Customer Reviews: Nutcracker [Blu-ray]
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on June 16, 2012
The Nutcracker, in Yuri Grigorovich's production, as performed by the Bolshoi Theater, has to be one of the most perfect ballets. With charming sets and costumes by the genius Simon Virsaladze, Tchaikovsky's renowned score, and the stunning dancers of the Bolshoi Theater, Grigorovich creates an aesthetically, emotionally, and musically perfect ballet. It's as if Tchaikovsky's ideas for the ballet were carried over for a century, until they found their home in Grigorovich's choreography. Personally, as a fan of ballet, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker has actually become somewhat of a banal eyesore, with virtually thousands of versions of the ballet in existence. This is the one of very few that I enjoy, and I believe the only one that I'm genuinely excited to see.
The music is played exquisitely, and the dancers are all perfect: in technique, musicality, and artistry. Nina Kaptsova is a charming and convincing Marie, somewhat reminiscent of the brilliant Ekaterina Maximova (available on another Nutcracker DVD by the Bolshoi). Artem Ovcharenko is a wonderful Nutcracker Prince, and it is evident that he was coached by the genius Nikolai Tsiskaridze, through the expressions of his arms and general understanding of the emotional palettes necessary for this ballet. Denis Savin is a strange, yet athletic, Drosselmeyer. The rest of the soloists are all excellent, I can hardly see any flaws at all - it is a pleasure to watch them.
The video is shot in HD, and the cameraman definitely knew what he was doing: all of the shots are in the right place at the right time, something uncommon in the realm of ballet DVDs.

I believe this DVD to be the perfect introduction to ballet for EVERYONE. I recommend absolutely everyone to purchase a copy, and it goes without saying - this is a must-have for any ballet lover and collector.
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VINE VOICEon May 21, 2012
This is a 2010 performance of the popular Grigorovich version, featuring an all adult cast(with one notable exception! See if you can find the very talented child) and great energetic choreography for which Grigorovich is well known and appreciated.(This DVD does NOT contain the same performance that was live steamed to theaters, as some seem to believe; The ballerina doesn't fall in the Indian Dance in the performance featured on this DVD.) The first act is danced by adults in the children's roles and there is robust choreography for everyone, including Drosselmeyer. The Mouse King also does some impressive dancing and this version contains the usual battle between the mice and the Nutcracker Prince with his army.
In this version, the young girl is called Marie(normally, she is Clara) and she dances the final pas de deux with the Prince in the last act. In other versions, it is the Sugar Plum Fairy who dances it(in case you are wondering exactly who the Sugar Plum Fairy is, she rules in the Land of Sweets in place of the Prince who was bewitched and transformed into a nutcracker). I find that since Marie is the central character and the motivation for the entire ballet, it makes more sense for her to transform in her dream into a princess to dance with her prince. After all, what is the point to a dream if not that? This final pas de deux, danced by Nina Kaptsova as Marie and Artem Ovcharenko as the Prince is one of the best I have seen. Kaptsova dances with exceptional musicality and precision and Ovcharenko is very smooth with great leaps landing with precise surety and cushioned silence. The other dancers also perform impressively.
The sets and costumes are colorful and stunning. Especially noteworthy is the lighting, which makes the entire ballet sparkle with clarity. The image and sound on this DVD is as fine as I have seen. This Nutcracker is a great addition to the genre.
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VINE VOICEon December 25, 2012
Every Christmas Eve, I sit beside the tree with a glass of port and watch a different Nutcracker. This was my 2012 selection.

It's an intriguing production. Danced almost entirely by adults, it feels less like a magical fantasia and more like a symbolic ritual. The traditional storyline has been bent almost out of recognition, with familiar scenes re-interpreted, major characters removed (no Sugar Plum Fairy!), all culminating in a solemn wedding of "Marie" and the Nutcracker Prince. The final effect is one of somber yearning. No sparkling Christmas cupcakes here!

One of the alterations made me cross. In most productions, a highlight of Act I is the transformation of the Christmas tree, accompanied by one of the ballet's most thrilling music cues. But in this version, the tree "grows" much sooner, and the music now accompanies the appearance of the Rat King and his army. This makes no sense to me at all, musically or dramatically.

