Ballet Fans Have To See Sylvia

in Ballet

The mythology inspired ballet Sylvia, is a three-act ballet set to the music of French Composer Léo Delibes. Often considered to be one of Delibes's greatest musical works the ballet Sylvia made its debut in 1876 in Paris. The inspiration for the ballet's story is believed to be the 1573 pastoral play ‘Aminta' by Italian poet Torquato Tasso. The premiere of Sylvia at the Palais Garnier in Paris on June 14th 1876 was unfortunately met with a poor reception and subsequent productions of the ballet were also largely unsuccessful.

It was the renowned dancer and choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton who resurrected the almost forgotten ballet in 1952. However Sylvia still did not receive critical acclaim it is thought largely down to it's complicated plot. Sir Frederick tried to give the ballet more popular appeal reducing it to a one-act piece but Sylvia could still not capture the publics' heart and Ashton eventually gave up on it in 1965. Sir Frederick believed in Sylvia though and had expressed a desire to rework it once again into a three-act ballet. This was picked up on by one of his former students, Christopher Newton, who rewrote Sylvia for the 21st Century audience and a three-act version close to Sir Frederick's vision appeared on stage in 2001.

Sylvia has a pastoral theme and this is reflected in the ballet's opening act that features a minor cast of nymphs, dryads, fauns and goats. The main characters are of course the ballet's huntress protagonist Sylvia and Aminta, a young shepherd boy who is in love with Sylvia. The God of love Eros and Goddess of hunting Diana also feature along with the hunter Orion who appears as the villain in the story.

The first act of the ballet is called A Sacred Wood and begins with Aminta stumbling upon the various woodland creatures dancing before the God Eros. Sylvia, the object of Aminta's desire, and her fellow hunters also arrive at the woodland ritual for Eros and begin to mock the God. Confusion breaks out when Sylvia spies the hidden Aminta and she fires her bow at Eros. Aminta in trying to protect Eros is injured by Sylvia's arrow and Eros shoots Sylvia who is mildly injured. Sylvia's unwelcome admirer Orion has also been watching this scene and he continues to spy as Sylvia returns to check up on the wounded Aminta and seizes the opportunity to kidnap the young nymph. Eros revives Aminta and tells him of Orion's kidnap.

Act two is titled Orion's Island Cave, which is the location Orion brings the kidnapped Sylvia to. Sylvia stubbornly refuses all offers of kindness such as jewelry and wine from Orion with her only thoughts focused on the wounded Aminta. She fakes a change of heart, getting Orion drunk on the wine so that she can make her escape. After invoking the God of love Eros, Sylvia receives a vision that Aminta is waiting for her at the temple of the Goddess Diana and with the help of Eros escapes from Orion.

The Sea Coast Near The Temple Of Diana is the title of the third act and it is here we see Sylvia and Aminta reunited. Orion is not far behind Sylvia though and when he also arrives at the temple he begins to fight with Aminta. In the ensuing confusion Orion enters the shrine of Diana, which is strictly forbidden and the enraged Goddess refuses to give Aminta and Sylvia her blessing. However Eros restores harmony be showing Diana a vision of her own first love who was also a shepherd boy. The memory makes Diana relent and Sylvia and Aminta are free to love one another with the blessing of the Gods.

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Mark Walters has 1 articles online

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Ballet Fans Have To See Sylvia

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This article was published on 2010/10/14