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La Sylphide in the Christmas season and beyond

One of the festive season’s pieces offered by the Slovak National Theatre is the romantic ballet, La Sylphide. It premiered only in September 2012 and has not been played since.

One of the festive season’s pieces offered by the Slovak National Theatre is the romantic ballet, La Sylphide. It premiered only in September 2012 and has not been played since.

The ballet, marking the beginning of romanticism in the classical dance, was written by French/Danish ballet dancer and choreographer, August Bournonville, and premiered in 1836 in the Royal Opera in Copenhagen. Since then, it has become the popular national Danish play that does not cease to be performed there, in an almost unchanged form. La Syphide is also played all over the world. Bournonville’s version has been inspired by an earlier work of the same name by Filippo Taglioni. Bournonville visited the performance in Paris with his young dance student Lucile Grahn and moved by the experience – and her reaction – decided to stage the piece in Denmark, with her playing the main role. He lacked, however, the money to pay for the copyright, so instead he commissioned Norwegian composer H. S. Von Loevenskiold to write the score, the bulletin for the SND Sylphide states.

The story unfolds in a Scottish countryside and involves a love story – naturally – as well as supra-natural powers that influence its course. The main heroine, La Sylphide, is herself a Sylph, a winged fairy. There is also Madge, the witch and a host of courtiers and supra-natural beings. Moreover, what might seem strange for a ballet is the male dancers performing in kilts (not worn in the traditional way, i.e. without underwear, however).

La Sylphide was first played in Slovakia in 2005 and now it has returned to the main national stage, the SND in Bratislava, as directed by Niels Kehlet and conducted by Martin Leginus. It will be shown on December 28 and then on St Valentine’s Day (February 14) and beginning March. More information can be found at www.snd.sk.

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