Notes and Editorial Reviews
From La Scala comes a staging of an archetypical Romantic ballet on DVD. A production of Giselle features the original version of the choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot and was danced by outstanding dancers, including two of international ballet’s star dancers - Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle. First performed at the Académie Royale de Musique in Paris in 1841 as a two-act “ballet-pantomime”, Giselle is hailed by ballet historians as the apotheosis of the Romantic ballet. The ballet was conceived by the influential French poet, author, critic and possibly the greatest champion of the Romantic ballet, Théophile Gautier, who, together with Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges wrote the scenario that inspired
Adolphe Adam’s score. In this performance, Giselle is danced by Svetlana Zakharova, a Ukrainian dancer, who grew up in the tradition of St Petersburg’s Maryinsky Ballet and is now one of the youngest ballerinas at Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, where her predecessors include Galina Ulanova, one of the most famous Giselles in the history of ballet. Her partner as Albrecht is Roberto Bolle, La Scala’s current star dancer. The filming for this DVD recreates the atmosphere of a night at the wonderful La Scala opera house, while providing the viewer with a closer look at the dancers, their interpretation and their artistic endeavours.
Giselle – Svetlana Zakharova
Albrecht – Roberto Bolle
Hilarion – Vittorio D’Amato
Myrtha – Marta Romagna
Le duc – Francisco Sedeño
Bathilde – Flavia Vallone
Berthe – Annalisa Masciocchi
Wilfried – Francesco Ventriglia
La chasseur – Matthew Endicott
Pas de deux – Sophie Sarrote / Antonio Sutera
Deux Wilis – Lara Montanaro / Laura Caccialanza
Milan La Scala Ballet
Milan La Scala Orchestra
David Coleman, conductor
Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, choreographers
Aleksandr Benois, set and costume designer
Recorded live from the Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 2005.
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: PCM Stereo / Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Running time: 105 mins
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)
R E V I E W:
TDK has released a DVD of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, recorded in 2004 and featuring Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle as Odette/Odile and Siegfried respectively. These dancers are back a year later, 2005, as Giselle and Albrecht in another first-rate production, this time Adolphe Adam’s Giselle.
As she did in Swan Lake, Zakharova needs to assume two identities to complete her role in Giselle. Instead of Good Swan/Bad Swan, she now displays her dramatic versatility as Live Giselle/Dead Giselle. In the first act, she offers a complex characterization of the peasant girl. We watch her happily dancing in the bucolic setting, but clouds pass over the sunshine in her life as she deals with the course of true love not running straight. Throughout the first act, she carefully doles out hints of the frail mental and physical health that lead to her untimely death. Zakharova makes a good transformation into the act II Dead Giselle. She is not quite a zombie, but displays an eerie soulless detachment—even when reunited with her act I love, Albrecht, and in her efforts to save him from death at the hands of the Willies.
Roberto Bolle offers everything one could want in an Albrecht: brilliant dancing, handsome good looks, a regal bearing combined with boy-next-door charm, and good acting. The lesser roles are well cast, too. Vittorio D’Amato and Marta Romagna especially standout as Hilarion and Myrtha, Giselle’s peasant boy friend and the Queen of the Willies. Annalisa Masciocchi as Berthe is quite good as Giselle’s mother.
This is a very traditional production, with beautiful scenery and costumes. The sound, especially in the multichannel digital format, is impressive. I have the same response to the television direction that I had to the La Scala Swan Lake: generally, we are allowed to savor the action and dancing and get a sense of being in a theater watching a staged production. The effect, however, is compromised and the flow of the dancing is often interrupted by the insertion of brief close-ups of bouncing heads and perspiring faces. These one- and two-second interjections add little, are frequently annoying, and would never be missed if they were eliminated.
This production holds its own with the best of the competition. Most of the Giselles on DVD are filmed during performance in various theaters. The DG with Bruhn and Fracci looks like it was shot on a soundstage with some visual interpolations (Albrecht and friends galloping across the countryside on horseback) and gimmicks, such as the camera in the fly loft aimed downward, à la the June Taylor dancers. Nureyev appears in two videos, with Fracci and the Corps de Ballet Rome (Hardy Classics) and with Seymour at the Bavarian State Opera (Kultur). Apparently unavailable at this time is the American Ballet Theater video, live from Lincoln Center (1977) with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova. The picture is a bit dim, but the dancing is wonderful and the video direction never calls attention to itself. Aside from the poor lighting, it should be studied as a model of how to photograph these events. Quibbles about the video direction aside, this La Scala production is highly recommended.
FANFARE: David L. Kirk
Reviewing original release
Works on This Recording
Giselle by Adolphe Adam
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Written: 1841; France
Be the first to review this title