Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Part 1

1st Part.

A meadow at the edge of a sacred wood. In the background, hills. To the right a grotto at the entrance of which, hewn out of the rock, is an antique sculpture of three Nymphs. Somewhat towards the background, to the left, a large rock vaguely resembles the form of the god Pan. In the background sheep are grazing. A bright Spring afternoon. When the curtain rises, the stage is empty.

01 Nymphs

The Nymphs

Daphnis Chloe

Daphnis & Chloe

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(Click on the ‘Next’ button ››| to move through the 9 parts of the video)

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Introduction and Religious Dance

Youths and girls enter carrying gifts for the Nymphs in baskets. Gradually the stage fills. The group bows before the altar of the Nymphs. The girls drape the pedestals with garlands.

Religious Dance

Danse religieuse

In the far background Daphnis is seen following his flock. Chloe joins him. They proceed toward the altar and disappear at a bend. Daphnis and Chloe enter the foreground and bow down before the Nymphs. The dance ceases.

Tender emotion on seeing the couple. The girls entice Daphnis and dance around him.

 

Jeunes filles

Chloe feels the first twinges of jealousy. At that moment she is swept into the dance of the youths. The cowherd Dorcon proves to be especially bold. Daphnis in turn seems upset.

Les jeaunes gens

General Dance

At the end of the dance Dorcon tries to kiss Chloe. She innocently offers her cheek, but with an abrupt motion Daphnis pushes aside the cowherd and approaches Chloe affectionately. The youths intervene. They position themselves in front of Chloe and gently lead Daphnis away. One of them proposes a dance contest between Daphnis and Dorcon. A kiss from Chloe will be the victor’s prize.

Dorcon’s grotesque dance

Dorcon

The group sarcastically imitates the clumsy movements of the cowherd who end his dance in the midst of general laughter.

Daphnis’ light and graceful dance

Daphnis

Everyone invites Daphnis to accept his reward. Dorcon comes forward as well but he is chased off by the group accompanied by loud laughter. The laughter ceases at the sight of the radiant group formed by the embracing Daphnis and Chloe. The group withdraws taking along Chloe. Daphnis remains immobile as if in ecstasy. Then he lies face down in the grass, his face in his hands.

Lyceion enters. She notices the young shepherd, approaches, and raises his head, placing her hands over his eyes. Daphnis thinks this is a game of Chloe’s, but he recognises Lyceion and tries to pull away.

Lyceion dances

Lyceion

As though inadvertently, she drops one of her veils. Daphnis picks it up and places it back on her shoulders. She ironically resumes her dance, which, at first more languorous, becomes steadily more animated until the end. Another veil slips to the ground, and is again retrieved by Daphnis. Vexed, she runs off mocking him, leaving the young shepherd very disturbed.

Warlike sounds and war cries are heard coming nearer.

Pirates

In the middle ground women run across the stage pursued by pirates. Daphnis thinks of Chloe perhaps in danger and runs off to save her. Chloe hastens on in panic, seeking shelter. She throws herself before the altar of the Nymphs, beseeching their protection. A group of brigands bursts on stage, see the girl and carry her off. Daphnis enters looking for Chloe. He discovers on the ground a sandal that she lost in the struggle. Mad with despair he curses the deities who were unable to protect the girl and falls swooning at the entrance of the grotto. An unnatural light suffuses the landscape. A little glow shines suddenly from the head of one of the statues. The Nymph comes to life and descends from her pedestal. The second Nymph, the third Nymph. They consult together and begin a slow and mysterious dance.

Nymphs dance

They notice Daphnis. They bend down and dry his tears. They revive him and lead him towards the large rock. They invoke the god Pan. Gradually the form of the god is outlined. Daphnis prostrates himself in supplication. The stage goes dark.

Text © Dover Publications
Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as “fair use/dealing”, for the purpose of study, and critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s).

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One thought on “Maurice Ravel: Daphnis et Chloé, Part 1

  1. Pingback: Ballets Russes | The Art of Listening

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