"Finally, this DVD became available at AMAZON, just before the Bolshoi's US tour in July. Filmed on 31st, October 2003 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, with dream cast: Serguei Filin, Svetlena Zakharova, Maria Alexandrova. The Pharoah's daughter was the first full-length ballet Petipa created in St Petersburg, in 1862, seven years earlier than his DQ. But unlike most of his work, such as DQ, la Bayadere, which are still performed in Russia and many other countries nowadays, Pharaoh's daughter was last seen at Moscow in 1928. Nureyev had an idea of restage this Petipa's classic for Paris Opera Ballet, but his early death ended his dream. In 1999, Vasiliev, the director of Bolshoi ballet at that time, commissioned Pierre Lacotte this project, re-construct this ballet for Bolshoi ballet. In this DVD, there is a 13 min documentary film and a 16 min interview with Pierre Lacotte. What I have is the European Pal version DVD. It contains a 32 page illustrated booklet in different languages. I guess this NTSC version will do the same, at least including English booklet that is enough for most of us. So lucky! this disc was not released by KULTUR, who never accompany its DVD with any readable booklet.
Story is a little bit simple. An English man, Lord Wilson, traveled in Egypt, while taking shelter in the Pyramid, he smoked opium, which made him into the dream world. He met and fell in love with Pharaoh's daughter, Aspicia. After adventure and adventure, united with his love before weak up. If you've watched Paris Opera Ballet's Paquita and La Sylphide, which are reconstructed by Pierre Lacotte as well, you will find the choreography is similar in some way. The dancing are so brilliant and disciplined, both principal dancers and corps. Zakharova's fouette is probably the most beautiful Russian fouette I've ever seen. The male part has lots of tour en air and beating (six), very physical demanding. I think the male variations are mainly Pierre's own choreography, since it is beyond the male technique level of 19 century. Let's go back to Petipa, all his original full length ballets have a vision scene, so this one wouldn't miss. It is in Act II, kingdom of river Nile. In fact, the entire ballet seems to be a larger vision.
This is one of the few great performances in recent years released on DVD. I used to have negative view toward Bolshoi ballet more or less because all my impression of this company is from the video series Bolshoi at the Bolshoi, made in 1989-90. Some dances, especially male part, are not so elegant in those old films. But this Pharaoh's daughter is definitely different. The whole company almost reaches Paris opera ballet's level. In the interview, Pierre mentioned he wished to restore the classical Petipa style to Bolshoi ballet by restage Pharaoh's daughter. He's done it. Bravo!
No hesitation! This DVD is a must have by all the ballet fans. Terrific dancing, beautiful costume. You can hear some of Drigo's insertion for other ballets, i.e. Esmeralda, Talisman male variation.
You might be interested in the following link: ballet.co's interview with Pierre Lacotte in 1999 regarding to this production and website of Kirov trained superstar Svetlana Zhakharova.
J. M WILINSKY | teaneck, NJ United States | 11/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one exhilarating ballet! It is packed with choreography of gorgeous, aggressive, and brilliant intensity. Lacotte has attempted to reconstruct this ballet from first hand accounts of dancers who actually remembered when they had danced it long ago, before it fell into obscurity. But he did much more than reconstruct it--he modernized it to reflect the contemporary intensity of classical ballet technique and modern staging techniques. There are an enormous number of solo petit and grand allegri, as well as other types of dances. Lacotte's use of the corps de ballet is wonderful, with a masterful use of angle and space. The costumes are also very well done, and it is amusing to see some ballerinas dancing in Egyptian pencil skirts--not an easy feat! There is a definite comic undertone to this ballet, including, in fact, some comic solos. If that is not enough to establish the comic mood, there is also a Spanish dance, accompanied by castanets! I'm still trying to figure that one out, but I loved it. There is one very serious aspect to this ballet, and that is the whole concept of having such a dream in the first place. What does this dream of intense love of someone never encountered in reality mean? Was it really only a dream, or was it beyond that? Could a dream include an entire lifetime of experience? And finally, we are left wondering why doesn't love transcend the confines of the dream? Perhaps I have an overactive imagination and am an incurable romantic, but I felt these issues strongly. I enjoyed watching this dvd many times over. The intensity always captures my attention. The musical score by Cesare Pugni is also enchanting and romantic, and never fails to inspire. The dancing itself is of the highest standard, and the acting is very convincing and charming. Zakharova is so sweet and endearing in the use of her mime. I especially loved the way she told her father that she was almost murdered. The image and sound are at the highest quality level, and the inclusion of half an hour of interviews and rehearsal clips makes this a real keeper!"
Another beautiful reconstruction by Lacotte
Christian Bernard | 01/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sound and image quality of this DVD are excellent. The ballet was unknown to us. We bought it after reading the reviews on Amazon. We are delighted as the dancing by S Zakharova and her partner Filin is superb while set and costumes are magnificent. Highly recommended"
Delaval | Ohio, USA | 02/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has got to be the best ballet DVD I've ever seen. Sound, image quality, costuming, sets, lighting, dancing, musicality, expression...all are as good as it gets. Svetlana Zakharova is a brilliant choice for Aspicia. She has an almost unearthly degree of extension and control in her movements, yet always retains the graceful fluidity to make it look effortless and never loses the human quality of a young woman in love. Her perfomance in the wedding pas de deux is breathtaking! Sergei Filin is powerful as Taor, and easily conveys his sense of wonder at the strange ancient world he's fallen into. He has incredible ballon and brilliant entrechats (he doesn't cheat them like many dancers do when they start to get tired). And on a shallow note, both Zakharova and Filin are physically beautiful to watch. I was also tremendously impressed by Maria Alexandrova as Ramze; her chaine turns in the pas d'action and the degree of lightness she has to her extensions are impeccable. The Three Rivers soloists also each gave standout performances.
The behind-the-scenes bonus feature was a nice treat. Not too many ballet DVDs have bonus features at all, so it's a lovely inclusion when they do. Nice montages of the dancers in rehearsals or waiting in the wings to go on stage; gave the performance a more intimate feel (which you'll realize is quite a feat in itself considering how massive the stage sets are). It was also interesting to hear just how Pierre Lacotte developed the idea to restage this ballet. My only complaint (if such it can be called) is that I would like to have heard from the dancers themselves, rather than just a couple sentences about the two stars from Lacotte. But the lack of this certainly didn't detract from the DVD as a whole.
If you're trying to decide which of a few handful of ballet DVDs to purchase, I'd definitely recommend buying this one. I'm sorry I kept it in the "Saved for Later" section of my shopping cart for so long!"
Beauty at its Best
Loretta Collins | Bethesda, MD | 08/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I tend to buy only full length ballets that I've seen before, so this was a leap of faith made by the terrific reviews. They were correct. If you love ballet, this should be in your collection. Loretta Collins"