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James

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  1. I was thinking that the Queen (or the Princess as she is called in both the 1877 and 1895 librettos) is a ruling monarch who has lost her consort. That would mean that her son would not become king until her death. The uneasy relationship between the widowed Queen Victoria and her son Edward springs to mind. So far as Hamlet is concerned, at that time, kings of Denmark were elected. Claudius is a usurper, who has, as Hamlet says in Act V of the play, “popped in between the election and my hopes”. Tom Stoppard probably did his A Level Eng Lit slightly longer ago than me.
  2. Congratulations, too, to Gary Avis MBE.
  3. If the tweets are correct, looks like Gary Avis will make his debut as Von Rothbart this afternoon.
  4. This is how George Balanchine described the 32 fouettes in his "Festival of Ballet": "These relentless, whipping turns, sum up her [Odile's] power over the prince and, with disdainful joy, seem to lash at his passion." I have always felt that putting in doubles or triples detracts from the lascerating effect Balanchine describes, though I have noticed that some Odiles mix it up a bit in the first 16 bars, then revert to single fouettes when the music changes for the second set of 16 bars. Orlandau mentioned Galina Samsova in what is now the BRB's Swan Lake. I remember reading at the time that Samsova was nursing an injury but nevertheless performed in the premiere, substituting, I think, pique maneges for the fouettes. One of the critics remarked that the steps she did perform may well have been more difficult than fouettes.
  5. Siegfried is the only character who appears in all four acts (in both the original 1877 production and the 1895 revision). Sir Peter Wright, I think it was, said that though Swan Lake is Odette's ballet, it is Siegfried's story. I understand that one reason for introducing Rothbart earlier is to make more sense of the way in which he is immediately accepted by the Prince's mother when he arrives at the ball. What I glean from the article is that the aim has been to make the characters and situations more credible. In the same vein, and I am not sure if it has been mentioned before, the aspiring brides will not be wearing identical dresses. James
  6. This is the cast as given in the digital programme:- Herr Drosselmeyer Gary Avis Clara (his god-daughter) Francesca Hayward Hans-Peter/The Nutcracker Alexander Campbell Drosselmeyer’s Assistant David Yudes Maiden Aunts Caroline Jennings, Susan Nye Housekeeper Barbara Rhodes Dr Stahlbaum (Clara's father) Christopher Saunders Mrs Stahlbaum (Clara's mother) Elizabeth McGorian Fritz (Clara's brother) Caspar Lench Clara’s Partner Tristan Dyer Grandmother Hannah Grennell Grandfather Alastair Marriott Dancing Mistress Kristen McNally Captain Bennet Gartside Harlequin Kevin Emerton Columbine Elizabeth Harrod Soldier Paul Kay Vivandière Meaghan Grace Hinkis St Nicholas Giacomo Rovero Mouse King Nicol Edmonds The Sugar Plum Fairy Sarah Lamb The Prince Steven McRae Spanish Dance Olivia Cowley, Tomas Mock, Nathalie Harrison, Erico Montes, Hannah Grennell, Kevin Emerton Arabian Dance Melissa Hamilton, Reece Clarke , David Donnelly, Téo Dubreuil Chinese Dance Leo Dixon, Calvin Richardson Russian Dance Tristan Dyer, Paul Kay Dance of the Mirlitons Elizabeth Harrod, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Mayara Magri, Romany Pajdak Rose Fairy Yasmine Naghdi Her Escorts Matthew Ball, William Bracewell, Nicol Edmonds, James Hay Leading Flowers Claire Calvert, Fumi Kaneko, Itziar Mendizabal, Beatriz Stix-Brunell
  7. The “oriental” dance does feature in the recording of the Mariinsky production with Novikova and Sarafanov, but it has a bit more context than as seen in the London performance (which I saw on Monday). On the DVD, the dancer enters with a be-turbaned male companion, who accompanies her on a tambour. They are obviously meant to be itinerant (Moorish?) performers, and, as they exit, the inn-keeper gives money to the man.
  8. The ROH website is now showing that Shklyarov has been cast as Armand opposite Osipova's Marguerite.
  9. I think people are being unduly pessimistic over the new Swan Lake. Doubters might want to have a look at this: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/swan-lake-by-liam-scarlett John Macfarlane's design for Act II visibly shows a lake, which is encouraging - and the credits refer to additional choreography by Liam Scarlett and Frederick Ashton.
  10. The Mariinsky do tend to include Chopiniana/Les Sylphides as a matter of course in their Fokine bills, so I think, Lindsay, this would be one of the ballets you would get. In a sense, it is their ballet because it was created by Michel Fokine for the Mariinksy theatre in 1908. I do not believe that Isabelle Fokine has ever been involved in the Mariinksy’s staging, as theirs is based on the revival by Agrippina Vaganova in 1931 – at any rate, according to my programme, that is the version they danced at the Royal Opera House in 2011. Whatever you choose, I hope you have a great time. I see that they are doing Fountain of Bakhchisarai tonight and tomorrow. Now that is a ballet I’d love them to bring to the UK. Interesting about Petroushka. According to my then “Kirov” programme, their 2000 production was a revival by Sergei Vikharev of a production by Leonid Leontiev for the Mariinsky in 1920. No mention of Ms Fokine. FLOSS mentions two recordings of Firebird. There is also a recording of the Mariinsky’s production of Firebird performed in Paris in 2002 with Diana Vishneva in the title role, on a DVD called “The Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky”. The notes credit the reconstruction to Isabelle Fokine and Andris Liepa. The DVD also features Sheherazade, Le Spectre de la rose and a ballet I saw London’s Festival Ballet dance as a boy in the 1960s, The Polovtsian Dances. James
  11. I've watched Beryl Grey and Lucette Aldous (in the 1959 BBC film). Both look consummate. The problems with the variation clearly have nothing to with height, as these two dancers were at opposite ends of the scale. I wonder why the "western" version of the variation differs from the Russian one? Does anyone know if the RB version is derived from the 1921 Diaghilev production? I believe that Bronislava Nijinska danced the Lilac Fairy in that production, so perhaps she changed the choreography for that variation - as well as making the other changes which we know found their way into the RB text. James
  12. Yes, in 2005 it was paired with Les Rendezvous and The Lesson alternately. James
  13. According to the cast list published on the Bolshoi website, Margarita Shrainer was indeed "Twittering Canary" (as they have translated it). Miss Shrainer also danced the Diamond Fairy in the last Act. We were very impressed with Yulia Stepanova as the Lilac Fairy.
  14. This happens, exactly as Markova describes it, in the film of Giselle made in 1951 which ENB have put up on their YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HnNXvF0Kn0 The relevant action begins round about 14.40. I think we tend to forget how suicide was viewed until comparatively recently. It was only decriminalised in England in 1961, and people who had survived suicide attempts were regularly prosecuted. Some were even sent to prison (as recently as the 1950s). Anyone attempting suicide was just as a culpable as someone who succeeded, and I am sure the law followed religious teaching here. Giselle's attempt at stabbing herself with the sword would, in itself, have constituted a mortal sin, and, in the absence of confession and penance, would presumably have condemned her in the eyes of the church. For that reason, there is justification for her not to have been buried in consecrated ground, even if the primary cause of death was her weak heart. James
  15. Thank you, RuthE. Raven Girl is one of the few McGregor's I haven't seen, and I was probably a bit put off by the adverse reviews. I expect I'll give it a go next time around. Incidentally, the black lace costumes for this drew a comment from Anton du Beke, who jested that he might copy them for a duet with Lesley Joseph (his recently allotted partner, for non-aficionados of Strictly Come Dancing).
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