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Who is Sylvia?

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Well, Mel asked the question so I'll reply that in John Neumier's version she's a girl who seems to be looking to find herself. I saw it at the premiere and was hugely disappointed. Revisiting it, the ballet is less of a muddle, but I still don't like it, although I've very much admired some of Neumier's other work. But here I think he is out of sympathy with the story although he writes that he admires the music. He's gone back to Tasso, ignoring the admitedly old-fashioned libretto of the original ballet and tried to give the piece a "contemporary/universal" gloss.

So we have Sylvia in a chic red velvet evening dress "becoming aware of her femininity" with the aid of a male corps de ballet in black tie and tails, headed by Eros, who has suddenly bcome Orion.

And at the end of the piece, dressed in a smart New Look suit, she rediscovers Aminta, only to go off, carrying her suitcase, with an anonymous gent in a tweed suit.

To be fair, because of a strike, at last Friday's performance the ballet was given in a single decor and with very basic lighting. What saved it were the dancers; Manuel Legris as Aminta, Nicolas LeRiche as Eros/Orion, Delphine Moussin as Diana, the very, very, talented and promising Elenora Abagnato as Sylvia and Wilfried Romoli as Endymion. Just to watch them walk across the stage is sheer pleasure, and Neumier does give them a bit more than that to do.

But for me, Neumier's ballet doesn't work, so I hope the whispers that the Ashton version may be revived prove to be true. Otherwise I'll just have to keep on driving my neighbours insane playing the recording of the score over and over, very loudly.

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TWO Paris reports in the same day from Alymer! Now that's a Christmas present.

Doesn't sound like one I would like. (I have liked some Neumeier, his "Don Juan" and his Camille ballet, but not much more).

Have you ever noticed that when a ballet is particularly unmusical, the choreographer will give several interviews indicating how much the music means to him? :)

As for updating, I remember (as I'm sure does Alymer) that in David Vaughan's book, when Ashton did "Sylvia," London critics (I believe Richard Buckle was one) begged him to update it and suggested a scenario, and hated it that he was so old-fashioned and did it straight.

I'd also like to have it back. I miss the old Dance and Dancers end of year poll, when you could pose questions like that and have a vague hope that someone in charge would actually read the answers!

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