Two stars past their best in a mediocre performance; overpri
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 03/05/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Hardy Classics is charging $35+ for this "Giselle," and frankly I think it's very overpriced. Yes it stars Carla Fracci and Rudolf Nureyev, but both are past their best, the video is rather poor, and the production only so-so.
Carla Fracci and Rudolf Nureyev were strongly associated with the ballet Giselle, but it's 1980, and both are past their best. Fracci, never known for her technical strength, especially seems to tire in Act 2; her dancing becomes increasingly heavy and wooden, which is fatal if you're supposed to be a weightless Wili. Nureyev also runs out of steam, and compensates by muggy acting. His posture is poor, and his steps are sloppy. He also is unfortunately made up in a very white powder that makes him seem ghostly in Act 2; very unflattering. The video is not of a very high quality. During Act 2 the stage is way too lit, ruining the effect of a midnight drama. The corps are only so-so. Overall, I felt that this was a Giselle where the two stars coasted on their fame and star power and did not really dance their best. To give you an idea of what the performance is like, in Act 2, after Albrecht finishes his variation he's supposed to lie on the ground, exhausted. Nureyev hits the ground, lies down, and then gets up to take bows, before lying down again. Later on again, Albrecht is supposed to dance around the stage constantly, doing entrechats and leaps, before Giselle walks on stage to "save" him. In this performance, Nureyev dances, with periodic breaks, and then Nureyev stands upstage for a long time and Fracci matter-of-factly walks onstage and they start dancing together. I didn't sense much chemistry between them -- the very best Giselles will be life-affirming. One goes away with the feeling that Giselle is now at peace, and Albrecht will be a better man. Not here, and the performances are not very professional, despite the starry names.
If this were the only record we have of Nureyev and Fracci is Giselle, I'd say get this video. But Fracci has a filmed Giselle with her longtime partner Erik Bruhn, from 1969, and despite some odd camerawork Fracci is much stronger in that film. Nureyev made a filmed Giselle with Lynn Seymour in 1979. That's only a year earlier, but what a difference a year makes. Nureyev is much. much better technically in that film. He also resists mugging, and his Albrecht is very touching in that film.
So in other words, this video is overpriced, and Fracci and Nureyev can be seen in much better shape in other available videos. So don't drop your money here."
A rather disappointing issue, all in all
Warmgoy | 11/28/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Picked this up in Tower today. Fans of the two leads will of course want this, and go to it, though you might want to wait for a used one from an Amazon seller. This is a pricey DVD, and not high on the list of favored Giselles out at present. The digital mastering is mediocre, sound quality (though various formats can be chosen) is boxy, with a limited range, and the visuals are pretty washed out and drab, though the production does not appear to be terribly interesting to begin with - a trifle shabby - but probably more attractive than caught here, color wise, here things are muted.
The orchestral performance is a bit sloppy, particularly the brass (why is that so common with this work?), and dully conducted, perfectly competent, but foursquare and lacking grace. Camera work is pedestrian, nice to get full body shots, bu there is a tendency for the camera to linger when pulled all the way to the back of the house. The corps are adequate, not much more, the Myrtha is fine, not terribly individual, the Hilareon does not have the athletic flair needed for his dance of death.
Both of the principles are OK, but neither is caught at their best. Fracci seems to tire in act two, not so fluid as is her wont. She is still lovely, the performance is hearfelt, but she is better represented on the ABT film of twelve years before. Rudi is Rudi, lots of bravura, milking his applause shamelessly in the second act. He too is better represented in other videos of other roles. He is not as campy here dramatically as he was in this role in the studio production with Seymour a few years earlier, nor quite as much the virtuoso, too. Both are who they are, so nothing is poorly done, mind you, just better found in other performances.
All the curtain calls are preserved, which is fun, I enjoy that kind of thing, so often we only get a few seconds.
All in all, a slightly below average mastering of a so-so performance in a rather dull production. I would be happy to buy this for nineteen bucks, I paid thirty nine bucks, too much for what we get here. Though again, fans of the two leads will want this.
For a live GISELLE, go with the Ferri/Scala performance, not perfect but enjoyable. For a studio version, and a much better memento of Fracci, got with the ABT film, very much an adaptation for camera, sometimes self indulgently so, but visually stunning and beautifully danced."
Ballet Boy | USA | 09/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is quite expensive considering the production values and performances. I adore Fracci but she is not at her technical best here. Her acting though, as always, is impeccable. Nureyev looks great but when he does one of his usual loony variations in act one, you know, the kind with 5000 steps per beat of music, he looks disjointed and macaroni like. The costumes and production, except for Fracci's personal costumes, are awful. Some of the boys in Act one are really good dancers though and the peasant pas has some good technical dancing. It isn't a pas de deux anymore though; they have turned it into and octet.
Also, the filming, directing and editing is, as usual, done by total morons who destry any possibility of seeing the dance correctly. Most of the time it is shot from downstage right, so you are looking up the tutus and seeing the worst lines possible. This is typical of almost every single ballet film available...sadly.
If you want to see a horribly filmed but terrific performance of Giselle, get the Fracci, Bruhn ABT DVD. Sadly the filming, as stated, is horrible! The idiots once again have ruined their chance to preserve the performances of great artists the likes of which will not be seen again."