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Subject: "Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis and L..." Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2846
Reading Topic #2846
Helen

27-06-02, 10:53 AM (GMT)
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"Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis and Lynn Seymour in Liverpool"
 
   Last night at the Liverpool Philharmonic turned out to be an interesting event, if a little bizarre. When I heard that Carl Davis intended to show the first act of the 1966 Fonteyn/Nureyev Romeo amd Juliet film, and at the same time to conduct the RLPO live instead of using the original soundtrack, I was, like most people, highly sceptical. In the event,although it was, as one would expect, only partly sucessful, it felt like an exciting experiment.

LYNN SEYMOUR

Before the film, Lynn Seymour gave a short talk and was interviewed by Angela Heslop, who has an arts programme on BBC Radio Merseyside. I found it hard to believe that this heroine of my youth would really turn up, but she did. She looked trim and very stylish in a distinctly Carnaby Street way, in a jaunty cap, black and white top, two strings of large grey beads, tight black trousers and neat little boots. I was impressed by the "ballerina" carriage of her head - it never goes.

She started by talking about Nureyev and her friendship with him, and stressed that they had felt kinship because they were both strangers in a strange land, and both given to rebellion and saying what they thought, which was not always popular in the nice-mannered Royal Ballet! She felt that Nureyev was a very honest person and completely without affectation, contrary to some publicity.

She did, of course, point out that the role of Juliet was meant for her, but she didn't dwell on it. She explained how MacMillan had wanted to break new ground, and how he (and she) had felt that the steps should be "seamless", and totally subjugated to the meaning they were conveying. How I agree! She had never been interested in "stringing steps together" except in the context of meaning, whereas there was now a tendency for both dancers and audience to think that the steps were the point. She called this approach "unsophisticated", which I thought a good word.

When asked about the current attitude to and lack of new work, she felt that experimentation was much less well tolerated than it was in the 60s, in all fields of the arts and not just ballet. In both this respect and the over-valuing of virtuosity, she felt we were going backwards rather than forwards. I felt like cheering.

THE FILM

The advance publicity referred to this as a "rare opportunity to see" the Fonteyn/Nureyev film of R&J, which was a little odd since you can buy it on video, but I suppose it is unusual to see it on a big screen. There was a quotation from Carl Davis in the programme which said "Even if I am not exact all the time, it will still bring the thing to life. It will be an amazing experience." I think that summed it up. He spoke to the audience beforehand, and said he was sending up prayers and knocking on wood. He had been doubtful about whether he dared do it. It was certainly inaccurate in places - for instance, the orchestra finished the Dance of the Knights at least a beat ahead of the dancers - but it was exciting to have the sound of a large symphony orchestra instesd of a bored ballet orchestra. On the whole, the liveliness and energy of the sound made up for the obvious pitfalls. One notable lack, though, was during the sword fights - because the soundtrack had been silenced, you couldn't hear the clash of metal, which detracted a lot from the impact.

Of course, the subtle dance/music relationship was not there - though is it ever with a film soundtrack? Contrary to my expectations, I enjoyed it. It was full of faults, but it was exciting, dynamic, experimental - all things we badly need. And it was good to see a large audience obviously moved by the experience. The friend I went with was in tears at the end - and that was only the balcony scene! Strange to do only the first act, but I suppose he didn't dare do more. The first half of the programme was made up of pop ballet excerpts, without film, played in typical Carl Davis way - more enthusiasm than finesse.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis a... AnnWilliams 27-06-02 1
     RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis a... sylvia 28-06-02 2
         RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis a... Helen 28-06-02 3
         RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis a... Tomoko.A 28-06-02 4

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AnnWilliams

27-06-02, 08:57 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis and Lynn Seymour in Liverpool"
In response to message #0
 
   Helen - I very much enjoyed reading this report, and only wish I could have been there. I do think that Lynn Seymour is a most intelligent and illuminating speaker, and I wish the RB would make use of her in their study days etc. In the dozen or so years that I've been attending such events I have never once seen her. A great shame.


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sylvia

28-06-02, 00:34 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis and Lynn Seymour in Liverpool"
In response to message #1
 
   Helen, thanks, I really enjoyed the report too.

Out of curiosity, is Ms Seymour still based in London? What is she doing now? Does she ever coach dancers in roles anywhere at all in the world?


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Helen

28-06-02, 05:23 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis and Lynn Seymour in Liverpool"
In response to message #2
 
   I wondered too whether she was based in London - I should imagine so, but I don't know. She certainly is a good speaker, though she had extensive notes for the talk on Nureyev. She clearly thinks a lot.

Another thing she said that I found interesting, and didn't know, was that MacMillan had been a great fan of the actress Glenda Jackson, because he felt that she changed character completely from role to role, so that you saw, say, Elizabeth I rather than Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth I. He thought ballet dancers should be like that, but never were - and that some of them (no names) were careful to wear similar make-up from role to role, so that you were quite aware that you were watching whichever "star" it was. I have to say I don't think his ideal has happened - there is still a star culture in ballet, which may or may not be a good thing. It is partly because comparing casts is such an important part of ballet-going, which doesn't happen much in straight theatre.


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Tomoko.A

28-06-02, 10:39 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Live orchestra with Romeo and Juliet film - Carl Davis and Lynn Seymour in Liverpool"
In response to message #2
 
   Sylvia,did you watch "Dance Ballerina Dance" on TV a couple years ago (or 3 years ago)? Seymour coached Deborah Bull and Adam Cooper in Two Pigeons and Invitation and I though she was an excellent coach. But never seen her in any events organised by RB as Ann pointed. But I believe she will be doing a master class at the MacMillan conference in October.


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