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Subject: "BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #235
Reading Topic #235
Olivier

20-08-99, 08:19 AM (GMT)
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"BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
 
   The first broadcast of Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream with Pacific Northwest ballet is this Saturday (August 21st 1999) on BBC TWO in the UK (at 16:10). Sunday (August 22nd 1999) on BBC TWO in Scotland (at 15:05).
The film already received an award for best television presentation of a stage dance at "Dance Screen 99" in Cologne.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/awards/croll99.html

It was filmed in High Definition TV during PNB's tour to Sadler's Wells Theatre in London this past February.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Halewood 20-08-99 1
  RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Kevin Ng 20-08-99 2
     RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Olivier 20-08-99 3
         RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream alison 24-08-99 4
             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Ann Williams 24-08-99 5
                 RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Eugene Merrett 24-08-99 6
                 RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Bruce Madmin 24-08-99 7
                     RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Bruce Madmin 25-08-99 8
                     RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Kevin Ng 25-08-99 9
                         RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Anneliese 25-08-99 10
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream alison 26-08-99 11
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream eugene 26-08-99 12
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Juliet 26-08-99 13
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Bruce Madmin 29-08-99 14
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Enid Austin 29-08-99 15
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Dale 19-09-99 16
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Eugene Merrett 29-09-99 17
                             RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Dale 03-10-99 19
  RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream Francis Timlin 01-10-99 18

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Halewood

20-08-99, 09:08 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #0
 
   ....and the videoplus code, for those of you who might need it, is 56465421. 16:10 to 17:50.


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Kevin Ng

20-08-99, 11:30 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #0
 
   Olivier, I saw you dance in PNB's magnificent "A Midsummer Night's Dream" during last year's Edinburgh Festival - both as Lysander, and in the great Act 2 pas de deux in another performance. So in this televised production, which role did you dance?


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Olivier

20-08-99, 04:44 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #2
 
   Kevin,

I am dancing the Divertissement with Louise Nadeau (She also performed a show in Edinburgh with another partner).

The Cast :
Titania - Patricia Barker
Oberon - Paul Gibson
Puck - Seth Belliston
Bottom - Timothy Lynch
Hermia - Julie Tobiason
Lysander - ross Yearsley
Helena - Lisa Apple
Demetrius - Jeffrey Stanton
Hypolytha - Ariana Lallone
Lead Butterfly - Kaori Nakamura
Divertissement - Louise Nadeau & Olivier Wevers

For those of you who saw some of the shows in London, it was the same cast as of the shows on Thursday, Friday and Staurday evening.

Enjoy !


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alison

24-08-99, 01:22 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #3
 
   Best bit of the whole show, IMHO!


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Ann Williams

24-08-99, 08:58 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #4
 
   Alison

I agree. Olivier, you and Louise were wonderful and it was the most gorgeous pdd. Funnily enough, I only noticed this on TV - I didn't actually pick it up when I saw the show itself. Maybe TV *is* good for ballet!

Ann


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Eugene Merrett

24-08-99, 09:33 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #5
 
   I think Ann demonstates one of the problems with long plotless ballet. Because there is so much dancing and with no logical format then it is very easy to miss a pdd.

In Act 2 of Midsummer Night Dream the plot is abondoned for a succesion of dances. The individual dance numbers become blurred because there are so many of them and before you know a most beautiful pdd has come and gone! I was lucky in the case of MSND in that a friend told me to look out for the pdd.

The problem is particularly acute if unfamiliar music is used or if it is a mish mash of seperate works.

A good example of this is Robbins Suite of Dances - (or Other Dances). It is set to 18 different solo works by Chopin. I was completly lost in it - the result was that I was almost numbed at the relentless dancing. I lost interest and missed some of the most beautiful dancing!

A good plot can keep ones attention better then a plotless ballet. No ones going to miss the pdds of Swan Lake or Giselle!

I am not anti plotless ballets. I count Rhapsody and Symphonic Varitions as amoung my favorite works. However thes works are fairly short and use one work of music only. Goldberg Variation is an exception because I was very familiar with music. I think I would of hated it otherwise!!

Also I think it is better to have too much dancing then too little dancing


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Bruce Madmin

24-08-99, 11:41 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #5
 
   >Alison
>I agree. Olivier, you and Louise
>were wonderful and it was the
>most gorgeous pdd. Funnily enough, I
>only noticed this on TV -
>I didn't actually pick it up
>when I saw the show itself.

Isn't it amazing what we see, or don't see, in performances? I know I still find things in Swan Lake and wonder how I missed them before.

Re the Act II pdd I have to say I was totally staggered by it when I saw it first and how it might not have been registered by anybody is beyond me! Perhaps it was the busy sets!! It's a key reason I prefer the Balanchine Dream to the Ashton one - but I know this is something of a minority view. Perhaps best to celebrate the fact that we have two such glorious Dreams.



