Notes and Editorial Reviews
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Also available on standard DVD
ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
Ballet in 2 Acts
Alice – Lauren Cuthbertson
Jack / Knave of Hearts – Sergei Polunin
Lewis Carroll / White Rabbit – Edward Watson
Mother / Queen of Hearts – Zenaida Yanowsky
Father / King of Hearts – Christopher Saunders
Magician / Mad Hatter – Steven McRae
Duchess – Simon Russell Beale
Royal Opera House Orchestra
Barry Wordsworth, conductor
Christopher Wheeldon, choreography
Bob Crowley, designs
Nicholas Wright, scenario
Natasha Katz, lighting design
Recorded live from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 9 March 2011.
- Cast Gallery
- Documentary – Being Alice
Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS-HD Master Audio
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
Running time: 120 mins (ballet) + 30 mins (bonus)
No. of Discs: 1 (BD 50)
R E V I E W:
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Barry Wordsworth, cond; Lauren Cuthbertson (
); Sergei Polunin (
Jack/Knave of Hearts
); Edward Watson (
Lewis Carroll/White Rabbit
); Zenaida Yanowsky
(Mother/Queen of Hearts
); Christopher Saunders (
Father/King of Hearts
); Steven McRae (
); Simon Russell Beale (
); artists of the Royal Ballet; Royal Op House O
OPUS ARTE OA 1056D (DVD: 120:00 + 30.00); OA BD7090 D (Blu-ray: 120:00 + 30:00) Live: London 3/2–9/2011
Christopher Wheeldon’s treatment of
Alice in Wonderland
has been scolded for its supposed lack of narrative cohesion, but this is
Alice in Wonderland
, for crying out loud. Even in the Lewis Carroll original, it’s just one strange episode after another, and so it is here—except that Wheeldon actually gives the proceedings more of a through-line by introducing Alice’s real world and family and friends in the first scene, then having those characters transformed into the denizens of Wonderland, providing some very interesting revelations about Alice’s attitude toward the members of her “real” circle. And it comes to a satisfying conclusion with an epilog in the present; after all, the way Wheeldon has set things up, a happy ending wouldn’t really be possible if we returned to young Alice in her 19th-century garden.
Wheeldon has been criticized by a few uppity dance critics for not creating anything new with the choreography, which is idiotic. He clearly has his dancers do some things that simply were not part of ballet vocabulary only a few decades ago, and yet he remains fully faithful to the heritage of classical ballet.
This must be a stunning show on stage, with its down-the-rabbit-hole video projections and inventive use of video as part of the backdrop and even action in a few other scenes; it translates surprisingly well to television. But the best reason to watch this at home rather than from a distance in the theater is that we are able to see that Lauren Cuthbertson as Alice is not only a fine and indefatigable dancer (never leaving the stage for the ballet’s nearly 70-minute first act), but a nuanced actor. We get many valuable close and medium shots that reveal her facial expressions, which reinforce the nuances of character that she and Wheeldon are already creating through her body movements. Yet video director James Whitbourn always knows when to pull back to take in the larger movements and riotous action. This is equally important in the second act, when Zenaida Yanowsky’s Queen of Hearts reigns over her very special brand of chaos.
This is not a kiddie ballet; Wheeldon and composer Joby Talbot together strike a balance between magic, whimsy, and menace from the very beginning. Especially disturbing is the scene in the kitchen of the Duchess, played by the great stage actor Simon Russell Beale as a cross between Mother Gigogne and Mrs. Lovett; all I’ll say is that seeing this will put you off sausages for several days. Talbot’s score, here and throughout, is colorful and cinematic, making inventive use of percussion and of recurring motifs, and at all times is finely meshed with Wheeldon’s choreography. In the realm of fantasy ballet, Talbot has mastered the difficult combination of rambunctiousness and yearning whose standard is Prokofiev’s
, although he doesn’t meet Prokofiev’s standard as a melodist. Still, based on this score, it’s a pity that the later
soundtracks didn’t fall to Talbot instead of less distinctive composers like Patrick Doyle and Nicholas Hooper. Barry Wordsworth leads the orchestra in a performance of gusto and enchantment.
On Blu-ray, the picture quality is notable for its warmth of colors and clarity of detail, with the DTS surround audio providing the orchestra fine richness and depth.
In every way this is a wonderful release. For at least the next year, step away from
and watch this refreshing, engaging production instead.
FANFARE: James Reel
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