Swan Lake [Blu-ray]
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Yolanda Sonnabend's Faberge-inspired designs evoke a world of Imperial Russia in Anthony Dowell's acclaimed production for The Royal Ballet of one of the world's best-loved ballets. Marianela Nuñez as Odette/Odile and Thiago Soares as Prince Siegfried bring new vitality to a compelling story of tragic romance. The Russian conductor Valeriy Ovsyanikov directs the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Tchaikovsky's lush romantic score. Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true surround sound.Press Reviews
"Anthony Dowell's production...offers the ultimate classical experience, with the sights and sounds of a proud 19th century tradition running at full throttle. Fancy a romantic tragedy in a tutu? Then this is the ballet for you...The production as a whole is beautifully formed and dramatically convincing...And praise, too, for the corps, who made us feel the sorrow and anger of the swans’ collective misfortune." (The Times)
Marianela Nuñez (Odette)
Thiago Soares (Prince Siegfried)
Christopher Saunders (An Evil Spirit, later Von Rothbart)
Elizabeth McGorian (The Princess, Siegfried’s mother)
Alastair Marriott (The Tutor)
David Pickering (Benno)
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Valeriy Ovsyanikov
Company: The Royal Ballet
Choreographer: Marius Petipa; Lev Ivanov
Catalogue Number: OABD7042D
Date of Performance: 2009
Running Time: 179 minutes
Sound: 2.0 PCM & 5.1 DTS
Aspect Ratio: 1080i High Definition / 16:9
Subtitles: FR, DE, ES, IT
Label: Opus Arte
Top customer reviews
Spectacular staging exploits Blu-ray's capabilities with demonstration quality. Costumes and sets sparkle, special effects bedazzle, the orchestra sounds tremendous. Camera work is exemplary. Among my hundreds of Blu-rays, this is one of three or four I'd pick to show someone what the fuss is all about.
The dancing? Impeccable throughout. The corps de ballet adds to its world-class reputation. The husband-wife team of Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares cannot be faulted. If Nuñez lacks the long arms and legs of Svetlana Zakharova and Polina Semionova, her Odette is nevertheless ravishing, her Odile an agent of evil who relishes her assignment.
What's wrong, then, with this Swan Lake? It's not that the action has been moved forward from medieval Germany into Tchaikovsky's own 19th century Russia. That works and opens for designers and viewers a world of color not offered, for example, by the Gothic tones of the Royal Swedish Ballet's Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake more "authentic" version.
It's not simply that the "white" acts are dimmer than usual or that the swans are decked in knee-length, feathery skirts instead of traditional tutus. I still prefer the tutus, but this new look I can accept -- especially when black swans join the flock in Act IV to add to the sense of foreboding, a detail of Petipa's notes that Ivanov followed when the choreography of the "white" acts was handed off to him and which I have seen observed only in Russian videos of Swan Lake, such as those from the old Kirov Tchaikovsky, Petipa - Swan Lake / Kirov Ballet, Yulia Makhalina, Igor Zelensky and the new Mariinsky Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [Blu-ray].
Nor is it the conclusion, which follows the classic 1895 Petipa/Ivanov ending to a T. In fact, the Royal Ballet in 2009 provides a technologically improved version of the close of its 1980 Swan Lake Swan Lake (in which Dowell danced the role of Siegfried): Resigned to her fate, Odette throws herself into the lake, Siegfried follows, and the spirits of the two are united in an apotheosis that glides across the backdrop.
Alter but two elements, and this Swan Lake goes to the head of the class. First and foremost is the outlandish costume Rothbart is forced to wear in Acts II and IV. It's laughable -- and these are not moments when laughter is appropriate. Rothbart is the very embodiment of evil, not a Snidley Whiplash cartoon figure. The cognitive dissonance undercuts the elevated tone of the action, belittles it, reduces it from the sublime to the ridiculous. Away with such mockery. A more simple costume would have done better.
The production's second flaw occurs at Rothbart's and Odile's Act III entry, in which they are accompanied by an entourage that looks as though it wandered in from a Sleeping Beauty set where Carabosse's appearance was being rehearsed. This false note generates further cognitive dissonance, like the action of "Blazing Saddles" bursting onto the set of a Broadway musical. Carabosse is a stock villain in a fairy tale. Rothbart is, or should be, a real villain in a tragedy. Never the twain should exchange places.
Rothbart and Odile don't need any help. The misguided "support" for the wicked couple actually detracts from their menace and distracts from the otherwise terrific performance Nuñez and Christopher Saunders manage to deliver on an unnecessarily cluttered stage. Somebody could have saved money by cutting the supernumeraries.
Dowell has been with the Royal Ballet since 1961. Over the decades, he has accomplished much, and the institution and the world of ballet owe him genuine gratitude. During those 50-plus years, he has danced in, been part of, directed, and seen no telling how many Swan Lakes. In this case, perhaps, familiarity has bred not contempt, but a forgetting of the fundamentals that have made Tchaikovsky's work a cornerstone of the classic repertoire.
I was surprised to see Roland John Wiley credited in the booklet with production research. A name many will recognize, Wiley literally wrote the book on Tchaikovsky's Ballets Tchaikovsky's Ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker (Oxford Monographs on Music). But I doubt he was given final cut privileges. I was hoping the interview with Dowell in the extra features would provide insight about his production choices, but it fell short of expectations.
This is a good Swan Lake. It could have been a great one. Less would have been more.
A very good new version. I loved everything about it. from the costumes to the children in the first and second acts, to the excellent dencers in general. Miss Nunez is particularly effective as Odile. And no, I didn't like or understand Von Rothbart strange costum.
There are others who can give a much better and more detailed review. But I have three different Swan Lakes and as of now this is my favorite (at least for the time being).
I liked this version of Swan Lake. I think it is a worthy addition and I enjoyed seeing this different take on set design. My main pet peeve while watching this, however, is that some characters seem to blend into the dark set (especially those with longer, dark dresses or dark tights).
As far as the dancing goes, I felt that it was very good and it was an enjoyable piece. I would recommend this DVD to someone who isn't necessarily looking for uber-traditional set-design.
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