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Beauty and the Beast
A fairy tale in a prologue and two acts
 

choreography and concept: David Nixon

music: Bizet, Britten, Debussy, Fauré, Honegger, Poulenc, Saint-Saëns

costume Design: Linda Pisano

scenic design: Carla Risch Chaffin

lighting design: David Grill


 
 
 
 
World Premiere of Beauty and the Beast, BalletMet Columbus, April 24, 1997

These notes compiled by Gerard Charles, BalletMet Columbus,
April 1997

 

CLICK HERE FOR UPDATES TO THE 2004 PRODUCTION

 

 

David Nixon's Beauty and the Beast


When creating a ballet of Beauty and the Beast the story is obviously the starting point, but which version of the story? We not only have a wide variety of classic renditions of the tale but also modern interpretations. The location and time in which the story takes place has been wide ranging from the pre-Christian Mediterranean to the outer space of science fiction. Characters change, e.g. both the Cocteau and Disney films added characters to move the plot along to their own ends. When translating a story from written form to another medium there are always new opportunities and restrictions that present themselves.

 

When starting a ballet from scratch any and all things are possible, and the process of narrowing it all down is a difficult proposition. As choreographer for the ballet, David Nixon must be the first to formulate the concept to give a lead the other collaborators can follow. He then likes to work with all the co-creators (costume, set and lighting designers) as well as production staff -who must make it all happen - to exchange and refine ideas. Not only must there be an overall consistency but the production must work within the realities of the theater, dance and the budget.

In his ballet, David Nixon seeks to return to the enchanting and magical aspects of the story and the values that the tale explores. David wants the audience to be aware of the battle between the forces of good and evil that drives this story as well as life. Good (represented by La Bonne Fée) realizes that evil (La Fée Misérable) has taken hold of the Prince’s heart; the only way to cleanse that heart is to put the ugly evil on the outside. When La Fée Misérable is faced with this exterior, she no longer wants a part of the Prince. However, after living hundreds of years seeing himself as ugly, the Beast is decayed inside. Beauty’s presence triggers something that allows the Beast to remember the joy he once had and to try and attain it again. It is not so much Beauty saying she loves him as his willingness to sacrifice his life for her that permits his final transformation back to "handsome Prince."

Having studied untold numbers of versions of Beauty and the Beast, Mr. Nixon decided on the Art Nouveau period as his setting for the ballet. Based in the classical tradition of choreography, but not without invention, he seeks to provide a well thought out story in dance, to challenge himself and his dancers, while also maintaining a level of entertainment for younger audience members.

This brand new production is packed with special effects, many never used before by BalletMet, that have kept the production staff busy learning new techniques or inventing them as the needs arise. We are promised bungee cords, fireballs, a hologram, full stage projections, on stage explosions, seven different settings and seventeen scene changes. There is much that will come down to the dress rehearsal when all the elements will come together for the first time, in the context of the Ohio Theatre. At that moment everyone’s work hopefully meshes and produces the production we have all dreamed of. It is a time of excitement, but also high stress for all involved.

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The Designs by Linda Pisano & Carla Risch Chaffin


The first step for Linda Pisano in her designing Beauty and the Beast was a meeting with David Nixon. After reviewing a portfolio of her designs for other productions Mr. Nixon asked her to design a costume for The Beast and Beauty based on his concepts and a book of Beauty and the Beast with drawings by Hilary Knight. David had talked about seeing the Beast as a human trapped inside an ugly form, had also used bird metaphors and suggested the Art Nouveau period. There was an aesthetic of line in Art Nouveau that Linda also found suitable and it is a period that allows for some fantasy. It is interesting to note that Art Nouveau is based on medieval motifs, patterns and color palette; and it is the medieval period that is so often the pictorial setting for stories such as Beauty and the Beast.

