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Minkus: La Bayadere
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2011
La Bayadere - Royal Ballet

The Royal Ballet comes from long line of amazing, gorgeous dancers: Fonteyn, Shearer, Nureyev and Sibley are names that evoke some of the best in ballet. However, it seems that England's own has gotten a little lost.

The staging of this Bayadere--set by Natalia Makarova--is lovely, taken after the former Kirov (now Mariinsky). It is in all senses of the word, a classical ballet. While not Petipa's strongest work, the choreography is nothing less than what you would expect from him. Minkus's score is pleasant and suited to the ballet, and one can see why it is a standard, long lasting composition. I have no issue with any aspects of the staging or spectacle of this ballet. On top of it, the Blu Ray recording is absolutely stunning in quality, and well filmed. There are no missing dancers, chopped off feet, or misplaced shots. Additionally, the costumes are so stunning that Blu Ray makes them dazzle. One can see every detail, down to the Swarovski stones glittering on Nikiya's bodice in the Kingdom of the Shades.

Quite possibly the best part of this production is not Tamara Rojo's Nikiya, but the ever charismatic Marianela Nunez as the devilish Gamzatti. While Nunez does not have the same lines as Royal Ballet predecessor Darcy Bussell, her Gamzatti equals--if not surpasses--Bussell. Nunez presents the powerful princess in many dimensions; she is a seductress; a woman who knows what she wants and goes for it; a guilt wracked temptress; a scared little girl. While the tendency is to play Gamzatti as the girl you hated in high school, Nunez uses her ice cold control and smooth technique to give a performance that juices the choreography for depth in the character. By the final act, I found myself almost rooting for Gamzatti in spite of her actions--something I have never done in seeing La Bayadere. Suffice to say, Nunez is the Royal Ballet's gem.

Disappointing were the performances of Rojo and Carlos Acosta as tragic lovers Nikiya and Solar. Having never seen Rojo in a full length production outside of her incredible Isadora, I was looking forward to seeing her dance Nikiya. While Rojo's technique had that lovely measure of control and strength that is trademark of Royal Ballet ballerinas, her emotional performance was lacking. She seemed set on one expression, tragic angst, throughout the entire ballet. By the end it seemed she was wallowing in self pity, and one wondered why it is the gods seemed to favor her so much. Solar, on a similar plane, seemed chronically depressed and unsure, if not flat. While Acosta has some brilliant technique, it did not seem to shine through in this performance. Instead, he seemed a bit behind on his game.

Overall, the DVD is worth a purchase for just Nunez's performance as Gamzatti. Additionally, the corps work in the Kingdom of the Shades is stunning and well performed. Do not hope for a stunning or moving performance by Rojo and Acosta, however, as you will find yourself disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2013
Although I am a major fan of this ballet and of the Royal Ballet, I was disappointed in this production. As I also have a copy of Nureyev's Paris Opera Ballet production, which is superb, this one suffers by comparison.I usually admire Acosta's work, but he was oddly bland in the role of Solor. Nureyev's attention to detail (corps de ballet is perfection), his taste for the sumptuous in sets and costumes, his selection of placement of Minkus' music, and his casting, Hilaire, Guerin, and Platel. gives the POB production 5 stars.

Wanda Garofalo
Chicago
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 22, 2012
One of the outstanding glories of this Royal Ballet performance from 2009 lies in the quality of the solo and ensemble dancers. Both Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta, once more clearly demonstrating their mutual empathy, deliver star quality lead performances. The supporting roles are also strongly portrayed with Marianela Nunez as Gamzatti being especially noteworthy. The male line-up is also of high quality with Gary Avis, Christopher Saunders, Kenta Kura and Valeri Hristov. Genesia Rosato makes a good servant to Gamzatti.

The corps de ballet deliver a performance of style and poise which will give considerable pleasure to the majority of viewers

The costuming and staging of the production are both traditional in style and sumptuous in effect.

