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 Post subject: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2000 4:06 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Image <P>Serge Diaghalev<P>from the Diaghalev website,<BR> <A HREF="http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jafowler/russes.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.dmu.ac.uk/~jafowler/russes.html</A> <P><BR>Each day this week, David Bintley, Artistic Director of Birmingham Royal Ballet is introducing music from Diaghalev's Ballets Russes on the BBC's classical music programme, Radio3. Actually, there are treats all around at the moment, with a Royal Ballet performing 4 of the key works, a film programme in the National Film Theatre and a couple of concerts in the Royal Festival Hall. In this report on the programme, the comments on the ballet productions are Bintley's and the comments on the music itself are my own thoughts.<P>The Tuesday radio programme featured music by French composers associated with the company, performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Barry Wordsworth who has much experience of conducting for ballet. Bintley introduced the works, giving a little background and gossip from each production. The programme started with 'La Tragedie de Salome' by [Florian] Schmidt from 1911. This work was dedicated to Stravinsky, but seemed more reminiscent of Ravel to me. Bintley told us that this is one of only two works for which Schmidt is remembered, but I have to say it is pleasant, but not inspiring. <P>The ballet, choreographed by a dancer in the company, Boris Romanov, was not a great success either. Apparently, it was rather ill conceived, with Diaghalev needing a work to placate Karsavina who was put out by the attention that Nijinski was getting. The piece ended up as primarily a solo for the ballerina, with the 3 other main characters from the Salome story virtually written out. Thus, it's not surprising that the plot lost some of its resonance.<P>The second work performed in the concert was 'Le Train Bleu' (as Bintley told us there's no train and it's not blue) with music by Darius Milhaud. For the ballet, the choreography is by Nijinska, designs by Cocteau, costumes by Coco Chanel with a front drop signed by Picasso, as he was so pleased with it. Milhaud was told that it should be, '..an operetta without words, in the style of Offenbach.' The composer remarked that he knew that what was wanted was a work that did not sound as if it was by him, as Diaghalev was not keen on his usual style. On a first hearing the music does not sound as though a member of Les Six wrote it and does sound like a throwback to a period 20 or 30 years earlier.<P>The chic, ultra-modern ballet was influenced by Cocteau seeing Anton Dolin warm up and the themes of sport and jazz. Diaghalev described it as '..one of the most simple and delightful works imaginable.'<P><BR> Image <P><BR> <BR>In the second half of the programme, the music improved greatly, in my view, and featured Satie and Poulenc. Bintley described how the ubiquitous Cocteau rescued Eric Satie from playing piano in a Montmartre nightclub to write 'Parade' and become a focus of attention in fashionabe Paris. The designs by Picasso were a cubist manifesto with the characters of the French and American stage-managers having the most avant-garde costumes, incorporating cubist sculptural depictions of trees and skyscrapers, respectively. The music, with a part for a typewriter (given little prominence in this performance) was similarly radical and playful. 'Parade' means a sample, that is the extracts of acts that circus performers put on, to persuade punters to pay and come inside for the main show. Massine choreographed the work and performed the role of the Chinese juggler. There was such uproar from audience and critics alike at the end of the first performance that Diaghalev, who was behind the scenes, thought that one of the chandeliers had fallen down.<P>Finally we heard Poulenc's music for 'Les Biches', which is one of the works that the Royal will perform. Bintley explained that Diaghalev wanted a ballet with no plot, '..'Les Sylphides' brought up to date.' Perhaps this is just as well, given the ambiguous, risqué nature of Nijinska's piece, with 20 women admiring 3 muscular men. We were told that one can either see nothing or read the worst into the plot. But as one commentator said, 'I doubt if this music knows it hurts. In its concealed sadness, it is a portrait of the composer.' It's a lovely work and I am looking forward to seeing 'Les Biches' for the first time.<P>For those who would like to read more about the Diaghalev events, here is the enthusiastic report by Ann Williams writing for ballet.co.uk about the Royal Ballet Insight Evening focussing on 'Les biches' and 'The Firebird'.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_00/may00/aw_rev_rb_insight_0400.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.ballet.co.uk/magazines/yr_00/<BR>may00/aw_rev_rb_insight_0400.htm</A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2000 10:45 pm 
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Just a reminder to those who have access to the BBC R3 (it is available on the BBC website, but the sound quality is only fair <A HREF="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/" TARGET=_blank>http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/</A> ) that the final two programmes in the Diaghalev Legacy music series are at 11.30 British Summer Time:<P>May 4th: Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes part 2 <BR>May 5th: Imperial Russia and the Great Tradition<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 04, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Thu May 04, 2000 11:57 pm 