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Bruce Madmin

25-08-99, 00:23 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #7
 
   ...and I should have said... Linnette Hitchin and Olivier Wevers were marvelous!! (as was Louise Nadeau & Olivier Wevers of course!!)


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Kevin Ng

25-08-99, 02:52 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #7
 
  
>I prefer the Balanchine Dream to
>the Ashton one - but I
>know this is something of a
>minority view.

Bruce, yours is by no means a minority view. I also prefer Balanchine's "Dream" to Ashton's, though I have seen Ashton's original cast of Sibley and Dowell.

I read Clement Crisp's review of PNB's Dream at Sadler's Wells in February, and he wrote:

"..it is, in its sense of magic, more touching than the Ashton version, if one must make the comparison - and also Balanchine's unerring way with narrative."



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Anneliese

25-08-99, 06:42 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #9
 
   Note new email address now I'm on maternity leave!

Finally got round to watching PNB yesterday. I enjoyed Act 2 (the pdd was particularly nice, if a bit unrewarding for Oliver) but thought "Oh yes, it's Balanchine's stock piece" - all too similar to Symphony in C and Serenade, not very innovative and with a poor choice of music (IMHO) - not very uplifting, he could have chosen better from Mendelssohn's considerable output! The pdd was quite moving, though, which was something of an achievement given the uninspiring score.

Act 1 I found dreadfully disappointing. I can't believe that the dancers were incapable of good acting, so I can only assume that Balanchine was well-advised not to try and tell stories in ballet - I found the dramatic elements/plot devices absolutely cringe-making. Look at any Ashton work to see how to tell a story! A criminal waste of the nocturne, too. But then I didn't think that the score was done justice by the musicians.

This sounds terribly negative. I thought that the dancing was superb - very high calibre throughout the company (although sometimes a little ragged in ensemble, this is a VERY slight niggle, and the technical standard of the company overall was higher than generally seen in the UK) and the ballet generally enjoyable. I just felt that it lacked the magic of Ashoton's version, and more use could have been made of Puck


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alison

26-08-99, 01:27 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #10
 
   I do rather agree with you about Act I, Anneliese - humour, drama and acting rather more forced than the Ashton version (at least, when the RB do it *properly*), and rather too much padding. Ashton's is also rather closer to the original - but then I regard the Ashton as something of a masterpiece: after the first time I saw it I wondered why Shakespeare had wasted five acts on it when it could be condensed so well into one! However, I do very much like the second act, and love the pdd, as I've already said.

Oh, and congratulations on the maternity leave. Hope it all goes well!


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eugene

26-08-99, 03:55 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #11
 
   I think I am inclined to agree with you here. Ashton's Dream is miraculous because the dancing moves the plot forward naturally - just like La Fille does. There is no sense of pas d'action then dance then pas d'action again etc. The dancing alone realizes all the drama. The dancing appears natural an is integrated seemlessly with the miming etc

Balanchine MSND has little to show for it self in Act One and Act 2 is quite superflous but saved by a lovely pdd. It is really is two seperate ballets and in my view cannot really compare to the Ashton masterpiece! This is view widely held by New Yorkers. In reference to the Ashton and Balanchines "Dream" one person astutely said that "Ashton was a genius, Balanchine is a craftman". I think that Balanchine is a genius as well. But given that he choregraphed 400 ballets - there is going to be some weak ones!


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Juliet

26-08-99, 08:58 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #12
 
   Is the Ashton available on video? Many of us have seen it; however, a video would be very welcome. I know, this is a slight unravelling of this thread, but does anyone have one?

Private responses are fine, as I don't want to take up posting space...

Thanks--


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Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 08:40 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #13
 
   >Is the Ashton available on video?

I have a video of a rehearsal featuring Leanne Benjamin and Teddy Kumakawa. It was recorded in March 1994 to a piano score and 'simplified stage set'. I got it from the ROH Eductaion department.

>Many of us have seen it;
>however, a video would be very
>welcome. I know, this is
>a slight unravelling of this thread,
>but does anyone have one?
>Private responses are fine, as I don't
>want to take up posting space...

I positivly encourage the use of postings and if threads change and adapt that is just marvelous - sharing all this stuff is the name of the game!


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Enid Austin

29-08-99, 11:10 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #14
 
   Is 1994 the last time the Royal staged The Dream ? Some of us haven't seen it, and the discussion here whets the appetite. Maybe it's time it was revived (along with many other Ashton ballets I might add).



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Dale

19-09-99, 11:45 AM (GMT)
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16. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #12
 
   Eugene, is your opinion "widely" held of people in New York? I think not. I can only say that I think Balanchine's version is genius and quite moving. Many times Balanchine uses the form of a first act narative followed by a second act in abstract. It's his way of expounding on the narative, the same thing he did in Liebeslieder, in which the second act reveals the emotions of the characters in the first section. Or how the Sugar Plum and her Cavalier serve as role models for the Nutcracker prince and Marie. It's very much the same idea as in some opera (ex. La Boheme), where the words tell the naratitive while the music represents the emotion behind the words.

