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Giselle plus one or not - that is the question


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I agree MAB, they are such an odd bunch to put together. I sort of think Sweet Violets might be a good ballet to put after a performance of Giselle, which always seems like quite a short evening to me, or maybe it could be fleshed out and turned in to a full length. it just seemed jarring being in between Serenade and DGV.

 

Giselle is perfect without any add-ons - it may be short because of the single interval. Any other work with it would just spoil the atmosphere. The tickets usually a little cheaper, so its not like you're being diddled for quantity - I'd prefer to stick with the quality anyway.

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Both the RB and the Bolshoi have given Giselle with a preceding work in the past.

The preceding work can be OK but nothing after the Willises please. I want to be left under the "Giselle"'s magic overnight.

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"Giselle" is complete as a considerable work of choreographic art and an evening's entertainment and is perfectly capable of standing on it's own and satisfying any true ballet lover without bolstering it's appeal for those who feel they are being short changed with any additional work,either before or,perish the thought,after. The notion of following it with 50 minutes of murder,rape and misoginistic violence strikes me as just too absurd to even contemplate.

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Yes, I remember seeing one of the Russian companies do Symphony in C as a 'prequel' to Giselle.  Whilst it was a lovely performance, it didn't really fit....although it did succeed in showing the variety of what the company could do.  Sadly, as it was more than 25 years ago, I can't remember who it was.  Am pretty sure it was at the Coli.

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Giselle is perfect without any add-ons - it may be short because of the single interval. Any other work with it would just spoil the atmosphere. The tickets usually a little cheaper, so its not like you're being diddled for quantity - I'd prefer to stick with the quality anyway.

 

Disagree.

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If there was another short piece with Giselle, I'd rather see it performed before than after, as a sort of curtain-raiser. As Amelia said, Act 2 of Giselle is so atmospheric that you wouldn't want that to be broken by another piece. I think you'd find a lot of people leaving the theatre after Giselle, and a follow-on performance playing to a half-empty theatre.

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"Giselle" is complete as a considerable work of choreographic art and an evening's entertainment and is perfectly capable of standing on it's own and satisfying any true ballet lover without bolstering it's appeal for those who feel they are being short changed with any additional work,either before or,perish the thought,after. The notion of following it with 50 minutes of murder,rape and misoginistic violence strikes me as just too absurd to even contemplate.

 

So people who don't feel satisfied with the length of Giselle are not true ballet lovers?

 

Lovely

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Yes, I remember seeing one of the Russian companies do Symphony in C as a 'prequel' to Giselle.  Whilst it was a lovely performance, it didn't really fit....although it did succeed in showing the variety of what the company could do.  Sadly, as it was more than 25 years ago, I can't remember who it was.  Am pretty sure it was at the Coli.

 

Was it the Kirov?  I know they did both works - I just can't remember whether or not they were together.

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I think if someone were to offer me Symphony in C before Giselle, I wouldn't say no but I'd be a bit surprised. Though it would feel a little like getting a Tom Stoppard short play in a double bill with Antigone

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I'm with chrischris on this. Giselle may be a very satisfactory artistic experience (depending on the performance) but that's no reason for not performing another ballet before it. The Royal used to do this (I think they stopped in the sixties), as have, from time to time, the Dutch National Ballet, the Kirov and the Bolshoi. I still live in hope of seeing the Kingdom of the Shades scene as a prelude to Giselle! There are lots of good ballets that would be a good fit in a bill with Giselle - Bayadere, Symphonic, Rendezvous, Afternoon of a Faun, Serenade, Apollo ,Konservatoriet, Sylphides for example, just using a few examples from the Royal Ballet's rep.

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The only time I saw the Royal Ballet do "Four Schumann Pieces" it preceded "Giselle", possibly even without an interval - this would have been the early eighties so the details are hazy now. Nowadays I welcome the shorter, cheaper programming of "Giselle" on its own. I also prefer "La Bayadère" to end with the Shades and occasionally feel the need to skip Makarova's last Act. Sometimes less is more.

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There are lots of good ballets that would be a good fit in a bill with Giselle -

 

Perhaps perversely I would love to see Robbins' THE CAGE done just before, say, a performance of Giselle .... given that it is - in a sense - the willis' revenge.  Still, I agree, that Giselle - unquestionably when in a great interpretation - can more than stand alone in time.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I remember attending a performance of Giselle by the ENB a while ago.  I didn't read the programme beforehand.  When the curtain rose I was startled to see several young men on stage (possibly bare-chested?) who went through a vigorous routine of contemporary-style dance to music far removed from the Adam score.  I thought "good grief, this is a modern take on Giselle - which one is Hilarion?" and then the penny dropped ...  It was in fact Men Y Men as a sort of stocking filler.  I'm not sure it was a perfect way to precede Giselle.

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So people who don't feel satisfied with the length of Giselle are not true ballet lovers?

 

Lovely

 

Adding anything before (and never, EVER after) Giselle would just dilute both in my opinion, it would just be a distraction from what I really wanted to see. And I'm sure the corps wouldn't be keen on doing Symphony in C or Shades before then doing Giselle's Wilis. The injury toll has been bad enough as it is!

I really don't understand why you'd want to bloat out the evening, from distilled perfection (OK, bias alert, Giselle is probably my fave ballet). Perhaps you should write to that Peter Wright chap and ask him to 'fill it out a bit' for you, so you'll get more bang for your buck.

