Cher Public

A boozy short leave

After 23 years, the Queen of Carthage has finally made it to Manhattan. On Wednesday night, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival hosted the Mark Morris Dance Group’s acclaimed 1989 production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Rose Theater, and Morris who created the double role of Dido and the Sorceress for himself and danced it exclusively for over a decade was there–this time as conductor–with Stephanie Blythe singing the two roles from the pit as she had done last fall in Berkeley.  

Although I’ve never been an intrepid dance follower, I try to go several times a year, more often to ballet (Balanchine usually) than to modern dance. But Morris is one contemporary choreographer of whose work I have seen a great deal.  This isn’t all that surprising perhaps—he’s extraordinarily popular in New York City and his company appears here every year (usually at the Brooklyn Academy of Music which is right across the street from the MMDG studios).

In a fascinating interview with his biographer dance-critic Joan Acocella (one must however try to ignore her stumbling, awkward questioning) focusing primarily on Dido, Morris astutely observes that most (!) of the audiences who regularly attend his company’s performances are music fans rather than dance aficionados.

And although the proportions he proposes are probably exaggerated, I suspect there is a lot of truth in his hypothesis.

For me, if I don’t love (or at least like) the music to which a dance is set, I’m going to have real problems with the work. I remember squirming through an evening by Merce Cunningham’s company; although I really liked the movement, the aggressively assaultive contemporary music turned me off so much that I was a very unhappy audience member. I often have the same problem with 19th century ballet (excepting Tchaikovsky, of course): in the mid-1980s I attended one of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s final appearances in Giselle partnering Alessandra Ferri and found Adolphe Adam’s mindless music such torture that I could barely respond to the dancing.

But I’ve never had that problem with Morris, probably because of his long-standing love of baroque music. In her 1993 biography of Morris, Acocella writes:

The centrality, for him, of emotional involvement with the music is one of the reasons he favors Baroque music. He loves its “clarity of expression,“ as he puts it: “that emotional stuff that just hits you in the face, like an air cushion in a head-on collision.” There the emotion is less direct; he loves the thrill of listening to the music deeply and hearing it give up its secrets. “The more you listen to [Baroque music], the more secret and rich things you can find dramatically. You realize that the phrase lengths are not all the same. You realize that the ways the keys relate changes completely how you feel what’s going on. Within this seemingly very strict form, incredibly dramatic and terrifyingly powerful emotional stuff come out”….In the operas of Handel and Purcell, in the cantatas of Bach, you still have, as Morris appreciatively notes, “dance rhythms and dance tempi—there’s still minuet and gigue and bourée and passepied…The basic thing is still human rhythms.” But the critical thing about these scores, in his mind, is the clarity of their structure. Baroque music, as he says, has “perfect architecture.”

According to the Chronology of Works included in Acocella’s book, during the first twenty years of his career (through 1993) Morris set dances to music by Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Handel, Purcell, Boccherini, C.P.E. Bach, Couperin, Pergolesi, D. Scarlatti, in addition to Mozart and Haydn. And this remarkable interest continued as Morris moved into directing operas: Rameau’s Platée, Purcell’s King Arthur, and two productions of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.

His Dido and Aeneas dates from the extraordinary period where for three seasons Morris’s company was invited by Gérard Mortier to take up residence at Brussels’s Théâtre de la Monnaie after Mortier had a bad break-up with Maurice Béjart whose company had long performed there. With the unprecedented resources available to him, Morris (then in his early 30s) was able to create three career-changing full-length works which his company continues to perform more than 20 years later: Dido, The Hard Nut (his deliriously wonderful take on The Nutcracker) and his masterpiece L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Handel’s sublime setting of John Milton. Accordingly, Dido and L’Allegro were the first Morris pieces I sought out–both at BAM in 1990–Dido had first arrived in America via Boston the year before, but L’Allegro was making its US premiere—I was immediately hooked!

While Purcell’s eloquent Dido (set to a libretto by Nahum Tate and based on book four of Virgil’s Aeneid) isn’t the first opera in English—that would be probably be John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, but it is certainly the first great opera in the language, as well one of the greatest operas ever written. Even more astonishing is that it tells the same story in less than an hour that takes nearly three hours to tell in Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens.