 

Before actually beginning to draw her designs Linda wanted to do research on both birds and Art Nouveau. David was very pleased with the designs she produced, particularly the headpiece for the Beast. He had originally thought that it would have to be a complete mask but Linda made the dancer’s face still visible, trapped inside the enclosing talons of the Beast. With minor changes (such as the shape of the cape) the designs were approved and Linda returned to her research with more conceptual ideas from David. This was also early in David’s creative process and there were many designs that though initially approved were finally rejected as the shape and story line of the ballet developed. For example there were some bird creatures that were changed to animals; then various other ideas were discussed until evolving into pillows and sprites. Although fabric was actually purchased for some of these rejected designs, it will be recycled into costumes for an upcoming ballet.

Linda sought to establish the two worlds that exist in the story, the real world of Beauty and her family and the enchanted world of the Beast’s castle. Again this could be well serviced by the Art Nouveau period which includes spirits and fairies. Linda says that although there are some unpleasant characters in the story that "as it is not all realistic, even the ugly characters are beautiful in a way."

In any such endeavor it is important for there to be good communication between the costume and set designers. Not only must the styles match and the colors work together, but also the dancers wearing the costumes should not blend into the scenery. This is especially true of Beauty and the Beast where the dancers interact greatly with the sets and in some cases are a part of the set. The look of the Beast is actually incorporated into the castle entrance at the end of act one. Carla and Linda worked together on some designs, and on others exchanged ideas and source materials.

"Beauty and the Beast is my first project with BalletMet, and it's a big one." Pisano laughed. The requirements of ballet costumes are different than those of other theatrical forms. The costumes are very seldom just paraded across the stage, and so it is important to consider the way that they move and the different shapes they will make. "Shopping for fabrics is quite a task," Pisano said. She gathers fabrics from New York to California and sometimes even overseas. "I use a lot of upholstery fabric from drapery shops," she confessed, "In fact, the bridal gown belonging to Beauty is actually a really wonderful chiffon drapery fabric. You just never know what you are going to find." Although designs may call for a heavy looking fabric, they must be light enough to be able to be danced in. Silk is often the solution here. Some characters have heavy beaten metal looking jewelry that is actually lightweight leather manipulated into the desired shape.

The process from design to completed costume is an interesting one and a time of discovery. Sometimes it can be frustrating, but more often Linda says that she is thrilled with how much better a costume looks in real life than in her drawings. The initial mock ups are made in muslin that does not flow or behave like the finished costumes, but provides a good idea of the final shape and allows for making changes.

Because of the flexibility, range of motion and breathing room demanded for a dancer to be able to do what they have to, costumes have to be constructed with seams in specific places. It is important to understand the construction process as, for example, final placement of seam lines can change the look of the costume. Two dancers sharing a role may have different body types and so this must also be taken into consideration; some changes in design may be made to achieve the desired effect.

Linda also enjoys working closely with the construction of the latex pieces, masks and wings as she has a background in crafts. With wings it is important to consider the conflicting demands of looking light but being durable, and headpieces must allow for peripheral vision.

Carla Risch Chaffin not only designed the scenery for Beauty and the Beast but painted it as well. She researched everything from old storybooks to Art Nouveau jewelry. "I work closely with the artistic director, costume designer and lighting crew," she said. "It's a team effort." On a typical day Carla spent eight hours with a paint brush in hand. The biggest challenge of her job is time - or lack thereof. "It's tough to get everything done in such a short amount of time," she said. "It's been a crazy couple of months." she added.

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The Story of David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast


 

PROLOGUE

Once upon a time, in a land far away and in a time not so different from our own, existed a young prince whose life was caught up in a battle between good and evil. La Fée Misérable has enslaved the willing heart of the young prince. Amidst the terror of the court, the good fairy, La Bonne Fée, arrived to guide the prince from evil. As the air filled with explosions of light, innocent victims were caught in the crossfire and La Fée Miserable stood triumphant over the prince. La Bonne Fée could not break the power of La Fée Misérable but she could cause the evil ugliness to come to the surface leaving the Prince with a clean heart but a beastly exterior. Faced with this reality, La Fée Misérable deserted the Beast. As the Beast stared at La Bonne Fée, holding a magnificent rose and a mirror, he heard her intone: When the day comes that this rose is picked, you will know it for both your hope and your doom. The man who picks this rose will have three daughters. If one of the daughters, out of love for her father, takes the curse of the rose upon herself and chooses to live with you at the castle you will have one chance, and only one, to overcome through love and tenderness the girl’s fear of your outward ugliness and to gain her love. Love is the only sacrifice that can break the enchantment.

