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Subject: "From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2647
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AnnaM

18-04-02, 09:45 AM (GMT)
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"From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
 
   I know it's a rather trivial and pedantic question but just for the fun of it:

Is there any reason why Giselle's mother suddenly tells that Willies story?
There they all are: the party-peasants frolicking around, Giselle giggling with her handsome suitor, everyone enjoying themselves and all of a sudden boom! on comes mother to cast her gloom over the scene. I can't remember why though. Is she warning Giselle to stop dancing and tiring herself because if she dies unmarried she will end up as a Willie? That would be a rather morbid observation coming from her mother...
Is there a dramatic reason beyond the mere narrative necessity?

Or ever wondered why it takes Frantz so doggone long to make it up that ladder in Coppélia?


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file katharine kanter 18-04-02 1
  RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file Jim 18-04-02 2
     RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file MichellePotter 18-04-02 3
  RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file alison 18-04-02 4
     RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file Paul A 18-04-02 5
         RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file AnnaM 18-04-02 6
             RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file Steven 18-04-02 7
                 RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file AnnaM 18-04-02 8
                     RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file Steven 18-04-02 9
                         RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file MAB 22-04-02 10
                             RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file Steven 22-04-02 11

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katharine kanter

18-04-02, 10:32 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #0
 
   Do not have Théophile Gauthier's libretto to hand at the moment.

But -

One has to bear in mind that huge swathes of mime have regrettably been CUT over the past century, from all the productions that we are currently seeing. People who have worked with Karsavina or her pupils might want to add something here, as she knew all the original mime, before Lifar et al. went at it with a pickaxe.

Secondly, if I'm not mistaken, the concept is that the mother immediately latches on to the fact that there is something distinctly untoward about this sleek interloper, who is quite unknown to the rosy-cheeked villagers. No good can possibly come of it.

The costumes and settings are so glamorous nowadays, that one tends to forget that Albrecht is supposed to create quite a stir. All the men on stage should react to him with slightly fearful, but undisguised hostility. Despite his rough dress, his manners and polished appearance give him away. He can ONLY be there to be prey upon the maids, and humiliate the lads.
That is how his sudden irruption into the village's tranquil life is meant to be perceived. A bit like Faust elbowing his way into Grethe's.

The difference, at the end of the day, is that Albrecht repents.


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Jim

18-04-02, 10:35 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #0
 
   >I know it's a rather trivial
>and pedantic question

But it's fun

>Giselle giggling with
>her handsome suitor

And there I think you have it. Giselle's mother knows she has a weak heart and is worried that her dughter's heart might get broken by being deceived in love. I think it's just a warning not to get in too deep too soon.

As for Frantz, I think he must be feeling pretty trepitudinous about climbing up a ladder to break into a house to meet a 'girl' with whom he has become infatuated. I think I would be.

Alternatively, he might have been studying the Health and Safety at Work Act, and was just taking care.

Or maybe Délibes wrote too much music for that bit and forces him to takes his time!


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MichellePotter

18-04-02, 12:54 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #2
 
   Re Giselle's mother, I kind of think there is a dramatic reason why she has to act the way she does. Mama's role, in my opinion, is a major one. She must set the scene for Act II, she has to make Act II absolutely inevitable with her mime and so forth. Most of the productions I have seen make her role seem ludicrous or outdated or even practically unnecessary. The frolicking party-peasants and the giggling Giselle say it all! Time to get real perhaps?


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alison

18-04-02, 01:30 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #0
 
   I've only seen the ballet 4 times in the last three weeks or so , but can't be absolutely sure - doesn't Berthe do the mime after the bit where Giselle's been hiding behind her friends so that B. doesn't spot her? She's been dancing and is therefore all hot and flushed, and knows that mum's going to reprimand her for dancing with her weak heart - doesn't it follow on directly from there?

