Perhaps the most celebrated ballet of the Romantic era, Adolphe Adam's intoxicating ballet Giselle is the dramatic story of a peasant girl whose betrayal by her aristocratic lover causes her to go mad before dying and retu... more »rning as a ghost. Featuring the fabulous Alina Cojocaru in the title role and Johan Kobborg as a torn Count Albrecht, Peter Wright's sparkling production and John Macfarlane's pastoral designs create an opulent feast for the eyes, here captured in High Definition video and true surround sound« less
Cojocaru as Giselle...maybe one of the finest interpretation
R. Nicholson | 11/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Revised review Dec 02/08. (see P.P.S.)
Let me start off by saying that Giselle is my favorite ballet; I love the story, the music and the dance.
This performance was recorded in 2006 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Gardens, London and stars Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobberg in the principal roles.
This is probably the best danced and finest interpretation of this magnificent ballet I've ever seen. I initially saw this at a movie theater with about 200+ people; you could have heard a pin drop during many of the pas de deux between Cojocaru and Kobberg, they were that stirring to watch.
There was so much to like about this performance...let me elaborate,
1.)The costumes for the peasants, the Royal hunting party and Wilis were sumptuous; the sets for both acts were nicely conceived to display the rustic theme for the village in Act I and then the marsh scene in Act II.
2.)The principal dancers, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg gave the performance of a lifetime. Cojocaru has such skill and grace...an easy effortlessness that holds her audience spellbound. Kobberg attains such height with his leaps and jumps that it appears as if he can defy gravity.
3.) The emotion displayed, through facial expression and body language, by both leads was perfect for the situation; their dancing techniques and skills when together, were simply breath taking. Some of the famous lifts in the Act II were, without a doubt, the best I've ever seen in any performance of Giselle.
4.) The conductor, Boris Gruzin, interpretation of Adophe Adam's music was beautifully rendered, complimenting the tone and mood of this ballet that covered both ends of the emotional spectrum.
About the only concern (albeit minor) for this interpretation of Giselle was with regards to the Corps de ballet. Although the dancing through out the entire ballet was excellent, some of the timing of movement and dance steps was slightly off between some couples, particularly in Act I.
Conclusion: Simply the loveliest Giselle I've ever seen; a Giselle that literally moved me to tears. The emotions shown and skills displayed by Cojocaru during this performance were as close to perfection as anyone could ask. 5 Stars.
P.S. Interestingly, the program accompanying the theater performance I saw stated, 'Legend has it that she (Cojocaru) was promoted to principal at the end of the first performance'. You'll understand why when you've seen this DVD.
P.P.S. I must admit to a grievous error on my part with my initial review, in which I criticized some of the camera shots and angles. This initial review was based on my viewing of this performance in a movie theater. The home DVD video was much better visually than the performance seen in the movie theater; better because of a much sharper picture as well as less 'close-up' camera shots. I suspect the enlargement that took place to fill an entire movie screen caused some distortion in perception of size and movement, giving the movie house performance a less than perfect visual presentation. My apologies go out to the producers and editors of this fine DVD for my initial review based on my movie theater experience.
Ray Nicholson "
Captures a great Giselle forever
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 11/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ballet on video is like the fossil record: fascinating and informative, but frustratingly incomplete. Isadora Duncan, Vaslav Nijinsky were never filmed at all, and many artists were never filmed in their trademark roles (Lynn Seymour as Juliet, Erik Bruhn in Sylphide). Therefore it's always a delight when a portrayal as wonderful as Alina Cojocaru's Giselle is preserved on video. Alina Cojocaru, as I mentioned earlier in a review of her Sleeping Beauty, is not particularly glamorous looking, and her feet are wide and without much of an instep. But these aesthetic complaints are quickly forgotten the minute she starts dancing. In the first act, her Giselle is a shy but vivacious girl, and her fragile look adds a poignancy to her portrayal. One can believe that she does indeed have a weak heart. Her Spessivtseva solo, with its hops on pointe across the stage was not the smoothest I've seen, but her Mad Scene was heartbreaking. In the second act, Cojocaru uses her beautifully airy jump and uniquely soft style to give the illusion of a true spirit. She is not technically perfect. When Giselle is first "initiated" as a Wili she is supposed to turn as if she were demented. Cojocaru's hopping turns don't have that feverish, demented energy that some Giselles can bring to the moment. They are somewhat slow and deliberate. (To see how it's done, watch Natalia Makarova, Diana Vishneva or even Carla Fracci.) But it's the overall beauty of movement that separates Cojocaru's Giselle from the "rest of the pack," as they would say. She is able to create a sense of a gentle, forgiving spirit. I particularly love the calm, effortless way she raises her leg in developpe. It seems to symbolize Giselle's sense of inner serenity. As Albrecht, Cojocaru's offstage partner Johan Kobborg is not quite the dancer Cojocaru is. He goes the somewhat unconventional route and makes Albrecht an ardent and sincere young man from the start. I personally prefer Albrecht's to start off as cads, so their redemption is more dramatic and moving. He also is visibly extremely tired during Act 2. Unfortunately the close-ups expose the sweating. He and Cojocaru have a wonderful partnership -- you can see it in the gentle way he lifts her in the second act. Marianela Nunez is the Myrtha, and she seems to me an odd choice for Myrtha, other than being tallish and a strong technician. She's too inherently warm of a dancer to pull off Myrtha. She's not for a minute terrifying. Peter Wright's production thankfully restores some mime passages that are often omitted in productions, such as when Giselle's mother tells the story of the Wilis. I found the sets overly fussy and thought they crowded the already-small Royal Ballet stage. I also disliked the dowdy brown dress Giselle wears in the first act. But these are minor complaints in an excellent video of my favorite ballet."