ACT 1

In another time there lived a poor miner, Monsieur Despairé, who had three daughters. Chantelle and Isabelle were lazy but their younger sister, Beauty, was of radiant and gentle spirit and worked very hard. One day the miner discovered a valuable gem (placed there by La Bonne Fée) that could change the family’s fortunes. Chantelle and Isabelle wished for the riches they deserved; however, Beauty requested only a rose she had drawn. The miner set off with his treasure, but on the way was attacked by goblins who stole the gem. Lost in the forest, he was led by La Bonne Fée to a beautiful garden. There, by the fountain where he quenched his thirst, he saw a beautiful rose. Feeling hope that at least Beauty may be happy, he plucked the rose. Immediately a Beast appeared. He threatened M. Despairé who ran to the fountain which became alive with the image of his daughters. The Beast pointed to them and made M. Despairé swear to have one of his daughters return to the castle. He sends him home escorted by his magic Peacock. As he gazed once more into the mirror and saw the lovely face of Beauty, all hope vanished and the Beast realized his ugliness would never win over such a lovely maiden. On arriving home the father was greeted by his children who were very dismayed at the turn of events. As the household went to sleep, Beauty - with her rose in hand - sneaked out and commanded the Peacock to return with her to the castle. On arriving at the massive castle doors Beauty was frightened by the darkness and eeriness of her surroundings. The doors slid open revealing a massive staircase that she began to ascend into her new life.

Inside the castle, where daylight has long since been banished, it was dark and cold. As Beauty entered, lights appeared magically in the gloom revealing an immense room. All the while the Beast had been watching Beauty; he eventually appeared. Rose in hand, Beauty faced her jailer and was at first frightened by the hideousness of the Beast and his wild behavior. As the encounter continued, the Beast yearned more and more to touch the delicate Beauty who, though curious, always pulled away from him. Finally the Beast revealed his inner sorrow and loneliness to Beauty. Seeing a moment to escape Beauty regarded the staircase; but being stirred by the pain of the creature, she chose to stay and help him. The Beast made one more attempt to caress Beauty and plead with her to be his wife. With the pain of her refusal he vanished.

Beauty was entertained by magical pillows. Amidst the play the Beast returned to guide Beauty to her room.

ACT 2

Beauty was no longer frightened but was intrigued by this wild yet passionate creature. One night in her dreams she came upon a handsome prince. As they danced together, Beauty looked into the eyes of the Prince and from time to time thought she saw both the Prince and the Beast.

One day, in the garden, the Beast once again told Beauty how much he loved her. Confused by her emotions Beauty could not accept love, only friendship. Seeing a vision of her ailing father in the fountain, Beauty begged the Beast to free her to visit her family. He could not deny her wish and sadly granted her request. The Beast gave her a mirror and a magic cape which instantly transported her home. The Beast, once more alone, was no longer filled with anger but with love - a love so strong that it would kill the Beast if Beauty did not return.

Beauty, though content at home, longed to keep her promise and return to the Beast. Her father was overjoyed to have her home once again, but her sisters were more envious than ever. Explaining to her father her wish to return to the castle, Beauty prepared to leave. Her sisters, coached by La Fée Misérable, decided to pretend that they could not possibly live without her at home. Torn between emotions, Beauty agreed to stay. Gleefully her sisters stole the magic cloak and mirror. Beauty cried herself to sleep. La Bonne Fée intervened and sent Beauty a dream in which she remembered her promise to the Beast and saw his pain at her failure to return. He was dying.

Startled awake, Beauty ran out into the forest. Before she realized what she was doing she became lost. La Bonne Fée found her and restored the Beast’s gifts to her. Transported back to the castle, Beauty found the Beast on the verge of death. From out of the darkness La Fée Misérable and her goblins appeared triumphant, taunting the Beast and threatening to destroy Beauty. In a final moment of gained strength, the Beast sacrificed himself for Beauty by intercepting a bolt of fire meant for her.