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The Guardian has a long article by Judith Mackrell about the impact of the Ballet Russes pre and post WWI. Also included are comments from other relevant Guardian Arts correspondents.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4014679,00.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/<BR>Archive/Article/0,4273,4014679,00.html</A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2000 10:54 pm 
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Image <P>Vaslav Nijinski<P><BR>Judith Mackrell is very impressed by the Royal's Diaghalev programme and is pleased to have seen the recreation of Jeux, 'after Nijinski' and values Mukhamedev's portrayal of the Faun. <P> <A HREF="http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/reviews/story/0,3604,218891,00.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/reviews/story/0,3604,218891,00.html</A> <P><BR>Whereas Ismene Brown hates 'Jeux' with a white-hot intensity, which seems to have spoilt an otherwise good evening. <BR> <A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000148269364269&rtmo=VPjZ1PVx&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/00/5/9/btnij09.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000148269364269&rtmo=VPjZ1PVx<BR>&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/00/5/9/btnij09.html</A> <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 09, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2000 10:15 pm 
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Debra Craine enjoys most of the Diaghalev Legacy programme. In the controversial 'Jeux', she feels that the Bakst sets are the real star.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/00/05/10/timartdan03001.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/<BR>tim/00/05/10/timartdan03001.html</A> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2000 2:02 am 
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Lynette Halewood reviews the Diaghalev Legacy programme, but finds it not quite hitting the mark. Ann Williams has now added her detailed comments of a different performance. <BR> <A HREF="http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/695.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/695.html</A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2000 9:24 am 
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Stuart, why the sudden interest in Diaghilev? I'm curious. Maybe I'm mistaken but Americans don't seem as interested in Diaghilev as Europeans are. I suppose it's because Balanchine is still the "king" here and everyone, even non-dance fans, know who he is.<P>It would be good for us Americans to see and hear some of the Diaghilev being performed in London.


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2000 1:29 am 
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The London Sunday papers do their usual weekly round-up. In the Sunday Times, its thumbs up for 'The Diaghalev Legacy' and raspberries for Cortez. <P><BR> <A HREF="http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/00/05/14/sticuldnc02002.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/<BR>sti/00/05/14/sticuldnc02002.html</A> <P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited May 14, 2000).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2000 2:18 pm 
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Azlan, you should check out Oakland Ballet. Their whole thing is that they do quite a few Diaghilev-era/influenced revivals, including Le Train Bleu, Les Biches (I think) and Rite of Spring...I believe. They did a whole Nijinska tribute season a few years ago. Now that they have a new artistic director, I wonder if this part of their artistic legacy/mission will continue. Will be interesting to see.. Ron Guidi, former artistic director and founder was very keen on historic revivals. By the way, if you ever get a chance to go to a lecture or lecture/demonstration given by him, I highly recommend it. He is very knowledgeable and educational....and is very good at getting folks interested and excited about ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: The Diaghalev Legacy
PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2000 8:45 pm 
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trina, yes, I have been checking out Oakland Ballet. It is really wonderful to have a ballet company so close to me that does non-Balanchine revivals, even if the quality of the dancing isn't always consistent. My favorite revival was "Les Biches." I also saw a few others and wrote about them:<P><BR>Lew Christensen’s "Jinx"<BR> <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000008.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000008.html</A> <P><BR>Eugene Loring's "The Tender Land"<BR> <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000017.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000017.html</A> <P><BR>Regardless of what new AD Karen Brown does, the next season has already been set. I am particularly looking forward to Michel Fokine's 1908 masterpiece "Les Sylphides"<BR> <A HREF="http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000116.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.criticaldance.com/ubb/Forum4/HTML/000116.html</A> <p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited June 27, 2000).]


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