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Fairies, Fairies and More Fairies


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 09 November 2001 - 01:30 PM

Fairy variations -- and especially, fairy names -- over the years have changed. Some productions even change the numbers of the fairies (I have a vague memory of Nureyev making one fairy a "doubles" variation.)

What have you seen? What do you like?

I once read a Russian commentary that each fairy has a movement motif that later occurs in Aurora's wedding solo (the idea being, of course, that this is the way to show that she is the sum of their gifts.)

What role do the fairies play in the ballet?

And, last by not least, who are the super fairies of your viewing days smile.gif ?

#2 Melissa

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Posted 09 November 2001 - 01:54 PM

I recall the ABT production in which I saw Cynthia Gregory that all the fairies made an appearance, dancing in the ensemble pieces and the individual variations. This is the only time I've seen the jewel fairies (gold, silver, sapphire and diamond) appear as a pas de quatre for 4 ballerinas and not with a male dancer thrown in which I think is a definite no-no.

I love the music Tchaikovsky wrote for the fairies, especially the Lilac Fairy's theme (sheer heaven!) and the scintillating triangle and strings variation he wrote for the Diamond fairy.

Marguerite Porter of the Royal Ballet is the most beautiful Lilac Fairy I've seen.

#3 felursus

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Posted 09 November 2001 - 09:51 PM

The Ashton/Wright production of the late '60s had the Lilac Fairy, accompanied by other fairy "friends", return to "bless" the wedding. I can't remember all the names now - except there was one called "the Rainbow Fairy." It was originally danced by Georgina Parkinson. It makes sense for the fairies to return - after all, they were there to bless the baby Aurora, and the Lilac Fairy saved the day. It's always too bad when she doesn't get to do more than bouree or walk around and wave her arms a bit at the end.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 09 November 2001 - 10:02 PM

felursus, I'm writing this without checking, but I think that the fairies returned in the original apotheosis -- wasn't it that Apollo, surrounded by the fairies, appeared on a cloud? (That image, by the way, is an interesting one -- not very pure, to have late 19th century fairies messing around with one of the great classical gods.)

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 09 November 2001 - 11:21 PM

Actually, I think it was more Louis XIV, the compleat Absolute Monarch, in the guise of Le Roi Soliel, and all to the tune of something most people think is Russian, but it's actually French. The melody of the apotheosis is "Vive Henri IV", a French song of the early Renaissance. And a further yes to the fairies forming a tableau about the image of Apollo.

#6 rg

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Posted 10 November 2001 - 12:04 AM

if mem. serves, the fairy variation ashton created for g.parkinson, esp. for the prod. that came to be nicknamed the 'plantagenet BEAUTY' because of the medieval decor by j.t.oman, was danced to the 5/4 'sapphire' variation written for the 'jewel fairies' quartet, and was called the 'fairy of joy' (though parkinson did, if mem. still serves, wear a rainbow emblem on her costume), later ashton's solo choreography was moved and inserted into the 'florestan pas de trois' as ashton had renamed the jewel fairy divertissement in act 3. the appearance of apollo in the apotheosis of an english BEAUTY was last done, in an british prod. in the late 30s(?), there's a picture (by gordon anthony(?)), which alastair macaulay drew many people's attention to in the wake of the kirov's re-instating apollo and his quadriga in the final tableau.

[ November 10, 2001: Message edited by: rg ]



#7 Nanatchka

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Posted 10 November 2001 - 05:57 PM

So interesting, RG. Too bad the Kirov set was so dreadful, it really defied those connections one makes among productions, at least it did with me. I was so busy being vexed....Must go see if anywhere in this topic we discuss the Bristish production that changes centuries between acts. When I was little, seeing the Royal here in NYC, I would worry about what happened when people woke up in the castle after 100 years. What if you had gone to the party and your dog stayed home? Etc. I used to pretend that the Lilac Fairy put the whole surrounding area to sleep, too....I used to love her so.

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 10 November 2001 - 10:50 PM

Never fear, Nanatchka, the Perrault makes it clear, the entire kingdom falls under the Lilac Fairy's spell, so even the pets are safe! Desiré/Florimund would be better having Steve Irwin with him on the way into the castle with the amount of understory he's got to break through!

I remember seeing the Kirov Beauty for the first time in 1964, and being disappointed in the sketchiness of the sets that they used.

