So if you were wondering, and you know you were, why I have been quiet lately. Well unfortunately, I’m suffering from one of those modern day injuries that comes with sitting at a desk all day. Anyhow it’s not very exciting, but it does limit the time I should spend typing. Boo. I’ll try to post, but don’t forget me either!
Where was I? Oh yes, the ballet! Those of you that know me are probably sick of me going on about it… So if you’ve heard it all before, stop reading… after you’ve read this!
This was my first adult ballet and it was divine. The dancing, the costumes, the set design and the venue equated to a wonderful night. Who would have thought that I could be entertained without singing or dialogue? The dancing simply took my breath away, and for days after I was twirling around, very ungraceful, I might add. Whoever made fun of men in tights was obviously jealous or vision impaired. Male ballerinas (is that what you call them? Or maybe belleronas?) that effortlessly lifted and swirled around their partners made me swoon.
The Merry Widow is a story of a wealthy widow who has to chose between love and saving her country (pretty easy, really). It involves five characters:
- Ambassador Zeta and his young wife Valencienne
- Camille de Rosillon (French aristocrat)
- Hanna (the Merry Widow)
- Count Danilo (attaché and nephew to Ambassador Zeta)
Ambassador Zeta knows that his fatherland (or motherland), Pontevedra, faces bankruptcy if its richest citizen, the young widow Hanna (the Merry Widow), should marry a foreigner. To add to his woes, he knows there is flirtation between his much younger wife Valencienne and the handsome French aristocrat Camille de Rosillon. Zeta orders his attaché, Count Danilo, to ward off the money hungry horde of potential suitors swarming around the wealthy Widow.
To further complicate the plot, Hanna and Danilo are not exactly strangers. It seems that they had a torrid affair when Hanna was a poor farm girl, but Danilo had put an end to their affair at the insistence of his aristocratic parents. He is amazed at the transformation in Hanna and, in his confusion, mops his forehead with a handkerchief which Hanna recognises as the keepsake she gave him when they parted. He tells Hanna he has always loved her, but she thinking, he is only interested in her money, rejects him.
Hanna is holding a Pontevedrian soiree at her villa and the guests celebrate with their national dances as they all go into supper. But when Camille and Valencienne are caught during a rendezvous in the garden pavilion, Hanna gallantly takes Valencienne’s place. To assuage the Ambassador’s suspicions, Hanna announces that she and Camille are engaged. The astounded guests offer frigid congratulations and depart. Ambassador Zeta is upset as his country will fade into oblivion. Danilo is the last to leave and, in a frenzy, throws at her feet the handkerchief with which she had, a moment ago, retied their union. She picks it up knowing that he truly loves her.
The Pontevedrians have come to drown their sorrows and spend their last francs on the last night out. Gaiety prevails until Camille unwisely appears – hoping, of course, to meet Valencienne. The Pontevedrians, led by Valencienne, jeer at him. Her mockery, however, is more emotional than patriotic. Hanna suddenly appears and accepts Camille’s unwillingly offered arm. This is too much for Danilo who advances to challenge him to a duel but Hanna and Valencienne intervene. The Baron perceives, from his wife’s protection of Camille, that his fears are not without foundation and resignedly accepts the inevitable. All have left and Hanna stands forlornly alone. Danilo quietly returns and they dance romantically into the night.
Okay, so the story sounds a bit marshmallow but the dancing, costumes and set designs made the ballet a wonderful night out – the pictures just doesn’t do any justice. It’s next showing at the Sydney Opera House 10-28 November 2011… Buy tickets. Do it.
Have you been to the ballet? What have you seen?
images: Behind Ballet and Jeff Busby;