Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky
(Blu-ray Disc Version)
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, Covent Garden
Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden
Valeriy Ovsyanikov, conductor
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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.
Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: PCM 2.0 and 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Subtitles: French, German, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 179 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (BD50)
R E V I E W:
TCHAIKOVSKY Swan Lake & • Valeriy Ovsyanikov, cond; Marianela Nuñez (Odette/Odile); Thiago Soares (Prince Siegfried); Christopher Saunders (Rothbart); Royal Op House Covent Garden O • OPUS ARTE 7042 (Blu-ray Disc: 180:00) Live: London 3/16,24/2009
& “Four Swan Queens”; Anthony Dowell interview
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 on this Blu-ray disc. 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.