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Tchaikovsky;Peter Ilyitch Swan [Import]


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Amazon.com: 35 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Immaculate Aug. 27 2007
By Balletomane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I wavered over buying this version due to the comments of other reviewers who considered the piece to be dominated by two less than involved principals. Fortunately I went ahead and what a delight this production is in the French manner - and I think that is the key as it is so fluid in dancing and graceful in style.
The production values are excellent -the scenery is restrained and complements the dancers without dominating them, the lighting is unobtrusive in setting mood changes and the pastel costuming is elegant and appropriate. The PO corps de ballet is (as always) highly skilled and large groupings move effortlessly around the stage - they are a pleasure in their own right. As for the Principals, I would choose words like imperious over icy,and anguished instead of impersonal for Agnes Letestu. She dances silkily with precision and manages the dual roles with convincing changes of emotion -e.g. the closeup of Odile's ominously wicked smile on her entry to meet the Prince. Martinez as her companion is less overt but his style is controlled elegance and if you are familiar with it then you will know what to expect.
Karl Paquette I liked in Paquita and he is also well cast in the tutor's role and as a suitably Machiavellian Rothbart rather than the usual openly evil characterisation - with a bonus of getting the best costuming. Overall an engaging production well worth having with one shortcoming that is still too common with video directors who do not appreciate that closeups of dancers rarely work. A notable exception is mentioned above,but there were still too many for my taste. They interfere with the flow and invariably work against the performance - you don't see them from the circle and neither should we on dvd. That apart the spread of shots from different angles (and above) was seamless and no significant moments were missed so together with a soundtrack also superb in surround sound this version of Nureyev's production is highly recommended.
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Cold cold lake Feb. 3 2007
By Marc Haegeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This is the second Swan Lake by the Paris Opera Ballet appearing on DVD. A few years ago Bel Air brought us the Vladimir Bourmeister version, filmed in 1992, with Marie-Claude Pietragalla and Patrick Dupond. Interesting from a choreographic point of view, the production was betrayed by its ungainly designs.

The present DVD released by Opus Arte documents Rudolf Nureyev's production of Swan Lake, created for the Paris Opera in 1984 - twenty years after his first staging of the ballet for the Vienna Opera Ballet, which is also available on DVD in the famous film with Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

The current Parisian version of Tchaikovsky's most popular ballet has the Nureyev touch all over. Prince Siegfried and his tutor Wolfgang are promoted to central characters and the story is re-told from a Freudian angle: the whole ballet is conceived as a product of the prince's dreams and imagination. One may have mixed feelings about this approach, yet we have to grant Nureyev that he always kept faith in the possibilities of classical dance itself and no matter the personal sidetracks, his Swan Lake remains recognizable as a lyric tragedy.

The staging is dramatically effective. The costumes by Franca Squarciapino inspired by 15th-century frescoes and the grand neo-gothic sets by Ezio Frigerio are tasteful, sober and unobtrusive, letting the choreography ample space to speak for itself. Nureyev followed the dramatic structure of the canonical Petipa/Ivanov version from 1895, left the pantomime intact and kept parts of the choreography (notably the 2nd Act, the pas de trois and most of the Black Swan pas de deux). For the rest he devised his own, being most successful in the final Act where he preserved the original music, only interpolating an extra farewell duet set to the music of the omitted Act 3 pas de six. Less attractive are a rather long-winded Waltz in Act 1 and the tedious national dances in Act 3. The Prince and Rothbart get extra solos.

Directed for TV by François Roussillon, the performance was filmed live at the Opéra Bastille in Paris in 2005. The DVD captures the production beautifully, the image quality is outstanding. The editing convincingly mixes longshots from the top of the house, showing the choreographic patterns, with generally well-chosen close-ups of the soloists. Sound (LPCM stereo or 5.1 DTS) is first-rate.

