Archives de Tag: Tiphaine Prévost

“Can we ever have too much of a good thing?” The Ballet du Capitole’s Don Q

Théâtre du Capitole – salle. Crédit : Patrice Nin

Way down south in a place called Toulouse you will find a Don Q that – as rethought by Kader Belarbi – avoids cliché and vulgarity both in story telling and in movement. The dancing bullfighters, the gypsy maidens, and even the “locals” inhabit their personae with force and finesse, with not an ounce of self-conscious irony, and never look like they feel silly. Liberated from the usual “olé-olé” tourist trinket aesthetic of what “Spanish” Petipa has become, the ballet became authentically engaging. By the end, I yearned to go back to that time when I struggled to learn how to do a proper Hota.

Production:

The key to Belarbi’s compact and coherent rethinking of this old chestnut is that he gave himself license to get rid of redundant characters thus giving those remaining more to do. Who needs a third suitor for Kitri’s hand – Gamache – when you can build up a more explicit rivalry just between the Don and Basilio? Who needs a “gypsy queen” in Act II, when Kitri’s girlfriend Mercedes could step in and gain a hot boyfriend on the way? Why not just get rid of the generic toreador and give his steps and profession to Basilio?

This version is not “streamlined” in the sense of starved: this smallish company looked big because all tore into new meat. Even the radiant individuals in the corps convinced me that each one of them thought of themselves as not “second row, third from left” but as “Frasquita” or “Antonio.” Their eyes were always on.

Economy and invention

The biggest shock is the transformation of the role of Don Quixote into a truly physical part. The role is traditionally reduced to such minimal mime you sometimes wonder why not get rid of him entirely? Yet the ballet IS called “Don Quichotte,” after all. Here the titular lead is given to someone who could actually dance Basilio himself, rather than to a beloved but now creaky veteran. This Don is given a ton to act upon including rough pratfalls and serious, repeated, partnering duties…while wearing Frankenstein boots, no less. (Don’t try this at home unless your ankles are really in shape.)

Taking it dead-seriously from the outset, Jackson Carroll’s tendril fingers and broken wrists could have gone camp but the very fit dancer hiding under those crusty layers of Gustave Doré #5 pancake foundation infused his clearly strong arms with equal measures of grace and nuance. His every pantomimed gesture seemed to float on top of the sound – even when trilling harshly through the pages of a tome — as if he were de facto conducting the orchestra. Carroll’s determined tilt of the head and firm jut of chin invited us to join him on his chivalric adventure. His minuet with Kitri, redesigned as an octet with the main characters, shook off the creepy and listless aspect it usually has.

Imagine what the dashing Douglas Fairbanks could have brought to Gloria Swanson’s role in Sunset Boulevard. That’s Carroll’s Don Q. Next imagine Oliver Hardy officiating as the butler instead of von Stroheim, and you’ve got Nicolas Rombaut or Amaury Barreras Lapinet as Sancho Panza.

Kitri:

At my first performance (April 23rd, evening), Natalia de Froberville’s Kitri became a study in how to give steps different inflections and punch. I don’t know why, but I felt as if an ice cream stand had let me taste every flavor in the vats. The dancers Belarbi picks all seem to have a thing for nuance: they are in tune with their bodies they know how to repeat a phrase without resorting to the Xerox machine. So de Froberville could be sharp, she could be slinky, she could be a wisp o’ th’ wind, or a force of nature when releasing full-blown “ballon.” Widely wide échappés à la seconde during the “fanning” variation whirled into perfect and unpretentious passés, confirming her parallel mastery of force and speed.

The Sunday matinée on April 24th brought the farewell of María Gutiérrez, a charming local ballerina who has been breathing life with sweet discretion into every role I’ve seen in since discovering the company four years ago (that means I missed at least another twelve, damn). She’s leaving while she is still in that “sweet spot” where your technique can’t fail but your sense of stagecraft has matured to the point that everything you do just works. The body and the mind are still in such harmony that everything Gutiérrez does feels pure, distilled, opalescent. The elevation is still there, the light uplift of her lines, the strong and meltingly almost boneless footwork. Her quicksilver shoulders and arms remain equally alive to every kind of turn or twist. And all of this physicality serves to delineate a character that continued organically into the grand pas.

Typical of this company: during the fouettés, why do fancy-schmancy doubles while changing direction, flailing about, and wobbling downstage when you can just do a perfect extended set of whiplash singles in place? That’s what tricks are all about in the first place, aren’t they: to serve the character? Both these women remained in character, simply using the steps to say “I’m good, I’m still me, just having even more fun than you could ever imagine.”

