Evoking The Afternoon of A Faun

“Nijinsky has never been so remarkable as in his latest role. No more jumps – nothing but half-conscious animal gestures and poses. He lies down, leans on his elbow, walks with bent knees, draws himself up, advancing and retreating, some-times slowly, sometimes with jerky angular movements. His eyes flicker, he stretches his arms, he opens his hands out flat, the fingers together, and as he turns away his head he continues to express his desire with a deliberate awkwardness that seems natural. Form and meaning are indissolubly wedded in his body, which is totally expressive of the mind within… His beauty is that of antique frescoes and sculptures: he is the ideal model, whom one longs to draw and sculpt.”

Auguste Rodin

 

Programme illustration by Léon Bakst for the ballet

 

The ballet L’Après-midi d’un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun)was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes and first performed in the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on 29 May 1912. On the opening night the ballet was met with a mixture of applause and booing, and again it was repeated. Now the audience applauded, and Auguste Rodin in the audience stood up to cheer.

Nijinsky danced the main part himself. As its score it used the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy. Both the music and the ballet were inspired by the poem L’Après-midi d’un faune by Stéphane Mallarmé. The painter Odilon Redon, friend of Mallarmé, suggested how much the poet would have approved, “more than anyone, he would have appreciated this wonderful evocation of his thoughts.”

 

 

The costumes and sets were designed by the painter Léon BakstL’Après-midi d’un Faune is considered one of the first modern ballets and proved to be as controversial as Nijinsky’s Jeux (1913) and Le Sacre du printemps (1913).

The style of the ballet, in which a young faun meets several nymphs, flirts with them and chases them, was deliberately archaic. In the original scenography designed by Léon Bakst, the dancers were presented as part of a large tableau, a staging reminiscent of an ancient Greek vase painting. They often moved across the stage in profile as if on a bas relief. The ballet was presented in bare feet and rejected classical formalism. The work had an overtly erotic subtext beneath its façade of Greek antiquity, ending with a scene of graphic sexual desire.

The ballet was developed as a possible new production for the Ballets Russes founded by Sergei Diaghilev. Most of the dances performed by the company were choreographed by Michel Fokine, who had worked as a choreographer with the Imperial Russian Ballet, from which all the different specialists for the new ballet company had come. Initially the Ballet Russes took advantage of the 3 months summer break, when the Imperial ballet closed and its staff were free to do other things, to stage ballet and opera in Paris. Diaghilev was looking around for an alternative to the style which Fokine customarily delivered and decided to allow his senior male dancer, Vaslav Nijinsky, to try his hand at choreography.

 

Menelaus intending to strike Helen is struck by her beauty instead. Louvre museum, Campana collection acquired 1861

 

The original idea was developed by Diaghilev, Nijinsky and Bakst and was inspired by the artwork on ancient Greek vases and Egyptian and Assyrian frescoes which they viewed in the Louvre museum. Bakst had already worked with Vsevolod Meyerhold, an innovative theatre producer and director who had introduced concepts like two-dimensionality, stylized postures, a narrow stage, pauses and pacing to emphasise significant moments, into his productions. Ninjinsky’s aim was to reproduce the stylised look of the ancient artworks on the stage. In his portrayal of the faun, Nijinsky managed to reproduce exactly the figure of a satyr shown on Greek vases in the Louvre. Such concepts appear transferred to ballet.

Jean Cocteau helped to explain the Mallarmé poem (Nijinsky spoke little French) and with developing a scenario for the ballet. The music by Debussy already existed in a fully orchestrated form. After the summer season in Paris, Nijinsky returned to St Petersburg for the new Russian season and there started to work on the choreography with the help of his sister, Bronislava Nijinska, who was herself a senior dancer and who later choreographed her own ballets for Ballets Russes. Nijinsky was much excited about the project.

 

Cartoon by Daniel de Losques published in Le Figaro, 30 May 1912

 

Nijinsky as the Faun, illustrations by George Barbier, 1913

 

Baron de Meyer  published a book of photographs of the ballet

 

The nymph dance in the dream sequence of the film Sunnyside (Charlie Chaplin, 1919) has been recognized as being a tribute to the ballet

 

A pastiche of the ballet (choreographed by the then leader of the Royal Ballet, Wayne Eagling, a friend of Mercury who had helped him before with the choreography of the Bohemian Rhapsody) forms part of the music video for Queen’s single I Want to Break Free (David Mallet, 1984). Freddie Mercury dances the role of the faun, with dancers from the Royal Ballet also performing, including Jeremy Sheffield. Mercury shaved his trademark moustache to portray Vaslav Nijinsky as a faun in the ballet L’après-midi d’un faune.

