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Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake

4.6 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews


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Editorial Reviews

Morgot Foneyn and Rudolf Nureyev star in this Vienna Stage Ballet production of the Tchaikovsky ballet, with John Lanchbery conducting the Vienna Symphony.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, John Lanchbery, Vienna State Opera Ballet
  • Format: Classical, DTS Surround Sound, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (DTS 5.0), English (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Unknown
  • 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: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: June 14, 2005
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007P0LPC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,631 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This filmed performance was styled by Nureyev, who choreographed and danced this performance - retaining and only mildly revising the traditional "white acts" choreography. Nureyev's aim was to give a lot more dancing and character to Prince Siegfried. Apart from his over-the-top makeup, Nureyev's realization of the Prince was, in addition to being the perfection of perfection, profoundly moving - the Prince can act!

But there's more. Margot Fonteyn was one of the greatest ballerinas ever. In 1961, when Nureyev famously leapt to the West, a partnership began that many have described as miraculous. Fonteyn's age was fairly transparent here. Certainly the technique maintained a high level of purity and style. Even though the roll was trimmed to accomadate the way of all flesh (Fonteyn was 47 when this was filmed!) and she probably was even more breathtaking at her peak, this performance will not dissapoint anyone but a moron.

Sadly, the corps here is weak and the orchestra disappointing. This is why it lost a star from me. Because the corps is so vital to this ballet, and Tchaikovsky's music so fine, you'll probably want another Swan Lake if you can only have one. But if you're a seeker for heart-melting beauty, you'll have to get it if only for Nureyev.
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I first saw Fonteyn in a live performance in 1968. Of course I had seen her on television but was not prepared for the impact of a theatre experience.I was stunned. She was dancing in Giselle with Nureyev. Their performance was sublime.

Nureyev had transformed the role of the male dancer, but it was Fonteyn in my opinion who held the essence of ballet. So of course I bought this video as a record of her art.

At first viewing I found the close up Nureyev a little narcisstic but this did not detract from the quality of the first act.

I was overwhelemed with the dancing in act two and the rapport between Odette and Siegfried has never been matched. Fonteyn's dancing is simple, precise, and without affectation. There is no over extension which one sees today and which I find rather more suitable to the gymnasium then the stage. Her placement is extraordinary, the poise of her head and lovely port de bras that has even tho this day no equal. As an example see her in Les Sylphides in the Prelude solo (An Evening with the Royal Ballet) when just running her arms move as though there are no bones!

Her first entrance captures the whole essence of the ballet. A swan queen who has been tranformed into a graceful young maiden. One is not aware of technique so wll absorbed is it into the whole performance; wonderful arabesques and balances culminating in the great pas de deux which should be mandatory viewing for any aspiring Odette. Not to be copied but as an inspiration for elegiac dancing.

In the third act Fonteyn subtley portrays the role of Odile-with flashing eyes and and a different poise of her head. After all Siegfried has to be able to recognise that this must be Odette, the woman to whom he has sworn undying love in act two.
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Format: DVD
This version of Swan Lake, staged by Nureyev for the Vienna State Opera Ballet in 1964, was an historic and artistic blockbuster. In contrast to Balanchine's view that "ballet is woman" Nureyev focused on the male dancer's role and in showcasing his own talents arrived at a breakthrough in emphasis on the male dancer in ballet.
Makarova's 1988 version derived from Petipa and Ashton, and mounted for the London Festival Ballet, offers the standard Prince who poses, prances, and rarely dances, and is such a pathetic fellow that one cannot imagine dying for him. Nureyev complained, "The Prince sits on his ass for thirty-five minutes and then has to walk," (instead of dance). Discerning a deeply sinister mood in Tchaikovsky's music Nureyev added psychological depth to Swan Lake by introducing an unhappy ending in which Seigfried drowns in his struggle to be reunited with Odette. The Prince's obsession with the Queen Of Swans, the ideal woman, destroys him. Thus the emphasis of the drama is on Seigfried rather than Odette, and for him to be seen as a tragic figure rather than a mere pawn demanded the first rate character portrayal that Nureyev brought to his dancing.
Totally recasting the brooding passive Seigfried into an active character Nureyev introduced the Prince into the first act birthday entertainment normally danced by two girls and a boy. Nureyev recast this for two girls, two boys, and himself, dancing with them separately, together, and with energetic outgoing solos for himself.
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Having seen Swan Lake perfomed many times and having seen Fonteyn and Nureyev perform this ballet live many moons ago - I am a little biased. It is wonderful to have a copy of this DVD in my collection - it is a little grainey due to the age of the performance no doubt, but the dancing is sublime. Fonteyn is wonderful as Odette/Odile, such grace is rarely seen and Nureyev is in his prime - Nureyev always danced with passion and the pair always danced as if they were meant for each other. There may well be better productions, but there are none to compare to Nureyev and Fonteyn as partners. I actually preferred the ending of the Anthony Dowell Covent Garden performance - but Anthony Dowell was wooden and no Nureyev. For the sake of seeing these dancers together in a classically danced ballet - I would highly recommend this. It is also a joy to see Fonteyn again and not the anorexic dancers we tend to see today.
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