Maria Gutiérrez reçoit la médaille de la ville de Toulouse des mains de Marie Déqué, Conseillère municipale déléguée en charge des Musiques et Déléguée métropolitaine en charge du Théâtre et de l’Orchestre national du Capitole.
Crédit photo : Ville de Toulouse

Basilio:

Maybe my only quibble with this re-thought scenario: in order to keep in the stage business of Kitri’s father objecting to her marrying a man with no money, Basilio – so the program says – is only a poor apprentice toreador. Given that Belarbi could well anticipate which dancers he was grooming for the role, this is odd. Um, no way could I tell that either the manly, assured, and richly costumed Norton Fantinel (April 22nd, evening) or equally manly etc. Davit Galstyan (April 23rd, matinée) were supposed to be baby bullfighters. From their very entrances, each clearly demonstrated the self-assurance of a star. Both ardent partners, amusingly and dismissively at ease with the ooh-wow Soviet-style one-handed lifts that dauntingly pepper the choreography, they not only put their partners at ease: they aided and abetted them, making partnership a kind of great heist that should get them both arrested.

Stalking about on velvet paws like a young lion ready to start his own pride, Davit Galstyan – he, too, still in that “sweet spot” — took his time to flesh out every big step clearly, paused before gliding into calm and lush endings to each just-so phrase. Galstyan’s dancing remains as polished and powerful as ever. In his bemused mimes of jealousy with Gutiérrez, he made it clear he could not possibly really need to be jealous of anyone else on the planet. Even in turns his face remains infused with alert warmth.

Norton Fantinel, like many trained in the Cuban style, can be eagerly uneven and just-this-side of mucho-macho. But he’s working hard on putting a polish on it, trying to stretch out the knees and the thighs and the torso without losing that bounce. His cabrioles to the front were almost too much: legs opening so wide between beats that a bird might be tempted to fly through, and then in a flash his thighs snapped shut like crocodile jaws. He played, like Galstyan, at pausing mid-air or mid-turn. But most of all, he played at being his own Basilio. The audience always applauds tricks, never perfectly timed mime. I hope both the couples heard my little involuntary hees-hees.

Mercedes

Best friend, free spirit, out there dancing away through all three acts. Finally, in Belarbi’s production, Mercedes becomes a character in her own right. Both of her incarnations proved very different indeed. I refuse to choose between Scilla Cattafesta’s warmly sensual, luxuriant – that pliant back! — and kittenish interpretation of the role and that of Lauren Kennedy, who gave a teasingly fierce touch straight out of Argentine tango to her temptress. Both approaches fit the spirit of the thing. As their Gypsy King, the chiseled pure and powerful lines of Philippe Solano and the rounded élan of Minoru Kaneko brought out the best in each girlfriend.

Belarbi’s eye for partnerships is as impressive as his eye for dancers alone: in the awfully difficult duets of the Second-Best-Friends – where you have to do the same steps at the same time side by side or in cannon – Ichika Maruyama and Tiphaine Prévost made it look easy and right. On the music together, arms in synch, even breathing in synch. There is probably nothing more excruciatingly difficult. So much harder than fouéttés!

Dryad/Nayad/Schmayad

Love the long skirts for the Dream Scene, the idea that Don Q’s Dulcinea fantasy takes place in a swamp rather than in the uptight forest of Sleeping Beauty. The main characters remain easily recognizable. Didn’t miss Little Miss Cupid at all. Did love Juliette Thélin’s take on the sissonne racourci developé à la seconde (sideways jump over an invisible obstacle, land on one foot on bended knee and then try to get back up on that foot and stick the other one out and up. A nightmare if you want to make it graceful). Thélin opted to just follow the rubato of the music: a smallish sissone, a soft plié, a gentle foot that lead to the controlled unrolling of her leg and I just said to myself: finally, it really looks elegant, not like a chore. Lauren Kennedy, in the same role the previous day, got underdone in the later fouéttés à l’italienne at the only time the conductor Koen Kessels wasn’t reactive. He played all her music way too slowly. Not that it was a disaster, no, but little things got harder to do. Lauren Kennedy is fleet of foot and temperament. The company is full of individuals who deserve to be spoiled by the music all the time, which they serve so well.