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I remember the days when the Sadlers Wells (Royal Ballet) always performed a curtain raiser prior to Giselle. If I remember rightly it was usually a short ballet not requiring a large cast, something like Les Patineurs or Les Rendezvous. I'm not sure when the RB ceased this practice, but I have always felt that when the Bolshoi at their historic 1956 season at the ROH performed Giselle "unaccompanied" this set the tone for future practice. As for performing another ballet after Giselle, I really can't see how this could ever work. Curiously enough, the first performance of Fille mal Gardée was followed by a performance of Façade which proved to be a major programming error.

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Northern Ballet performed Birgit Scherzer's Requiem in the early noughties.  It only lasted around 75 minutes but was so intense I couldn't imagine seeing another piece with it.  (I would love to see it again).

 

Some time in the 90s IIRC I saw Laurencia pd6 on a double bill with Fille.

 

I personally prefer to see Giselle without another work as it is an emotionally intense piece that fulfils me without the need for something else to pad out the evening.

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A few points arise:

 

1. For those whose aesthetic sensibilities are so refined that further work(s) to accompany Giselle would be unacceptable, then a late arrival at the opera House would satisfy, allowing the experience of Giselle to be unsullied by anything else, whilst those of us who like lots of dancing would be able to get our fill!

2. I always assumed that the reason why people train to be ballet dancers was to dance. Adding a ballet before Giselle would provide further opportunities when the major complaint in the Royal has always been the gaps between performances (for the principals) and the relative scarcity of opportunities for new roles (for the corps and soloists). More ballets mean more chances to dance.

3.The comment about injuries (made above) seems irrelevant. Adding a ballet before Giselle would simply mean that the company would be doing as much dancing as they do in a three act ballet such as Swan Lake, Don Q or Romeo and Juliet. What's the problem? I don't know the reason(s) for the recent spate of injuries/absences, but I refuse to believe that dancing too much had anything to do with it.

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I wish that people would not present their opinions as 'facts' and then disparage others who disagree with their views by insinuating (or stating) that they have poor taste or are not 'serious balletgoers'. For example, 'performing another ballet with Giselle would detract from one's experience of Giselle' is a matter of opinion not a fact. Even if the tickets are slight cheaper, an audience member may prefer to pay more for a longer performance particularly if s/he has travelled a long way to see it.

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Well, before Giselle is hived-off elsewhere, or this thread runs out of steam, I'll just add that my wife danced in umpteen performances with the old RB Touring Company, always with another work on the bill, I'm told  ...... and she tends to think that the Wilis on their own fall a bit into the short-changing zone.  And that was when they were regularly churning out eight performances per week, as I understand.

 

Enough - to bed - I've got Links to do in the morning.

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Just to say, I thought this thread was for reviews of the Triple bill. It seems to have morphed into whether Giselle should be shown with another ballet or not. Maybe these posts should be hived off into a separate topic? :)

Yes - there seems to be good milage in this 'Giselle plus one' discussion.

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One of my first visits to the ballet ( Sadler Wells) had Monotones prior to Giselle. I had been taken to see a traditional, romantic ballet - which I loved, but Monotones was a revelation to my young eyes. I do think there is an added bonus of introducing a new (and often younger) audience to works they wouldn't otherwise make an outing to see - particularly plotless works.

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Perhaps you should write to that Peter Wright chap and ask him to 'fill it out a bit' for you, so you'll get more bang for your buck.

 

This will probably be a shock to you, but there actually WAS another ballet before Peter Wright's "Giselle", when he created his famous version in March 1966 at Stuttgart Ballet (that was his first production of "Giselle", as far as I know). According to John Percival's biography, Stuttgart ballet director John Cranko thought that the men had little to do in "Giselle" and made a short ballet for them: "Concerto for Flute and Harp" for two female and two male soloists and a corps de ballet of ten men, using Mozart music. It was presented before "Giselle" in those years, but dropped later.

 

Maybe you just have to accept the historical fact that ballet masters of the past found "Giselle" too short for a whole ballet evening and felt the need to add something else. 

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Even if the tickets are slight cheaper, an audience member may prefer to pay more for a longer performance particularly if s/he has travelled a long way to see it.

 

On the other hand, if someone *has* travelled a long way, they might actually prefer the performance to finish early so that they can get home more easily.  Having a ballet in front of it (*never* after, please!) might make the difference between them being able to come and see the performance and not.

 

I do think "La Sylphide" is too short to be given on its own, though.   Obviously the Bolshoi don't agree with me.

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Maybe if the ROH did something about their interminable intervals it would make it easier for people to get home at a reasonable time.  I've a friend who travels down from the Midlands so it's someting I feel strongly about.

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I read somewhere, and it might have been in relation to Wheeldon's Alice, that one beneficial side effect of three acts over two in a full-length ballet is the increase in revenue for the theatre from interval bar takings. Leaving artistic merit aside for a moment, maybe there is a commercial benefit to adding an additional piece to Giselle in order to double up the intervals? The ROH has a capacity of 2,256, so even at a nominal £2 average spend, that's £4,500 in the bank extra per performance. Over the course of their recent run, by my calculations (which I will no doubt spot are horribly wrong once the edit facility lapses) it could generate nearly £60,000 in additional revenue. 

Edited by BristolBillyBob
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Speaking for myself, the comparative shortness of Giselle and Nutcracker is part of the attraction. In contrast I can find Sleeping Beauty interminable at times. Ditto the Bolshoi's Romeo and Juliet. That has two tight acts and the third one goes on for days.

Edited by Two Pigeons
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