 

Queen’s video can be seen on The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

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Made in Heaven and Set in Hell

“I’m taking my ride with destiny
Willing to play my part
Living with painful memories
Loving with all my heart

Oh I know, I know, I know that it’s true
Yes it’s really meant to be

I’m taking my ride with destiny
Willing to play my part
Living with painful memories
Loving with all my heart

Made in heaven, made in heaven
It was all meant to be, yeah
Made in heaven, made in heaven
That’s what they say
Can’t you see
That’s what everybody says to me
Can’t you see

Deep in my heart

I’m having to learn to pay the price
They’re turning me upside down
Waiting for possibilities
Don’t see too many around

Made in heaven, made in heaven
It’s for all to see
Made in heaven, made in heaven
That’s what everybody says
Everybody says to me
It was really meant to be
Oh can’t you see
Yeah everybody, everybody says
Yes it was meant to be
Yeah yeah

When stormy weather comes around
It was made in heaven
When sunny skies break through behind the clouds
I wish it could last forever, yeah
Wish it could last forever, forever

Made in heaven
I’m playing my role in history
Looking to find my goal
Taking in all this misery
But giving it all my soul

Made in heaven, made in heaven
It was all meant to be
Made in heaven, made in heaven
That’s what everybody says
Wait and see, it was really meant to be
So plain to see
Yeah, everybody, everybody, everybody tells me so
Yes it was plain to see, yes it was meant to be
Written in the stars…
Written in the stars…
Written in the stars…”

 
 

Artwork and photos by Richard Gray

 
 

The two covers are not genuine original photographs, but a pair of composite shots. The two different cover shots of the view across Lake Geneva, were of one of sunrise and the other of sunset. Brian, Roger and John were photographed in a London studio, and the statue was still in it’s sculpturer’s/maker’s studio for it’s part of the photo session. The building on stilts, otherwise known as the duckhouse, is at one end of the lake shore at Montreux, and Freddie’s statue is pretty much at the other, and just a short distance from the band’s studios there.

Made in Heaven is the third single recorded by Freddie Mercury, and his fourth release as a solo artist Mr. Bad Guy. Originally featured in the mentioned Mercury’s debut album, the song was slightly edited and published as a 45rpm paired with She Blows Hot and Cold, described on the record sleeve as ‘A Brand New Track’. The single reached #57 on the UK Singles Chart.

After Mercury’s death, the song’s title gave the name to Queen’s 1995 posthumous album Made in Heaven. The song was also chosen, along with I Was Born to Love You, to be re-recorded for the album, with the previous vocals over a newly recorded instrumental track.

The song’s video was realized with the help of David Mallet, previously involved in the making of the music video for I Was Born to Love You, as well as five Queen clips. A Royal Opera House replica was built inside a warehouse in northern London (normal studios didn’t have high enough roofs), where Mercury wanted to recreate scenes from Stravinsky‘s The Rite of Spring and Dante‘s Inferno. The most remarkable element is probably the 67-foot tall rotating globe on top of which the singer stands in the last part of the videoclip. The outfit that Mercury wears in this music video is quite similar to the outfit worn in the music video for Queen song Radio Ga Ga.

 

To watch the music video, please click on the next link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228

The Great Pretender

 
 

The Great Pretender is a popular song recorded by The Platters, with Tony Williams on lead vocals, and released as a single on November 3, 1955. The words and music were created by Buck Ram, the Platters’ manager and producer who was a successful songwriter before moving into producing and management. The Great Pretender reached the number one position on both the R&B and pop charts in 1956.

The song was repopularized in 1987 by Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band Queen. Mercury’s version reached number four on the UK Singles Chart.

 
 

 
 

Mercury’s music video for the song became one of the most well-known of his career. It featured Mercury in many of his Queen guises through video medium over the years, including visual re-takes of Crazy Little Thing Called Love, It’s a Hard Life, I Want to Break Free and Bohemian Rhapsody. It was directed by David Mallet in February 1987, and also featured fellow Queen member Roger Taylor and Peter Straker (a friend of Freddie’s) in drag. Mercury had shaved off his moustache, which had been his trademark feature since 1980. An extended video version appears on the video single on VHS, Freddie Mercury The Video Collection on VHS and DVD and Lover of Life, Singer of Songs on DVD.