In Purcell-Tate’s version, Dido, the widowed founder-queen of Carthage, allows herself to be persuaded by her sister Belinda to accept the attentions of the visiting Trojan prince Aeneas. However, a malignant Sorceress hates the queen so much that she conjures a Spirit (claiming to have been sent by Jove) to appear to Aeneas commanding him to continue on his mission to Italy and found the city of Rome. Stung by his betrayal and to the Sorceress’s delight, Dido kills herself.

Morris admits that he had originally intended to adapt Purcell’s three-act, five-scene gem as a solo work for himself. Eventually realizing the impracticality of that plan, he created the current work where he danced both Dido and the Sorceress, with a male dancer as Aeneas and a female as Belinda and the remainder of the company as both the members of Dido’s court and the witches who conspire with the Sorceress to undo Dido.

I’ve never heard of another production has paired Dido with the Sorceress—the short running time would likely preclude one performer doing both roles, although both lie in the same mezzo range. When the opera premiered in Brussels in 1989, a mezzo sang Dido, while a tenor performed the Sorceress. There is a tradition for casting a man in the role—Christopher Hogwood’s recording has a bass Sorceress, Trevor Pinnock’s a tenor, while William Christie’s first Dido has one of the best Sorceresses ever: countertenor Dominique Visse (who, of course, doesn’t need to transpose it).

At Dido’s first US performances in Boston just months after the premiere, the roles of Dido and the Sorceress were both sung by the same mezzo—the supreme Lorraine Hunt—a tradition that has continued in all subsequent performances of the production and which cannily mirrors his on-stage pairing of the two roles. After Morris gave up the role in 2000, he revived the work in 2006 (when I saw it again at BAM) casting a woman as Dido but a man as the Sorceress. In the Acocella video interview he admits that that was a mistake and he’s returned to having a single dancer do both roles, sometimes a woman, sometimes a man. At Mostly Mozart Wednesday evening, MMDG veteran Amber Star Merkens danced both.

The pairing of Dido and the Sorceress is one of the more provocative features of this interpretation. There is some debate about whether Dido was an actual historical figure, but most versions of her story agree that her rich husband was murdered by her greedy brother Pygmalion and she escaped Tyre, eventually (through a particularly cunning ruse) founding the great city of Carthage. Before she was paired in legend with Aeneas, her suicide was usually depicted as an act of fidelity to her late husband—rather than submit to King Iarbas’s unwanted intention to make her his wife, Dido killed herself.

That overwhelming obligation to her late husband helps make sense of the figure of the Sorceress who then becomes the manifestation of Dido’s wracking guilt about betraying the husband’s memory and submitting to Aeneas’s advances. The Sorceress then is the force of self-sabotage who destroys the relationship assuring Dido’s inevitable self-destruction. For Morris, Dido/the Sorceress is a Janus figure—two faces of the same persona. Little is done to physically differentiate the two women, the dancer simply pulls back her hair as Dido, then lets it down as the Sorceress.

Morris was astonishing when I saw him in the roles in 1990, one of the few times I saw him dance. I don’t remember being distracted by the cross-dressing–he was so compelling that his playing a woman become irrelevant, rather like seeing an onnagata in a Kabuki production. Although Morris can often be quite campy (both on-stage and off-), there was no trace of that in his tortured Dido or malevolent Sorceress.

On Wednesday I was surprised how much Merkens with her striking profile and long curly hair reminded me of Morris, and her tall, androgynous figure didn’t de facto make Dido/the Sorceress necessarily more realistically feminine.  Her aggressive Sorceress was particularly delicious, but that she was at least half a head taller than her Aeneas (Domingo Estrada, Jr.) added a poignancy to her reluctant capitulation to love—and to sex, as this production revels in the erotic unlike most other Morris works: Dido and Aeneas rashly couple toward the rear of the stage and the Sorceress briefly masturbates in the fourth scene celebrating her triumph.

As Aeneas, Estrada was also bearded, somewhat unusual to see in a dance performance but this must be part of the role’s iconography for Morris. The first Aeneas was Guillermo Resto, who wore both a beard and dreadlocks and was built more like a wrestler than a modern dancer, particularly striking since Aeneas is the only male character to appear bare-chested—everyone else wears the same thing: a black tank-top and sarong. Resto, a long-time MMDG member, was remarkably arresting in the role in 1990; I later learned that Morris was in love with Resto–despite his being straight–and the pair lived together during the Brussels seasons. Their complex off-stage relationship added an extra layer of ambiguity to the Dido-Aeneas relationship

Estrada was not as commanding as Resto yet was quite touching in his remorse at abandoning Dido.

