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Subject: "Song of the Earth" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1704
Reading Topic #1704
Jason

26-05-01, 01:56 AM (GMT)
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"Song of the Earth"
 
   I was at the performance this evening and in general the audience did nt seem too taken "Song of the Earth" Benjamin wonderful also Persson and Kobborg, the other dancers were fine and showed the work to its full advantage, I believe it is one of Macmillan's finest pieces, and this evening so wonderfully performed,by The Royal Ballet, I noticed people leaving before the end, such rudeness and no consideration for others.
I feel many who go to the O.P.H seem to want only the classics, well they better get to like more modern dance, as the new A.D very much likes modern dance, or go elsewere for the classics.
It is also interesting to note Burley is now returning to The Australian Ballet, is this telling us something, or he just going for the promotion.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Song of the Earth Martin Coope 26-05-01 1
     RE: Song of the Earth Steven 26-05-01 2
         RE: Song of the Earth Jason 26-05-01 3
             RE: Song of the Earth alison 29-05-01 5
  RE: Song of the Earth Bruce Madmin 26-05-01 4
     RE: Song of the Earth Kate R 29-05-01 6
         RE: Song of the Earth Tomoko.A 29-05-01 8
     RE: Song of the Earth Simon Glass 01-06-01 15
         RE: Song of the Earth Viviane 01-06-01 16
  RE: Song of the Earth Robert 29-05-01 7
     RE: Song of the Earth Pete 29-05-01 9
         RE: Song of the Earth Justin 30-05-01 10
             RE: Song of the Earth Martin 31-05-01 11
                 RE: Song of the Earth Odile 31-05-01 13
                     RE: Song of the Earth alison 01-06-01 18
  RE: Song of the Earth Lily 31-05-01 12
     RE: Song of the Earth Angela 31-05-01 14
         RE: Song of the Earth NO7 01-06-01 17
         RE: Song of the Earth alison 01-06-01 19
             RE: Song of the Earth Paul A 01-06-01 20
                 RE: Song of the Earth Bruce Madmin 01-06-01 21
                 RE: Song of the Earth Odile 01-06-01 22

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Martin Coope

26-05-01, 09:04 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #0
 
   If it is any consolation Jason, I was at the performance of Song of the Earth last Saturday, in the Amphi. The audience was rapt in attention throughout and the reception at the end was very enthusiastic.

Quite right too - great performances from Acosta, Cope and particularly Rojo in what I think is Macmillan's finest work.

Perhaps the ROH audience is not totally beyond redemption after all!


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Steven

26-05-01, 10:45 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #1
 
   I was at this bill on Friday night. I didn't notice anyone leaving early and felt that the audience was on the whole appreciative - there was even a (failed) attempt to bring the lead dancers back for one more curtain call.

It was the first time I had seen Song of the Earth and I was very impressed and moved by it. Leanne Benjamin was wonderful - it is just the ideal role for her.


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Jason

26-05-01, 11:02 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #2
 
   Certainly in the stall lots of movement, but I agree with you Bejamin superb, it is in my view one of Macmillan finest and Benjamin, marvellous in the role.


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alison

29-05-01, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #3
 
   Talking about MacMillan's finest - we've had both Gloria and Song revived recently, but when are they going to complete the trilogy of his "vocal" works and bring back Requiem? It hasn't been seen at the ROH since 1990 (?), and is well overdue for a revival.


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Bruce Madmin

26-05-01, 11:22 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #0
 
   I agree with much of what you say about SongotE - there is lots of good movement etc and Benjamin looked very impressive. However I hated, absolutely hated, the Mahler music and singing. Daphnis and Chloe will similarly remain a closed book to me because of a strong dislike of the music. The Mahler I think has some similarity with modern jazz - if you like it your probably in seventh heaven and if you don't you really would like to be elsewhere - perhaps being run down by a stampeding horse for example...

After about 30 minutes (of the Mahler) I was desperate for the end to come and I find it impossible to really talk sensibly about Song as a piece so much does the music 'interfere'. I was at teh back of the Stalls (OK standing then!) and folks did get restive as it wound on.