A slightly hesitant "five". . .
Esteban Molina | San Francisco | 11/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think no one need fear buying this performance; overall, it is very fine and I think it deserves a top rating, even though I hesitated over a possible four. Technically and overall, a five; though it evokes only an emotional response of four from me. My chief disappointment is the Albrecht. His dancing is accomplished and he acts well, especially in close-up, though I find him slightly mannered at times. My main complaint, however, is that he doesn't seem really to connect to Giselle. He acts outwardly as though he does but, especially in the second act, I really don't believe him. My eyes tell me they care deeply for each other, but my heart remains stubbornly unconvinced. I noticed during the curtain calls that he didn't seem genuinely pleased by the hearty applause given him. A few smiles, yes; but mostly rather blank. Perhaps he's simply a rather cool personality? But Giselle needs the heights of passion and the depths of redemptive love, not committed reserve. Cojocaru on the other hand is an utter delight. I can't imagine anyone looking the part more. And she can certainly act. And she can most certainly dance! She has a luminous sweetness that transforms the stage. With more chemistry from her Albrecht, this might have been as close to definitive as one could hope for, because everyone else is first rate. The Myrthe is especially noteworthy: technically wonderful and dramatically full of menace without seeming to try. It comes from within. And poor Hilarion who, I always feel, gets the rawest of deals is here very sympathetic. Possibly even handsomer than Albrecht [I really did feel Giselle made a poor choice in this case!] - a kind of Eric Bana of dance. It's only a pity the role didn't supply him more chances to dance, because when he did he had all the presence that Albrecht lacked. Finally, if I could pull Nicholas Le Riche from the Paris Opera DVD of Giselle and put him in this production, I think I would be happier. [And, as long as I'm dreaming, let's have Tsiskaridze.] But I'm still glad that I have this production, despite my lack of abandon where Albrecht is concerned. And you really do need to see Cojocaru. The image of her Giselle lingers long in the mind."
L. ADAMIAN | NYC | 07/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"All the previous reviews are thorough and have no need for additions except for a single observation: Johan Kobborg seems to be one of those CORRECT dancers whose every gesture is a pose. This makes for wonderful statues but detracts from any human feeling. I have seen him only in this DVD and this might be unfair but I thought future buyers deserve a warning. Top notch dancing, but for a ballet that has so much opportunity for trully moving acting, the lead male disappoints."
A Giselle of exception
Jose Brito | Estoril,Portugal | 02/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Adolphe Adam wrote the music for this Romantic libretto (Saint-Georges and T.Gautier)and choreographers Perrot and Coralli created this 2 act ballet for Carlotta Grisi,in 1841.She had been his pupil,and having become his mistress, gave him a daughter,in 1837.They were never to marry.Later on,Coralli would say that he alone had choreographed it...! One of the most celebrated ballets ,perhaps the best known and represented one,suffered various revisions - Marius Petipa,as in the present Giselle, (he was the elder brother to Lucien Petipa who had also been the first Albrecht),Nureyev,Grigorovich,etc., but never lost its luminous aura with the ingredients so dear to Romanticism(Death,the Night ,Fate ,doomed Love and Madness (Walter Scott,Goëthe,etc). Every ballerina's dream(as in last year poignant documentary on a "corps de ballet" dancer - Véronique Doisneau),has been the glory of several dancers such as Essler, Chauviré, Karsavina, Spessivtseva, Fracci,Ulanova,Markova... This said,romanian Alina Cojocaru,star of the Royal Ballet,brings it a new life.There are two Giselles in this 2 act ballet:In Act 1,Giselle is an innocent,"naïf" peasant girl ,full of joy ,who tragically finds a treacherous love and dies.In Act 2 she belongs to the world of the dead,integrating the legion of the Wilis( cruel,translucent virgins ),confined to the magic of the night,under Myrtha's command - their queen. The gracefulness of this portrayed 17 year-old and moving Giselle is completely brought out by this lovely ,highly gifted ballerina.But it is in the complexity of Act 2 coreography that Cojocaru makes all the difference:Slow movements,an extremely beautiful "developpée" (Zakharova's is slightly more impressive ,at la Scala,but totally absorved in her refined technique,expressing in the face either a smile of joy or a rictus of grief throughout the whole performance,thus forgetting to bring out Giselle's inner feelings), her arms being a vehicle of expression as important as the leggs (Russian School). She becomes aethereal ,the perfect illusion of bearing no weight as a spirit would,on "pointes" or when lifted by Kohborg.Her splendid techique,used with intelligence makes this Giselle deserving to be remembered along with the best ones.Kohborg is a wonderful Albrecht ( his variation beautifully executed) Marianela Nuñez a haughty ,convincing Myrtha and Marin Harvey a very good Hilarion.The "corps" bears the recognised quality of The Royal Ballet,live from Covent Garden,Boris Cruzin conducting with "panache".A most brilliant event."