The principal dancers are excellent, particularly Artem Ovcharenko, elegant and athletic as the Nutcracker Prince. The only real disappointment is the "Indian Dance" (usually called the Arabian or Coffee Dance), which is indifferently choreographed and performed with little precision or exotic flair.

The high definition image is razor-sharp, although the Nutcracker's red costume seems a bit oversaturated at times. The orchestra performs with unhurried grace, and is beautifully recorded, with wide stereo, gentle ambience and very little stage noise.

This is certainly one of the most interesting Nutcrackers on disc, but maybe not the first choice if you want to enchant the kids.
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on April 13, 2012
I now have three Blu-rays of the Nutcracker (Mariinsky and Covent Garden are the others), and it is hard to tell which is the best. This latest version is very traditional and very different to the equally good, but more Russian Mariinsky release, brilliantly performed and staged. The dancers almost defy gravity and the Prince and Drosselmeyer are quite exceptional. I found Masha in the Mariinsky very special too and the Covent Garden is a well rounded performance with Miyako Yoshida a wonderful Sugar Plum Fairy. Whichever you get you will enjoy and frankly I have no regrets about owning the lot. Only the San Francisco version failed to hit the right spot, too quirky for my taste. I do wish these Russians would give us more on Blu-ray, DVD is history after viewing this lot! A quite wonderful disc that can be viewed endlessly!
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on December 25, 2014
This is the best Nutcracker I have ever seen. Every dancer, including each minor character, is superb. The three central characters Marie (Nina Kaptsova), the Prince (Artem Ovcharenko) and Drosselmeyer (Denis Savin) are superlative! They are integrated throughout the entire ballet, and this adds more continuity to it than other productions I have seen. The Prince and Maria are extremely well matched and both display a level of virtuosity that is exceptional. Drosselmeyer almost steals the show as Denis Savin has an expanded role, and is an incredibly accomplished artist. This production is choreographed by Yuri Grigorovich. The principal dancers who perform in Act 2 are also animated dolls created by Drosselmeyer, like the Harlequins of Act 1. They come to life in The Land of Sweets but are seen in the background of Act 1. This helps explain some of their dance moves which occasionally look awkward. However, this is a classical ballet with a nod towards Petipa. The ensemble dancing is also wonderful. Production values are excellent for this stage performance. The lighting and filming are excellent as seen on my SCTV. Fortunately, the kinds of mistakes typically made in filming ballets were not in evidence here. Many of the scenes were recorded from audience viewpoints. This makes the ensemble pieces more effective. It also enhances the final Pas de Deux. Closer views are also used to great effect but extreme close-ups and odd angle shots are avoided. The fantastic music of Tchaikovsky is exceedingly well performed Pavel Klinichev and the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra and Children Chorus. The overall effect is summarized by the cover art! Audience approval is indicated by rhythmic applause and some robust shouts of Bravo and Brava!
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on August 1, 2013
Among many offerings of Nutcracker Blu-rays, this Bolshoi performance is definitely among the tops. I also like the old Baryshinikov ABT version, the tops are this Bolshoi version, ROH at Covent Garden, and Mariinsky Ballet. I would rate the Bolshoi although very traditional, but still the most exciting performance, while ROH is the most rounded excellent performance.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 19, 2012
The words `fresh' and `exquisite' seemed to be most appropriate to me as I watched this version of the Nutcracker yet again last night. This is the version choreographed by Grigorovich for the Bolshoi Ballet and as such, has its own particular view which differs from others in various respects. The booklet notes describe the story and list the sections within the ballet but there is no information given about this choreography.

In this version the little girl is called Marie rather than Clara. The conflict between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is finally resolved at the beginning of the second act instead of concluding in Act 1. The character dances are more clearly shown to be dolls and this section also includes a `French dance'. All of these dances are depicted without an audience watching on stage as happens in some versions so there is a greater focus on the dancing dolls themselves. They are beautifully choreographed and danced and have considerable freshness in their clean-lined nature. There is no Sugar Plum Fairy in this version but the same music is used for Marie. `Exquisite' is an entirely appropriate word to describe her variation and its performance. `Enchanting' would be another. Either way I found that I did not miss the Sugar Plum Fairy and felt fully compensated for her absence.

