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Les Sylphides


glebb

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Cubanmiamiboy, the history of the different backdrops is a story unto itself! Today's Mariinsky reproduces the ca-1908 Corot-like autumnal trees backdrop by Orest Allegri, a great scenic designer of the Imperial Theaters. The "west" (UK, USA, etc.) is more familiar with the darker "church and cemetery ruins" backdrop that was designed by Alexander Benois for the Diaghilev company and subsequently 'kept' by post-Diaghilev Ballets Russes ventures...which toured all over the west. Back home in Petersburg-Leningrad, the set known to audiences has always been the Allegri one. I personally prefer the Allegri, as the Benois is too Giselle-like and, to me, Chopiniana should evoke very different feelings than does Giselle.

Ah, Natasha...and you just got a point that has flirted with my head forever..! Every time I watch Giselle's second act, I have this wild thought about being able to watch the whole Sylphides right in the middle of it, which would make for a looooong and beautiful romantic ballet night. Can you imagine...? The would be NO NEED to alter a second of Fokine's choreography..! happy.png

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Indeed...except that the sylphides in the Fokine are so much sweeter in nature than those evil Wilis of Giselle. In fact, that was one of my problems with Oxana Skorik in Chopinina this past week at the Kennedy Center -- that her angry face and attack made her appear as if she were a wili! (She softened her attack & look, if not the ugly jumps and positions, in her 2nd KennCen performance of Sylphides/Chopiniana.)

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I didn't think I would like Sylphides, b/c I thought, "How could an abstract Sylphides be better than the original La Sylphide (different ballet altogether)? Sounds silly!" But then I saw the Nureyev version that I got from Netflix and then two others, and now I LOVE this ballet! It is truly gorgeous. I like it better with the crumbling castle as opposed to a Kirov version with a pastoral scene. Since they are spirits, a nighttime haunted atmosphere seems better.

I love the ballet too, although I have always thought the sylphs in Les Sylphides were only incidentally sylphs. That is to say, I think Fokine is evoking Marie Taglioni as the Sylph, rather than the Sylph itself, and that the ballerina's task isn't to channel Sylphiness so much as it's to channel Taglioni-ness.

Going along with that, I have always liked a certain artifice (ie lack of naturalism) in Les Sylphides stagings. Either woods or castle-ruins are fine, because both are appropriately Romantic settings. However, I think the main thing about the mise-en-scene is that the stagings should NOT be naturalistic. The audience should not be transported to woods or castle ruins, but rather to the 19th century theatre.

Just my 2 cents.

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I didn't think I would like Sylphides, b/c I thought, "How could an abstract Sylphides be better than the original La Sylphide (different ballet altogether)? Sounds silly!" But then I saw the Nureyev version that I got from Netflix and then two others, and now I LOVE this ballet! It is truly gorgeous. I like it better with the crumbling castle as opposed to a Kirov version with a pastoral scene. Since they are spirits, a nighttime haunted atmosphere seems better.

Going along with that, I have always liked a certain artifice (ie lack of naturalism) in Les Sylphides stagings. Either woods or castle-ruins are fine, because both are appropriately Romantic settings. However, I think the main thing about the mise-en-scene is that the stagings should NOT be naturalistic. The audience should not be transported to woods or castle ruins, but rather to the 19th century theatre.

Just my 2 cents.

There does seem to be a certain humor (not comedy but lightness) to some of the music and dancing, so I think you're right. It does sort of say, "Don't take me too seriously, but enjoy....."

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On ‎1‎/‎18‎/‎2012 at 8:15 PM, cubanmiamiboy said:

Welcome to the "Chop. club" troupe, Natasha! flowers.gif I'm Cristian, commander in chief.tiphat.gif

 

May I also join the "Chop. Club"?  In anticipation of the Washington Ballet's presentation of Les Sylphides (a.k.a. Chopiniana) in their season opener in October, I've been going down my own Memory Lane of having seen this lovely ballet in many locales - from Budapest to Rio de Janeiro to NY to Moscow - with so many variations in choreographic staging and mood, from place to place. For me, it is the purest essence of ballet. 

 

Vaganova's version for the Kirov/Mariinsky is probably the largest in scale (24 corps Sylphs?) but also the slowest, most carefully, methodically rendered; hence the least satisfying overall. On the other hand, two of the greatest surprises of my ballet-going life were the smaller-scaled (14-16 corps sylphs) but livelier renditions by the ballet troupes of Rio de Janeiro (ca 2004) and Melbourne, Australia (ca 2009). Unlike the Russians, the sylphs of Rio and Melbourne seemed alive, awash in the poetry. They were not zombies or wilis, rising from the grave. The common denominator in the Brazilian and Australian versions is that both were staged by former ballerinas of the Ballets-Russes the Monte Carlo:  Tania Leskova in Brazil (still very much alive and coaching into her 90s, I am told) and Irina Baronova in Australia.

 

Which style of Sylphides do other members of this forum prefer? Any favorite editions? Has ABT performed it recently and, if so, who staged it? Fokine himself staged it for ABT in 1940 & 42, just months before his death. So is the definitive version with ABT? They should perform this treasure more often.

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