Evelyn Hart and Peter Schaufuss dance the leading roles in this studio recording of Natalia Makarova's acclaimed production of the much-loved ballet classic. Her innovative interpretation presents the piece as a tale of id... more »eal and eternal love, paring it down to Siegfried and Odette's love for one another. It is lean and fast-paced, with Gunther Schneider-Siemssen's settings employing back projections instead of scenery for changes of locale and mood. All of these elements infuse the entire production with an atmosphere of magic and mystery.« less
"This is a stage production performed without a live audience. Natalie Makarova directed the choreography and Tchaikovsky's ballet was played by the Danish Radio Symphony orchestra conducted by Graham Bond. The sets have a beautiful mystical quality to them and the costumes are exquisite: the atmosphere is perfect for this ballet.The principal dancers are Evelyn Hart of the Royal Winnepeg Ballet and Peter Schaufuss.I had first seen this performance (in part) as a PBS feature some years ago and although I'd no real experience with ballet in the past I knew as soon as I'd seen Ms Hart come on stage that I was watching someone special. Thus, when I had the opportunity, I was delighted to buy the DVD.Having had time to view this Swan Lake I must say that I can only reconfirm my initial impression of the Prima Ballerina. Ms. Hart has all the qualities to make a great leading dancer: poise, grace, an unbelievable sense of balance, and extension that almost makes her arms and legs look like they must be leaving their sockets. However, the thing that seemed to impress me the most was the expressiveness and suppleness of her arm and hand movement: almost like she had no joints in her upper limbs.Peter Schaufuss is a perfect leading male for this work. He is a supreme dancer, athletic and also blessed with grace and balance. The pas de deux are the highlights of this ballet and they are simply breathtaking. Mr. Schaufuss is able to lift his ballerina so delicately and smoothly that you barely know that he is there: his touch, so subtle, so sure, that his partner can have every confidence in performing her difficult routine; and what a performance it is. Just a joy to watch! And now, the negative (singular) and thus the loss of one star. The wicked sorcerer is portrayed, several times, by an animated ghost-like bird that must have been transposed on the main film. This gimmick, this photographic trickery, almost ruins an otherwise stellar performance of this Swan Lake. What was the director thinking when he added this apparition to this star studded work. Totally unnecessary! So annoying that as you watch this beautiful work, you begin to become uneasy, knowing that this abomination is going to appear and almost ruin the magic that has gone on before. All in all, despite the previously mentioned distraction, let me say that dancing of the principals is so exquisite that this is a Swan Lake you would be happy to make part of any ballet collection."
A Superb, Magical Production
An Historian | Boston, MA USA | 02/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I honestly do not know why the last reviewer was so negative about this production. While it is true that the box is cardboard, that hardly invalidates the production, and the video quality is perfectly acceptable (not as good as some DVDs, but much better than VHS).The performance is excellent, with elegant, graceful dancing and, most important of all, superbly dynamic acting.But the best thing about this production is the staging itself. It is pure magic. The set is one of the best I have ever seen, daring and creative and yet still traditional; the lighting effects are glorious, and the overall effect is one of mystery and fantasy. It seems to inspire the entire production with a wonderful passion and grace.Makarova is the best (where, by the way, is her Swan Lake with Anthony Dowell?). I knew she would not do poor work, and indeed she did not.Bravo all round."
William A. Chase | Garden City, KS USA | 01/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like the other reviewer, I can't understand the Texas reviewer's complaints. I found this version of Swan Lake gorgeously staged, beautifully danced, and the music wonderfully played by the Danish Radio Symphony. My only complaint was that in the second half of the ballet, it was a little too dark to see the principal male dancer clearly, at times, as his costume blended with the background, a complaint not warranted to keep a person from buying and enjoying this beautiful performance again and again."
Wonderful dancing, perfect staging
V. Oh | 07/16/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was my 2nd Swan Lake on DVD after viewing the Fonteyn/Nureyev's performance together with the Berlin Staatstoper. I much preferred the staging here, which stayed much truer to Petipa's choreography. The sets were glorious and gave an aura of mystery that could be felt even in the living room. Less wonderful were the costumes as I didn't quite like the designs of the tutus but that's just a personal quibble.Evelyn Hart is one of the most beautiful dancers I have ever seen. She *was* Odette. Her classical lines were beautiful and she conveyed the Swan Queen's emotions perfectly. Her port de bras and extensions were perfectly placed all the time. Less successful was her Odile but her Odette alone makes this Dvd a must buy. Peter Shauss was a capable and assured Siegfried.Highly recommended."
roadrabbit | England | 05/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The dancing in this video is beautiful, with extraordinary balances achieved by Evelyn Hart. However the production values let it down somewhat in that there seems to be a mist filter on all the cameras giving a soft focus to the whole video. Even in close-up it was difficult to see the expressions on the dancers' faces. It also seemed a very dark production in that the lighting never rose above a medium level - perhaps this was in accord with Makarova's dark interpretation of the story.
With these exceptions the production is well worth seeing as it gives another take on a well-known ballet. The final scene with Siegried and Odette walking away to an infinity of happiness will not please everyone, but it is surely better than some endings (Nureyev 'wallowing endlessly' in sheets springs to mind!).
Ignore any comments about Evelyn Hart's 'thinness' - if she was recovering from the demon anorexia (?) surely she should be given as much support as possible?"