Beauty, unable to accept the Beast’s death, begged La Bonne Fée to save him. As Beauty turned her head, the Beast was no longer; selfless love had broken the enchantment, and the Beast had become the Prince once more. As Beauty gazed into the Prince’s eyes, she realized the truth: that he is her Prince, her Beast, her love. The palace returns to a place of wonders, and the happy couple are joined by the others in celebration of the triumph over evil. It is the Prince and his Beauty who share the last dance of all.

As the tale recedes, the final words draw us to a close: To judge by appearance is to miss the beauty of our inner souls....and they lived happily ever after.

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The Music


A majority of ballets today use music as a starting point; it can be the source of movement ideas, emotions and concept for a ballet. For Beauty and the Beast there was no usable, existing score and, unfortunately, a commissioned score was not possible. For his selection of music for the ballet Beauty and the Beast, David Nixon set about the complex task of assembling a collection of existing music that not only goes well together but supports the different elements of the story at the appropriate times. Most of the music is drawn from French composers who worked at the same time as each other or who had influence over one another. For the most part their careers also enter the Art Nouveau period - also the period of inspiration for the production concepts.

 

Listing of music in program order.

 

 PROLOGUE    
 Honegger  Pacific 231  
     
 ACT 1    
 Fauré  Pelléas and Mélisande Suite  2nd Movement
 Bizet  Petite Suite  Marche
     Berceuse
     Impromptu
     Galop
 Debussy  Images pour Orchestre  Gigues
 Britten  Four Sea Interludes  The Storm
 Bizet  Petite Suite  Duo
 Debussy  Children’s Corner The Snow is Dancing
 Poulenc  Organ Concerto  
     
 ACT 2    
 Debussy  Danse Sacrée et Profane  
 Debussy  Petite Suite  En bateau
Poulenc  Sinfonietta  1st movement
 Honegger  Mermoz Suite I & II  
 Saint-Saëns  Organ Symphony #3  Final movement

 

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Benjamin Britten was born, appropriately enough, on St. Cecilia’s (the patron saint of musicians) Day, November 22, 1913 in Lowestoft, England. Best known as a composer of operas and song cycles, he was also a conductor and an accompanist. He had the unusual ability to capture the public’s interest in new works that were forward thinking and original, although he never abandoned tonality.

His musical gifts were apparent from an early age; he studied piano and composition with Frank Bridge for whom he dedicated a later composition, Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (1937). He was a student at the Royal College of Music from 1930 - 33 but found it rather stifling and resented not being allowed to study with Berg in Vienna. According to notes in the score, his Simple Symphony from 1933-34 is entirely based on material from works the composer wrote between the ages of nine and twelve. (E.g. two themes in the first movement are taken from the Suite for Piano No. 1 of 1926 and a song written in 1923). Britten also studied composition with John Ireland.

With his friend Peter Pears, the tenor, Britten followed the poet Auden to North America (where they stayed from 1939 - 42 in New York) and received performances of his work at Carnegie Hall.

Returning to England he settled in Suffolk and wrote the opera Peter Grimes which was first performed on June 7, 1945. The suite of Four Sea Interludes from this opera are impressionistic tone poems that wonderfully evoke the atmosphere of the North Sea coast of Suffolk. Britten was well suited to expressing these feelings. The Storm (which links the two scenes in act 1 of the opera) was written to depict the violent turmoil of a North Sea storm. Within a broad rondo structure, based on a fugally treated presto con fuoco refrain, a number of ideas heard previously in the opera recur. The power of this music along with its calming end seemed ideally suitable to Mr. Nixon for its positioning within Beauty and the Beast. It provides a strong contrast to the previous dance, and the several moments of calm work well for the visions in the fountain.

The character Peter Grimes was derived from the poem by George Crabbe, Poem in 24 Letters, set in Aldeburgh. Britten founded the Aldeburgh Festival based on the beliefs of encouraging amateurs as well as international performers. The first festival took place in 1948 and continues to this day. In 1956, Britten wrote the music for his only ballet, The Prince of the Pagodas, for the Royal Ballet with choreography by John Cranko.

Britten was the first composer to be named a life peer (Lord Britten of Aldeburgh) in June 1976, ironically the year of his death in December.