Re Stretton... he needs to tread a careful path. Yes many of us want to see new and different work but too much that is less than successful and pressure will inevitably build for the Royal to fill houses with tax payers who want to calibrate their traditional skills rather then see them play to empty seats. And a sizeable group of fans will also make points about the heritage repertoire being lost etc.

I count myself in the camp that look forward to Stretton's arrival... and the questioning and kick in the pants it will give to an organisation that has been seen to struggle managerially and artistically at times. But I'm also a popularist and ultimately you have to take people with you - there is nothing wrong in responding and listening to what people (your audience) like... and many like dramatic and traditional work. I believe the trick is to get peoples confidence in the institutions and then start stretching them and nudging them. Problem at the moment is that many have suffered from poor modern work too often and it scars them. Poor classic work on the other hand often goes less noticed. I'm always amazed how blissfully happy many audiences are as they see 'Vladivostok Dramatic City Ballet Theatre' do a very rough Swan Lake. On the other hand they are paying only a third or less of the equivalent price of seeing RB at Covent Garden (and of course the CG seats are themselves subsidised on average by £40 I think). I'm rambling so will stop!


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Kate R

29-05-01, 02:16 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #4
 
   It is sad but true but our likes and dislikes of the music do affect whether we like a ballet or not. Orlando Gough does nothing for me but would appear to do much for Ashley Page.

Personally I think that the final movement of Song of the Earth is one of the most moving pieces of music I have heard. I would say the same for Macmillan's choreography to it.

Each to his own.


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Tomoko.A

29-05-01, 06:32 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #6
 
   Kate, I completely agree with you. I absolutely loved the both, the music and the ballet. Benjamin's last solo was breathtaking. To me Song of the Earth is one of the most beautiful ballets I've ever seen.


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Simon Glass

01-06-01, 01:46 AM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #4
 
   So you find Mahler's Song of the earth inferior? You truly are an idiot even though it got in the way of the "nice" movement. To respond in full to your sub-standard criticism and knowledge of dance, performance history, ballet and music would be more than you deserve. Just as well that you haven't been troubled with having to suffer Tudor's Dark Elegies - take it from me it's terrible.


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Viviane

01-06-01, 07:53 AM (GMT)
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16. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #15
 
   LAST EDITED ON 01-06-01 AT 07:56 AM (GMT)

Well, Simon Glass, what on earth makes you so upset that you have to react in this way ?
Please explain ! We all want to learn more about Mahler.


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Robert

29-05-01, 06:23 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #0
 
   Jason I do not know where you were sitting but I did not notice anyone leaving Song of the Earth early. I sat close to someone who had brought a very small boy to see The Dream and she was worried that he would be bored in the second half. He probably was but he was very well behaved. I got the impression that the whole house watched in rapt attention, and they certainly applauded vigorously. I personally found it a bit disappointing. Long angst ridden plotless setless ballets are not really my interest, even though Macmillan’s choreography is always fascinating. My wife did not like it at all, but like Bruce she has gone off Mahler! Benjamin certainly expressed herself well but I spent the evening thinking how terribly thin she is. A proper costumes would have helped conceal her scragginess.
I am sorry to hear that you predict lots more modern dance from the new Australian. I am not that interested in all the nineteenth century classics but I think modern dance has more misses than hits and it can be excruciating. Too much modern dance is done to terrible music and resembles awkward gymnastics. There is no point in saying that we will have to get used to it, if it is dull to all but the chosen few, we will not come, and Covent Garden will just have to be a Pop venue.


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Pete

29-05-01, 11:02 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #7
 
   I saw Song of the Earth last Saturday with Rojo, Cope & Acosta. Whilst I cannot comment on the music, as I was not moved at all by it -the singers were rather off putting. It wouldn't have been quite so bad if they had been singing from the orchestra pit, but on stage was far too strong. Mahler’s music did not invade me at all, perhaps because I was utterly absorbed by Macmillan’s choreography.

There were at least two additional curtain calls for Rojo and I did not see anybody leaving early -which always annoys me, the ultimate in rudeness. Perhaps a Saturday audience is more dedicated, having to make a pilgrimage to the ROH on their day off rather than turning up after work and wanting to get the next train home.

