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Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker / Barenboim, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

118 minute DVD featuring Nadja Saidakova and Vladimir Malakhov.

Amazon.com

It's easy to see why The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky's perennially popular ballet first performed in 1892, has such enduring appeal. As Patrice Bart's 1999 production shows, it is always beautiful to look at, lending itself to the Christmas season where it has a permanent place in the schedules of the major dance companies. And Hoffmann's tale of the troubled child who must go on a wonderful (and occasionally terrifying) journey of discovery has a universal and timeless appeal.

Bart's production for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin builds on Petipa's original choreography and develops the context of the child Marie's (Nadja Saidakova) anxiety into a strong narrative. The godfather Drosselmeyer (Oliver Matz) is initially a sinister figure, forcing her to confront past events (the familiar mouse-soldier battle music is used instead as a prologue in which Marie's mother is abducted by Russian revolutionaries) before leading her into the glittering land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Here, all expectations are exceeded. The familiarity of Tchaikovsky's intricately woven themes works in total harmony with sumptuous production values. The dancing is sublime. As the Prince, Vladimir Malakhov evokes the spirit of a young Nureyev. His pas de deux with the Sugar Plum Fairy should challenge even the most cynical tear ducts. Sit back, share the frisson of anticipation as Daniel Barenboim enters the conductor's box, and let the whole experience engulf you.

There are no DVD extras. In addition to the 16:9 picture format, which enhances the authentic theatrical atmosphere, the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound helps make this Nutcracker an aural feast. Under Barenboim's masterful control, the orchestra draws you into the heart of the music. Booklet notes provide historical background as well as performer biographies, but a more complete cast list would have been useful. --Piers Ford, Amazon.co.uk


Special Features

  • Menus in English, French, Castilian, and Japanese
  • 36-page booklet in German, English, and French

Product Details

  • Actors: Viara Natcheva, Barbara Schroeder (II), Torsten Händler, Vladimir Malakhov, Beatrice Knop
  • Directors: Alexandre Tarta
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: French, English, Japanese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Arthaus
  • DVD Release Date: February 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056PPC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,411 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker / Barenboim, Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ealovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on December 15, 2011
Format: DVD
Patrice Bart's 1999 production for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin changes the story of the child Clara, who is renamed Marie (Nadja Saidakova) into a dark drama of abduction. The godfather Drosselmeyer (Oliver Matz) forces Marie to remember her past, when he presents her with the nutcracker--a toy she had lost when her mother was kidnapped by men wearing jallabiyas and brandishing scimitars (supposedly Russian revolutionaries, but they looked very Middle Eastern to me).

The Nutcracker's mouse-soldier battle music was moved to the prologue to support the kidnapping scene, and Bart moves other pieces of music around, too, giving this production a disconnected feeling. Dances seem to spring up out of nowhere, in no particular order. The Stahlbaum's usually jolly Christmas party becomes a dreary psychological drama as Marie recovers her memory of her mother's abduction, and fights with the other children while Drosselmeyer stalks her and forces her to dance with him.

Drosselmeyer is a young man in this production, dressed as a Regency fop, complete with lorgnette. He doesn't limp about the stage swirling his cape, as is usual for this ballet. Instead, he is one of the principal dancers. His relationship with his godchild borders on incestuous. He's more of a Pygmalion to Marie, shaping her, forcing her to remember her past, and then competing for her affections with the Nutcracker-prince (Vladimir Malakhov).

These two men dance sublimely, almost stealing the show from the ballerinas.

Once Marie, Drosselmeyer, and the Prince travel to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the ballet assumes its familiar contours.
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(The Gravedigger's dead nutcracker)
This Berlin 1999 "Nussknacker" followed the successful 1997 "Schwanesee" (reviewed separately). It was received indifferently by the public, for good reason. Berlin critics were not only content with trashing it viciously, but mounted a focused, politically motivated attack on Patrice Bart and the value of his work. Horst Vollmer called him a potential "Totengräber" (gravedigger), meaning he was killing off the tradition of classical dance in Berlin.
Despite this the ballet starts promisingly enough. Scene one seems to indicate that Bart solved the two main issues Ivanov's choreography poses: use of mime vs. dancing and that of dancing children vs. experienced dancers posing as children. He employs mime side by side with dancing as well as children mixing naturally with experienced dancers. However what follows is a fascinating flop.
Like his Swan Lake, Bart pushes the limits of his miniscule intellect in an ill-conceived pseudo-Freudian face-lift of the libretto. This `dernier cri de Ballet-Psychanalytique' mutilates the original work. Instead of clarifying or adding to the performance it is presumptuous to the point of ridicule and distraction. Marie is now a "traumatized" child. She was abducted and separated from her mother. She grows up unhappily as the adopted daughter of the Stahlbaum family. Drosselmeyer gives her a nutcracker similar to the one she had before the abduction as part of his therapeutic endeavors to undo the repression that keeps it away from her consciousness. She holds on to it as a transitional object invested with the repressed memories of the trauma. `Dr. Siegmund Drosselmeyer' uses it to induce hypnotic like acting-out of fragments of the repressed memories.
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Wonderful musical performance of the full ballet score, although marred on occasion by sound pickup of stage noises - not always those of the dancers. A little different from the usual choreography but a must for Nutcracker fans.
Pay no attention to the 63 minute running time on the jacket; this is a 2 hour event!
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