This actual recording was made over two nights in January 2009 and is a first class example of the benefits of modern HD definition. The quality of the imaging is of consistently high quality with a good blend of close and full stage shots enabling the viewer to enjoy panoramic ensemble dancing as well as detail of the soloists in particular. The resolution of the colour is also excellent and completely capable of displaying the lavish costumes even in reduced lighting. There is no trace of movement blur. The equally excellent sound is presented in both 5.1 DTS and stereo.

The fairly extensive 'bonus' features offer real insights relating to several features of both the ballet generally as well as to this particular production. These bonus items should offer interest to both new comers and to those with greater knowledge and experience.

The first bonus is in the form of a 9 minute interview with Tamara Rojo as regards the particular challenges involved in dancing this role. This is followed by Leanne Cope and Francesca Filpi, members of the corps de ballet, who give their views on the challenges in dancing the famous shadows sequence in act 2. In particular they concentrate on the entry sequence involving up to 39 steps for members of the team as they descend to the stage.

This 8 minute feature is followed by a 20 minute series of rehearsal extracts featuring Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo individually and as a pair. The final feature is a short 4 minute film where Natalia Makarova explains her approach to directing this production, her choreography and the way it fits in with that by Petipa.

I would suggest that this is a particularly strong traditional production with excellent performances from the dancers and recorded with admirable sound and vision. As such it makes a very attractive option for potential purchasers.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
It is truly a joy to watch Darcey Bussell dance. Her graceful limbs are of perfect shape, her long tapering arms are always held just right, fingers dangle stylishly. She looks like an exquisite statue come to life immaculate, cold. No matter what steps she takes they're just right. She is partnered in this cast with the perfect Solor in the person of Irek Mukhamedov. He is tall enough to tower over Ms. Bussell, who is tall for a ballerina, and he is himself statuesque. He is a powerful presence of the most manly physique (and beautiful butt) and knows it. His dancing is also just right; exact steps, body placed accurately, masculine, emotionless. The perfect foil for Ms Bussell. Then there is the feather-light Nikiya of Altynai Asylmuratova with her perfect Port de Bras. She is a delicate warm vapor in pure white, who is all emotion and love, she is the living human fragile being caught in between the games of the other two. She is the innocent one for whom Solor'a affection runs hot and cold; but her affection never wavers. Her dancing and persona are the vivid contrast of the connivings of the other two. All in all a perfect setup for a classical romantic ballet.
The ballet itself is quite successful in fulfilling it's promise. The music of Minkus though pedestrian gives enough ambiance for some spectacular dancing by both the principals and the corps. There are some longueur moments and some unesessary padding for other characters but for the most part it holds up well.
The most famous section and the section often given alone is the Act II scene two - "The Kingdom of the Shades". The opening involving the corps only is extremely beautiful and almost unique in classic ballet. We have a "defile" of the corps (all in white "ballet blanc") entering down a ramp until all 32 of them are arranged in even rows. They all enter doing a series of "arabesque penchee" with a back bend. It is awesome! As great as the Royal Ballet is in this (Makarova choreographer), I still think the Paris Opera Ballet with Nureyev's choreography was a bit more stunning. I think the Royal has better principals than the POB especially the Solor. You owe it to yourself to have both versions.
John Lanchbery knows how to lead a ballet orchestra for the benefit of both the dancers and the audience. He is one of the very best. The staging and scenery were fine and lent themselves well in presenting an otherworldly world. In all, a very fine production which I have enjoyed many times of viewing and now reviewing.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2012
For me Bayadere has a gentle beauty to it. Nikiya's variations do not have the jaw dropping acrobatic moments that create a frenzy from an audience, but her variations are still so hard and yet so beautiful when danced by someone like Altynai Asylmuratova. She makes you fall in love with love! I have watched this dvd 4 times since buying it a few weeks ago. The music is gorgeous....not as opulent or deep as Tchaikovsky but moving nevertheless. The sets are wonderful too. I have read reviews that this is the stream lined version of Bayadere, and I do have the Nureyev version and have seen non-commercial videos of both the traditional and reconstruction of the Mariinsky's Bayadere which, I suppose, are overall better to watch for the structure and the dancing and choreography. However, the beautiful sets, costumes, great dancing by Asylmuratova, Mukhamedov, Bussell, etc. all come together to just take your breath away, in my opinion. I love this version of Bayadere. Even with some of the traditional dances cut out of this version (Makarova's version), it has a beauty to it. This version is a true Gesamtkunstwerk. Sets, costumes, choreography, dancers, etc. Everything comes together for me to provide a wonderful experience. I watch this dvd and think, "This is how ballet should move us!"

