recently, although I did watch Bell Telephone Hour regularly, loved that theme played by 'Donald Voorhees and the Bell Telephone Orchestra.'

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Thank you, faux pas! I haven't found the 1937 'Le Cygne' yet, but in meantime NYPL has the Fonteyn/Somes. I haven't seen her that far back except in very short clips, so I requested it and can't wait to see it. When I was searching for 'Le Cygne', I found there's a piano reduction for the original Black Swan Music, so that will be enormous fun too. Last night, I watched that tape of the 6 Balanchine ballerinas, and Melissa Hayden said things right along the lines of what I'm working on--about 'seeing sound' even when you weren't dancing to the actual music. I thought she was often the most articulate on Balanchine's work itself, and feel extremely lucky I got to see her do the one-act 'Swan Lake' one year before she retired. That was the only time I saw her, and I can still see the end of it in my mind--it was exquisite.

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