Weak La Bayadère with starry leading couple
Marc Haegeman | Gent, Belgium | 03/09/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With "La Bayadère" Milan's La Scala completes its Svetlana Zakharova/Roberto Bolle classical trilogy. Even more as with the previous releases in this series ("Swan Lake" and "Giselle", both published by TDK) the main reason for acquiring this DVD will be the presence of the two stars.
Filmed live at La Scala in May 2006, the company can be seen in Natalia Makarova's well-known staging of Marius Petipa's "La Bayadère", among others danced by London's Royal Ballet (and also available on a TDK DVD, starring Altynai Asylmuratova, Irek Mukhamedov and Darcey Bussell). As in the Royal Ballet's version the traditional sets are by Pier Luigi Samaritani, the costumes by Yolanda Sonnabend.
The company of La Scala proves competent, if nothing more. The female corps de ballet does a commendable job in the Shades Act, but the absence of noteworthy demi-soloists constitutes a serious handicap, as does the generally fast conducting of David Coleman. Moreover, by casting corps member Isabelle Brusson in the crucial role of Gamzatti, the dramatic development is seriously unbalanced. Understudy Brusson obviously wasn't ready yet for so challenging an assignment.
Bolshoi Ballet guest star Svetlana Zakharova, in one of her signature roles, easily dominates the performance, dramatically as well as by the quality of her dancing. As a supreme adagio ballerina, her appearance in the Kingdom of the Shades act, serene and cool, reveals the choreography in all its glory. La Scala's own Roberto Bolle is her likeable if never too exciting Solor.
Directed by Tina Protasoni for video and TV the fast multi-camera editing and unnecessary close-ups of faces during or at the ending of a movement are ultimately annoying. Otherwise, image and sound quality are top-notch.
In short, all admirers of Svetlana Zakharova and/or Roberto Bolle will rush to purchase this DVD, others will look for their Bayadère elsewhere."
Makarova's production bothersome, Zakharova beautiful but re
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 03/04/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Svetlana Zakharova, star of the Bolshoi ballet, has certainly become represented on video more than any other star of her generation. We now have records of her Swan Lake, Giselle, Scherherazade, and Pharoah's Daughter on dvd. In particular three dvd's of her dancing at the La Scala ballet have come out in the past two years. This is her third. She dances Natalia Makarova's production of La Bayadere with her frequent partner Roberto Bolle.
I've explained the Makarova production in some detail in my review of the Royal Ballet dvd starring Altynai Asylmuratova and Irek Mukhamedov. Long story short: Makarova recreated, on her own, the long-lost fourth act (the Kirov recreated the last act, based on original notes and orchestration, in their Bayadere reconstruction a couple years ago). She also streamlined many of the dances in the Solor/Gamzatti Betrothal Act, and redid the orchestration. The more I see Makarova's version, the less I like it, from the drastic slash and burn of the Engagement scene, to the artificially souped up orhcestrations (so different from the simple but beautiful orchestrations of both the POB and Kirov), to reducing the Shades from 32 to 24, and I don't like her reconstruction of the lost act either, which recycles earlier music and has very little actual dancing.
That being said, La Bayadere lives or dies on its Nikya, and also on the corps de ballet. The Entrance of the Shades is one of the most famous (but treachorous) scenes in classical ballet. One by one, a "shade" descends down a ramp, making a penchee arabesque, and for the next 10 minutes, all their movements must be in exact parallel to each other. When done correctly, the effect is hypnotizing. When it's a bad night, it's just painful to watch. For an example of how beautiful the scene can be, buy the Paris Opera Ballet's La Bayadere with Nureyev's wonderful production. The wonderfully rehearsed POB corps show how it's done. Makarova makes it easier on the corps -- unlike the POB, Kirov, or Bolshoi, only 24 shades are used. But the La Scala corps are only average, and so the Entrance of the Shades is not all that magical.
And how are the dancers? Svetlana Zakharova in recent years has taken a lot of heat for her drastic hyperextension -- "ear-whacking," as the critics call it. Her mile-long legs and tiny head as well as her highly arched feet make Sylvie Guillem look positively rusty and stubby by comparison. But that's not actually what bothers me about her. Zakharova is a cold, ineffective actress. Her Nikya is lacking in emotional resonance and her "acting" borders on hamminess. She seems to have two expressions -- a furrowed brow when she's upset, a vacant smile when she's happy. Her Nikya is lacking in vulnerability -- Zakharova seems more interested in showing off her legs than creating a living, breathing character. It's only in the Shades scene that Zakharova proves her worth as Nikya. Here, she can stop acting and simply show off her very impressive classical technique. Her emotional remoteness is more tolerable -- Nikya is a Shade, not a real person anymore. She handles the treacherous duets and solos with Solor (particularly the viel duet) with aplomb. For a dancer with such a highly arched instep, her control over her balances is impressive. Roberto Bolle as Solor is dark and handsome, but to be quite honest only an average dancer and lacking in the emotion department as well.
In short, as with all Zakharova videos, I was disappointed. Why can't a dancer of such beauty and technique win me over? And I dislike the Makarova production intensely. My two favorite videos remain the Royal Ballet video (using the Makarova production, but also starring the incandescent Altynai Asylmuratova), and the Paris Opera Ballet dvd, with Nureyev's wonderful production (an almost exact replica of the Kirov production choreographically, but with extremely lavish sets and costumes.) There is also an OOP and not on dvd video from the Kirov from the 1970s starring Gabriela Komleva, Tatiana Terekhova, and Sergei Berezhnoi."
Two dancers' show
Surfer | 04/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Zakharova and Bolle are so handsome that they can get all attentions by just standing on the stage, not mention that they are great dancers. Unfortunately the rest of the cast does not match. I could have given 5 stars, but it is so obvious that the supporting roles and corps de ballet are technically not so good. Generally speaking La Scala Ballet is not first class ballet company, especially many of the female corps de ballet don't seem to have good physical conditions to be ballet dancers. Anyway Zakharova and Bolle save the show. This comment also applys to La Scala's Giselle and Swan Lake."