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The man we know as Georges Bizet was actually born Alexandre Césare Léopold Bizet in 1838 in Paris. A child prodigy, he became a student at the Paris Conservatoire when he was just ten, as a pupil of Zimmerman and then Halévy (whose daughter he later married). He was also an adoring disciple of Charles Gounod. In 1857 he won the Prix de Rome before he was twenty.

Although best known today as the composer of Carmen, success for that opera did not come until after Bizet’s death. He was in fact better known in his day for his non-operatic compositions such as Jeux d’enfants, Petite Suite and incidental music to L’Arlésienne. He was also an accomplished pianist who astonished even Franz Liszt, but he rarely appeared in public and composed only a few pieces for the piano.

Of the 12 original pieces in Jeux d’enfants (written for piano duet in 1871) Bizet orchestrated five of them to make his Petite Suite. David Nixon found this music truly inspiring to choreograph the scenes for Beauty’s family.

Bizet died at Bougival in 1875.

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Achille-Claude Debussy was born in 1862 at St. Germain-en-Laye. Having little formal education he learned to play the piano from Mme. Mauté de Fleurville. His abilities led him to the Paris Conservatoire in 1872 where he was in no way an exceptional student. During the summers of 1880 and 1881 he worked as pianist to Mme. von Meck, Tchaikovsky’s patron. Failing to win the Prix de Rome on his first attempt, he succeeded in 1884.

Absorbing all the influences of music that preceded him and declaring the influence of the ‘symbolists’ a dead end for composers, Debussy evolved an idiom of his own. Critics have called him "the father of musical impressionism" likening his music to the painters of the same name, a comparison he grew to dislike. He eventually titled himself ‘musicien français’.

Debussy developed cancer but lived until 1918, dying in Paris. He wrote music criticism under the name of M. Croche.

 

The Petite Suite was first performed as a piano duet March 1, 1889 and was later orchestrated by Henri Büsser. En Bateau, from this orchestrated suite, was chosen by David Nixon to accompany Beauty’s awaking from her dream to the new joy of her life and the appearance of the sprites.

In 1899 Debussy married Rosalie Texier, but deserted her 5 years later for Mme. Emma Bardac, the wife of a banker whom he married in 1908. Their daughter, Claude-Emma, better known as Chou-Chou, was the inspiration for his Children’s Corner suite from which David Nixon has extracted The Snow is Dancing. Composed for piano in 1906-08, Children’s Corner was orchestrated by Debussy’s close friend André Caplet, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who conducted the first performance in 1910.

Danse Sacrée et Profane was the result of a commission from the Pleyel firm who wanted to promote a new type of harp having no pedal. In this work Debussy has borrowed from Iberia, using a piano piece by Portuguese composer Francisco de Laceda and a Spanish motif. The piece premiered Nov. 6, 1904. The relaxed and mystical quality of the music lends itself admirably to help illustrate Beauty’s dream of the Prince.

Although listed as the first section of his orchestral Images (not to be confused with the two sets of Images for piano), Gigues (1909-12) was actually the last section that Debussy composed. This is not the sort of jig one would expect but a whole tone adaptation in a slow tempo based on a distortion of the Scottish folk song "The Keel Row." Originally titled Gigues Tristes it is Debussy’s portrait of England as a place of haunting melancholy scarcely relieved by bursts of jollity. Mr. Nixon has used this sense of melancholy and anguish as the fitting setting for M. Despairé’s fateful encounter with the goblins and La Feé Misérable who eventually steal his precious gem.

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Gabriel Urbain Fauré was born in Pamiers, France, May 12, 1845. The son of a butcher turned school teacher, he found his early interest in music by improvising on the harmonium in the local church. From 1854 - 66 he studied on full scholarship at the École Niedermeyer, Paris under Niedermeyer and Saint- Saëns. Fauré held the position of organist at a number of churches before becoming professor of composition at the Paris Conservatoire in 1896, a post he had been refused earlier because he was considered too revolutionary by Ambroise Thomas. His pupils included Ravel, Nadia Boulanger and Enescu. From 1905-20 he was director of the Conservatoire initiating many reforms which have influenced French music. In addition Fauré was music critic for Le Figaro from 1902 to 1921.