 
 

To watch the music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

A Commentary on Television Overtaking Radio’s Popularity

Still from Radio Gaga (David Mallet, 1983) music video

 
 

The inspiration for Radio Gaga came when Roger Taylor heard his son utter the words “radio ca-ca” while listening to a bad song on the radio while they were in Los Angeles. After hearing the phrase, Taylor began writing the song when he locked himself in a room with a Roland Jupiter-8 and a drum machine. He thought it would fit his solo album, but when the band heard it, John Deacon wrote a bassline and Freddie Mercury reconstructed the track, thinking it could be a big hit. Taylor then took a skiing holiday and let Mercury polish the lyrics, harmony, and arrangements of the song. Recording sessions began at Record Plant Studios and included Canadian session keyboardist Fred Mandel, who later on would work with Supertramp and Elton John. Mandel programmed the Jupiter’s arpeggiated synth-bass parts. The recording features prominent use of the Roland VP330+ vocoder. The bassline was produced by a Roland Jupiter-8, using the built-in arpeggiator.

Recorded in 1983 and released in January 1984, the song was a commentary on television overtaking radio’s popularity and how one would listen to radio in the past for a favorite comedy, drama, or science fiction programme. It also pertained to the advent of the music video and MTV, which was now competing with radio as an important medium for promoting records. Ironically, Queen had done much to popularize the music video with Bohemian Rhapsody in 1975 and the video for Radio Ga Ga would become a regular staple on MTV in 1984. It was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award that year. Roger Taylor was quoted:

“ That’s part of what the song’s about, really. The fact that they [music videos] seem to be taking over almost from the aural side, the visual side seems to be almost more important.

The song makes reference to two important radio events of the 20th century; Orson Welles‘ 1938 broadcast of H.G. WellsThe War of the Worlds in the lyric “through wars of worlds/invaded by Mars”, and Winston Churchill‘s 18 June 1940 This was their finest hour speech from the House of Commons, in the lyric “You’ve yet to have your finest hour”. American pop singer Lady Gaga credits her stagename to this song. She stated: “I adored Freddie Mercury and Queen had a hit called ‘Radio Gaga’. That’s why I love the name.”

David Mallet‘s music video for the song features scenes from Fritz Lang‘s 1927 German expressionist science fiction film Metropolis and was filmed at Carlton TV Studios and Shepperton Studios, London, in November 1983. It features the band in a car flying over the title city, and later performing the song in front of the city’s working class. Freddie Mercury’s solo song Love Kills was used in Giorgio Moroder‘s restored version of the film, and in exchange Queen were granted the rights to use footage from it in their Radio Ga Ga video. However, Queen had to buy performance rights to the film from the communist East German government, which was the copyright holder at the time. At the end of the music video, the words “Thanks To Metropolis” appear.

 

To watch the music video, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

The One (Who Had Broken Down the Barriers)

 
 

The One music video was directed by Australian film director Russell Mulcahy (Melbourne, 23 June 1953).  Mulcahy’s work is recognizable by the use of fast cuts, tracking shots and use of glowing lights as well as being one of the most prominent music video directors of the 1980s. He has also worked in television since the early 1990s, and is currently working as a director on episodes of MTV’s Teen Wolf. In 1986, Mulcahy became well known after directing the cult classic film Highlander, starring Christopher Lambert and featuring music from Queen. Mulcahy is gay and lives with his partner in Sydney.

 
 

 
 

Russell Mulcahy’s career began as a film editor for Australia’s Seven Network. After relocating to the UK around 1976, Mulcahy made successful music videos for several noted British pop acts—his early UK credits included XTC’s Making Plans for Nigel (1979), The Vapors’ hit Turning Japanese and his landmark video for The BugglesVideo Killed the Radio Star (1979) which became the first music video played on MTV in 1981.

By the mid-1980s Mulcahy was directing videos for some of the most successful pop-rock acts of the period including The Human League, The Tubes, Elton John, Ultravox, most of the major hits of Duran Duran (Rio, Hungry Like a Wolf), Spandau Ballet (True), Kim Carnes (BetteDavis Eyes, Voyeur), Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart), Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, The Motels, Supertramp and The Rolling Stones (One Hit (To the Body), Going to a Go Go).

Breaking Down the Barriers was the first video he directed for Elton John. Later came I’m Still Standing, I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, Sad Songs (Say So Much, Simply Life, etc. 

The set production and costumes for The One music video were designed by Gianni Versace.