PROGRAM NOTES: Malandain Ballet Biarritz, Beauty and the Beast

PROGRAM NOTES: Malandain Ballet Biarritz, Beauty and the Beast 2014-06-27T15:04:59+00:00

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Without revisiting all of the tale’s interpretations, a coming-of-age story can be detected and designed to resolve the duality of being, with Belle embodying the human soul and the Beast being its life force and instincts. With Jean Cocteau, whose film appeared in cinemas in 1946, the focus is on the portrayal of the artist’s inner demons through the Beast’s duality. Whether it is lost unity or human nature torn apart, accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s symphonic works, our version of the Beast, freed from his inner demons, marries Belle under a blazing sun.
– Thierry Malandain


I. Interval and Waltz from Eugene Onegin, Op. 24

An artist with body and soul, a man with his joy, pain and hopes tells the following story: Once upon a time there was a wealthy merchant who had two sons and three daughters. The youngest was so lovely and so much admired that everyone called her Belle which made her sisters very jealous. The two eldest were arrogant because of their wealth and attended balls every evening. The merchant suddenly lost all his wealth and all he had left was a small farmhouse far from the city.

II. Adagio – Allegro non troppo from Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique”

While her sisters snivel and whine, missing high society and beautiful clothes, Belle gets used to her new situation. There are even gentlemen courters who wish to marry her, but she cannot imagine leaving her father. The family has been living simply for a year when the merchant hears that one of the ships on which he had merchandise is back in port. This news starts the two eldest daughters thinking, and just as their father is about to leave, they ask him to bring back dresses and all kinds of things for them while Belle only asks for a rose. On his way back home, the merchant gets lost. The wind is so strong that it knocks him off his horse. Shortly after, he see a light coming from a castle. He goes inside where a table is laden with food and drink. The next morning as the merchant is about to leave, he remembers that Belle had asked him for a rose and picks the whitest one he can find.

III. Hamlet, Op. 67

At that very moment, he hears a loud noise, and is confronted with a Beast so hideous, that he almost passes out. “You’re so ungrateful,” says the Beast. “I saved your life by welcoming you inside my castle, and in return for my hospitality, you steal my roses that I love more than anything in the world. You must die for this misdeed. However, I’m willing to forgive you if you send one of your daughters to die instead of you.”

All alone, like the Artist facing his inner demons, the Beast who suffers from his ugliness summons the things which symbolize his metamorphosis – a key, a horse, a looking glass, a glove and the love which will save him. A few hours later, the merchant arrives home and tells his children the tale of what happened to him. Hearing his story, they start shouting and insult Belle who was not weeping. “Why should I weep because my father is going to die? He will not die since the Beast is willing to accept one of his daughters. I will let him unleash all his rage on me.” Belle then goes to the Beast’s castle.

IV. Andante cantabile from Symphony No. 5

Terrified at first, Belle did not suffer the fate she so dreaded. She is is welcomed graciously by the Beast and lavished in luxury. But every evening he asks her the same question, “Will you be my wife?” Belle refuses. Her only desire is to see her father again who she sees sick with grief in the looking-glass. The Beast finally lets her go home and Belle promises that she will return in one week.

V. Waltz from Symphony No. 5

When Belle sees her father again, they embrace each other for over a quarter of an hour. Her sisters almost die of jealousy when they see her dressed like a queen. But very quickly, she feels sad about having abandoned the Beast when she sees him lying half-dead in the looking-glass.

VI. Finale. Adagio lamentoso from Symphony No.6 “Pathétique”

When Belle returns to the castle and finds the Beast lying on the ground, she goes to him and says, “You shall not die. You shall live and be my husband.” Upon uttering these words, she sees the castle shine brightly and the Beast turns into a Prince.