Morris’s work is sometimes criticized for its “step-to-note style” where the choreography merely “visualizes” the musical notes. While I do understand this criticism, that tendency doesn’t usually bother me; however, seeing this Dido for the third time I was struck by the over-illustrative nature of many gestures which I learned from the Acocella interview are based on American Sign Language.  Perhaps because I know Dido so well and have so internalized its libretto, I felt that I was unnecessarily being hit over the head at times, hearing the words sung at the same time they were being “signed” onstage. However, this occasional over-emphasis doesn’t detract from the work’s genuine emotive force.

Unlike the recent Pina Bausch production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice which the Paris Opera Ballet brought to the Lincoln Center Festival, all of Dido’s solo singers are banished to the pit with the orchestra and chorus. Although Morris didn’t conduct the 2006 revival at BAM, he has since conducted all subsequent performances. Despite the expectation that this is an act of unbridled hubris, he did a very competent job.

With an impressive band made up of many of New York’s best early music instrumentalists and the new head of Juilliard’s Historical Performance program Robert Mealy as concertmaster, Morris led a moderately-paced performance that only got a bit out of sync in a few choral interjections. The balance was a bit off though—the 18-member orchestra seemed a bit under-powered while the 16-member Trinity Choir occasionally sang out too much.

Having found Stephanie Blythe’s more recent Met performances disturbingly driven (particularly the Amneris), I was concerned that she might completely overpower the performance, especially singing with a smallish original-instrument orchestra. However, most of her singing was gratifying nuanced and effective, although she is now more naturally a commanding Sorceress than a vulnerable Dido. Despite all her evident care, the concluding Lament felt strangely unmoving—both Merkens and Blythe lacked the wrenching vulnerability and resignation achieved by Morris and mezzo Jennifer Lane.

Yulia Van Doren’s sprightly Belinda and First Witch were often verbally opaque, and I remain unconvinced she’s the up-and-coming Early Music star others maintain. Joshua Jeremiah was initially rather ungainly as Aeneas but he settled down nicely for his important recitative after the appearance of the Spirit, sung here (unusually) by a tenor.

Mostly Mozart scheduled just four performances of Dido and to judge by the sea of anxious faces awaiting cancellations on Wednesday it could have easily sold several more. Thankfully Dido is that rare Morris work available on video—the other being The Hard Nut.

Lincoln Center’s long-running summer festival has lately made the MMDG a more regular visitor to Manhattan by mounting L’Allegro and most importantly co-commissioning Mozart Dances in 2006, a major full-length work which can proudly stand alongside those earlier Brussels masterpieces.

The tragic Dido is much with us these days: Les Arts Florissants recently put out its version of Cavalli’s La Didone with the spectacular Anna Bonitatibus on DVD in Europe, with a US release planned for next month. Hasse’s Didone Abbandonata with Valer Barna-Sabadus has been scheduled for CD release by Naxos, possibly as early as this fall. And the Met revives Berlioz’s ever-astonishing Les Troyens in December admittedly with a less-than-optimal cast, but as productions are particularly rare in the US, it’s hard to imagine passing it up.

Photographs by COSTAS.

  • Oh I sort of like Joan Acocella. I tend to read her stuff even though I find dance, as a thing to watch, mostly baffling. I haven’t read the bio in question, though. I think I get what people like about Mark Morris, but have had a hard time not associating him permanently with his moronic conception of Orfeo.

  • tannengrin

    I saw the same performance and this was the first time (having seen quite a few of Morris’ works) I felt that the choreography didn’t add anything to the music but rather distracted me. I absolutely love Purcell’s Dido and I almost wanted to shush the dancers since they were making quite a bit of noise (is Rose Hall ‘loud’ in ambient noise from the stage or was that intentional?)

    I’ve seen my fair share of staged/choreographed vocal pieces (e.g. Lorraine Hunt in the Bach Cantatas, Keenlyside in the Winterreise, John Neumeier’s St. Matthew…) and usually like the excitement of seeing a well-loved piece of music performed in a different way, but not this time. Everytime Ms. Blythe sang, I found it more compelling to watch her than the dancers. Same with the choir, less with the other soloists.

    That said, I DID like the choreography & found the frequent use of movements that reminded me of Egyptian Hieroglyphs and ancient Greek Vases quite compelling. Aeneas especially reminded me very much of images of Greek heroes (Ulysses, in particular) , with the sharply outlined beard and his magnificent physique.