The Ballet du Capitole continues to surprise and delight me in its fifth year under Kader Belarbi direction. He has taken today’s typical ballet company melting pot of dancers – some are French, a few even born and trained in Toulouse, but more are not –and forged them into a luminously French-inflected troupe. The dancers reflect each other in highly-developed épaulement, tricks delivered with restrained and controlled finishes, a pliant use of relevé, a certain chic. I love it when a company gives off the vibe of being an extended family: distinct individuals who make it clear they belong to the same artistic clan.

The company never stopped projecting a joyful solidarity as it took on the serious fun of this new reading of an old classic. The Orchestre national du Capitole — with its rich woody sound and raucously crisp attack – aided and abetted the dancers’ unified approach to the music. In Toulouse, both the eye and the ear get pampered.

The title is, of course, taken from Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I, Book I, Chapter 6.
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Toulouse : un programme en (rouge et) or

Toulouse, La Halle aux Grains

Toulouse, La Halle aux Grains

Ballet du Capitole de Toulouse, La Halle aux grains. Programme Paquita Grand pas (Vinogradov/Minkus et alia) / L’Oiseau de Feu (Béjart/Stravinsky). Représentations du samedi 11 juin et dimanche 12 juin (matinée).

Dans les rues de Toulouse, c’est l’effervescence en ce week-end d’ouverture de la coupe d’Europe de football. Les rues sont bigarrées de rouge et de jaune. Les supporters espagnols sont là en nombre pour un match qui oppose leur équipe à celle de la République tchèque. À l’entrée de la Halle aux Grains, les jeux de jambes dont parlent les  ouvreurs, même les plus stylés, ne sont pas ceux des danseurs du Capitole mais bien des dribbleurs de tout poil qui jouent ou joueront au stadium de Toulouse.

Pour nous, l’Espagne qui nous intéresse est celle, très factice et toute « théorique » du Grand Pas de Paquita, costumée élégamment de rose, de saumon et d’or (le nom du jaune en héraldique). Toute théorique en effet, cette Espagne, après le traitement de cheval qu’elle a reçu de Marius Petipa en 1896 lorsqu’il détacha le grand pas de deux du mariage du ballet éponyme, lui-même une addition de son cru, pour le transformer en pièce de gala à l’occasion du jubilé de Catherine II pour Mathilde Kreschinskaia, maîtresse d’un futur tsar et future femme d’un grand duc. À cette occasion, chaque ballerine invitée à se produire est venue avec sa variation extraite d’un autre ballet où elle avait particulièrement brillé. Nous voilà réintroduits dans un temps révolu du ballet où les œuvres « académiques » étaient sans cesse sujettes à modifications et où la cohérence musicale importait peu. La liste est restée ouverte pendant des années. On s’étonne encore aujourd’hui d’entendre, en plein milieu de pages de Minkus, les volutes cristallines du celesta réutilisées pour la première fois depuis Tchaïkovski par Tcherepnin dans le Pavillon d’Armide en 1909. Pour hétérogène qu’il soit, le programme musical donne néanmoins une unité à la démonstration qui est infiniment préférable au grand fourre-tout d’une soirée de pas de deux. L’entrada, le grand adage et la coda servent de cadre. La liste des numéros peut encore évoluer, non pas tant par addition que par soustraction. Dans la production toulousaine, la variation sur la valse de Pugni (avec les grands développés sur pointe et les sauts à la seconde) est par exemple omise.

Mais quoi qu’il en soit, autant dire que le caractère espagnol de la pièce est rejeté au loin.

En lieu et place, sous deux lustres en cristal (un peu chiches) on assiste à une démonstration de grâce délicieusement surannée ou de force bravache. Le corps de ballet se montre engagé dans les passages obligés du grand pas initial. On voit qu’on leur a demandé de mettre l’accent sur « le style » et sur les bras. Cela se traduit de manière un peu différemment selon les danseuses. Mais si l’on veut bien oublier l’homogénéité du corps de ballet de l’Opéra de Paris dans ce passage, on prendra plaisir à la diversité de la notion de style chez les interprètes toulousaines néanmoins très disciplinées.