I am on the fence about whether the Nureyev version is the one to have after watching this. Nureyev's version is probably more true to the original Bayaderes from Russia, and the dancers are amazing in that too. However, despite the Paris sets being expensive supposedly, I much prefer the sets of the Makarova version.

One quibble....when Mukhamedov smokes the opium he looks like a beginner. Laurent Hilaire (in the POB version) looks like a pro! LOL LOL

Overall, I think anyone who loves this ballet should have both the Nureyev and the Makarova versions.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2011
The Royal Ballet has released the first performance in High Definition of 'La Bayadere'. The sets are spacious and extravagant, and costumes are authentic. The corps de ballet had strong synchronization, and the 'Kingdom of the Shades' scene was especially mesmerizing to watch. Tamara Roja as Nikiya is passionate, and a bit reserved; Carlos Acosta as Solor is powerful, but his facial expressions seemed strained; Marianela Nuñez as Gazmatti is seductive and graceful. Interviews with Tamara Rojo and members of the corps de ballet, and twenty minutes of rehearsal footage, may be of interest to ballet dancers. A disclaimer on the back of the DVD case indicates the use of strobe lighting, which appears in the 'Destruction of the Temple' scene.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 2013
To see Tetsuya Kumakawa dance is thrilling and the other roles performed by legendary stars of The Royal Ballet are also beautifully danced. This production with its lavish costumes and sets is everything you expect of The Royal Ballet.. For ballet lovers this film of La Bayadere will not disappoint.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2011
The DVD offers some amazing things, are recordings of all kinds. Twenty years ago never dreamed of having a version of the ballet La Bayadere, today I have more than five. Each theater with his choreographer makes your version of this beautiful ballet of Marius Petipa and music by Minkus. Natalia Makarova was overdoing it, invents his version of the work. Questions in many hits on the ball and step on others. Hit the fourth act, giving final love story between Solor and Nikiya. Misses in the second act, reduces the number of dancers, the original 32 have only 24.

The production is filled eyes, classical ballet in the literal sense of the term. Elements such as the exoticism, the supernatural love triangle and the scenarios are fully explored in colorful and luxurious. The light comes with the imagination of the choreography, with the dialogue scenes, just great. The images captured on digital cameras detailing all the riches of production. The direction of scenes taken in hits, we see the characters' expressions and feelings. This can be a problem!

The orchestra shows every nuance of the score, music by Minkus is delicate. Rich in expressing emotions. The problems of the presentation are the soloists. Tamara Rojo is an excellent dancer, owner of an impressive technique. His emaciated body affect its performance. Ballerina need not be so stunted. His Nikiya is meaningless, forget the passionate feelings of characters, does not act. Can you improve in the second act, but their facial expressions or not emote a 10 year old.

Another disappointment was Carlos Acosta, tired of praising this great Cuban dancer. Your Spartacus is superb, your Romeo is telling. Acosta has no temperament, style and finesse needed for the character Solor. His main concern is to dance and display their technique, dance to the applause of the audience and forgets the character.

The best of the soloists is Marianela Nunes, his princess Gamzatti is delicately combined with the freshness of youthful beauty. Embodies the character and expresses his feelings. Spoiled brat teenager without limitation that satisfies the desire of the father to marry the good catch. Its variations and coda are breathtaking, its triple pirouettes seem easy. His charming smile. Can a chemical Acosta with Tamara Rojo that has you rooting for her. The corps de ballet of the Royal Ballet dances with skill and excellent technique. The dance of shadows, which opens the second act, is one of the most beautiful sequences of classical ballet. The Royal Ballet take for granted, the scene of chilling and thrilling.
Ali Hassan Ayache

Portuguese Original Language:

La Bayadere, cada um monta a seu bel prazer.

