Dance of the Hours
Dance of the Hours (Italian, Danza delle ore) is a short ballet that is Act 3 finale of the opera La Gioconda composed by Amilcare Ponchielli. It depicts the hours of the day through solo and ensemble dances. The opera was first performed in 1876 and was revised in 1880. Later performed on its own, the Dance of the Hours was at one time one of the best known and most frequently performed ballets. It became even more widely known after its inclusion in the 1940 Disney animated film Fantasia where it is depicted as a comic ballet featuring anthropomorphized ostriches, hippos, elephants, and alligators.
Violinist João Pedro Cunha, Lagos/Portugal, 2005
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
The ballet, accompanied by an orchestra, appears at the end of the third act of the opera, in which the character Alvise, who heads the Inquisition, receives his guests in a large and elegant ballroom adjoining the death chamber. The music and choreography represent the hours of dawn, day, twilight, night and morning. Costume changes and lighting effects reinforce the progression. The dance is intended to symbolize the eternal struggle between the forces of light and darkness. Altogether it is about 10 minutes long.
The piece begins with an introduction in G major, with vocal assistance in the form of a recitative which is omitted in the symphonic version. Then follows in sequence: the dance of the hours of dawn, the hours of day, the hours of the night and the morning.
The episode devoted to dawn (in E major) merges with the extensive introduction to the episode dedicated to daytime hours, anticipating the rhythmic structure of four notes, which characterizes the episode. The transition point between the two episodes, where it marks the birth of the day, coincides with the intervention in fortissimo of the chorus ("Prodigio! Incanto!"), which follows a slow chromatic passage, typical of the author's style.
After a brief episode in C sharp minor devoted to the night, based on figuration in staccato, a connected and expressive melody in E minor, played by cellos, introduces the morning. A new pathetic melody in A minor extends to a broad phrase with initial tone in E minor.
Derivative works 
||This article may contain trivial, minor or unrelated references in popular culture. (May 2013)|
The Dance of the Hours is one of the most frequently parodied pieces of classical music.
An extract was first used by the Disney studio in one of its earliest cartoon series, Silly Symphonies. In a short 6 minute film called Springtime (1929), bugs and birds dance to melodies until a rainstorm breaks out. When the rain stops, the dancing recommences, but now the tune is "Dance of the Hours".
The ballet was used in full in the Walt Disney animated film Fantasia (1940), albeit with ballet-dancing hippos (complete with tutus), ostriches, alligators and elephants. Some of the orchestration was revised by conductor Leopold Stokowski. Disney picks up on the structure of the ballet and divides it into five segments: 1) ostriches, early morning; 2) hippopotami, mid-day, 3) elephants, dusk, 4) alligators, night, and 5) finale, night.
It was the source of the tune for the song "Like I Do", a hit for Maureen Evans in 1962 in the UK and Teresa Brewer in 1963 (as "She'll Never Love You (Like I Do)") in the USA. This song was probably first released by Nancy Sinatra in early 1962 (as "Like I Do").
The same segment also formed the basis of the hilarious "Brief uit La Courtine" (1964) from Dutch cabaretier Rijk de Gooyer, about a soldier writing to his family from training camp La Courtine where between 1959 and 1964 Dutch infantry divisions were trained four months a year. It was a huge success.
The rendition by Spike Jones and His City Slickers in Spike Jones Is Murdering the Classics. (1971) included several segments of the melody, although presented out of order to suit the presentation of the record, a parody of the Indianapolis 500 that was effectively a sequel to their William Tell Overture. The tune is executed by banging pipes and honking bicycle horns, with each individual "clang" or "honk" producing the proper pitch of the note.
In Sister Street Fighter (1974), the early morning section can be heard during the establishing shot of Shinobu Kojo teaching her ballet class, right before Tina Long, who had shown up on a tip from Kojo's boyfriend, Sonny Hibachi, questions a key person who may have a lead on the whereabouts of Lee, Tina's brother, and who worked with Lee until he went missing.
In History of the World Part I, a 1981 film written, produced and directed by Mel Brooks, Princess Nympho (Madeline Kahn) selects slaves for her entertainment by singing a song based on the final melody of Dance of the Hours.
The music also appeared in an episode of Garfield and Friends entitled "The Garfield Opera" (1992), in which Garfield and the others sing to the music's tune.
The tune was often used as background music for the hit cartoon series Ren and Stimpy.
In the animated cartoon series Animaniacs (1993 - 1998), the character Wakko belches the tune to Dance of the Hours.
The tune is heard in the beginning of an episode of Camp Lazlo (2005 - 2008) an animated comedy about a summer camp.
In the United States, the tune was used and given lyrics in a 2004-2005 television advertisement for K9 Advantix, a flea and tick control treatment for dogs. It was also used in a 1986 Downy commercial, as well as a Velveeta commercial from 1989.
Interestingly enough, the song was set as background music in two Campbell Soup Company commercials - one from 1996 advertising Campbell's Tomato Soup, and another from 2001 for Campbell's Chunky Soup.
Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon created a new rendition of Dance of the Hours for his ballet company, Morphoses. The work was featured in the company's New York debut, in 2006 at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
- Dance of the Hours Flutetunes.com, 2010-08-04. Accessed October 2010]
- New Jersey Symphony Orchestra Program notes. January 2010.
- Ulysses annotated: notes for James Joyce's Ulysses By Don Gifford, Robert J. Seidman, University of California Press, 2008, ISBN 0-520-25397-3. Page 81
- More Silly Symphonies: Volume Two Ultimate Disney. Accessed October 2010
- Allan, Robin (1999). Walt Disney and Europe. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press US. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-253-21353-2.
- Slapstick Onto-logic in Dance of the Hours by Bill Benzon , 02/22/07, The Valve. Accessed October 2010.
- Dance of the Hours Morphoses dance company. World Premiere: September 26, 2006, The Metropolitan Opera, Metropolitan Opera House, New York, New York. Accessed Octobet 2010.
See also 
The opera is pre-dated by "The Dancing Hours", a famous design on Wedgwood pottery. "The Dancing Hours" depicts the classical Horae, personifications of the hours of the day, and the design is attributed to the eighteenth-century sculptor John Flaxman.
- La Gioconda: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Full libretto of La Gioconda at Impressrio by Kernkonzepte, 2005
- Dance of the Hours ballet performance Choreography by Victoria Lyras at YouTube. Accessed 24 October 2010