Grigorovich is a master of the large set-piece scenario as can be seen in his `Spartacus' ballet and this characteristic of his work is shown to great effect in the corps de ballet sections. The Waltz of the Snowflakes at the end of Act 1 and the Waltz of the Flowers in Act 2 are particularly pretty and the final waltz and Apotheosis are completely effective.

The Star role of Marie (Nina Kaptsova) is exquisitely performed with utter grace throughout and she is well supported by her Nutcracker Prince (Artem Ovcharenko) who is suitably athletic when given the chance. Drosselmeyer is effective without being slightly menacing as in some versions as are the Mouse King and his mice. The staging and the costumes are all one could wish for and the tree does not disappoint. The whole effect is one of utter prettiness and the fairy tale atmosphere is created and sustained throughout. This is a very kind and magical concept.

The imaging is very crisp and with vibrant colours. The camera work gives a nice balance between close and panoramic shots. The sound reveals the excellence of the Bolshoi orchestra under Pavel Klinichev and is presented in DTS-HD and stereo. The recording was made in 2010.

I have enjoyed this version of the Nutcracker very much indeed. It seems to me to be every bit as enjoyable in its own way as the well-known Royal Ballet version by Peter Wright. It would therefore be a fine alternative or additional version to own and should give great pleasure to purchasers.
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on March 3, 2013
I took a note of Nina Kaptsova because she IS so perfect in this performance, aesthetically and emotionally, solid skill doesn't hurt either.
She is unbelievably beautiful, with angelic look and smooth body, on top of that, I also feel she uses the whole body movement to tell the story, especially the subtle hand movement.
Her performance in the Flames of Paris is very unique, unlike Natalia Osipova's unstoppable force, she is showing the emotion so beautifully.
Although she has a tiny role in Sleep Beauty, her performance is immediately noticeable.
Please belairclassiques, publish more Bluray of Ms. Nina :)
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on December 26, 2012
I am rating this Nutcracker B-B-B, which stands for Beautiful, Brilliant, Breathtaking. At last, for the first time ever, we are able to experience this landmark production of the Nutcracker the way it can be seen and heard at the Bolshoi Theatre. Grigorovich's Nutcracker represents one of the most successful attempts to resolve a conflict between the original "Sugary" libretto and the dramatic nature of the Tchaikovsky's music. This could only be achieved by following the music and not the original story. It is obvious that the choreographer wanted to have a coherent storyline throughout the entire ballet instead of two loosely connected acts: the Party, and the Divertissement. It needs to be understood, that this production wasn't conceived as a "family" Christmas entertainment. Russia does not have this tradition. You can see this ballet in March, June, September - any time during a season, though, they add, several "A Student Day" matinees in December. Russians also do not have a cult of the Sugar Plum Fairy, so her departure from the plot does not bother them. The ballet is a girl's wild ride through a one magical night. Perhaps she is coming of age. No matter how long and incredible this night is, it will eventually come to an end, and the girl will have to part with her beautiful prince and his magic world forever. The finale is optimistic, but not without some bitterness, as there is no happy Cinderella ending here. All this is clearly emphasized by the very dramatic, at times dark interpretation of the score. The sound of the Bolshoi orchestra is glorious, with a good sound system the music will get to your bones. Voices of the children's chorus add additional layer of magic. You can see the kids in the back of the orchestra pit at the end of the first act. I used to feel that the Divertissement of the Christmas tree dolls was too plain compared to what we can see nowadays in other productions. After all a lot has happen in a ballet world since 1966 when Grigorovich created his Nutcracker. Now I see that despite somewhat outdated choreography of the dolls, this rather simple Divertissement works better for continuity of the storyline and integrity of the concept, as it does not shift attention from the main characters. As a nice touch, Grigorovich, now an old man, comes on the stage in the end of this special performance. I consider this Nutcracker his biggest achievement, and may be his only ballet which will eventually survive. This is not a revival. This Nutcracker has never left the stage of the Bolshoi since 1966! Despite the Blu-ray is pricy, I recommend to opt for the blu-ray.
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on April 28, 2015
I am a fan of Nina and bought this blu-ray for the pleasure of Tchykhovsky music, Nina, and the ballet. Unfortunately this version of the ballet is mediocre. It uniformly lacks passion, the costumes are poorly done, etc. The prince was the only stand out amongst the whole ballet. The other Bolshoi productions such as Flames of Paris etc, are stunning but this one is to be avoided unfortunately.
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