Paquita (Grand Pas) - Scilla Cattafesta crédit David Herrero

Paquita (Grand Pas) –
Scilla Cattafesta crédit David Herrero

Lorsqu’elle danse dans les ensembles, on remarque immédiatement Lauren Kennedy, ses sauts dynamiques et ses lignes toujours plus étirées. Elle s’illustrera, dans les deux distributions, d’abord dans la traditionnelle variation aux grands jetés – celle utilisée par Lacotte – qu’elle illumine de son ballon et de son sens de l’œillade (le 11) puis, dans la variation dite « de l’étoile » (le 12), avec ses pas de basque et sa redoutable diagonale sur pointe, où elle démontre une jolie science du contrôle sans tout à fait nous faire oublier sa devancière, Melissa Abel, une grande fille blonde aux très jolis et très élégants bras ; ces bras dont on ressent toute l’importance dans de nombreuses variations féminines de Paquita. Loin d’être de simple chichis du temps passé, ils sont garants, en quelque sorte de la tenue du reste du corps. Dans la première variation, sur Tcherepnin, les petits piétinés et autres sautillés sur pointe s’achevant en arabesques suspendues ne sont véritablement possibles que pour une danseuse qui danse jusqu’au bout des doigts. C’est le cas de Solène Monnereau, qui semble caresser ses bras pour faire scintiller des bracelets en diamants imaginaires (le 12). Moins mis en avant, le placement des mains a aussi son importance dans la variation d’amour de Don Quichotte. Volontairement stéréotypé sans être raides, ils doivent attirer l’attention plutôt sur le travail de bas de jambe et sur la prestesse des sauts. Cela fait mouche avec la pétillante Scilla Cattafesta (le 11) ; un peu moins avec Kayo Nakazato qui ne démérite pourtant pas.

Dans le pas de trois, Thiphaine Prevost et Eukene Sagüés Abad (le 11 et le 12) illustrent le même théorème des bras. La première a tendance à les rendre trop démonstratifs, gênant par moment l’appréciation de la première variation, par ailleurs bien maîtrisée. La seconde sait les suspendre et les mouvoir avec grâce au dessus de sa corolle, ce qui lui permet de corriger un ballon un peu essoufflé le premier soir ou de célébrer comme il faut son retour lors de la matinée du 12. Dans le rôle du garçon se succèdent Mathew Astley et Philippe Solano. Comme lorsqu’ils dansaient côte à côte dans le pas paysan de Giselle en décembre, ils s’offrent en contraste tout en procurant un plaisir égal : Astley par son joli temps de saut, ses lignes pures et Solano par son énergie concentrée et explosive.

Et les principaux me direz-vous ? Les bras, toujours les bras, vous répondrai-je… Le 11, Julie Charlet passe tout plutôt bien mais dégage une certaine tension dans les mains qui se transfère à sa danse. Dans sa variation, elle désigne avec les ports de bras volubiles induits par la chorégraphie  son travail de bas de jambe ; mais c’est de manière trop délibérée. Son partenaire, Ramiro Samon, un Cubain arrivé en tant que soliste dans la compagnie, accomplit des prouesses saltatoires qui ne dépassent jamais le stade de l’acrobatie. Des bras figés et une tête littéralement vissée sur un cou peu mobile sont la cause de cette carence expressive. Le 12, on retrouve en revanche avec plaisir Maria Guttierez et Davit Galstyan. La première malgré son aspect frêle domine sa partition et trouve toujours un épaulement ou un port de bras qui surprend. Le second, lui aussi dans la veine des danseurs athlétiques, sait fermer une simple cinquième ou se réceptionner d’un double tour en l’air de manière musicale. Et il sait regarder sa partenaire, réintroduisant un peu d’argument et de chair dans cette succession de variations sorties de leur contexte.

Paquita (Grand Pas) - 1ère distribution Maria Gutierrez et Davit Galstyan crédit David Herrero

Paquita (Grand Pas) – 1ère distribution
Maria Gutierrez et Davit Galstyan crédit David Herrero

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Avec Oiseau de Feu, on change sans aucun doute d’atmosphère mais on reste dans le code couleur. Le rouge est à l’honneur.

On est toujours partagé à la revoyure de ce ballet. Il cumule tellement de poncifs d’une époque où il était de bon ton d’être maoïste et de rêver aux « lendemains qui chantent » et autres « grands bonds en avant », tout cela a été tellement parodié, qu’on sort de temps en temps du ballet. Pour ma part, c’est la lueur rouge des douches et du spot suiveur qui me font crisser des dents. Et pourtant, une émotion finit invariablement par naître de la radicale simplicité de la chorégraphie. Les rondes, les formations en étoile, les garçons qui, à un moment, plongent entre les jambes de leurs partenaires couchés au sol et se voient retenus par eux, le bassin suspendu en l’air en petite seconde, captivent.

