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Subject: "BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #270
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Bruce Madmin

01-10-99, 08:43 AM (GMT)
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"BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
   More thoughts later, but some quick feedback on the new BRB Giselle; it was premiered in Birmingham last night with Leticia Muller and Andrew Murphy in the lead.

2 dogs, Hounds of course, in the hunting scene (one kept whimpering!)
1 horse in the hunting scene
1 hawk in the hunting scene (? we think it was real anyway)
2 Wilis flying (literally) across the stage at the start of act 2

Good things...
Good traditional telling of story. For that we should be thankful.
Muller and Murphy look right in their roles (but they never really got to me - it was all a bit detached)

Not so good things...
Giselle lives in a 3 storey ski-chalet it seems.
The Peter Wright production is still the benchmark I think. On a first viewing this production does not seem to add so much other than some bits of theatricality that you will enjoy or not. As new productions go I think Guillem achieved more and while she played with the story, essentialy hers is traditional.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts Eugene 01-10-99 1
     RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts Jane S 01-10-99 2
         RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts Eugene 01-10-99 3
  RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts Terry Amos 01-10-99 4
     RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts cf 04-10-99 5
         RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts Rachel 04-10-99 6

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01-10-99, 12:39 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
In response to message #0
   I love Giselle as a ballet but after seeing many versions of it I am put off by the uniformity of the productions. It is a very prescriptive ballet - the pas d'action, choreography and settings cannot really be changed (unless you do something very different like EKS). There is very little you can do with Giselle so I think I will go for the particular dancer - thats only thing that can change!

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Jane S

01-10-99, 02:27 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
In response to message #1
   Whilst I agree that there are lots of variations on the traditional production of Giselle around, I wouldn't call, for instance, the Dance Theatre of Harlem version, or Derek Deane's for ENB 'uniform' - they could hardly be more different.

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01-10-99, 03:48 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
In response to message #2
   I did see a Creole version of Giselle with a black company which I think is the DTH. All it was was classical Giselle with black faces! Likewise Deanes production tinkers around a bit with the sets and costumes but it is pretty much the same as any other Giselle. The Giselle with most difference (excluding Eks) is the San Fancisco Ballet version by virture of its extended "peasant pdd" and a new pdd for Giselle and Albrect close to the end of Act 1.

The trouble is that you cannot do anything with Act 2 costumes and sets. And even Act 1 has have the same buccolic, village settings.

If you compare Giselle to Swan Lake or SB I think you will notice far greater variation in both choreography and design. Compare the NYCB Sleeping Beauty to the RB one - you will see two very different ballets.

I would like to see Bintley's new version but I can't really justify taking half a weekend to see yet another Giselle. As I said earlier this is a cross I have to bear for living in London!

But I will be in Birmingham next week for Slaughter on 10th etc. That should be real fun!

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Terry Amos

01-10-99, 07:15 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
In response to message #0
   Some comments to add to Bruce's.

The setting is unusual in what is basically a traditional version. Instead of the forest, the first act backcloth is of towering cliffs which some found claustrophobic but I thought that was OK. The village is supposed to be remote,isolated, inbred - how else to explain the number of half-wits to be found there. The ruined Abbey in Act II worked well on the Hippodrome stage but it might be a problem on some on the smaller stages when touring.

I quite liked the animals but they were a distraction. Having come on and made quite an interesting effect, they should be taken off again pretty quickly. Perhaps the animals are to make up for the fact that the Duke's retinue is very sparsely populated. This becomes unfortunate at the end of the act when the nobility are supposed to be embarassed and disgusted by Albrecht. This passes for nothing if the nobility aren't there in reasonable numbers or, indeed, hardly there at all.

And, on the question of numbers, it is odd that the ratio of women to men in the village is about 5:1. No wonder Giselle is so quickly swept off her feet by Albrecht. Of course, one male in the village is Hilarion but, as so often and so mistakenly, his role seems pared to the bone.

The ending has been changed slightly. Giselle returns to the grave, a suitably horrible and well-staged effect, but then, because of her selfless love, she is forgiven her suicide and is taken up to heaven. It's a nice idea but the rising up to heaven didn't come over too clearly.

To sum up, I think there are some parts of this production which could be better and could be improved but it does keep faith with the underlying spirit of the piece and I think most people will enjoy it.

To turn to the dancing, I agree with Bruce about Muller and Murphy although I would want to add that Muller did the mad scene splendidly. Monica Zamora and Wolfgang Stollwitzer were also good at the preview. The corps were excellent both nights as were Nao Sakuma and Chi Cao in the peasant pas de deux.

A final comment: having watched from the stalls and from the circle, I would say that the ballet looks far better from the circle.

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04-10-99, 09:15 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
In response to message #4
   I attended the Saturday matinee and as a complete and as an 'unsophisticated' member of the audience I was delighted with the animals! To me it was as if an old English oil painting of a hunt scene had suddenly come to life. I did spend a few moments looking at the animals but they did not distract. Perhaps their handlers were more familiar by then.

I didn't like the 3 story chalet or fake waterfall but did like the small more compact dancing space. Cut down on a lot of walking around aimlessly. Leticia Muller was on form and the First Act had tremendous impact, well appreciated by the audience response.

Chi Cao was stunning and outshone all! I would like to see much more of him.

The scenery and lighting was good in Act Two but the chemistry from Act 1 was missing.

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04-10-99, 04:40 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: BRB Giselle - Brief thoughts"
In response to message #5
   I attended both performances on the Saturday. I enjoyed seeing Letitia Muller and Andrew Murphy. Marion Tait was oustanding as Giselle's mother, and Catherine Batcheller was a convincing Queen of the Willis. That evening, Sabrina Lenzi gave a touching performance as Giselle. She was partnered by Tiit Helimets (a new recruit at Soloist level, replacing an injured Kevin O'Hare). He made a good first impression, dancing and partnering well. Grace Maduell gave a strong performance as the Queen of the Willis that evening.

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