I saw Benjamin in the Firebird on the 2nd and she looked fantastic then - not ‘scraggy’ at all, so I can only conclude that it must have been the costume. I too remain optimistic about Stretton joining the RB. I cannot believe that he is naive enough to dismiss the classical roles in favour of contemporary - although I look forward to him exploring and involving more international contemporary choreographers in the repertoire.


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Justin

30-05-01, 10:49 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #9
 
   I saw the production on Friday evening (Acosta/Wildor in 'The Dream', and Benjamin et al. in 'Song of the Earth'. My real desire was to see 'The Dream', and I confess I preferred that, and found 'Song' more difficult to enjoy first time round. However, I think it is fair to say that The Dream is more instantly enjoyable, but perhaps has less depth than 'Song' (though I note from the programme that the initial audience reactions to the premieres suggests the opposite!). Given the choice, I would go back to see the latter first, as I think there is much more I can get from it.


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Martin

31-05-01, 01:08 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #10
 
   The Song of the Earth is one of the great ballets but it is not easy. The original Mahler setting was inspired by the words of the poems, and comments on them. Similarly Macmillan's choreography derives from both the words and music. (e.g Apes, horsemen, picking Lotus blooms and other more subtle images).

In my view, the ballet gains its depth from the way the words, music and movement interact together, each element giving the work a different level of meaning and hence its richness.

If this is the case, why does the ROH not employ surtitles as it does in opera to help audience comprehension? If the audience does not understand what is being sung in German it will miss a lot of the ballet's resonance. It is no good having the text in the progam while the ballet is being performed!

This could help in other ballets too. I'd love to know what they were singing about in Les Noces!


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Odile

31-05-01, 01:34 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #11
 
   Martin, that sounds like an interesting idea.
Personally though I do not think I could really properly
watch the ballet and read surtitles at the same time.
In this particular case it is no problem for me because
I understand German so feel free to reject my argument.


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alison

01-06-01, 01:07 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #13
 
   I have to admit that it did occur to me as well that surtitles might have been useful in this case. After all, it's fine putting the English and German libretti in the programme, but since you can't read it once the lights are down it means you've either got to bone up about it in the interval or forget the words entirely. Incidentally, I also speak German, but was having great trouble following the singers, as they seemed to get drowned by the orchestra. If I'd *really* concentrated, I could no doubt have made out the words, but only by concentrating so much that I'd have missed the dancing.


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Lily

31-05-01, 01:33 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #0
 
   I saw this double bill on Sunday afternoon and thought that the whole thing was truly fantastic. The RB seems nowadays, to be very clever in creating mixed bills, such as the diversity of this one. Wasn't Johan Kobborg serenely evil and powerful!

The only one small annoyance was a 5 year old girl infront of me who couldn't see (in the orchestra stalls - fair enought) but she yelled "mummy, i can;t see...no i won;t sit on your lap etc..etc..etc..!! As they were in Row D, I have to applaud the dancers (again) for ignoring that distraction!

What do you do? Do you tell the mother that her child was a horrible distraction and was ruining the ballet for everyone else or do you put up with it? I put up with it but someone did tell the mother off at the end of the ballet!(I was secretly pleased!) I think that the mother should have done some research into Song of the Earth and realised that it was not suitable for a child...as intellectual ballets go, that is pretty high up on the old list!!


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Angela

31-05-01, 02:11 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #12
 
   In Stuttgart, where it was created in 1965, they dance "The Song of the Earth" in front of a light blue horizon instead of that depressing, threatening black backdrop - it looks like a far blue sky over the earth. They have slightly different costumes(no black there also), and the figure called "Messenger of Death" is called "Der Ewige" (The Eternal) in the German version, which of course alludes to the last words of the last poem and makes the whole ballet less desperate. Does anybody know why MacMillan should have changed these things when he took the ballet to London? I was almost shocked when I saw that dark, sinister stage design in Covent Garden.