O DVD proporciona coisas incríveis, são gravações de todos os tipos. Vinte anos atrás nem sonhava em ter uma versão do balé La Bayadère, hoje tenho mais de cinco. Cada teatro com seu coreografo faz sua versão desse belo balé de Marius Petipa e música de Minkus. Natalia Makarova não deixa por menos, inventa sua versão da obra. Acerta em muitos quesitos e pisa na bola em outros. Acerta no quarto ato, ao dar final a história de amor entre Solor e Nikiya. Erra nos segundo ato, diminui o número de bailarinas , das 32 originais temos apenas 24.

A produção é de encher os olhos, balé clássico no sentido literal do termo. Elementos como o exotismo, o triângulo amoroso e o sobrenatural são perfeitamente explorados em cenários luxuosos e coloridos. A luz acompanha a imaginação da coreografia , dialoga com as cenas, simplesmente ótima. As imagens captadas em câmeras digitais detalham todas as riquezas da produção. A direção de cenas acerta nas tomadas, vemos as expressões e sentimentos dos personagens. Isso pode ser um problema!

A orquestra mostra todas as nuances da partitura, música de Minkus é delicada. Rica em expressar emoções. Os problemas da apresentação são os solistas. Tamara Rojo é uma excelente bailarina, dona de uma técnica impressionante. Seu corpo excessivamente magro prejudica seu desempenho. Bailarina não precisa ser tão raquítica. Sua Nikiya é inexpressiva, esquece os sentimentos apaixonados da personagens, não atua. Consegue melhorar no segundo ato, mas suas expressões faciais não emocionam nem uma criança de 10 anos.

Outra decepção foi Carlos Acosta, cansei de elogiar esse grande bailarino cubano. Seu Spartacus é soberbo, seu Romeu é expressivo. Acosta não tem temperamento, estilo e a delicadeza necessária para o personagem Solor. Sua preocupação maior está em dançar e exibir sua técnica, dança para as palmas da platéia e se esquece do personagem.

A melhor das solistas é Marianela Nunes, sua princesa Gamzatti é delicadeza combinada com o frescor da beleza juvenil. Incorpora a personagem e expressa seus sentimentos. Menina mimada , adolescente sem limites que satisfaz o desejo do pai de casar com o partidão. Suas variações e codas são de tirar o fôlego, suas piruetas triplas parecem fáceis. Seu sorriso encanta. Consegue uma química com Acosta que Tamara Rojo não tem, você torce por ela. O corpo de baile do Royal Ballet dança com destreza e excelente técnica. A dança das sombras, que abre o segundo ato, é uma das sequências mais belas do balé clássico. O Royal Ballet tira de letra, cena de arrepiar e emocionar.

Ali Hassan Ayache
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
Music is clear and lovely. Often play just for the music. Custumes updated from Darcy Bussel version (1990's); less busy. Female leads Rojo and Nunez are technically brilliant and mezmerizing in their one individual way.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2011
La Bayadere, with music by Ludwig Minkus, shines in a new light in the Royal Ballet's production by Natalia Makarova.
Altynai Asylmuratova and Darcey Bussell provide a spectacular performance, in both their technique and artistry. Asylmuratova transforms into a delicate creature, with near-perfect port de bras, and beautiful hyperextended arms. Bussell dances a virtuous Gamzatti, extremely dramatic in acting scenes, while very joyful in some dances. Irek Mukhamedov does a solid job of Solor, proving to be a brilliant partner for both Asylmuratova and Bussell, while showing true mastery of all of the technicalities and variations that are demanded in the ballet. Testuya Kumakawa dances a brilliant Bronze Idol; at times transfixing the viewer in awe of a human statue. In this production, the High Brahmin was selected immaculately, showing Dowell's dramatic and frightening acting ability. However, the corps de ballet does not represent the cleanness and perfection of the Russian version of La Bayadere, particularly in the first act (where it is clear that some fall out of their lines). Although at times lacking in the technique and together-ness of the corps de ballet, the ballet is carried on by it's stars. I definitely recommend this version of La Bayadere, both to who is new to classical ballet, and to avid ballet DVD collectors.
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