Tag Archives: Music – Modernist

Six Famous Ballets – GISELLE (1841), PAQUITA (1846), COPPÉLIA (1870), THE DREAM (1964), ONEGIN (1965), and MAYERLING (1978).

FEATURE image: “Ballet en la Gala Lírica” by GonzalezNovo is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Ballet Society, New York, 1948. Photo by Irving Penn is here: https://www.artic.edu/artworks/144790/ballet-society-new-york

FAMOUS INSTRUCTOR: Marie Rambert (1888-1982), a prominent dance teacher in British ballet, works with with her students in the late 1940’s. Rambert founded the Rambert Dance Company which is active today.
Ballet developed mainly in Russia in the late 19th century. Its revival included (1) the resurgence revival of the male role and (2) the rise of the pas de deux.

Six Famous Modern & Classic Ballets.

# 1 The Dream (1964).

Choreographer: Frederick Ashton.

Music: Felix Mendelssohn.

Story: W. Shakespeare.

Oberon from The Dream (1964).

Adapted from William Shakespeare (English, 1564-1616) The Dream is a one-act ballet for the Royal Ballet created in 1964. Depicted is elegant Oberon, king of the forest fairies.

# 2 Onegin (1965).

Choreographer: John Cranko.

Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Story: A. Pushkin.

Onegin.

With music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), Onegin was first performed in 1965. Onegin is one of the most popular story ballets for both audiences and dancers.

Onegin was created by John Cranko (1927-1973) and is his ballet masterpiece. Its lead roles are Tatiana and Onegin, and Olga and Lensky. These are finely drawn characters who tell a story of love and tragedy through a series of intricate and diverse dance sequences.

#3 Mayerling (1978).

Choreographer: Kenneth MacMillan.

Music: Franz Liszt.

Story: G. Freeman.

Mayerling.

Mayerling was created by principal choreographer and former artistic director Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992) at The Royal Ballet. Since its premiere in 1978, it has been a popular staple on the ballet stage. The music is by Franz Liszt (1811-1886).

The male lead dancer appears in virtually every scene in the three-act ballet and performs with five different ballerinas. It is one of ballet’s most demanding roles.

Mayerling is a tragic story based on the true story of the murder-suicide of the crown prince of Austria-Hungary and his mistress.

Mayerling is the Imperial hunting lodge in the Vienna Woods where the bodies of the pair were discovered on January 30, 1889.

FAMOUS BALLERINA: Pierina Legnani (1868-1930).

Pierina Legnani (1868-1930). Legnani is depicted in 1896 at the Imperial Marinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia in the lead role in La Perle, an original production created for her.

Pierina Legnani (1868-1930) is considered the greatest Italian ballerina of the late nineteenth century.

Legnani trained at La Scala Theatre Ballet School in Milan and danced famously in Europe, especially in Italy and Russia.

Pierina Legnani and Olga Preobrajenska (1871-1962) in 1899. In the late 19th century, the pair were considered the greatest ballerinas.

The Mariinsky Theater of ballet and opera in St. Petersburg, Russia, opened in 1860.

#4 Giselle (1841).

Choreographer: Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot.

Music: Adolphe Adam.

Story: Théophile Gautier and Vernoy de Saint-Georges.

Natalya Bessmertnova and Mikhail Lavrovsky dance the roles of Giselle and Albrecht in Giselle.

With its premiere at the Paris Opera (Salle Le Peletier) in June 1841, the ballet Giselle was an immediate triumph and staged across Europe.

The story is about two lovers, Giselle and Albrecht. When Giselle discovers that Albrecht is betrothed to Bathilde she dies of a broken heart at the end of Act I. This leads to the appearance in Act II of a group of otherworldly and potentially mortally dangerous Wilis, a type of young female vampire. These creatures are intent on revenge for Giselle by arranging for Albrecht’s destruction.

The ballet music was composed by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856). It became the French composer’s most popular and enduring work. Musically, Adam introduced to ballet the leitmotif, that is, a specific theme for a character who appears on stage in the ballet.

The libretto was scored by Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) and Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges (1799-1875). The choreography was by Jean Coralli (1779-1854) and Jules Perrot (1810-1892).

Salle Le Peletier, A. Provost, 1844.

The print above depects the theatre at the time of Adolphe Adam’s triumphant ballet Giselle. The opera building, opened in 1820, was destroyed by fire in 1873 and replaced in a new location by the Palais Garnier.

Opera Le Peletier salle in 1858 by Gustave Janet (1829-1898).

#5 Coppélia (1870).

Choreographer: Arthur Saint-Léon.

Music: Léo Delibes.

Story: Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter.

Coppélia. Shioro Kase dances as Swanilda and Yonah Acosta dances as Franz. English National Ballet.

Coppélia is a comic ballet based on Der Sandmann by E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822). It was choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon (1821-1870) with music by Léo Delibes (1836-1891) and a libretto by Charles-Louis-Étienne Nuitter (1828-1899).

The comedy surrounding mischief-making village folk premiered in May 1870. Its production was immediately interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris. Following the hostilities, Coppélia went on to become one of the most popular works of the Paris Opera Ballet.

Italian ballerina Giuseppina Bozzacchi (1853-1870) first danced the part of Swanilda. Tragically, the 17-year-old ballerina died from malnutrition related to the Franco-Prussian War’s privations in November 1870.

FAMOUS BALLERINA: Marie Taglioni (1804-1884).

Marie Taglioni (1804-1884).

Marie Taglioni had many spectacular ballet accomplishments in her dancing career that spanned 25 years.