    Maybe it would have come together more for me with taped (gasp!) music. To have the singers carry the story from the pit while the dancers were on stage seemed to relegate them to a (subordinate? merely supportive?) level that I did not like.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      I saw Morris’ choreography of the original version of Prokofiev’s R and J and thought it looked like a track meet.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Don’t miss the boy soprano Zerbinetta aria posted earlier here

    • Erdgeist

      Countertenöre sind Männer, die mit der Kopfstimme singen, und klingen wie eine Frau

      If only.

  • Tristan_und

    I really don’t understand all this griping about the cast of the Met’s Les Troyens. Graham sounded great in Damnation of Faust; Voigt seems like a good fit for Cassandre and Giordani sang Cellini with real force and musicality. Have ALL these singers gone down the tubes in just a few years or are some people just never satisfied?

    • Well, I’m a long-time Voigt fan and think she still sounds great sometimes, but a lot of beauty has left the voice and Cassandre does sound like an iffy match now. (Brunnhilde was great! Alceste was a bit of a train-wreck. One might do some sort of fach-math and figure out where that leaves a Zwischenfach role.) And Giordani is a real star, but again, the voice has toughened up and mostly sounds great in Verismo, so one wonders if things like “Nuit d’ivresse” are going to be a problem. As for Graham, I don’t know…I’ve never enjoyed her singing much but factoring that out, I suppose she sounds about the same as she ever has, so there shouldn’t be any real problems there.

      • Will

        There’s a Troyens video from the Chatelet in Paris with Graham as Didon. Admittedly it is ten years or so old, but she is really fine in it and her closing scene is deeply moving as well. Other than just getting to see Troyens live in the theater again, she’s the reason I ordered a ticket for the revival.

        PS -- the Chatelet Cassandre is Anna Caterina Antonacci and no more needs to be said!

        • Tristan_und

          Antonacci sang the role at ROH Covent Garden recently and they broadcast it over a free channel of some kind. She was fabulous if a bit over the top; Eva-Maria Westerbroek sang Dido very well but w/o the warmth of Hunt-Lieberson (SO glad I got to hear her sing the role). I forget who sang Enee, but he was certainly serviceable (too bad Kaufmann had to bow out). The production was a little strange but better than the hideous one at the Met, which I’m seeing twice anyway because the music is so gorgeous.

      • Agreed. I saw Voigt as Cassandre at the Met 10 years ago. She was in sumptuous voice but even then, the role sat a bit too low for her to make as much impact as should could in other roles. I have enjoyed Giordani’s work in the past (love his DeGrieux opposite Mattila) but his voice is past its prime, and while he can muster a great deal of power, I, too, worry about the lyrical passages like the “Nuit d’ivresse” (the whole final section of Act IV really). Graham is the only casting of the three roles that I’m happy with.

        Now, Enee is a really difficult role to cast. I’d love to hear Kauffman in the role but he can’t sing everything eveywhere. I’ve never heard Botha in French rep but I imagine he’d have the right combination of heroic sound and lyricism for the part.

        My problem with Voigt’s casting is that the Met seems desperate fit her in somewhere in every season. Cassandre is not as difficult to cast as Enee and I wish the Met would think out of the box a bit. Let’s face it, Voigt isn’t anyone’s first choice as Kundry or Cassandre. But it’s almost as if the Met feels obliged to cast her in something high-profile.

      • operacat

        I agree that Giordani was fine in BENVENUTO CELLINI. But having heard him in TROYENS with the Boston Symphony a few years ago, even then, for my taste, he did not have the elegance and lyricism required, especially for the “Nuit d’ivresse” and the gorgeous ensembles leading up to them. He is the main reason I am not buying tickets.

    • oedipe

      There is another possible explanation: some people may not be satisfied with mediocrity.

      It’s not that these singers “have gone down the tubes in just a few years”, it’s that they (with the exception of Graham, in all fairness) are not equipped to sing this music in the first place.

      There is a tendency in many opera houses, whenever the management doesn’t know what to do with certain singers, to cast them in French opera, assuming that in French opera anything goes. And frankly, many audience members -even though they may be very particular about interpretations of Wagner, Strauss or Verdi- CAN’T tell the difference when it comes to French opera. As long as the singers are loud enough, have solid tops, and have most of the notes…

    • papopera

      yeah, some people are never happy if they don’t bitch about everything and one and all. frustrated old crows.

