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Tchaikovsky: The Classic Ballets / Royal Ballet

Tchaikovsky / Nunez / Orch Of The Royal Opera
Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7131  
Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Valeriy OvsyanikovKoen Kessels
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on standard DVD

Note: These Blu-ray Discs are playable only on Blu-ray Disc players, and not compatible with standard DVD players.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
(3-DVD Box Set)

Swan Lake

Odette / Odille – Marianela Nuñez
Prince Siegfried – Thiago Soares
The Princess, Siegfried’s mother – Elizabeth McGorian
An Evil Spirit / Von Rothbart – Christopher Saunders
The Tutor – Alastair Marriott
Benno – David Pickering

Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Valeriy Ovsyanikov, conductor

Read more Anthony Dowell, stage director
Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, choreographers

Recorded at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, on 16 and 24 March 2009

- Illustrated synopsis
- Cast gallery
- Interview with Anthony Dowell
- Four Swan Queens - Exclusive 30-minute conversation on the demands of dancing the role of the Swan Queen with former Prima Ballerinas
- Dame Beryl Grey, Dame Monica Mason, Lesley Collier and current principal Marianela Nuñez

The Nutcracker

The Sugar Plum Fairy – Miyako Yoshida
Nephew / Nutcracker – Ricardo Cervera / Steven McRae
The Prince – Steven McRae
Drosselmeyer – Gary Avis

Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Koen Kessels, conductor

Peter Wright, choreographer and director (after Lev Ivanov)

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, November and December 2009

- Cast gallery
- Rehearsing at White Lodge
- Peter Wright tells the story of The Nutcracker

The Sleeping Beauty

Princess Aurora – Alina Cojocaru
Prince Florimund – Federico Bonelli
King Florestan XXIV – Christopher Saunders
His Queen – Elizabeth McGorian
Cattalabutte – Alastair Marriott
Carabosse – Genesia Rosato
Lilac Fairy – Marianela Nuñez

Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Valeriy Ovsyanikov, conductor

Marius Petipa, choreographer

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London on 5 December 2006

- Cast gallery
- Illustrated synopsis


Picture format: 1080i High Definition Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1 Region code: 0 (worldwide) Subtitles (bonus): French, German, Spanish (Nutcracker) + Italian (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty) Running time: 7 hours 37 mins No. of Discs: 3 (Blu-ray)

R E V I E W S:

This generally acclaimed Royal Ballet production of Swan Lake follows on the heels of the somewhat disappointing Blu-ray Mariinsky performance starring Ulyana Lopatkina (Odette/Odile) and conducted by Valery Gergiev (Fanfare 32:5). Both versions are based on the choreography of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, with additional choreography for the Royal Ballet production by the esteemed Frederick Ashton. Any Swan Lake revolves around the central roles of Odette/Odile. In the case of Marianela Nuñez versus Lopatkina, one is not necessarily better than the other. Rather, they are very different. Nuñez is all about elegance, grace, and smooth, legato flow. She exhibits a persistent and rather resigned sadness and vulnerability in the white swan act. It is critical that there is ample contrast as Odile. In the ballroom scene, Nuñez is far more animated, saucy, and seductive. She cannot match Lopatkina’s flawless, almost surgically precise technique, but Lopatkina is cold, sterile, and certainly not very vulnerable as Odette. Nuñez radiates humanity in her finely nuanced but somewhat subdued acting. Thiago Soares (Siegfried) clearly has developed admirable rapport with Nuñez (apparently offstage as well as onstage). He is far preferable to the terminally bland Danila Korsuntsev in the Mariinsky Swan Lake. Conductor Valeriy Ovsyanikov, as in his Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty, applies generally fast tempos, with an emphasis on clarity of instrumental lines. Compared to Antal Dorati in his legendary Mercury recording, Ovsyanikov can be equated with an overdose of valium. This beautifully staged Swan Lake is just too sedate. The whole thing gives the impression of a subdued and reverential allegiance to tradition. The sumptuous sets evoking Imperial Russia (presumably in the time of Tchaikovsky) and colorful costumes are gorgeous. The high-resolution sound features excellent mid-range detail, sparkling high frequencies, and warm bass. Extras include a short interview with Anthony Dowell discussing Swan Lake and this production, and a more lengthy presentation entitled “Four Swan Queens.” The comments of the four ladies are pretty superficial, with a few interesting anecdotes. The young Nuñez appears to be intimidated or deferential to the three older prima ballerinas to the point where she has little to say.