#9 Helena

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Posted 11 November 2001 - 08:25 AM

Very confusing, these fairy names. I grew up with the Sadlers Wells Crystal Fountain, Enchanted Garden, Woodland Glades, Song Birds and Golden Vine. I knew the French names Candide, Coulante, Miettes qui Tombent, Canarie and Violente because they were the names used on my records. Then Purity, Vitality, Generosity, Eloquence and Passion arrived, and I think the Kirov brought Sincerity into it as well. It would be a lot simpler if we used the French names - which are, after all, the ones Petipa used. Thank heavens the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse remain unchanged.

I used to be puzzled by the Breadcrumbs (Miettes) until I read somewhere that it was a Russian custom to sprinkle breadcrumbs in a cradle as a symbol of fertilty and plenty. The Lilac Fairy symbolises Wisdom, again in accord with a Russian tradition that a baby placed under a lilac bush would acquire that quality. I have Robert Grescovic to thank for those explanations.

My memorable fairies are Ann Jenner's Songbirds, Antoinette Sibley's Golden Vine, Sarah Wildor's Breadcrumbs and the Lilac Fairies of (in the past)Deanne Bergsma and, in the Kirov's reconstruction, Daria Pavlenko, who positively radiated benevolence and wisdom.

#10 cargill

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Posted 11 November 2001 - 12:44 PM

So many fairies, so little time! But on my unforgettable list is Bergsma as the Lilac Fairy, followed by Kyra Nichols. I also love the memory of Yan Chen in the Songbird fairy, in the current ABT production. Her upper body was just so calm and flowing, while her feet did all the work (or so it seemed). Usually that variation is just so skittery and cute with all that hand flapping, but she was elegant and effortless. It was a real revelation to see it done that way. It isn't Petipa, but Ashton's variation for Georgina Parkinson as the 7th fairy in the pre-raphealite verion was lovely, all melting arms and quick jumps. Parkinson was just beautiful in it.

#11 felursus

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 12:56 AM

Thanks for reminding me of Ann Jenner's Songbird Fairy - she was truly remarkable in the role. Also, Monica Mason as the Golden Vine fairy - those pas de chats on pointe!!!!

The words to "Vive Henri Quatre" may be found quoted in Tolstoy's "War and Peace". I can't remember most of it - the second line, however, is "Vive ce roi vaillant". Henri IV was the king who converted to Catholicism to take the crown of France. ("Paris is worth a mass" is the quote attributed to him.)

#12 Miho Kakinuma

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Posted 14 November 2001 - 09:54 PM

First of all, thank you so much for your kindness, Alexandra !

All the postings here made me very happy, because
they reminded me of a lof of beautiful fairies !

My favourite fairy is Songbird Fairy. And Lesley Collier defines the role for me. I hadn't realise Petipa's intention before I came across her dancing. Unfortunately I haven't got any opportunity to see her real dancing of Songbird Fairy on stage.

I know Darcey Bussel is one of the wonderful Princess Auroras, however she made really an excellent Lilac Fairy when she was very young.

I also do love the second female variation of "Florestan and his sisters". In the "old" production of Royal Ballet, it was not a role for a fairy. However in the "new" production of Royal Ballet, it is danced by Sapphire Fairy.

#13 MinkusPugni

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 05:27 PM

In the score, the fairies' names are:

1. Candite (Honesy, candid)
2. Coulante. Fleur de Farine (Running. Flower of the Flour)
3. Miettes qui Tombent (Crumbs which fall)
4. Canari qui Chante (Canary which sings)
5. Violente (Violent)
6. La Fee des Lilas (The Lilac Fairy)

The only one that confuses me is the Coulantes fairy. Flower of the Flour? I read somewhere what the Miettes fairy is but I can't quite remember. Anyway, those names are usually shortened in the programmes to:

1. Candite
2. Coulante
3. Miettes
4. Canari
5. Violente
6. Lilas

#14 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 05:52 PM

Flour is rice flour. Face powder. Beauty.

Crumbs means health (good appetite). It was a Russian custom to sprinkle bread crumbs over the new baby. Kinda itchy, if you ask me.

#15 carbro

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Posted 28 June 2005 - 08:30 PM

And today the crumbs are considered a choking hazard!


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