Cinderella may be Sergei Prokofiev's most accessible ballet, both musically and visually, and in the hands of a master choreographer, it can be a thrilling experience. And so it is with this 1969 Royal Ballet performance... more », with then-resident genius Frederick Ashton pulling out all the stops in a staging guaranteed to please fans and win new converts. Ashton's particular ability to couch his innovative moves within a conventional framework is in evidence here. The back cover calls this "an acclaimed historic performance," and historic it certainly is. Several Royal Ballet dancers are shown in top form, including Ashton (as one of our heroine's ugly stepsisters!), Anthony Dowell as the prince, and the wonderful Antoinette Sibley as Cinderella. The production itself is filled with colorful sets and vivid costumes, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House plays Prokofiev's enchanting music under the steady baton of John Lanchberry. The video itself is simply rendered, and the unspectacular sound does the job. --Kevin Filipski« less
Robert Levonian | Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil | 09/18/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a typical product of the forties, conservative, elegant and with a reserved sense of humour. Ashton's choreography is very classical in the sense that it's more respectful to tradition than innovative. Antoinette Sibley is a gracious dancer with a limpid technique, but I found Anthony Dowell's dancing rather cold. Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann are absolutely hilarious as the jealous sisters. The second act ballroom scene - where Ashton dances with a rather diminutive partner - is a jewell of integrated dance and pantomime. The recording seems to be dated, though. The colors look faded and the sound has been poorly recorded. Also, the story has been shortened. After the ballroom scene the prince - in the original third act - travels to foreign ountries (Arabia and Spain)to find Cinderella. This act has been ommited, which is a pity for it gives an excellent opportunity for character dances.There are four other versions of the ballet. The one choreographed by Maguy marin for the Lyon Opera Ballet is a claustrophobic and anguished piece, recommended to those who are interested in psychoanalysis and the avant-garde. Nureyev's version for the Paris Opéra Ballet has Sylvie Guillem as its main point of interest. Her partner Charles Jude has few chances to dance and Mr. Nureyev doesn't even have a dancing part. The action has been brought to the Hollywood of the twenties.
The Bolshoi version is the closest to the original. Raissa Struchkova gives a rather naive interpretation but her dancing is vigorous yet refined. This version was filmed as a feature film, not in a theater. The sense of humour is rather heavy sometimes. Sound and color are passable. The last version on video I know is of the Sevchenko Ballet from the Ukraine. In my opinion it's the most interesting. Sound and image are finely recorded and the cast, although little known - whoever heard of Alexey Ratmansky? - dances beautifully. It's quite difficult to get, as it was recorded on laser disc."
A Classic. Also funny. The children will like it, too.
Robert Levonian | 05/25/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Royal Ballet version of `Cinderella' is delicious - and an excellent choice for people who are new to ballet. (More experienced viewers might prefer more taxing choreography.) This particular tape, however, has a terrific cast. It stars Anthony Dowell and Antoinette Sibley as Cinderella and her Prince - while the ugly sisters are brilliantly played by Freddy Ashton (the choreographer) and Robert Helpman. Wayne Sleep is there, too. Oh, and the music is glorious."
A Cinderella to Avoid
Robert Levonian | 06/04/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This live performance from the venerable Covent Garden features wonderful dancing by the principals Sibley & Dowell, a little less coldness and stiffness by the latter would have been very welcome. Sibley delivers; she is a spectacular Cinderella. So why avoid this performance? The answer is that Prokofiev's magical classical ballet is ruined by the excessively self-indulgent circus-clown contributions of the step-sisters (very big-time ballet guys in drag who should have known better). I doubt if Prokofiev would have recognized his ballet, the flow of the piece is stopped dead in its tracks on several occaisions by the step-sisters' circus-clowning,(sorry, but I thought they were more strange than funny), they try to steal the show but ruin it instead. To make time for this
nonsense the piece has been cut, a bad idea. For a version of Cinderella where ballet is the main focus, not slap-stick, try the Bolshoi production. A not-yet-famous Maximova appears in the four seasons scene. Dancing and musical performance are on a consistently high and very inspired level, and the humorous scenes flow along naturally in the context of the greater work. The Bolshoi gets 5 stars."
Cameraman in the Balcony
Energeticus | Wenatchee, WA United States | 06/08/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I would like to add to the negative reviews already posted the further comment that I have never yet seen a ballet so consistently photographed from a distance. Wide ensemble shots are often appropriate; but whatever acting and subtler gestural skills the dancers may have exhibited, not to mention costuming details, are almost entirely lost on the viewer. Closeups last for a few seconds at most, as if the filming director were afraid of letting makeup show. This was highly frustrating to me, as both Dowell and Sibley seemed to be in good form. Even in the solos and pas de deux segments the camera hangs awkwardly back as if the cameraman were unfamiliar with the piece and fearful of letting the principals unexpectedly dash off screen. Ballet is a pantomimic art, and a good visual recording should not relegate the viewer to the nosebleed seats."
A Funny, Romantic Ballet With A Great Score
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 05/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This filmed version of the Royal Ballet's 1969 Cinderella is a knock out, provided you're willing to accept it on its own terms. The DVD is a filmed record of the ballet's theatrical presentation. The camera takes in the stage in full shots, with medium and close-ups at times of the featured dancers.
What it makes it valuable is that this is the only record we have of one of the famed ballets of the Twentieth Century. What makes it so watchable, if you're so inclined, is a great score by Sergei Prokofiev, clever, funny, romantic, classic choreography by Frederick Ashton, a sumptuous production and superb dancing by Antoinette Sibley as Cinderella and Anthony Dowell as the Prince. They were the Royal Ballet's most famous and accomplished dancing pair after Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev. And giving the ballet great verve and humor is Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann dancing the roles of the ugly sisters. Both were acclaimed premier dancers in their prime and had successful careers after, Ashton as one of Britain's great choreographers and Helpmann as an actor, choreographer and ballet manager. (You might remember Helpmann in The Red Shoes and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) They provide the comic relief throughout the ballet. The sisters are man hungry, jealous of each other and of Cinderella and absolutely unconscious of how unattractive they are. Ashton and Helpmann are great in the roles.
The DVD is no marvel of clarity, but it's certainly watchable. It's well worth having if you like Prokofiev, if you like a classic of ballet, if you like two great comic turns...or if you like all three."