The pas de deux in the Midsummer divertesment represents untroubled love. And danced by the right couple, might be the closest thing to heaven I can think of.


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Eugene Merrett

29-09-99, 06:38 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #16
 
   I take your point Dale. Although I do like a lot of MSND I just cannot help feeling that it is over padded in the first act. The second act, whilst in part very good, is so different from the first act I feel that the unity of the work is undermined. I feel like I am seeing a mixed bill! Also I do not much care for the earlier Mendelsohn music that dominates Act 2. (yes I know that the brilliant overture to MSND was written when he was 17 but that was very exceptional in my view.

The Puccini anology is not in my view appropriate. Puccini operas have a tauntness and cogency which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats (only Madame Butterfly sags at bit in my view). Balanchines MSND has none of that tauntness. I would say that in Pucini the drama and the emotions (represented by music in your view)are merged. In the case of Balanchine MSND they are segregated in to two different Acts!

Ashton's the dream has a great dramatic tauntness and plot is effortlessly developed through dance. Also I think the pdd is as good as Balanchine but as the advantage of better music (the Nocturne to MSND suite) and dramatically more appropriate. The great Balanchine pdd is more noticable because it comes at the end of the Act, after much ensemble dancing and the lights are turn down and the stars come out! It is as American might say "telegraphed" rather heavily!


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Dale

03-10-99, 11:45 AM (GMT)
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19. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #17
 
   Well, Eugene I guess it's a matter of opinion. I happen to find Balanchine's ballet very taut, as you put it. I found the ballet's story told extremely well in terms of dance movement. I'm never bored and things move along nicely. And I don't think the pdd in the Divertimento is telegraphed. And I don't think the Nocturne is better music than the string symphony that Mr. B uses for the pdd. They are both beautiful.

One might argue that Ashton chose the obvious for his ballet -- the nocturne for a lovers' pdd while Balancine used that movement for a basically supported solo for his lead woman. While it's true that Ashton's is the more litteral translation of the play, Balanchine uses the play to further the main thematic strain in most of his ballets -- man's search for the ideal. In this case, ideal love and harmony.

I don't understand why people can't be pleased that there are two lovely ballets to Midsummer Night's Dream. But I guess it will always be fun to compare the two. Of course, if you grow up with one version it might be uncomfortable to watch another. Just as I'm always thrown when watching Anastasia, and hear the music Balanchine used for his sublime Diamonds. Now that's a good argument too.


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Francis Timlin

01-10-99, 06:53 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: BBC & PNB's A Midsummer Night's Dream"
In response to message #0
 
   PNB recently opened its regular Seattle season with performances of Midsummer. Conductor Stewart Kershaw discussed a few of the challenges encountered by the company in London at Sadler's Wells and the BBC recording during some pre-performance remarks last weekend. As has been remarked upon elsewhere, the renovation schedule at Sadler's Wells was behind schedule. Mr. Kershaw was scheduled to have one orchestra rehearsal prior to the (one) dress rehearsal (with the full company) prior to opening. Twenty minutes prior to the start of rehearsal, the orchestra pit was full of construction equipment and an obstinate construction foreman insisting that rehearsal could not take place because the construction crew was scheduled to work. (Never mind that the orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, was also scheduled to work.) Mr. Kershaw, a native of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, had recourse to his knowledge of British vernacular during the course of the ensuing discussion and eventually managed to prevail.

As noted above, the orchestra for the Sadler's Wells performances was the Royal Philharmonic. However, since the film is a BBC production, the BBC insisted that the BBC Orchestra be used. (They were, however, unavailable for the live performances.) This necessitated that a separate recording session be done with the BBC Orchestra that would synchronize with the video recording. To prepare for this, Mr. Kershaw timed each of the live performances; he stated that there was no more than a seven second variation in timing among any of the three live performances. At the subsequent BBC Orchestra recording session, he conducted wearing a headset (and watching a video monitor) playing the tape of the live performance. He was unable to hear the BBC musicians at all (until the playback session).

From the dancers' perspective, the BBC's desire to have available three different performances from which to select the best cuts necessitated that all three of the live performances be done by identical casts. This dictated that the dancers be locked into their roles for three consecutive performances over three days -- never done under ordinary conditions. (The current Seattle run has at least three different rotations among the principals.)

Perhaps Olivier has more to add from the dancers' perspective? I have heard numerous anecdotes about miscellaneous Sadler's Wells challenges. Given some of these challenges, it is remarkable that the film was able to be made. We look forward to seeing it on this side of the pond.


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