In 1920 Fauré resigned from the Conservatoire on account of deafness; he died November 4, 1924, in Paris and was accorded a state funeral at which was played the adagio from Pelléas et Mélisande.

Pelléas et Mélisande was commissioned as incidental music to the play by Maeterlinck to be presented at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London in 1898. The work was orchestrated by a pupil of his, Charles Koechlin and survives today as an orchestral suite which was first heard at the Concerts Lamoureux in Paris on February 3, 1901, a song from the original production having been lost. The movement David Nixon uses is called Fileuese and was originally played before the third act of the play. Here it is used for our first view of Beauty’s home life.

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Arthur Honegger, although born at Le Havre, France in 1892 was of Swiss parentage. He studied at the Zurich Conservatory from 1909-11 and went on to the Paris Conservatoire in 1911 where he studied composition with Widor and orchestration with d’Indy. He was also declared a member of Les Six but had little affinity for the group (see Poulenc), declaring himself to have "a taste for the chamber music and symphonic music in its most serious form."

Honegger died in Paris in 1955.

Pacific 231 (1923) which premiered in 1924 brought widespread renown for Honegger. With this music he looked "not so much to imitate the sounds of a locomotive, but to translate visual impressions and physical enjoyment with a musical construction." Mr. Nixon was looking for music that would make a strong statement and remove any preconceived ideas of the story an audience may have. This composition will certainly set us on the right track as the opening music of Beauty and the Beast.

Although Mermoz Suites I & II are used to depict Beauty’s return to her home, it is very different music than the Fauré and Bizet used the first time we encounter the family. This is an intentional choice by Mr. Nixon who wishes to underline the changes that Beauty has undergone since spending time with the Beast and how her relationship with her family must necessarily be altered. Mermoz (1943) was written as the music to a film of the same name. Honegger wrote more than forty film scores, a trend of French composers that began with Saint-Saëns.

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Francis Poulenc was born at number two, Place des Saussaies in Paris, January 7, 1899 to an affluent family; he never knew poverty during his life. He was taught to play the piano by his mother and at 15 began to study with Ricardo Viñes who encouraged his ambition to compose and introduced him to Satie, Auric and others. Mme. Poulenc wished her son to enter the Paris Conservatoire, but her industrialist husband preferred he continue his normal education. He found notoriety in 1917 as one of a number of composers - Les Nouveaux Jeunes - encouraged by Satie and Cocteau. In 1920 the critic Henri Collet selected six of these young composers, including Poulenc (the youngest), dubbing them Les Six. As a group, these composers gave concerts together and drew inspiration from Parisian folklore, i.e. street musicians, music-halls and circus bands.

The Organ Concerto was begun in April and finished in August of 1938, a commission from Princesse Edmond de Polignac to whom it is dedicated. A private playing of the work in her home preceded the first public performance of this the third of his four keyboard concertos. Poulenc turned to Bach for his inspiration and to organist Maurice Duruflé (who played the premiere of the work) for technical advice. It is an eclectic work with wide ranging moods and styles, a very strong selection with which to introduce Beauty to the Beast and his awesome palace.

Poulenc’s Sinfonietta from 1947 is the result of a commission from the B.B.C. for the tenth anniversary of the Third Programme. It utilizes material from a string quartet of the same year that Poulenc, dissatisfied, threw in a Paris sewer. The work has a youthful quality which Poulenc may not have relished; ". . . I was dressing too young for my age," he said of the work. It has been noted that much of the thematic material is based on French ballet music. It is therefore quite an appropriate choice to include in this very musical score for Beauty and the Beast.

Poulenc died in Paris in 1963.

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Camille Saint-Saëns was a musical prodigy who as a child was comparable to Mozart. He was discovered to have perfect pitch at two, at five he played the piano part of a Beethoven violin sonata and could read an opera score, he waited until 8 to study harmony, by 10 1/2 he had given a piano recital in Paris and two years later he entered the Paris Conservatoire studying organ and composition. From 1853-77 he was organist at several churches. Saint-Saëns was a professor at the École Niedermeyer 1861-65 where his pupils included Fauré and Messager. He became in demand as a solo performer on the piano and organ and toured often to give concerts. Saint-Saëns is credited with reviving interest in Bach in France and was also a champion of French composers, founding the Société nationale de musique in 1871.