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NO7

01-06-01, 10:36 AM (GMT)
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17. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #14
 
   I was utterly moved by both the music and the performances of Rojo, Cope and Kobborg in Song of the Earth last night. They were absolutely wonderful, dealing brilliantly with such intricate choreography. There were several curtain calls.
Also Cojocaru's debut in the Dream was marvelous, technically impeccable. Great performance.


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alison

01-06-01, 01:12 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #14
 
   I have to say that under the circumstances I thought it was a shame to have a black backdrop *and* black costumes, since it tended to make Acosta rather less visible. On the other hand, Kobborg's arms and face stood out in sharp relief - I found him extremely intense and mesmerising in the performance I saw him do.


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Paul A

01-06-01, 01:49 PM (GMT)
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20. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #19
 
   Last night was good - not the crispest Dream I've ever seen but to pick up another posting, the company looked much stronger and confident than say 20 years ago in their 50th aniversary season when I first saw Dream.

Essakow was a good Oberon (his debut I think), uncannily like Dowell in presence and make-up. He did not have the power in some of the lunges and leaps as some Oberons but this did give him a more etheral quality. Cojocaru was lovely as Tytania. They helped each other in the pdd - not as fluent or heart rending as it can be but still impressive - lovely reaction with a big fan club cheering from upstairs.

Hadn't seen Song of Earth before - impressive, but too long - MacMillan looked trapped in the music sometimes with some step for steppery on the music. Got rather impatient waiting for the finale which was very strong. Cope blistering - strange to see such engagement in something abstract. Rojo very strong - but felt she needs an extra once to let go and really blaze.

The black backdrop did alter in colour with the lighting - went as far as dull green at one stage. Singers on stage were a distraction - have they always been positioned there?

Would love to see Song as the middle of a triple bill opening with Sons of Horus and closing with Bayadere.


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Bruce Madmin

01-06-01, 02:49 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #20
 
   I struggled a bit with the Dream last night - it was one of those nights for seeing people assume new roles and of course it often takes a while. Some of it looked rather under rehearsed and the comic timing was a bit to pot.

I did however decide to try Song again and warmed to it... or rather the music wound me up less and i could concentrate on the movement better - it is a monumental piece. I still think it is too long though. Why Mahler songs need to last 10 minutes on average I know not and would propose six more popular 3 minute hits....

"The Birdy Song",
Hot Chocolate's "It started with a Kiss"
"Waterloo"
"I Will Survive",
"Agadoo"
Slades "Merry Christmas"

Great to see so many people there over white wine!


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Odile

01-06-01, 07:23 PM (GMT)
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22. "RE: Song of the Earth"
In response to message #20
 
   >Last night was good - not
>the crispest Dream I've ever
>seen but to pick up
>another posting, the company looked
>much stronger and confident than
>say 20 years ago in
>their 50th aniversary season when
>I first saw Dream.
>
>Essakow was a good Oberon (his
>debut I think), uncannily like
>Dowell in presence and make-up.
>He did not have the
>power in some of the
>lunges and leaps as some
>Oberons but this did give
>him a more etheral quality.
>Cojocaru was lovely as Tytania.
>They helped each other in
>the pdd - not as
>fluent or heart rending as
>it can be but still
>impressive - lovely reaction with
>a big fan club cheering
>from upstairs.

I agree. I thought Cojocaru and Essakow danced beautifuly together and hopefully we will get to see more of what has the clear potential of becoming a wonderful partnership.
Tom Sapsford and Luke Heydon were outstanding as Puck and Bottom.
>
>Hadn't seen Song of Earth before
>- impressive, but too long
>- MacMillan looked trapped in
>the music sometimes with some
>step for steppery on the
>music. Got rather impatient waiting
>for the finale which was
>very strong. Cope blistering -
>strange to see such engagement
>in something abstract. Rojo very
>strong - but felt she
>needs an extra once to
>let go and really blaze.
>
Johann Kobborg was just marvelous (as usual). I hope he is not
going to go back to Copenhagen anytime soon.
>
>The black backdrop did alter in
>colour with the lighting -
>went as far as dull
>green at one stage. Singers
>on stage were a distraction
>- have they always been
>positioned there?
>
>Would love to see Song as
>the middle of a triple
>bill opening with Sons of
>Horus and closing with Bayadere.
>



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