La Fille Mal Gardee

I recently went to watch the Birmingham Royal Ballet Performance of, the comic opera La Fille mal Gardée at the Birmingham Hippodrome, which was very entertaining. inspired by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin’s 1789 painting, La réprimande/Une jeune fille querellée par sa mère. The story set in 18th Century France and concerns a young milkmaid named Lise who falls in love with a hunky young farmhand named Colas. However her disapproving mother, Madam Simone, who is the owner of a prosperous farm, has far more ambitious plans for Lise and would rather she married Alain, the slightly dopey son of a wealthy but pompous Vineyard proprietor named Thomas, and although Lise finds Alain’s antics amusing she would still rather Marry Colas.

So Madame Simone goes to great lengths to keep Lise and Colas apart and stop them from meeting by Giving Lise chores like Spinning Wool and churning butter, thinking it will keep her out of mischief. however Lise and Colas manage to continue meeting in secret while harvesting the crops in the fields, and at home whilst Madame Simone is not looking.

The ballet was originally choreographed by the Ballet Master Jean Dauberval to a pastiche of music based on fifty-five popular French airs. The ballet was premiered on 1 July 1789 at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France under the title Le ballet de la paille, ou Il n’est qu’un pas du mal au bien (The Ballet of Straw, or There is Only One Step from Bad to Good). It is one of the oldest and most important works in the modern ballet repertory, and has undergone many changes of title and has six scores, some of which were adaptations of older music.many ballet companies feature productions which are derived from Alexander Gorsky’s version to the music of Peter Ludwig Hertel, which itself was almost entirely based on Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s 1885 staging for the Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg. This was itself based on Paul Taglioni’s version to the music of Peter Ludwig Hertel, originally staged in 1864 for the Court Opera Ballet,  However the Modern production (which I saw) was staged by Frederick Ashton for the Royal Ballet in 1960

Friday 13 superstitions

Today is Friday 13th   June 2014. Friday 13 is considered unlucky because It is believed that if the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, it will be a day of bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year and any month’s thirteenth day will fall on a Friday if the month starts on a Sunday.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia. The latter word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.Several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition. One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s. It has also been suggested that Friday has been considered an unlucky day because, according to Christian scripture and tradition, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in the 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention. Although according to many Freemasons, this date corresponds with the slaughtering of the Knights Templar by the Church.

Breaking a mirror

One of the longer sentences dished out by Lady Luck, the superstition follows that breaking a mirror will leave you doomed for seven years. The generally accepted explanation is that the reflection in a mirror represents a soul, so damaging a mirror corrupts the soul of the one that broke it. Some believe that the reason for the seven years is that the Romans (who were the first glass mirror-makers) believe that life renewed itself after every seven years, so the soul wouldn’t be fully restored until the next seven-year cycle had passed. However if you are one of the more superstitious amongst us, fear not as there are steps you can take in order to save the best part of your next decade (just don’t walk under them)

Throw salt over your shoulder
Grind the broken pieces into dust
Bury the pieces under a tree during a full moon
Place the broken pieces in a river running south
Touch the broken piece against a gravestone

Black cat

The beliefs surrounding the luck of black cats varies across the world, with some cultures believing them to be lucky and others a bad omen. The most widespread belief is that if a black cat crosses your intended path, bad luck will befall you. Black cats have often been associated with being the familiars of witches and during the Middle Ages, these superstitions led people to kill black cats. This was said to increase the population of rats and hence the spread of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague). However, according to Daniel Defoe – who was alive during the spread of the disease but wrote a fictional account of the Plague – in 1665 the Lord Mayor ordered thousands of cats and many dogs to be killed as they were believed to be spreading the disease, despite it now being understood as the fleas on the rats that were responsible.

Walking under a ladder

This superstition is said to arise from early Christian teachings that an object with three points represents the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A ladder leaning up against a building was seen as a triangle, and to pass through this triangle by walking under the ladder was seen as breaking the Trinity, putting you in league with Satan. Of course it could simply be bad luck for you and the person at the top of the ladder if you accidentally knock it.

Umbrella indoors

The most common origination of the myth stems from the days when umbrellas were used mainly as protection against the sun in Ancient Egypt. It was designed to capture the goddess of the sky’s (Nut) essence and so were suitable for use only by the highest nobility, and those seen to be holding one were seen to be bringer of bad luck. To open one indoors would also be to insult the sun god (Ra) and invite his wrath on everyone in the household. One legend surrounding the superstition is that it was invented specifically to cut down on the number of accidents that sprang from the umbrella when they had pointy and dangerous metal spokes in Victorian England.

Seeing a Magpie

To see a single Magpie is considered unlucky, so you may hear people greeting the bird with ‘Hello Mr Magpie. How/Where is your wife?’ to allay the bad luck. Magpies are often seen as sneaky due to their penchant for shiny objects, such as jewellery and coins, their lack of a pretty singing voice, and their habit of eating the eggs found in bird nests. An old English folk tale states that when Jesus was crucified on the cross, all of the birds sang to comfort him with the exception of the magpie.  In Scotland they’re considered a sign of impending death, but in China spotting one is regarded as good luck. Generally they’re not all bad though, only when alone: The old rhyme goes: ‘One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret never to be told.’

Spilling salt

For many years, salt was an extremely rare commodity and so the most basic reason for considering it unlucky to spill it was to do with its cost. A valuable preservative, it was also linked with health and longevity so some cultures believed that it might be bad luck to spill salt since it could reduce your longevity or happiness. One prevalent explanation of the superstition is that Judas spilled the salt, which is depicted in Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. It is also a religious symbol as it is used to make Holy water, and meals at the witches’ sabbath were thought to be salt-free, as it was also believed to ward off evil spirits. A German proverb held that ‘whoever spills salt arouses enmity’. The most common anecdote is tossing a pinch of the spilt salt over your left shoulder, into the face of the Devil who lurks there.

Full moon

Full Moons are traditionally linked with temporary insomnia and insanity due to the folklore that madness can occur in cycles with the moon, hence the term lunatic or lunacy. It is also associated with lycanthropy as the mythological werewolf is said to appear when full moons are out. It was also thought that sleeping in direct moonlight caused madness or blindness and in Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a man could turn into a werewolf if he, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on him. Various facts have also been claimed around Full Moons appearing such as Police in Toledo, Ohio claimed that crime rises by five percent during nights with a full moon and the study of the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites were twice as common during a full moon.

Treading on cracks in pavement

The fear of stepping on cracks in the pavement is said to originate from an ancient fear of letting the soul out of the Square, the four corners are an ancient symbol of balance and perfection which is said to be disrupted by stepping on the gap between paving slabs.

Never say ‘Macbeth

According to the theatrical superstition called the Scottish curse, speaking the name Macbeth inside a theatre will cause tragedy and so the lead character is most often referred to as the Scottish King or Scottish Lord. Those who believe in the curse claim that real spells are cast in the three witches scene. Productions of Macbeth are said to have been plagued with accidents, many ending in death. The legend of the curse dates back to the premiere of the play when an actor died because a real dagger was mistakenly used instead of the prop.