This production offers nothing that is new or remotely controversial. Viewers will have to choose between Lopatkina’s technical perfection and the lyrical grace of the far more likable Nuñez (who, by the way, is no slouch from a purely technical standpoint). Neither Ovsyanikov nor Gergiev are particularly memorable when compared to the electricity generated by Dorati. If I had to choose, I would probably go with the Royal Ballet, primarily because of Nuñez and her obvious rapport with Soares.

-- Arthur Lintgen, Fanfare [3-4/2010] reviewing blu-ray version of Swan Lake

The Royal Ballet’s new production of The Sleeping Beauty , which debuted in 2006, is based on their successful 1946 staging with designs by Oliver Messel. Visually, this is a significant improvement over the RB’s 1994 Sleeping Beauty designed by Maria Bjørnson. The sets used in 1994 had an immediate “Wow!” factor when first viewed (wild perspectives), but quickly wore out their welcome and so dominated the stage they detracted from the dancers. Adding to the visual impairment were many costumes that matched the scenery in color and tone, further reducing the prominence of the dancers. The new sets are beautiful. They’re very old-fashioned wing and drop; painted in warm colors that are nicely subdued so they offer a pleasant backdrop and the dancers stand out.

Marius Petipa is credited with the choreography in both productions, but contributions from Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell, and Christopher Wheeldon are noted. Further credit for this 2006 production is also given to Monica Mason and Christopher Newton “after Ninette de Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev.” Sergeyev was Petipa’s assistant. The original designs by Oliver Messel are augmented and interpreted by Peter Farmer. The result of their efforts is a very classy Sleeping Beauty that is a joy to watch.

The dancing in both 1994 and 2006 productions is of a very high order. Of the six principal roles (Aurora, Florimund, Carabosse, Lilac Fairy, Florine, and Blue Bird), there are individual differences between the two casts, and one significant casting difference. In 2006, Carabosse is played by a woman, Genesia Rosato, in a role usually performed by a man. Anthony Dowell’s Carabosse in 1994 is something to behold. Looking like he just rose from the swamp, he dominates the stage whenever he appears. In comparison, Rosato in 2006 is more restrained, offering a character reminiscent of a blend between Mrs. Danvers and Elsa Lancaster in Bride of Frankenstein.

Alina Cojocaru and Federico Bonelli are nicely paired as Aurora and Florimund. Neither is as flashy as their 1994 counterparts, but they combine technical expertise with convincing acting. They look like royalty from Fairy Land, and like they care about each other. In the 1994 cast, Viviana Durante and Zoltan Solymosi, were significantly mismatched in height (I’ve read Durante was a last minute stand-in for a taller dancer), and they were only superficially into their characters, but they still offered impressive performances. Durante is tiny and elflike; being on point seemed natural to her. During the Rose Adagio she so successfully achieved her balance she refused the fourth courtier’s hand. Solymosi doesn’t have quite the technical expertise of Federico Bonelli, but Solymosi, one of the tallest dancers on the stage, has stage presence in abundance. He commands attention even when standing still.

Conductor Valeriy Ovsyanikov pulls all the Romantic stops out of Tchaikovsky’s unabashedly flamboyant score, in contrast to Barry Wordsworth’s more elegant approach. Carabosse’s curse, the Rose Adagio, the finale, and Apothéose benefitted from Ovsyanikov’s muscular conducting, whereas the waltzes, the Panorama, the character dances, and the adagio in the act III Pas de deux were more lovingly handled by Wordsworth.

The 1994 Sleeping Beauty is full screen; the 2006 is wide screen. Ross MacGibbon, the video director in 2006 was listed as editor in 1994. His part in both of these videos is restrained and rarely intrudes on the dancing. There are some shots of bouncing torsos (dancers viewed from the waist up) when I would have preferred to see the entire performer, but MacGibbon’s direction in this Sleeping Beauty is how I wish more of these videos of stage performances were filmed, a vast improvement over his direction of the Mariinsky Swan Lake (see Fanfare 31:5).

There are some cuts to the score (a few numbers are deleted, a few are shortened), but the abridgements are slight and the key dances, such as the Rose Adagio, are presented in full. The image is bright and clear; the sound, available in either LPCM stereo or DTS Digital surround is excellent. The Sleeping Beauty has long been one of the Royal Ballet’s premier productions; this 1946 updated to 2006 version does the company proud.

-- David L. Kirk, Fanfare
reviewing Sleeping Beauty Read less

Works on This Recording

Swan Lake, Op. 20 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Valeriy Ovsyanikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Russia 
Date of Recording: 03/2009 
Venue:  Covent Garden, London 
Nutcracker, Op. 71 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Koen Kessels
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1892; Russia 
Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conductor:  Valeriy Ovsyanikov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Russia 
Date of Recording: 12/05/2006 
Venue:  Live Covent Garden, London 

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