Saint-Saëns was born in Paris in 1835 and died in Algiers in 1921. In his later life Saint-Saëns traveled widely and absorbed the local color into his works.

In 1852 he met Liszt and was greatly influenced by him. Liszt produced Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila at Weimer in 1877, and his Symphony No. 3 (1886, the ‘Organ’) was dedicated to Liszt’s memory. The music was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society of London and premiered there in 1886 with the composer conducting. Although composed in the traditional four movements it sounds as if it were in two due to the first two and the last two movements being linked. David Nixon has chosen the final movement, which concluding in the exultant key of C major, becomes confident and resplendent, a fitting setting for the joy of the transformation of the Beast to handsome Prince and the wedding celebration that follows.

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Versions of Beauty and the Beast as a ballet


La Belle et la Bete
Choreography: Charles Didelot
Music: Federicci or C. Bossi
Original production presented at the King’s Theatre, London. May 14, 1801. Revised as Khenzi I Tao; ili Krasavitsa I chudovishche
Music: Antolini
Scenery: Canoppi, Tozelli & Kondrat’ev
Costumes: Babini
Revised version presented in St. Petersburg, August 30, 1819. Didelot was a celebrated dancer of his day. Following the performance of his most famous choreography, Flore et Zéphire, in London, Didelot was hired in the triple capacity of dancer, choreographer and teacher of the Russian Imperial Theaters. He died in Kiev, 1836.

 

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Carlo Coppi
Music: Georges Jacobi
First presented January 4, 1898, Alhambra Theatre, London. Ms. Casaboni as Beauty and Miss Julie Seale as the Beast.

Alen’kii tsvetochek
Choreography: Nikolai Legat
Music: Thomas Hartman
Libretto: Pavel Marzhetzkii after story by Sergei Aksakov
Scenery: Konstantin Korovin
Premiere production, December 16, 1907, Maryinski Theater, St. Petersburg.

Alen’kii tsvetochek
Choreography: Alexander Gorski
Music: Thomas de Hartman
Libretto: Gorski after story by Sergei Aksakov
Premiere, Bolshoi Theater, January 1, 1911.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Helen Bird
Music: Mozart
First performed at the Manchester Ballet Club, February 14, 1945
Featured Marion Dunkley as the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Ruth Page
Music: Tchaikovsky arr. by Friedrich Wilckens
Costumes: Nicolai Remisov
First performed July 11, 1949 as a pas de deux at Kansas State Teacher’s College, Pittsburg, Kansas. Full company premiere, Chicago Opera Ballet, October 29, 1949 at Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: John Cranko
Music: Ravel. Excerpts from Mother Goose Suite
Scenery & costumes: Margaret Kaye
This elaborate, extended pas de deux featuring the meeting, courtship, flight and remorse, the final return and breaking of the spell was first presented by the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet in London, December 20, 1949. The dancers were Patricia Miller and David Poole. First US presentation November 14 1951, Denver. A version for B.B.C. television was made in 1953.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: J. Marks
Music: Bela Bartok
Costumes: James Croshaw
First performance by San Francisco Contemporary Dancers Company March 13, 1958 at San Francisco Contemporary Dancers Center.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Lew Christensen
Music: Tchaikovsky arr. by Earl Bernard Murray
Scenery & costumes: Tony Duquette
The original production premiered at the San Francisco Opera House May 23, 1958 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company. It was such a success that it was presented every season until 1967. In 1974 Mr. Christensen mounted a version of his Beauty and the Beast at Marine World/Africa USA as a part of the San Francisco Ballet’s fund raising activities. The performance took place in a circus ring and the dancers were joined by llamas, monkeys, birds and a tiger. Beauty and her Prince made their final exit atop an elephant. A new production with designs by Jose Varona was presented in 1982. At that time a pas de six was added in act 2 and Robert Gladstein was assistant choreographer. The ballet was released as an A.B.C. film with narration by Haley Mills in 1966.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: John Auld
Created for Ballet Gulbenkian, Portugal, 1967/68

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Peter Darrell
Music: Thea Musgrave
Decor: Peter Marshall
First performance November 19, 1969. Scottish Theatre Ballet at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Tatsuo Sakai and D.D. Washington in the leads. Based on the story of Mme. de Villeneuve.

