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Treasures in Dusty Libraries?

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Do you think it is possible that there may be great ballets that have been composed and have just been overlooked or forgotten. This question came to mind when I was reading a letter written by Tchaikovsky which mentioned a ballet called "Sylvia" composed by Leo Delibes. Tchaikovsky calls the music "good" and I am wondering why I have never heard of this ballet before.

So if Sylvia is out there, there must be many others as well. Do you think there are treasures out there (especially in terms of music that was written for ballet) that maybe didn't become popular because of poor performances or poor storyline or poor choreography or whatever?

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Sylvia is out there, and recorded. The original production has been lost, but Sir Frederick Ashton did a version of it. It wasn't very successful, because of the changing tastes which didn't admit of nymphs and shepherds, and whatnot, and also what Ashton considered his "three-act" curse. Everything he choreographed in three acts seems to have had problems!

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Yes, three acts is a bit much for todays audiences. I guess the attention span is not as good as it was 100 years ago. I was thinking the other day about Giselle and how it seems to be a very good length for todays audiences. Two acts is enough, even for me. When I view a video of Sleeping Beauty I'll usually break it up into smaller viewing sessions. I too would have a problem sitting through 3 hours and 3 acts!

As for Sylvia, I think I might just start looking for it. For some reason these dusty things are fascinating to me. Maybe its the subconcious influence of all the reruns of the "antiques road show"!!

Mel, if you (or anyone else)can think of any other oldies that had great music and fell through the cracks would you let me know? Thanks.

Yep, I'm surely going to be looking for Sylvia. Maybe it will come up on Ebay.

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It's currently in print! Check the amazon.com banner at the head of the Ballet Talk page! Then you might arm yourself with Cyril Beaumont's Book of Ballets and go through title by title to see if anybody has recordings out of any of those works. It's labor-intensive, but it can be researched a few at a time.

Ashton's belief that he was done in by three acts led him, incidentally, to organize La Fille Mal Gardée as a two-acter, just that the first act had two scenes!

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