  • grimoaldo

    Performances of Dido and Aeneas are too rare, so I am glad that this one is so popular.

    Bernard Shaw, reviewing a rare performance in Victorian England, wrote:

    “An unnamed singer took Come away, fellow sailor,come away,that salt sea air that makes you wonder how anyone has ever had the face to compose another sailor’s song after it. I quote the concluding lines, and wish I could quote the incomparably jolly and humorous setting:
    Take a boozy short leave of your nymphs on the shore
    And silence their mourning
    With vows of returning
    Though never intending to visit them more.
    SAILORS (greatly tickled) Though never -!
    OTHER SAILORS (ready to burst with laughter) Though never-!
    ALL (uproariously) Inte-en-ding to visit them more!
    I am sorry to have to add that the Handel Choir, feeling that they were nothing if not solemn,contrived to subdue this rousing strain to the decorum of a Sunday school hymn; and it missed fire accordingly.”

    London Music in 1888-1889

  • I have the same feelings about dance as DeCaffarrelli. I love to watch it but I find that music does not play as big a role in the world of dance as I would like. I remember seeing the full-length ballet of Taming of the Shrew which was set entirely to D. Scarlatti’s sonatas. Now, I adore those sonatas, but in their orchestrated version, they were just terrible and did nothing to complement the dance. It was baffling. I was so distracted by my dislike of the sounds coming out of the pit that I couldn’t enjoy the ballet fully.

    • This is how you do Scarlatti arrangement:

      • Camille

        More fun than dancing the tarantella! Thanks!

  • Camille

    This was at BAM quite a number of years ago. Remembering the embarrassment I felt at the queenly posturings of MM which thoroughly ruined this beloved little opera, for me. Some years earlier, I had seen his over the top thrashing about in the Seattle Opera presentation of Orphée et Eurydice. Just too-too much and I felt that MM was not for me, to put it mildly.

    THEN, I saw that presentation of L’Allegro ed il Penseroso, and was stunned by the difference and By how much I liked it. Almost two years ago now, I delighted in his adaptation of Nutcracker, The Hard Nut, and its nutty wonderfulness.

    What to think? I guess I’d rather see Charles Busch do drag. He’s prettier.

    I don’t care, that’s how I feel.

  • oedipe

    The Christie Dido & Aeneas at the Opéra Comique, in Deborah Warner’s excellent production, with Fiona Shaw reciting the Prologue, with (stunning!) Malena Ernman as Dido, Christopher Maltman as Aeneas, Hilary Summers as the Sorceress and (up-and-coming) Marc Mauillon as the Spirit, can be watched in its entirety right here:

    And here is a small taste of it:

    • Camille

      Very nice, and thank you very much for having posted this production, monsieur oedipe.

  • grimoaldo

    “his masterpiece L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Handel’s sublime setting of John Milton”

    I’m afraid I didn’t like that Morris dance version very much when I saw it in London at least fifteen years ago (!) The dancing just distracted me from the sublime music, I would rather have had it as a concert. But it is certainly a wonderful thing that the Morris version has been selling out around the world since 1988 and brought Handel’s beautiful music to so many people who would otherwise not have heard it.

    ” I often have the same problem with 19th century ballet (excepting Tchaikovsky, of course): in the mid-1980s I attended one of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s final appearances in Giselle partnering Alessandra Ferri and found Adolphe Adam’s mindless music such torture that I could barely respond to the dancing.”

    I am just the opposite, the music of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty to me is too good to dance to and the choreography of a lot of the passages seems silly and trivial compared to the magnificent music coming from the pit. I have a terrible tendency to close my eyes and just listen to the music when I have been to those ballets.

    With the exception of Matthew Bourne’s famous production with Adam Cooper as the Swan -- that has ruined traditional Swan Lakes for me, I can’t watch them any more after I saw this:

    Whereas the “mindless” but pretty music of Adam, or even Minkus or Drigo fits the “mindless” but pretty dancing going on on stage much better, to me.

    Here is what they traditionally do, more or less, to Tchaikovsky’s great Act One waltz in Swan Lake:

    Sort of pretty I suppose but totally mindless, doesn’t mean a thing and doesn’t even seem to fit the fantastic music very well to me, I actually find it rather irritating, I’d rather just hear a live concert of the music without all that prancing around. I have immensely enjoyed concerts I have heard of the full score, just as music without the dancing, Swan Lake is better that way in my opinion.

