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  1. The Nutcracker recording with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra is among the fastest I have heard and I think overall quite close to Tchaikovsky´s suggestions. There is a recording of excerpts from the ballet with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Evgeny Mravinsky (c. 1981) that I like a lot. This conductor (born 1903) startet his career as a ballet repetitor and conducted for the Kirov Ballet during the 1930s, he has a reputation for "cleansing of tempo". With a metronome you can compare: for example the waltz of the snowflakes according to the composer is to be played at 72 bpm for a dotted half note (in 3/4 time signature). Online metronome here (or in Google): http://a.bestmetronome.com/
  2. We don´t, because Tchaikovsky didn´t write down any metronome markings for Swan Lake (he did for Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker). Take, for example, the first act waltz in Swan Lake. Tchaikowski didn´t prescribe a tempo as such, he merely wrote tempo di valse. He apparently assumed that there was an agreement among conductors, orchestras and audiences on what is the "right" tempo for a waltz, and while he used metronome markings in Sleeping Beauty, he did not suggest any for the Grande valse villageoise (The Garland Waltz) in this ballet. In Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky wrote the coda of the first act pas de trois as Allegro vivace, this is a fast tempo and according to the consens of today means it would be played at around 172-176 bpm (beats per minute). However in Sleeping Beauty he prescribes for the Allegro vivace in Aurora´s act 1 solo a metronome marking of 184 (this is right after the violin solo, the chainé turns if I remember correctly?). Of course that is just a random example (and tempo is obviously not just robot bpm), but from my listening experience and reading about this topic I find that hardly anyone performs Tchaikovsky´s ballet or symphonic pieces at the tempo he suggested (nearly all performances and recordings are slower). Tchaikovsky was not a regular ballet composer and wrote his ballets from the symphonic perspective, but maybe perfomance practice has changed in other ways as well. Some musicologists assume that strings in orchestras of the late 19th century did use little or no vibrato, and would maybe not have produced the thick sound textures we usually hear today in this repertory.
  3. Not from decades, but centuries ago : - ) Here is a quotation from the published conversations of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe with J. P. Eckermann, 1830 (translation by John Oxenford) about applause in Italian opera houses: "What I had been told in Germany about the loud Italian public I have found confirmed; and, indeed, the longer the opera is played, the more does the noise of the public increase. A fortnight ago I saw one of the first representations of the “Conte Ory.” The singers were received with applause on their entrance; the audience, to be sure, talked during the less striking scenes, but when good airs were sung all was still, and general approbation rewarded the singers. The choruses went excellently, and I admired the precision with which voices and orchestra always kept together. But now, when the opera has been given every evening since that time, the public has totally ceased to pay attention; everybody talks, and the house resounds with the noise. Scarcely a hand is stirred, and one can scarcely imagine how the singers can open their lips on the stage, or how the instrumentalists can play a note in the orchestra. There is an end to zeal and precision; and the foreigner, who likes to hear something, would be in despair—if despair were at all possible in so cheerful an assembly." (this is about Milan)
  4. Here is the one about Empress Elisabeth, English translation: https://www.amazon.co.uk/reluctant-empress-Brigitte-Hamann/dp/3548354793/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1469533913&sr=8-1&keywords=brigitte+hamann (Hope it is ok to post a link to the evil amazonian bookseller.)
  5. I think it might have been Vienna, considering Balanchine intended to use music by Arnold Schönberg who was one of the three most prominent members of the so called Second Viennese School (with Alban Berg and Anton Webern) and like Balanchine himself one of the most influential and innovative creative artists of the 20th century. Since the ballets and composers of the three parts of Jewels seem to be identified with a city, that would be logical for me. Also Balanchine had made several ballets on Waltzes (Vienna Waltzes, Liebeslieder Walzer, La Valse) before and after Jewels. edited to add: I don´t know what Schönberg piece Balanchine thoght about, but recently I heard his Variations for Orchestra (op. 31) which I liked very much. There are quotations of the B-A-C-H motive and allusions to various genres, including the Waltz (fourth variation). So maybe a modern, post-Habsburg, 1920s take on the Waltz!
  6. Hello Fiz, I don´t know any English language book about Crown Prince Rudolf´s wife Stephanie but (in case you don´t know it already) there is a very good big biography about his mother the Empress Elisabeth that has been translated, I think the English title is The reluctant Empress, by Brigitte Hamann. The author is a historian and expert for the time and place. I read this in German and thought it was very well written, comprehensive, accessible but profoundly researched. edited to add: Brigitte Hamann also wrote a similarly good and well-reviewed biography about Rudolf himself that I believe to be the best one there is. Unfortunately it has not been translated yet.
  7. After reading all those interesting comments on this thread I couldn´t wait to see this in the cinema. I disagree that Mary Shelley´s "Frankenstein" is a horror story, or rather I disagree that horror is what it is about. I don´t think it is about love either - at least not about the love relationship between Victor and Elizabeth. The way I understand the novel, it is about hybris, and I would like to tell you what I associated with it: The story is set in the 18th century which was a time of great scientific discoveries and optimism. I remembered a line from Mozart´s Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), "den Göttern gleich" ("like the Gods"). Since this was also the era of the Enlightenment, there was a tendency to remove God as a central point of focus and replace him with science and rationality (Romanticism later tried to reverse this, which is why it is sometimes called a reactionary movement). So Victor tries to create life, then turns away and runs, and his creation becomes his nemesis. That seems to me to be a timeless issue, "if God exists, why does he allow ..." I think it is called the theodicy question. The horror aspect in my opinion is what trivial literature has extracted from it, so in our time the Frankenstein novel can be seen as the source of inspiration of the genre of horror fiction. I was surprised that Liam Scarlett´s ballet has so many opportunities for Victor - Elizabeth pas de deux, and such a lenghty household description - the most conventional part of the story. I don´t think any great novel or play is ever about the plot - it is about ideas and their appropriate expression, the plot being just the frame, the skeleton: the plot of Romeo and Juliet could just as well be that of a soap opera. Therefore a ballet or opera does not need to follow the plot of a literary source in such a literal way as Liam Scarlett has done. In fact new theatre and opera productions have been moving away from this approach for quite some time now.
