Saturday, 12 May 2012

Paquita. POB. 2003.

Watch The Performance Here:

This is from the world of ballet before Swan Lake. The melodies are tuneful and immediately forgettable, lots of accented beats,
charm frothing from the orchestra pit like a bubble bath. The story is preposterous nonsense,
but the final-act wedding festivities make for a happy ending with lots of anything-you-can-dance-I-can-dance-better splash and dash.
Much of Marius Petipa’s trademark choreography is included, the fouettés ad infinitum, so the viewer is assured of a visual spectacle.
The Paris Opera Ballet has not only rescued this work from near extinction, but has given it a first-class production.
The original score was composed by Edouard Deldevez in 1846 for the Paris Opera. A year later Petipa produced the ballet for his debut in St. Petersburg.
In 1881, Petipa asked Ludwig Minkus to compose a new Pas de trois and a Grand Pas to be appended to the second act.
Ironically, Minkus’s additions achieved greater popularity than the complete work.
Paquita had fallen into such obscurity by the mid 20th century that it is not included in the 1950 edition of The Victor Book of Ballets and Ballet Music,
a volume that gives plot synopsis of 126 works, many of them on the fringe of the repertoire. Balanchine’s volume of 101 Ballet Plots also excludes Paquita.
Even the Minkus additions, which were often produced independent of the full work, were ignored in these otherwise comprehensive volumes.
Brigitte Lefèvre, ballet director of the Paris Opera, and Pierre Lacotte, choreographer, felt that the work was worthy of revival.
Lacotte knew people who had valuable knowledge of the work, and was able to draw on Petipa’s and Joseph Mazillier’s original choreography to reconstruct the dances.
David Coleman revised and completed the score. The result is a joyous event, an evening in the theater filled with happy, tuneful music and exciting dancing.
The sets and costumes are colorful and attractive (this is a very traditional production),
the ballet is cast throughout with talented dancers who not only bring great technical expertise to their roles, but also infuse the characters with distinctive personalities.
The plot is a bit tricky to follow by merely watching the production. It is helpful, almost necessary, to read the synopsis in the accompanying booklet.
Here’s the story in brief: Lucien is obligated to marry Serafina, who’s considered a good match. A band of gypsies arrives.
Their leader, Iñigo, wants to marry Paquita, but Paquita has some mystery concerning her uncertain past.
She has a locket containing the portrait of her deceased father, a man she never knew. Iñigo steals the locket so no one will discover her true identity,
especially Lucien, who is much more interested in Paquita than in his fiancée Serafina.
Let’s skip to the end: the locket is recovered (people in plays never destroy incriminating evidence), and lo and behold, Paquita is not a gypsy after all.
She’s the daughter of Charles d’Hervilly, a nobleman who was slain in a massacre precedent to act I. This news improves her marital eligibility.
Lucien dumps Serafina and all dance happily ever after.
Agnès Letestu, José Martinez, and Karl Paquette are outstanding as Paguita, Lucien, and Iñigo, respectively.
Three members of the company deserve praise for their featured work in the act I Pas de trois.
The choreography throughout the ballet is inventive and interesting, and frequently exhilarating.
Paquita - Agnes Letestu
Lucien d'Hervilly - Jose Martinez
Inigo - Karl Paquette
Le General, Comte d'Hervilly - Richard Wilk
La Comtesse - Celine Talon
Don Lopez de Mendoza - Jean-Marie Didiere
Dona Serafina - Beatrice Martel

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