L’Oiseau de feu - 1ère distribution crédit David Herrero

L’Oiseau de feu – 1ère distribution
crédit David Herrero

Parmi les ouvriers, Philippe Solano se fait remarquer par son énergie mâle, particulièrement pendant ces tours en l’air achevés en arabesque. C’est cette masculinité qui manque à l’oiseau de Takafumi Watanabe qui, comme trop souvent, danse tout à fond mais n’incarne rien. L’animalité, le contraste entre les mouvements presque tribaux (des secouements d’épaules) et les élans lyriques classiques (le danseur se relève en couronne) est gommée. Il faut attendre Jerémy Leydier en Phénix, qui souligne même – enfin – les réminiscences du folklore russe, pour se rappeler que dans ce ballet, l’oiseau doit avoir avant tout un caractère dionysiaque. Le 12, Dennis Cala Valdès, sans provoquer le même choc, séduit par sa belle plastique et sa juvénilité.

Retourné dans les rues de Toulouse, rendues bruyantes par une foule « vociférante » déguisée en rouge et jaune, on fait abstraction de tout, et la tête remplie des accents à la fois nostalgiques et triomphaux du final de la partition de Stravinsky, on ne peut s’empêcher de penser que la compagnie de Kader Belarbi, qui termine avec succès sa saison par ce riche programme pourpre et or, recèle bien des talents originaux et variés.

L’Oiseau de feu (2ème distribution) Jérémy Leydier (Le Phénix) crédit David Herrero

L’Oiseau de feu (2ème distribution)
Jérémy Leydier (Le Phénix) crédit David Herrero

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Giselle in Toulouse: Let me count the ways

Théâtre du Capitole - salle. Crédit : Patrice Nin

Théâtre du Capitole – salle. Crédit : Patrice Nin

Toulouse, Ballet du Capitole. December 24th

On Christmas Eve, I’d rather partake in seduction, madness, death, zombie rituals, and on-stage wine making than submit to (year after year) forced good cheer, snowflakes, and “let us now bless the fruitcake.”

God I love France. For the holidays, ballet companies can still afford to program intelligent and saccharine-free entertainment for tired grown-ups. This December 24th not a Nutcrack was stirring and no kid played a mouse. In Paris, to chase the winter blues away you could have treated your family to either the glistening and tragic Nureyev-Petipa “La Bayadere” at the Opéra Bastille or Pina Bausch’s eviscerating version of “Le Sacre du printemps” at the Palais Garnier. On that same day in Toulouse, you would have been swept away into a new production of “Giselle,” as most thoughtfully revisited by its director, Kader Belarbi.

Because of the glories and pitfalls of ballet being part of an “oral tradition,” there has not been and will never be “the” authentic version of any ballet made before the ability to record live performances became ubiquitous. And even now, technique will continue to develop (the idea scares me a bit), coaches will always encourage their heirs to go that one step further, adding clutter when clutter is what needs to be cleared away.

Even if I’ve been a Giselle-ophile since as long as I can remember, I’ve always been perplexed by all the different versions proffered as “the one” by different companies and quite often wished that at least one of them would smooth out some of the anachronisms in the drama (which are frequently rendered less palpable by the sheer force of the dancing personas of a specific G or Albrecht…which can explain why it endures despite its oddities).

So here are some reasons to be thankful for this new Giselle in Toulouse:

#1: the set and costumes. Why shouldn’t we get rid of Alexander Benois’s nostalgist tsarist-inspired happy-serf aesthetic? And rightfully rediscover something closer to the original French point of view? This ballet was born in France just the “bourgeois monarch” Louis-Philippe ordered that Notre-Dame finally be landmarked and medieval revival style – as well as class conflict — was all the rage. Giselle is a poor peasant, right? What’s with the little cozy cabin and the perfectly wrought bench? Make the hut look like a hut, the bench a log, the peasants wear bright colors with white knickers [yeah, too clean and very 19th century, but let’s get not too historically correct. The overall feeling is). Have Wilfred hide Albrecht’s noble sword in a yet-to-be-filled wine barrel. More the pity then that, in Act 2, Giselle’s grave doesn’t look freshly dug but lists to the side as only very old markers do. If that is the case, does the obsessed Hilarion really need to be shown where it is?