The main issue with this Swan Lake, however, is the casting of the leading roles, étoiles Agnès Letestu and José Martinez. Not everybody will warm for Agnès Letestu straight-faced rendering of Odette. Her dancing is clean and poised, but she seems to appear from a lake of ice, while her confident persona and stiff-backed plastique enhance an image of remoteness and invulnerability. José Martinez, noble, slim and very tall, isn't the most emotional of dancers either and never succeeds in breaking the ice. The close-ups only emphasize how little interest he seems to find in the role. Like Letestu his dancing is assured and neat, but eventually rather pale. His too reserved personality is at odds with the essentially romantic character devised by Nureyev. Letestu is undoubtedly preferable as Odile. The Black Swan pas de deux demonstrates some superbly controlled dancing, but even here the overall impression is rather one of cold calculation. Premier danseur Karl Paquette isn't the ideal choice either for the dual role of Wolfgang/Rothbart, lacking authority as well as mystery.

The pas de trois in Act 1 is danced well by Emmanuel Thibault, Nolwenn Daniel, and especially a remarkable Dorothée Gilbert. Company dancing is excellent overall, as can be expected from the Paris Opera. Vello Pähn conducts the Paris Opera Orchestra.

An illustrated synopsis and a meagre "cast gallery" are the only bonus features on the DVD. Included is a 28-page booklet with excellent photos from the production and liner notes by François Roussillon, covering the creation and subsequent performance history of Swan Lake as well as Nureyev's lifelong fascination with the ballet and its music. Not everyone will agree with Roussillon's - otherwise anything but original - conviction that Swan Lake and its theme of impossible love is a reflection on Tchaikovsky's own homosexual life. Others will also note that the cast list in the booklet is far from faultless (the on-screen credits only mention the leading dancers): the second soloist in the pas de trois is not Mélanie Hurel but Dorothée Gilbert; while in the Czardas Fanny Fiat and not Dorothée Gilbert performs the female lead.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Too many negatives... Dec 20 2009
By Thomas E. Ascher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I've been waiting for a blu-ray production of this ballet that is widescreen, superb picture and sound, that has wonderful performances, choreography and camera work. My wishes have been only partially realized with this performance.

On the plus side, Letestu is a plaintive, haunting, lyrical, captivating, Odette. Her Odile has a nice edge to it. Her dancing is superb. The camerawork and cutting is excellent giving depth and complexity to the performance that I enjoyed. Nureyev's extended choreography seems to have added variety and complexity to many of the corps scenes.

On the negative side, first, this is a minimalist production with mostly bare stage, little scenery, which stands in the way of my expectations for a mystical, ethereal experience. The most glaring fault, though, for me is the intrusive inclusion of the tutor/Rothbart character as a principal dancer, often competing with and interfering with the prince, making many of the dances pas de trois rather than deux. I understand that this was Nureyevs intent, his contribution and take on the ballet giving it his unique interpretation. This may work for some; it did not for me.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A world-class performance! Aug. 25 2008
By Warden Manford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
To date this Blu-ray performance of Tchaikowsky's Swan Lake is the best I have seen! Rudolf Nureyev's professional direction is an art to behold. The dancers' choreography is balanced and symetrical as well as easily understandable. Also, if desired, infrequent English subtitles help clarify the story line. Absolutely enchanting!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Superb dancing in this Nureyev choreographed Paris Opera production Aug. 13 2009
By Mr. John A. Coulson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
The lead dancers and the Corps de ballet of Paris Opera ballet produce a near perfect performance of this work to the accompanyment of Tchaikovsky's glorious music. The Nureyev interpretation sometimes invokes unusually slow tempos which can take some getting used to and his adapting of the storyline to give a slightly more male focus is interesting. I have loved this ballet and its music for over 50 years now and never tire of it. This production is a gem with excellent audio and video and clever filming which shows the company at its best. Thoroughly recommended.

And it IS 16x9 - the Lawrence review refers to the other Decca Marinsky blu ray whic is the old 4:3 format and should be moved. Technically this release is first rate.

John


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