And yes, I know exactly what you mean about Coppelia. Perhaps he decides he needs a longer ladder and has to go off and get one? (Now there's an idea - when I finally get my Coppelia video back, perhaps I should look and see whether the amount of ladder projecting past the windowsill is the same in acts I and II )


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Paul A

18-04-02, 02:57 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #4
 
   >perhaps I should look and
>see whether the amount of
>ladder projecting past the windowsill
>is the same in acts
>I and II )

This intrigued me too! But there have to be two ladders - the window is nearer the floor in act two.



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AnnaM

18-04-02, 03:11 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #5
 
   >This intrigued me too! But there have to be two ladders
>- the window is nearer the floor in act two.

Aha !
So you mean the taller the dancer, the slower the climber he needs to be!



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Steven

18-04-02, 03:39 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #6
 
   Giselle's mother clearly mistrusts the supposed Loic - but only because he is not Hilarion, her preferred suitor for her daughter, who is usually seen keeping her sweet with dead birds to stake his claim.

It is Hilarion who realises there is something bogus about Loic, but only when he reaches for the sword that is not there.

Berthe is usually prompted to tell the story by noticing that her daughter's brow is hot - the reason being that she has been dancing, which Berthe clearly does not want her to do, either with Loic or with anyone. The assumption is that her health is fragile. She has been given no reason to think Loic is untrustworthy, but may tell the story to plant doubts in Giselle's mind about the general wisdom of getting involved with someone from outside their acquaintance.


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AnnaM

18-04-02, 03:57 PM (GMT)
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8. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #7
 
   ><...> but may tell the story to plant doubts in Giselle's mind >about the general wisdom of getting involved with someone from >outside their acquaintance.

But that's not quite what she is saying/miming...
Her story serves as a warning for young men not to wander in the woods after dark.

The Willie story is a warning to scare out of the Wanderlust in anyone, but not to keep from dancing or flirting.


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Steven

18-04-02, 07:16 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #8
 
   I don't agree. The warning is clearly to her daughter:

If you carry on like this (dancing and, by implication, gallivanting with strangers when you are not strong enough) you will die - and then you will rise from the grave as one of these undead virgin avengers who get their own back on men.

On a lighter note, when in St Petersburg last year, I saw a production of Giselle by Soloists of the Mariinsky (or some such name), on a stage so small that the only way they could bring on benches for the hunt to sit on was to have boys carry them on (i.e. out) through the front door of Berthe's house. I think one of the greatest unsolved ballet mysteries was what were they doing in the house all through Act 1 - with or without Berthe?

Anyone got any ideas on Berthe's back story? Is her husband dead? Did she even have one?


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MAB

22-04-02, 04:59 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #9
 
   Over the weekend I had the opportunity to look through some of my books to find the answer to this one.

I found what I was looking for in "The Romantic Ballet as seen by Theophile Gautier" translated by Cyril W. Beaumont. In a letter to Heinrich Heine dated 5th July 1841, Gautier outlines the plot and says the mother warns her daughter of the legend of the Wilis partly because she is too fond of dancing and partly because she should be making herself useful in the house. Gautier says that a spinning wheel is visible through the cottage window.

Two things in the letter were very interesting: firstly, Gautier gives Giselle and Albrecht's ages - they are 15 and 20 respectively. Secondly, at the start of the ballet Giselle should be in a troubled mood as she has suffered a bad dream the night before in which she saw "Loys" marrying an aristocratic lady in a beautiful dress.

Finally I too have often wondered why the hunting party crowds into Giselle’s cottage, but it seems it is merely "to rest".


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Steven

22-04-02, 07:36 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: From the Unsolved Ballet Mysteries file"
In response to message #10
 
   Thank you for that. I guess the mime for "I had a dream and saw you marrying a lady in a beautiful dress" is one of the sections which has been dropped. However, it does explain the reason why Giselle requires reassurance from Albrecht early in the ballet and does the "he loves me, he loves me not" thing with the flower. Perhaps it also explains her apparent obsession with Bathilde's dress, when she touches the hem.


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