Giselle, acte 1. crédit David Herrero

Giselle, act 1. crédit David Herrero

#2: peasants vs. nobles. Put peasants in soft slippers, make their dances squat and flexed-footy and sharpen class difference by making the noblewomen actually dance, and angularly – in an almost Art Deco way — on pointe with their cavaliers (much more fun to watch than reluctantly trotting borzois, as it turns out). The specificity of movement on each side not only clarifies the gulf separating these two worlds. Now it calls attention to how Giselle’s (Maria Gutierrez) gentle and airborne way of moving – the steps we are used to – determines that this unusual girl is caught in-between. Her steps partake of neither camp. Next, finally cast a Berthe who looks the right age to be the mother of a teenager, who acts as grounded and dignified as peasants really are, and entrust the role to Laura Fernandez’s strong spine and pithy mime. Adding two drunk male villagers might at first seem off-putting when you first open the program, but the high-flying travails of Minoru Kaneko and Nicolas Rombaut – partly to odd bits of Adam’s original score – made more sense than the usual frou-frou. That frou-frou also known as…

#3: ze Peasant pas de deux. Interpolated music, interpolated dance, why? Of course I know it was there from the start, a gift to a starlet in 1841, but the intrusion persists and never really ever satisfies. Good lord, I’ve seen duos, trios, sextets, octets, all set to this music, all of which stop dead the arc of a drama that is supposed to be building steam. Here Belarbi re-channeled the steps via a real quartet of villagers, clearly introduced by Giselle at an appropriate moment. Kayo Nakazato and Tiphaine Prévost, Matthew Astley and Philippe Solano exchanging, echoing, responding to each other’s steps, made it all fresh and rescued the flow. When Astley and Solano quit lightly competing and sank gracefully to the knee in perfectly relaxed synchronicity I thought, “this fits this imaginary world.” Usually this section seems to interrupt the narrative, like a hula dance devised for tourists. Here it almost felt too short.

#4: Hilarion. Demian Vargas may be the best one I’ve ever seen. Rough and rustic enough but only to the point that we understand that Giselle might find his passion a bit too intense. But she could never deem him creepy, as Gutierrez emphasized in her soft sad mime, knowing how her words would pain him. Little added bits of business – he goes to fetch water for Berthe as a hopeful future son-in-law would do; doesn’t have to go as far as breaking into a house in order to find the sword – made you root for him. For once not forced to do “lousy dance” when hunted in Act 2 (normally emphasized so that Albrecht looks better). Because of the set-up in Act 1, the fact that he danced to his death using the same kind of classic vocabulary that had isolated Giselle…made sense. This misunderstood Hilarion, too, had been trapped by birth in a village that could not fathom an equally honorable soul. Just one detail from many: in the mad scene, when this Giselle falls splat down in our direction, her hands with violently splayed fingers seem to be reaching out to us. During his dance of death, Belarbi makes Hilarion repeat this image. It’s subtle, you might not catch it, but it embodies how Hilarion has been haunted by Giselle’s fate, and is now submitting to his own.

Hilario : Demian Vargas (here with Juliette Thélin and Davit Galstyan. Crédit David Hererro

Hilarion : Demian Vargas (here with Juliette Thélin and Davit Galstyan). Crédit David Hererro

# 5: Bathilde has a real dancing part! Juliette Thélin brings authority and style to whatever she does, and here she was given something do to other than look as peevish and elegant as a borzoi. I’ve always hated the way that this character talks about love to a naïve girl, seems so generous and warm, sits around and then just stalks off in a huff when things get messy. If you want to be correct about peasants, then be correct about the aristocratic concept of duty. Real aristocrats don’t ever lose their manners. Bathilde matures before our eyes and dances towards Giselle’s sorrow (to another inhabitual snippet of Adam’s score). The “mad scene” thus expands into a tragedy not only observed but felt by all. Albrecht’s behavior doesn’t just destroy Giselle’s life, but clearly Bathilde’s one chance at happiness too. Therefore here is the one case where I wish that Belarbi been much more daring and given us the original ending where Albrecht’s melancholy now-wife arrives and leads him back to the home where their hearts aren’t.

Bathilde (Juliette Thélin) et Giselle (Maria Gutierrez). Crédit David Hererro

Bathilde (Juliette Thélin) and Giselle (Maria Gutierrez). Crédit David Hererro

I would need about 6,000 words to convey every morsel of the sensitive directions in which Belarbi has taken this beloved warhorse. Instead, just find an excuse to fly to Toulouse to see the rest of what I have only started to talk about and judge for yourself. This theatrically coherent and beautifully danced Giselle will sate you more than any Nutcracker ever will.

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