Note: This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players, and not compatible with standard DVD players.
Leo DELIBES (1836-1891)
Sylvia - ballet in three acts with choreography by Frederick Ashton (1876)
Sylvia … Darcey Bussell
Aminta … Roberto Bolle
OrionRead more … Thiago Soares
Eros … Martin Harvey
Diana … Mara Galeazzi
The Royal Ballet
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Graham Bond
rec. The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, 1, 5 December 2005
FORMAT: All Formats
REGIONS: All Regions
PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 117 Mins
SOUND: DTS SURROUND 5.1 / LPCM STEREO
NO OF DISCS: 1
R E V I E W:
DELIBES Sylvia & • Graham Bond, cond; Darcy Bussell (Sylvia); Roberto Bolle (Aminta); Thiago Soares (Orion); Martin Harvey (Eros); Mara Galeazzi (Diana); Royal Op House Covent Garden O • OPUS ARTE 7047 (Blu-ray Disc: 117:00) Live: London 12/1,5/2005
& Introductions to the ballet by Darcey Bussell; cast gallery; synopsis
It is difficult to comprehend that Tchaikovsky actually said he would not even have bothered to compose Swan Lake if he had first heard Sylvia. Nevertheless, by maintaining that Sylvia was the first ballet in which the music constituted “not just the main but the only interest,” he appropriately emphasized how good the underrated Delibes score really is (the same is true of Coppélia). The influence of Berlioz and Wagner is clearly evident, but the combination of Delibes’s melodies and colorful orchestration utilizing a fairly standard late-19th-century orchestra (including an alto saxophone solo in the third-act Barcarolle) is the primary reason why Sylvia has survived in the ballet repertoire. The plot, involving various mythological figures, is sort of silly, but no more so than many other ballets—or operas for that matter. This Royal Ballet production was originally choreographed by Frederick Ashton in the 1950s. He was not satisfied with it, so Sylvia disappeared for several decades before being restaged by Christopher Newton, based on Ashton’s plans for a revival. Newton had to reconstruct Sylvia from a black and white film of the original production with additional designs by Peter Farmer.
Darcey Bussell is very tall for a ballerina, and this is accentuated by her extremely slender physique (she really does look like she desperately needs a meal). Bussell combines plenty of temperament and elegance in the long and demanding role of Sylvia. Her footwork in the act III pizzicato divertissement is amazing. She is ably partnered by the athletic and graceful Roberto Bolle as the shepherd Aminta. Thiago Soares contrasts nicely with Bolle as a suitably villainous Orion.
Graham Bond’s conducting may not be as dynamic as Anatole Fistoulari’s interpretation (on an amazing Mercury recording with the London Symphony Orchestra available in a CD album that also contains Antal Dorati’s peerless Coppélia), but he effectively combines danceability with dynamic contrast in Delibes’s kaleidoscopic score. The Royal Opera House Orchestra is nearly flawless. The traditional and atmospheric sets, including a spectacular boat for Eros, are ideal for Sylvia. All of this is perfectly projected in the three-dimensional Blu-ray picture and high-resolution surround sound. Extras include the obligatory illustrated synopsis and cast gallery, plus spoken introductions to each act by Bussell that will help anyone who doesn’t know what is happening. Newton also comments on his relationship with Ashton and the evolution of the production. Ballet lovers should not miss this long overdue restoration of Sylvia. Now, how about Coppélia?