Marie’s parents were both dancers. Her Swedish mother was a ballet dancer and her Italian father was a dancer, choreographer, and ballet master in Vienna at the Court Opera.

Marie was rigorously trained by her father in Vienna, including six hours of ballet practice everyday for six days a week. The hard work paid off.

At 17 years old, Marie made her debut in Vienna in Rossini’s La reception d’une jeune nymphe à la cour de Terpischore, choreographed by her father. For the next five years Marie danced in cities in Austria and Germany until, in 1827, she made her Paris Opéra debut.

pointe shoes.

In 1832 Marie is credited with dancing en pointe (on tip toes), an innovation for ballet theater at that time. As a famous celebrity and the first famous ballerina, Marie Taglioni influenced fashion and hairstyles in the Romantic era of the 1830’s.

Marie Taglioni as Flore in Charles Didelot’s ballet Zephire et Flore. Hand-colored lithograph, c. 1831 by Alfred Chalon (1780-1860).

Marie married in 1832 but was separated in 1836. She bore a child with a lover in 1836 but he died soon after. In 1837 Marie accepted a dance contract to perform in Russia at the famed Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Marie remained at the Imperial Ballet until 1842, the same year she gave birth to a second child. In 1843 she danced in Milan at La Scala in another of her father’s ballet creations, La Sylphide and in 1845 appeared in London at Her Majesty’s Theatre dancing in Pas de quatre choreographed by Jules Perrot (1810-1892). In London, Taglioni was one of the famous ballerinas to appear in this production dancing alongside Carlotta Grisi (1819-1899), Lucile Grahn (1819-1907) and Fanny Cerrito (1817-1909).

Marie Taglioni with ballerinas, Lithograph, Thomas Herbert Maguire, 1845.

Dominating the image (above) is Marie Taglioni, standing with her arms en couronne, surrounded by ballerinas Lucille Grahn, Fanny Cerrito, and Carlotta Grisi. The lithograph by English artist and engraver Thomas Herbert Maguire (1821-1895) depicts a scene for the 1845 London production of Pas de Quatre.

In 1847 Marie Taglioni retired from the stage following her appearance in The Judgment of Paris, a ballet that concludes an opera (1754) by Christoph Gluck.

Taglioni lived in Venice into the 1850’s and returned to Paris in 1857 to take up the position of dance examiner at the Paris Opéra. One day before her 80th birthday, she died in Marseilles.

To this day there is some mystery as to the exact location of her grave. It is not known into which Paris cemetery Marie Taglioni was exactly buried.

#6 Paquita (1846).

Choreographer: Joseph Mazilier.

Music: Edouard Deldevez.

Story: Joseph Mazilier and Paul Foucher.

Natalia Osipova dances as Paquita at the Royal Opera House, London.

The two-act ballet is set in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. It tells the love story of a French military officer and a Spanish gypsy woman.

GUIDO MORINI ( b. 1959, Italian), co-founder of the Baroque Ensemble Accordone, writes his 21st century opera Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis (Revive the Life Force Spirit) inspired by music of the 6th and 16th centuries.

FEATURE image: Lion, Lodi Cathedral, Italy. The cathedral commissioned the opera. “Leone stiloforo di pietra. Lodi, cattedrale” by claudiobertolesi is marked with CC PDM 1.0. Public Domain.

Ensemble Accordone in 2010.

By John P. Walsh

The Italian early Baroque ensemble “Ensemble Accordone” was founded in 1984 by two musicologists—composer Guido Morini (b. 1959) and tenor Marco Beasley (Italian-English, b. 1957). In the last decade the duo, in collaboration with other musical artists, has recorded and released 10 albums.

The 45-minute opera called Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis (Revive the Life Force Spirit) is composed by Moroni and appeared in 2009. It is divided into three parts with thirteen chapters and includes a prelude and interlude in Gregorian chant.

While Ensemble Accordone’s main focus is arranging and performing musical literature mainly of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis is one of two recent albums by the group conceived from original compositions by Morini.

In their interpretations, Ensemble Accordone often seeks collaboration with outside musical artists. This is also the case for Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis, an opera for three soloists, three choirs, organ and basso continuo concertante. With texts drawn from the the Old Testament, the first part is called Effuderunt Aquas Nubila (Poured out of murky waters).

Featured are the Helicon and Euterpe choirs as well as soloists Elisabetta de Mircovich and Claudia Caffagni. Special guest musicians include Karen Peeters, Jaap Kruithof, Edwin Derde, and Guido Morini. The opera’s conductor is Geert Hendrix.

While Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis is imbued with the monophonic structure of sixth century Gregorian chant as well as Baroque polyphony of one thousand years later, Ensemble Accordone consciously strives in this album to have early music be easier for today’s listener to enjoy.

While today’s listener may not recognize or be able to identify this melodious music’s traditional backbone, the manifestation of a “rigorous lyricism” demonstrates Ensemble Accordone’s creative confidence in bringing early music into relevant practice for the 21st century.

Vivifice Spiritus Vitae Vis is the first part of a trilogy of compositions dedicated to the Christian Trinity—Father, Son, and Spirit. By design, the new commission by the Basilica Cattedrale della Vergine Assunta (Lodi Cathedral in northern Italy) is to counter today’s materialism by configuring the great religious traditions in a new way through contemporary music and words. Of course, the musical heritage, careful and creative arrangment, powerful lyricism and performative precision are intended to have universal appeal regardless of the listener’s ethical or religious convictions.

The opera describes the presence, vital breath, and action of the Spirit in the life of the individual and community. It’s libretto of Old Testament verses is a new Latin translation by Ettore Garioni.