Jump to content
cubanmiamiboy

Afterlife apotheosis onstage.

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Ever since I started watching ballet, live or on video, the issue of the afterlife apotheosis of both Swan Lake and La Bayadere have interested me.  More than not we see countless of faux finales that have nothing to do with the original libretti, which in both cases call for the reunification of the dead leading couple in the afterlife, via an onstage apotheosis.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the reasons given by every other ballet scholar about the nature of the changes.  For Swan Lake, the non adherence of an afterlife idea by the new communist ideology, and for La Bayadere...well, the only thing I can recall reading is that it was the lack of adequate machinery to produce the temple destruction finale what gave way for the altogether suppression of the fourth act. I suspect a similar situation of that of Swan Lake might had taken part in the decision, though.

We're no longer in Soviet times, but very little has been done to "clean" those ballets of their false endings.  But there are some  winners. For Swan Lake we have McKenzie's vision for ABT and most likely Ratmansky's recon for Zurich-( which I haven't seen, but given that he did such a historical production, I'm willing to bet that he restored the real finale).

For La Bayadere we have Makarova's recreation, the defunct Vikharev recon for the Mariinsky and now Ratmansky's recon for Staatsoper.  Makarova's recreation of the last act has seen more light, given that it has been staged in other companies aside from ABT-(Royal, La Scala), so whole generations of ballet goers are by now pretty familiar with the afterlife reunion real finale. Swan Lake remains the most changed, with crazy ideas popping here and there about the final scene. You know them well. They are insane.

And then...even though Vikharev and Ratmansky follow the real deal, their scenes look to me less convincing than Makarova's, which I believe gives more clearly the idea of the two souls being reunited in the afterlife by having the couple walk toward the clouds via the set of steps. In both reconstructions we see the ghost of Nikiya showing up in the destroyed temple and rising Solor among the dead bodies, which are still visible onstage.  Not too "paradise like" if you ask me.  Still too earthy. Swan Lake's winner is, of course, McKenzie's two lovers souls ascending  with the sun into the heavens.

The old Dowell's Royal production included the double suicide/souls reunification-( via a strange sliding boat)- but that's done now. 

Thoughts...? Have you see perhaps old productions of Swan Lake with a satisfactory, clear adherence to the original finale...? La Bayadere is really not as well known, so there's either Makarova's recreation or Ratmansky's recon.

Edited to add: Please note that I'm not trying to discuss "alternative"-(false)- endings of both ballets-( including the Soviet and Soviet- derivatives like the truncated Mariinsky, Bolshoi or POB). My intention is to focus on the productions that follow the original libretto finale -(which includes the death of both couples and their reunion in the afterlife)-  how this finale has prevailed around and how clear it is for the untrained spectator eye.

Swan Lake - Dance - Review - The New York Times

Armchair Travel | Seeing Things

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

I guess I have never thought of the "happy ending" to Swan Lake as traditional or even that widespread, being limited to Soviet and post-Soviet productions. On the other hand, I do think of the swan-boat apotheosis as traditional. But as I tried to recall the different productions I've seen in the theater, I realized that 10 ended with the deaths of Odette and/or Siegfried, or at least their permanent separation, and 7 ended with the death of Rothbart and the lovers reunited in life. Four involved a swan boat, which I will admit is less effective when the lovers aren't standing and are therefore less visible (e.g., the Dowell production vs. its predecessor).

As for La Bayadère, the problem with ending with the Kingdom of the Shades is that the story remains unresolved. But as for an apotheosis, my gut feeling is that Solor (unlike the immediately repentant Siegfried) doesn't deserve one.

Edited by volcanohunter

Share this post


Link to post

If it ends with Kingdom of the Shades, or even the pas de deux, that's a pretty good opium dream.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Helene said:

If it ends with Kingdom of the Shades, or even the pas de deux, that's a pretty good opium dream.

If it ends with the Kingdom of the Shades, what we have is the Soviet truncated "version" with a very alive Solor. La Bayadere ends with the temple destruction. And Solor is dead.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

Share this post


Link to post

Both the Bolshoi and the Royal Ballet showed La Bayadere in the last ballet cinema season, and though I'd seen both productions before and had vaguely preferred the Makarova production for offering a resolution, this time I actually thought the truncated Bolshoi version was more satisfying, in a manner of speaking.

It ends in the Kingdom of the Shades, not with the pas de deux, but with Solor seeing a final vision of Nikiya and fainting away.
This time It seemed to me as if Solor had died, in a psychic if not a physical sense.
I think like volcanohunter I didn't think Solor deserved the apotheosis in the original/restored version, so this felt right - a beautiful dream of reconciliation and forgiveness, then catharsis for us not in their reunion, but in his death.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, rhys said:

Both the Bolshoi and the Royal Ballet showed La Bayadere in the last ballet cinema season, and though I'd seen both productions before and had vaguely preferred the Makarova production for offering a resolution, this time I actually thought the truncated Bolshoi version was more satisfying, in a manner of speaking.

It ends in the Kingdom of the Shades, not with the pas de deux, but with Solor seeing a final vision of Nikiya and fainting away.
This time It seemed to me as if Solor had died, in a psychic if not a physical sense.
I think like volcanohunter I didn't think Solor deserved the apotheosis in the original/restored version, so this felt right - a beautiful dream of reconciliation and forgiveness, then catharsis for us not in their reunion, but in his death.

I can't wait to see a R&J where the friar comes to the tomb, gives both lovers an antidote and marries them when they wake up,  all of it with supplementary music by Khachaturian. They deserve it, damnit...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Well, Romeo doesn't, actually, since he's responsible for the deaths of Mercutio, Tybalt and Paris. As my Shakespeare professor put it, Romeo is not a romantic hero, he's a lethal weapon.

Edited by volcanohunter

Share this post


Link to post

Another SL staging faithful to the 1895 libretto. David Blair's for ABT, 1976 with Makarova and Nagy.

 

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

I can't wait to see a R&J where the friar comes to the tomb, gives both lovers an antidote and marries them when they wake up,  all of it with supplementary music by Khachaturian. They deserve it, damnit...

 

Actually, Prokofiev wrote his score with a happy ending, but the theater management vetoed his plan:

But the most unconventional decision Prokofiev made was in the ending: It was happy.

According to the ballet’s original scenario, by Adrian Piotrovsky, Romeo wants to stab himself but is stopped by Friar Laurence. While they are entangled in a struggle, Juliet begins to breathe. Then the stage fills with people, who watch as Romeo and Juliet begin to dance. The music is bright as the young lovers leave the stage in an Orphic apotheosis.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/23/arts/music/prokofiev-romeo-and-juliet-new-york-philharmonic-new-york-city-ballet.html

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...