Beauty and the Beast
C
horeography: Richard Kuch
Performed May 26, 1971, Riverside Church, New York. Maslow-Gain-Kuch Dance Group.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: I. Keres
Performed in Wiesbaden, 1972.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Wayne Eagling
Music: Vangelis
Scenery & Costumes: Jan Pienkowski
First performed December 2, 1986 by the Royal Ballet, at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Maria Almeida as Beauty, Anthony Dowell as the Beast who was replaced during the performance by Johnathon Cope due to an injury to Mr. Dowell’s arm.

La Belle et la Bete
Choreography: Phillipe Tressera
Music: Mahler
Scenery & Costumes: Alain Lagarde
Make up: Andre Malbert
First Performance June 15, 1989. Europa Ballet, Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza.

Beauty and the Beast
Choreography: Bruce Wells
Music: Delibes (Excerpts from Sylvia & La Source)
Scenery: Lewis Folden
First performance April 20, 1990. Ballet Omaha, Orpheum Theater, Omaha.
The production centered around Libra, goddess of Justice and Cupid, god of love.


Choreography: Graeme Murphy
Music: Carl Vine, Phil Buckle, Jack Jones, Southern Sons and Ministry.
Scenery: Kristian Fredrikson
Premiere by Graeme Murphy’s Dancers, Metro Theatre, Sydney, Australia. February 1993. The Beast becomes, among other things, a rock star (Rock Beast) and a corporate workaholic.

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Versions of Beauty and the Beast in Other Media


La Belle et la Bete. Best known of Jean Cocteau's surrealist movies, Paris 1946. In the film, when the Prince asks Beauty if she is happy, Cocteau has her close her eyes and answer "I shall have to get used to it." Cocteau states "For ordinary beauty could not easily take the place of the terrible beauty that had won her heart. The whole meaning of the story lies in this little sentence, and in secret disappointment which the audience shares with Beauty." Music by Georges Auric. The score for the film was lost until rediscovered in 1992.

 

La Belle et la Bete - Live performance composed by Philip Glass as an accompaniment to the Cocteau film. Not only did Glass compose music for the film but also had singers replace the original dialogue with song.

Beauty and the Beast. An A.B.C. Films release 1966. Produced by Gordon Waldear, featuring San Francisco Ballet, choreography of Lew Christensen, music of Tchaikovsky, narration by Haley Mills. 50 mins.

Beauty and the Beast produced by Shelly Duvall. A Faerie Tale Theatre Production 1984.

Beauty and the Beast. One act opera with music by Vittorio Gianini and text by Robert A. Simon. Broadcast on radio 1951.

Beauty and the Beast. Opera in three acts by Frank Di Giacomo. Premiere 1974, Opera Theatre of Syracuse.

Dessert of Roses. Opera by Robert Moran based on the story of Beauty and the Beast. Premiere, Houston Grand Opera 1991

Beauty and the Beast. A musical for children with music by Michael Valenti and lyrics by Elsa Rael, published in 1994.

Beauty and the Beast. A major television production of the fairy tale was aired in 1977.

Beauty and the Beast. A C.B.S. television series featuring the Beast who lived in the sewers of New York whose ‘beauty’ was a lawyer. Series ran for two years in the late 80’s (1987-88).

Beauty and the Beast. The Disney cartoon/musical reworked the story somewhat and added characters including Gaston whose impact on the story is obvious. Story by Linda Woolverton. Music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman. Released 1991.

Beauty and the Beast. For the debut of Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, Disney transformed their successful cartoon into a stage musical that opened on Broadway April 7, 1994 after a tryout in Houston in the fall of 1993. Additional lyrics were supplied by Tim Rice.

A touring ice show of the Disney version also exists.

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