Saturday, September 22, 2007

The unknown hand stole a tune!

'La fille mal gardee' is a Frederick Ashton original (here in Tbilisi they like Fred Ashton and Balanchine, what with the latter being one of their own). The music is 'by an unknown hand, as it says on this site, a very serious ballet site, it would seem. The Tbilisi opera house site says the score is by someone called Herold.

That would not be an entirely unknown hand in any case, because Rossini's thunder scene from 'La Cenerentola' has found its way into the piece, with one or two notes missing. In another place the music was unexpectedly good, though generally it was really quite rough in terms of musical quality. Ok, I could not have written it, but someone with just a little more musical education could have. It was quite nice on unexpected sounds, like the cockerels, or a person snoring.

LFMG is an odd ballet - generally it is quite a classical ballet, but at least four of the characters don't do 'beautiful dancing'. Does this make those 'character roles'? That would equate 'having character' with 'not being beautiful'. Moving swiftly on....

It's very funny, and thus suitable for children. As was evidenced in the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre where at least 50 of the audience were under 5; one of the nappy wearers sat right beside me - and he was much quieter than the group of12-year-old lads behind me. The wee lad could not take his big black eyes, with the beautiful eyelashes, off the stage, even in the romantic aka boring bits.

It's boy meets girl, but girl's (widowed?) mum has other ideas concerning a rich but eccentric lad. Eventually it all turns out right, when someone persuades mum of the right course of action. All this is surrounded by a set that could have been part of a 50's picture book, much bucolic countryside dancing, including of course that famous clog dance scene (which we used to see on British TV every year around Christmas). I suspect that in Tbilisi they do not teach tap dancing - this was about the worst effort in the show.

The delightful David Khozashvili, he with the legs like scissors, danced the romantic lead, flying though the air, spinning like a top... I don't know who did the little rich guy, but he was good - extremely precise and totally spot on for his role. The female lead was not bad, but rather angular, with little smoothness. She did all the right steps at the right time, but just lacked the certain je ne sais quoi which might have exuded some personality, in a way that the Lithuanian Ambassador, who was in the audience, might have remembered our own Egle Spokaite to have had.

Some of the Corpse de Ballet, as described on the website, might have taken this description to literally, or maybe there were one or two new people in it - synchronicity did not always exist. But it was a nice evening out and totally relaxing now that I had actually made it to the performance.


Jessica said...

Unknown, schmunknown! The score was compiled for Ashton by John Lanchbery, after the original by Herold and incorporating lavish chunks of Rossini. As well as the Cenerentola storm, Lise's first entry is taken from Il barbiere di Siviglia. I can't vouch for the origin of the chickens, though... Classic performance now available on DVD starring Lesley Collier, Michael Coleman & the redoubtable Royal Ballet.