  8. Oh I wouldn´t say I have much "knowledge" of the Russian school But I think you are right, the "sauté method" is probably especially stressful and requires strong feet and ankles, which is where we return to your previous post #101. Maybe one of the dancers/teachers of this forum can explain better? Sorry, off-topic I know.
  9. The original libretto tells us at first that Giselle is "his beloved, the object of his unique affection" (celle qu’il aime, l’objet de son unique tendresse). Later, when Hilarion tells Giselle that "Loys" is not who he claims to be, Loys/Albrecht insists that he is "a simple peasant, her lover, her fiance" (un simple paysan, son amant, son fiancé). But already two sentences later, the narrator calls Albrecht "perfidious" (dans les bras du perfide Albert). When Bathilde shows her engagement ring, he tries to stop her and tries to avoid further revelations (Albert s’approche de Bathilde et veut en vain l’empêcher d’achever ce terrible aveu). He continues to deny everything when it is clear that he has deceived both Giselle and Bathilde. In the second act, Albrecht is in tears (son cœur se déchire, il fond en larmes), but there seems to be no mention of regret or contrition. In the end, he returns to Bathilde (et faible et chancelant, il tombe dans les bras de ceux qui l’entourent en tendant la main à Bathilde !) Maybe the audience is supposed to think and feel along with Giselle (he loves her - there are accusations against him - she is doubtful, then hopeful - finally Loys´ true identity and dishonesty is revealed - she dies from the shock and her weak heart (enfin epuisé) - she also tries to stab herself but is stopped by her mother. Then Albrecht at first must appear to be honest, because he actually thinks he is. On the other hand, the libretto lets us know from the beginning that he is a duke pretending to be a peasant, and that Wilfrid tries to convince him to give up "a secret project". According to that, he is a deliberate deceiver. So he is being taught a lesson that will turn him into a better person (it is all about him - he is the dynamic character - ?) The last scene of the first act has Berthe holding Giselle (Berthe soutient le corps de sa malheureuse fille) while Albrecht is being lead away. Bathilde is kind and generous (bonne et généreuse) and likes Giselle (Giselle, qui semble lui plaire de plus en plus).
  10. Hello Kameliendame, I enjoyed reading your post very much! But I always thought that there are different ways of rising onto pointe (relevé, piqué, sauté) ... in Russia it seems the "sauté method" is more common (in allegro choreography)? So maybe it was not incompetence that this particular dancer did not do the transition via the relevé, but it was appropriate for her at that moment. - That is just what I would suspect (I am just a recreational dancer but my teacher who is Russian trained explained it that way, if I understood her correctly). One of my favourite ballerinas is Aurélie Dupont - always when I saw her I thought I was seeing the whole history of the art form, back to the ballet de cour, the court ballets of the baroque era to the romantic era, Petipa and beyond (she is also my favourite Aurora on that POB dvd, filmed c. 1999). She, M. Legris and D. Hallberg are my favorite "nobles" And then Natalia Osipova, because of her range and fearlessness in trying new things.
  11. Sorry I wanted to add something to my prevoious post but was too late ... About Jens Andersen´s biography, I would have liked from a Danish author more about H. Chr. Andersen´s years in the Royal Theatre´s Ballet School, maybe even an excursus into that institution´s history up to that time, but there is not so much. But all in all it is a very comprehensive book with many details of his life and environment. "Life of a Storyteller" by Jackie Wullschlager tends to have more literary analysis and historical / literary context. Chapter 3 is about Copenhagen and the Ballet School years (but not exclusively). Oh I see you have already replied :-) The Wullschlager biography has had great reviews, too ("the standard life for years to come", Literary Review). Edited to add last line.
  12. Yes they do, but not in great detail. I´d say that the biography by Jens Andersen is more about the person, maybe has more details of his life (and more pages, about 700). As far as I remember the one by Jackie Wullschlager tends to have more literary analysis and historical context. It is also originally in English, whereas Mr Andersen´s book would be a translation (unless you can read Danish of course).
  13. Hans Christian Andersen apparently for a time was very fond of Harald Scharff, a principal dancer in August Bournonville´s company and maybe the inspiration for his fairy tale "The Snowman". I can recommend two comparatively recent biographies of Hans Christian Andersen, one by Jens Andersen, the other by Jackie Wullschlager.
  14. Here is the website (English language version) of Palucca University of Dance (= Palucca Hochschule für Tanz) in Dresden, Germany. This school also offers Bachelor/Master programmes and has many international students. http://www.palucca.eu/en/degree_programmes.html From the FAQs: "The Palucca University of Dance Dresden is a public body. It is a university of the arts with an integrated secondary school as a special feature." (...) "The Palucca University of Dance Dresden does not charge tuition fees for first degree courses."
  15. There ist also a new DVD of Maurice Béjart´s "The Ninth Symphony" (Beethoven), danced by the Béjart Ballet Lausanne and the Tokyo Ballet. Date of release apparently october 2.
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