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Prokofiev;Sergei Romeo and Jul [Import]

Natalya Bessmertnova , Irek Mukhamedov , Motoko Sakaguchi    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I agree Dec 17 2006
By Big Fan
I like all the three male dancers. Their dancing is so powerful. Yet, Juliet is too old. There should not have benn so many close-ups on her wrinkled face, just because she was famous.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bolshoi at its best Sept. 15 2006
By Kaye
This performance of Romeo and Juliet is magnificently danced by all. Juliet is lovingly danced although Natalia Bessmertnova is rather too mature for the part and there were too many close ups of her. Irek Mukhamedov as Romeo was charmingly boyish and as usual danced excellently. Aleksandr Vetrov was a terrific Tybalt, an accomplished street fighter with a wicked smile, the villians as always are the most interesting of the characters. Mikael Sharkov was also quite amazing as Mercutio, I wonder why he doesn't feature in more recordings. The quality of the recording however, is not good, very dark at times and does not do justice to the performers work and the lovely costumes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For serious students and balletomanes only June 26 2006
By kaream - Published on Amazon.com
Having seen most of the available DVD versions of Romeo and Juliet, I still greatly prefer the more traditional MacMillan choreography, which sticks closely to Prokofiev's original conception in his scoring, to either Nureyev's idiosyncratic 1995 Paris National Opera, with Loudieres and Legris, or Grigorovich's radically revisionist 1988 Bolshoi, with Bessmertnova and Mukhamedov.

I'm not a dancer, and leave appraisals of technique and skill to other reviewers. For all I know, this late-Soviet-era Grigorovich Bolshoi production might be a dancer's delight, but it's performed bare-stage with dim lighting, uninspired costumes, acting which -- unless you count a lot of stern looks -- generally ranges from poor to nonexistent, little comprehensible story line, and a musical score frequently so pushed, pulled, and twisted out of shape (and at times simply badly played) that the film's middling audio quality and inattentive camera work are the least of its problems.

Of the three productions based on MacMillan that I know, the 1984 Ferri/Eagling Royal Ballet is the least desirable, but not at all bad. The 2000 Ferri/Corella La Scala is superb in all respects -- dancing, acting, 'chemistry', sets and costumes, orchestral conducting and playing, and filming -- but my personal favorite remains the 1966 Fonteyn/Nureyev Royal Ballet, despite Kultur's failure to bother with a needed remastering. Fonteyn at 46 shows some ravages of age for a 14-year-old, but she remains a strikingly beautiful woman, and she inhabits, rather than 'plays', the role of Juliet, with utter conviction. In this same 1966 production Paul Czinners' film direction is flawless, David Blair as the mocking Mercutio is the best on film, and Desmond Doyle's depiction of Tybalt's cold haughty rage, in his every stance and expression, is a wonder to behold. The entire fight scene is a major highlight of this production, putting all other versions to shame.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bolshoi at the Bolshoi March 14 2005
By Kevin Lew - Published on Amazon.com
After watching a couple more times, I lowered my rating from 4 stars to 2.

The score is as demanding as the dancing. It must have been a cold night in Moscow because the orchestra downright stank. The Russian government should have executed the brass section. There were some really nasty and obvious mistakes that have been digitized for all posterity. Imagine a member of the brass section living this down. Cringingly horrid and almost killing the whole thing. I think the producers should have considered taping two or three performances and picking the best one.

Mercutio stole the show for me. He makes the purchase worthwhile. Effortless with beautiful flourishes. His death scene was awesome: (c'mon Romeo, I'm fine, mixed in with pain/anguish and somberness, Then he finally kicks the bucket). It looks like it required more technique that Tybalt's stomping and rolling around. Tybalt seemed overplayed to me. IMO he was portrayed as a really hot headed fellow who needed to sort out his attitude. Yes, its Tybalt but its overdone in this performance.

Again, the orchestra stank. This I cannot overemphasize. Please don't be practicing and tuning before the conductor calls you to order, which required pretty loud baton banging. The audience was also distracting. Please let the audience know the performance is being recorded. One or two fellows stood out with their obnoxious sounding bravos.

Video and sound quality leave lots to be desired but I guess this is an old performance.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romeo & Juliet March 18 2007
By Gilles de Rais - Published on Amazon.com
Of a half-dozen Bolshoi performances from the 1980's that I've seen on DVD so far, I give this one the most points in all categories. You can't get better than Bessmertnova & Mukhamedov working as a team, with Mikhail Sharkov and Aleskandr Vetrov in large supporting roles. The chemistry across the entire cast, as well as the artistry, is superb. It also has some wonderfully inventive choreography.

I thought all the dancers acted out their roles very well (Vetrov is shamelessly hammy here, but it works), and the plot line was laid out very clearly with no wastage on the type of interminable filler scenes that you get in many other ballets. The black background allowed them to do the frequent scene changes (by suggestion) without distraction or interruption. With good colorful costumes and effective lighting, I didn't miss the scenery.

A terrific performance, and a must-have for anyone who's a fan of any of the principal dancers.
4.0 out of 5 stars Traditional staging focused on dance March 16 2014
By Eugene Tenenbaum - Published on Amazon.com
This 1989 staging by the Bolshoi demonstrates the essence of ballet at its best in the tradition of Diaghilev and Balanchine, like no other DVD recording, thanks to the neo-classical approach to Romeo and Juliet that dispenses with the usual pomp and pageantry to focus instead on the passion and predicament of the doomed lovers.

The cameras show the stage from appropriate distances allowing to see the dancers moving in space, i.e. not only the expression of their body parts movements, but also the dynamism of their movement from one place to another and in correlation with each other, which are often missing in the ballet-movies, such as those with Ulanova & Zhdanov of 1955 or with Fonteyn & Nureyev of 1966 with fancy costumes, stage design, and close-ups focused on details that obscure the essence of ballet, namely performance dance, which is not silent movie, pantomime, or musical theater.

The facial expression and thus close-ups are secondary in the performance dance rendering the age and thus and the difference between the ages of the dancers irrelevant including 47 years of age of Bessmertnova (Juliet) versus only 29 of Mukhamedov (Romeo). In 1989, she might have needed to recover longer after each performance, but she was still in top form. The 1976 recording of her famous performance with Lavrovsky also under Grigorovich has a flaw, namely the checker pattern of the stage floor results in the same effect as the screen flickering causing headache.

This Grigorovich's concept 13 years later does not disappoint, as he was one of the world top choreographers, and the orchestra under Zhuraitis was maybe not as good as the Berlin Philharmonic, but still decent considering its secondary role. The recording is less than perfect, but decent as well especially considering the circumstance of the communist Soviet Union, in and by which it was produced.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average performance April 9 2012
By tk - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The date in the credits is 1989 so I am disappointed that the picture quality is so
poor. There are streaks in the arm movements of dancers in Act IV. Costume colors
seem faded. Sound quality is not bad. I'm not thrilled with some of the choreography. I have to deduct one star for all the above.

The biggest disappointment is the Juliet. She appears much older than Romeo and
she isn't convincing in the role. There is a lack of chemistry with her partner
compared to, say Alesandra Ferri and her partner on another dvd. I deduct another
star.

I applaud the dark stage (others may not like it). This is a dark story. There
are no sets but I find this appealing. As far as I can tell all of Prokofiev's
glorious music is there. Mercutio strikes me as the star of the performance. I
may be too generous but I give this 3 stars.
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