    Except, once again, for Bourne’s revelatory production -- here is the Act One waltz and this time it means something and actually fits the music --

    Thank you for another great review and thought provoking essay deCaff and thanks to La C for providing it, gotta say that this is much better writing in my opinion than appears in the NY Times.

    • Camille

      I have always had a problem with Adams score to Giselle. That is, UNTIL I heard the Paris Opera Ballet present it last month. Toute autre chose!! The rhythms were finally made crisp and delineated to give impetus to the dance.

      God save me from Ludwig Minkus scores, however!!!!!!

      • Vergin Vezzosa

        Agree with Camille’s comment about Giselle. Not only did the POB conductors lead the NYCO orchestra hired for the occasion to play sensitively and stylishly, but they did not use the vulgar Disneyesque orchestration by John Lanchberry from decades ago that ABT and many other companies have been inflicting on us forever. The parts of the score that are actually Adam’s sounded much more dignified and period romantic (think Lucia redux). Since the days of the Russian Imperial Petipa stagings, Adam’s work has been supplemented (compromised?) by additional music by others (probably by Pugni and Drigo -- Act I extra variation for Giselle and Act II Giselle/Albrecht pas de deux, and definitely by one Herr Burgmuller -- Act I peasant pas de deux.). IMHO, these things dilute the many beauties of the 1841 Adam/Gautier/Saint Georges concept as best as we can understand it 170 years later. BTW, I think that there is fantastic music in Glazounov’s Raymonda and the Delibes ballets, especially Sylvia, often worthy of the 3 great Tchaikovsky works.

      • Camille

        Why big GRAZIE to thee, Bewitching Virgin, for explaining precisely why it sounded in a manner so different to my ears. For the first time, the music sounded “right” and evocative of that period--so beloved by me!!

        Thank you, thank you! I truly appreciate learning these important facts regarding the immortal Giselle. The Willi Queen scene was unimaginably beautiful to me and was as though a page from a revue of those heady days had suddenly materialised in thin air, onto the NY stage. I shall cherish it as a memory always.

        • Vergin Vezzosa

          Merci for your most gracious merci. I too often default to that period, whether to French, Italian or German pieces, to re-establish some degree of equilibrium in a world that includes, inter alia, R. Wainwright and P. Gelb.

          • Vergin Vezzosa

            Oops, forgot one. Add Nadja Michael.

          • Camille

            I understand. Only too well.

            May I suggest a viewing of “Les enfants du paradis”?

            Thank you again, very much.

    • RosinaLeckermaul

      You don’t like 19th century ballet (Adam, Minkus) when the score is mediocre and you don’t like it when the score is strong (Tchaikovsky). It is clear you just don’t like 19th century ballet. The Bourne SWAN LAKE is clever and in some places powerful though, as with much of Bourne, a lot of it is pantomime rather than ballet.

      • grimoaldo

        I did not say I don’t like Adam/ Minkus/ Drigo ballets, those are the ones I do like. I said they are mindless and pretty, which is how they seem to me, but I quite like mindless pretty things every now and then, and so mindless and pretty music fits them.
        When the music is too good (Tchaikovsky, Handel) the dancing starts to seem superfluous or even annoying to me. I know this is some sort of personal quirk.
        This short little clip from Don Quixote, Minkus seems to have written exactly the perfect music to watch someone amaze you by jumping and twirling around. The music is fun and exciting but totally uninteresting as pure music, so it stays in its place as accompaniment.

  • Perles75

    I saw the production of Cavalli’s Didone (the one with Bonitatibus) in Paris last April and it is indeed a very nice one, pretty simple but not boring (and definitely not trashy), very good cast. I recomment the DVD if you are curious to see (and hear) a fine example of mid-XVII century opera which is not Monteverdi.

    The idea of casting Dido and the Sorceress as the same singer/dancer is brilliant, I like very much the psychological implication of the choice.

  • ajsnyc

    I found Blythe wonderful in ever way. I too will rarely like a ballet if the music does not suit me but in the case of the Morris Dido, I preferred to watch the pit anyhow. The last 8 times I went to a Giselle I said ‘I must never come to this again’. Contrariwise, the music to most 19th centure ballets, especially Piotr’s suits me fine, just fine. When excerpted, the Drigo pas from the otherwise stupid Don Q is music I could hear and be thrilled by daily.