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Britten - The Prince of the Pagodas / Bussell, Cope, Chadwick, Dowell, MacMillan, Royal Ballet

3.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Sir Kenneth MacMillan's glorious version of The Prince of the Pagodas provides a fascinating and magnificent spectacle of classical dance on the grandest scale. Nicholas Georgiadis' enchanting designs complement Britten's only ballet score by establishing a fairy tale ambience, and Darcey Bussell produces a dazzling performance as Princess Rose. "The principal players are magnificent. A grand achievement". THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Darcey Bussell, Jonathan Cope, Anthony Dowell
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 31, 2005
  • Run Time: 194 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0008FXSRO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,961 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Fergus Tamulonis on April 12, 2006
My love affair with the beautiful score of this ballet goes back to the days of its London LP life, when I would listen to it for hours in my room and dream of what the ballet would look like. Decades - just a few - later, long after having fallen under the spell of Britten's "Death in Venice," "Billy Budd" and of course, "Peter Grimes" I was spellbound when I saw the laser-disk version of this ballet playing in a Tower Records store. I rented the VHS version innumerable times and debated shelling out the $70 for my own copy. Then it disappeared. But, just in time, the Royal Ballet made a rare appearance in New York City with its revived production of "Prince of the Pagodas.' I was in standing room at the Met for every performance and would do the same today. It is a remarkable ballet in every sense. MacMillian did right to throw out the original scenario and created a darker and much richer - if, albeit, more complicated - story.

I disagree strongly with those who say there are no melodies in Britten's amazing, breathtaking score. I can still remember sitting up, with chills, when I first heard it, years ago. That same thrill takes me every time I hear it. There are so many memorable passages, from the eerie, rather threatening horns in the Prologue (which MacMillian uses to great effect in his new scenario), to the variations of the Four Princes, to the Salamander's motif and glorious expansion, to the Fire, Water, Air and Cloud dances, to a set of stunning celebratory dances which fill the last act of the ballet and which, in MacMillian's endlessly amazing choreography, become even more sumptuous and thrilling.

The Princess Belle Rose's journey of self-discovery through the piece is heartbreaking and estactic, especially as danced by Ms. Bussell.
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I have just finished watching The Prince of the Pagodas, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. MacMillan's ballets are not always well received, but this story line of a prince and princess triuphing over adversity has the fairy tale completeness that I find very satisfying. The stage settings is extremely well lighted, which displays the background scenery and cast. Speaking of the cast, this is a large production using the remarkable talents of an array of very capable dancers. Darcey Bussell as Princess Rose has the appealing primness that makes me root for her character's success. Jonathan Cope apparently dances both the part of The Prince and the chameleon. I say apparently because I wanted to see how he would transition from the chameleon to The Prince without leaving the stage. At the time of the transition there are enough cast characters surrounding him that I was not able to see just how it was done. Well, I shall leave it to the magic of the stage. Indeed, a very watchable ballet. I shall have to keep from viewing it too quickly again. A little time should pass before I take it down from the shelf for the next time.
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Considering that Darcey Bussell is one of the greatest ballerinas of recent times, it is amazing that this is apparently the only dvd that features her in the principal role! We finally have a dvd to showcase her incomparable talent. MacMillan is true to his wonderful form here, giving us very intense and classically faithful choreography for both the male and female dancers. He doesn't hold back and the dancers perform miracles on the floor and in the air. The performance is technically flawless and inspiring. The music is some of Britten's finest, in his neo-romantic style. There are two main female roles: Princess Rose, played by Darcey Bussell, and her sister, Princess Epine, played by Fiona Chadwick,(Rose is still the primary role). There are a few lesser female roles. There are also two main male roles: the Prince, played by Jonathan Cope, and the Fool, played by Simon Rice(the Prince being the primary role). There are several other important, but lesser male roles, the various kings. The sets and costumes are sensational and extremely vivid and somewhat surreal. The intense vividness of the characters might be disturbing to very young children, but otherwise this is something children as well as adults should appreciate. The story is a little difficult to follow, but there are explanations before each scene. There is also included as a special feature a wonderful and extensive documentary on this ballet, including reheasal clips, as well as classroom shots of Bussell doing an extensive solo; it also goes into MacMillan's entire artistic life; his wife is also interviewed. Don't pass this one up!
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The Prince of the Pagodas is a lovely, enchanting ballet by Benjamin Britten that is just a little too outside the mainstream for some vociferous, though musically limited, people to appreciate. As if to challenge forever such ignorant opinions, this video clearly demonstrates how the score is FILLED with elegant, original, sensuous music that not only uses gamelan as an influence but a rich tapestry of thematic development that is more Beethoven than Tchaikovsky. And Britten's music can unashamedly stand in the company of either. Yes, sometimes the sounds are spare, lean, small. Sometimes they are anything but. But it is all worthy and memorable for anyone who can "hear" it. Perhaps all it needs is a listener with a slightly sophisticated ear. The Kenneth MacMillan choreography that accompanies this great score is simply wonderful. It does lean heavily on classic ballets of the past, but it just as often goes its own way with some very striking sequences that do not call to mind anyone else. Besides, using ideas that work from the past to enrich the present is hardly a flaw. Britten is a perfect example of the glorious results that can come from such thinking. (Try the dances for the four suitors or the pas de deux when the prince has been turned into a reptile to get a good taste of both Britten's and MacMillan's work.) The dancing is spirited, beautiful, emotional, elegant, controlled, and enrapturing. The sound, playing, and videography are all superb. All in all, a great work done worthily. The documentary that is included is informative and easily taunts with snippets from works that would be good to see.
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