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Roland Petit - Le Jeune Homme et la Mort & Carmen

Petit / Bach / Bizet / Orchestre Colonne / Gillot
Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 107197  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachGeorges Bizet
Conductor:  Paul Connelly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colonne Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Le jeune homme et la mort

Le jeune homme – Nicolas Le Riche
La mort – Marie-Agnès Gillot

Roland Petit, choreographer
Georges Wakhevitch, set designer

Johann Sebastian Bach: Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582


Carmen – Clairemarie Osta
Don José – Nicolas Le Riche
Escamillo – Guillaume Charlot

Roland Petit, choreographer
Antoni Clavé, set and costume design

Georges Bizet: Carmen

Paris National Opera Ballet
Orchestre Colonne
Paul Connelly, conductor

Recorded at the Opéra national de Paris, Palais Garnier, 2005 Read more />
- Interviews with Brigitte Lefèvre, Roland Petit and Nicolas Le Riche

Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: LPCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.0 / DTS 5.0
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 92 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)

R E V I E W:


LE JEUNE HOMME ET LA MORT. CARMEN Paul Connelly, cond; Nicolas Le Riche, Marie-Agnès Gillot, Clairemarie Osta, Guillaume Charlot, Dorothée Gilbert, Alexis Renaud, Martin Chaix (dancers); Colonne O ARTHAUS MUSIK 107197 (DVD: 92: 00 Text and Translation) Live: Paris 2005

& Interviews with Brigitte Lefèvre, Roland Petit, and Nicolas Le Riche

I know it doesn’t matter to some people, but I find it annoying to hunt with magnifying glass and fine-tooth comb for performance dates on either the box or in the booklet, and then when you find them, all you get is a year. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not what you want or expect. From the comments made by Paris Ballet director Brigitte Lefévre in the bonus track, these two works were part of an evening dedicated to three of Petit’s ballets. One wonders why L’Arlesienne, the third, was not put on disc. Possibly because it does not include Nicolas Le Riche, who is clearly the star of the other two.

I mention in my review of Sylvia elsewhere in this issue just how incredibly flexible, exuberant, and dazzling Le Riche’s dancing is. In Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, one of Petit’s first postwar ballets, it beggars description. The brief plot by Cocteau concerns a poor young man who has a date with a beautiful woman who not only spurns him but suggests that he hang himself—and so he does, but fails to die, whereupon he is met by Death, who is really the date/woman. The poor man’s garret then turns into a panorama of Paris and rooftop, from which he jumps to his death. In Le Riche’s extension, elevation, flexibility, spins, and entrechats , all that keeps going through my mind is, “Nureyev, Nureyev,” except for one leap where he manages to suspend himself in the air for a few seconds à la Baryshnikov. Yes, he’s that good, and thus it didn’t surprise me to learn that Nureyev himself appointed Le Riche as étoile in 1993. In addition, Marie-Agnès Gillot, as the girlfriend/Death character, very nearly matches Le Riche in all of these things—plus she has an outstanding stage presence. No, it isn’t quite like watching Fonteyn with Nureyev because she was even more perfect than he, but you get the impression. The dancing here will stun you and stay with you, it’s that good.

Petit’s Carmen is an entirely different conception from the panoramic, modern, intensely sensual version that Maya Plisetskaya unveiled in the early 1960s. Petit’s ballet is tied much more to the Dada style, with numerous touches of surrealism and offbeat humor, and the main characters are presented almost as mannequins. Both facial expressions and exuberance are kept to a minimum, yet even so, there is something cold and distant about Clairemarie Osta’s Carmen that keeps me from accepting her as the Gypsy siren of legend. Her dancing is extraordinarily well controlled, virtuosic, and clean, yet though she occasionally smiles at Don José she doesn’t project even an ounce of sensuality. Dorothée Gilbert, as principal soloist among the cigarette girls, isn’t Osta’s equal as a technician but far surpasses her in stage personality. The role of Escamillo is very brief in this telescoped version of Merimée’s story, but that doesn’t stop Petit from making the character the most humorous of all. As the repeated rhythms of the “Toreador Song” play, Charlot bobs his head like a chicken, and later struts like one! Due to Osta’s lack of stage presence, the final scene lacks drama and emotion. Is this on purpose? Part of Petit’s conception? Hard to say—but it leaves me cold.

It is interesting to hear Petit talk about his work. He obviously knows where he stands in the ballet world, but like any great choreographer, he’s always looking to improve. As he puts it, “The choreography remains the same, but the dancing is always different depending on the dancer.” He then talks about how impressed he is by Le Riche as a dancer and always tries to use him. This is followed by Le Riche himself, talking about his personal friendship and professional relationship with Petit, and he tells of the time—when he was only 18—that he had worked very hard on Le Jeune Homme and wanted to dance it for Petit. The choreographer was tired, hungry, and didn’t have time, but watched him anyway on a Friday night at 8:30, an audition without music. Le Riche did the best he could, playing the music in his head. All Petit said at the end was, “Well,” then walked out, but the next day Le Riche learned that he had moved from the “possibles” list to second understudy. His career was on its way.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582: Passacaglia by Johann Sebastian Bach
Period: Baroque 
Written: Arnstadt, Germany 
Carmen: Excerpt(s) by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Paul Connelly
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Colonne Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 

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