Worth it for the Bourmeister production, Zakharova's Swan Qu
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 10/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This new dvd from La Scala Ballet is notable for two things: 1. It's the famous Vladimir Bourmeister production, which the Paris Opera Ballet used for years prior to Nureyev's production; and 2. it preserves Svetlana Zakharova's Odette/Odile on film.
Bourmeister's production differs from most Western productions of Swan Lake in several respects. One is that, like the Soviet productions, there is a prominent role for a Jester in Acts 1 and 3. The Jester in this case is Antonino Sutera. Personally I find the Jester distracting, but that's just my bias. Also, the pas de trois is in this production a pas de quatre.
The second major difference concerns the music used for the "Black Swan" pas de deux. To explain this a little history is needed: the original music for the Black Swan pdd was lost. In the famous 1895 Petipa/Ivanov production, some music Tchaikovsky had composed for Act 1 was used in the Black Swan pdd. This has become the "traditional" Black Swan music that is used in the majority of Swan Lake productions. Bourmeister decided to use music Tchaikovsky later composed for the Black Swan pas de deux. For balletomanes this music should be instantly familiar because George Balanchine used this music for his "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" which remains a favorite showpiece for dancers. Personally, I prefer the "traditional" Black Swan pdd music even though the Bourmeister choice may be more authentic. The traditional music sounds more sinister and predatory, while the music used in the Bourmeister production sounds too lush and romantic. But still it's a very nice tune, and I don't mind it being used. Bourmeister puts some of the "traditional" Black Swan pdd back into Act 1 as a solo/pdd for Siegfried. Personally I find the Act 1 pas de deux between Siegfired and a random girl somewhat pointless, dramatically.
The third major difference is that Bourmeister's production has a Soviet-style happy ending, with Siegfried defeating Rothbart and Odette transformed back into a human. I personally prefer the ending of Odette and Siegfried dying and being pulled by a Swan Boat into heaven.
What about the dancing? The Siegfried in this production has relatively little actual solo dancing. But Roberto Bolle is handsome, and is a sensitive partner for Zakharova. And how is Zakharova's Odette/Odile? I'm going to admit a personal bias -- I think Russian-trained ballerinas simply make better Odette/Odile's. The strong curvature of their spine, plus their emphasis on fluid arm and back movement, simply makes them more convincingly swan-like. Zakharova (formerly of the Kirov, now of the Bolshoi) is no exception. Tall, long-limbed, extremely flexible, and possessing great physical beauty, Zakharova is a regal, dignified, beautiful Odette. I've seen Zakharova both live and on video and she always struck me as a beautiful but somewhat cold dancer. Her Odette is still not as tender and poetic as the best of the Odettes, but it's better than anything else I've seen her do, and probably more beautifully danced than the vast majority of Odettes out there. Like most Russian ballerinas she takes the White Swan pdd at an exceedingly slow pace, so that each movement and pose takes on an almost statuesque majesty and beauty. Zakharova also unfortunately displays some weaknesses that are typical of Russian training. Like many great Russian dancers (Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova come to mind) Zakharova is an erratic turner. In Odette's Act 1 variation Odette has to do a series of fast pirouettes ending with an arabesque on pointe. Zakharova runs out of steam, and kind of cheats her final pirouettes (you have to see the video to see what I mean). Zakharova is a better Odile -- sexy, alluring, but with a "touch me and you die" quality. Her fouettes are quite strong, but she stops at about 25 and the rest are supported -- not sure whether this is part of the choreography or she just stopped. Zakharova's portrayal is not perfect, but these weaknesses do not detract from the overall beauty and majesty of Zakharova's Swan Queen.
The production (produced by former Paris Opera Ballet etoile Florence Clerc) is beautiful, with lovely costumes. The La Scala Ballet corps can't match the Kirov or Paris Ballet in uniformity, but they are certainly not to be sniffed at either. I have a real problem with the way this performance was filmed. The cameramen seemed not to know what the "big moments" of Swan Lake were, and let the camera wander. One particularly egregious example was at the end of Act 2, when Odette is transformed back into a swan. She bourrees offstage, and flaps her "wings" (arms) bonelessly like a bird. This is a Big Moment in Swan Lake, but the cameramen don't show Zakharova's exit. Instead they focus the camera on Bolle, who's not doing anything. This isn't quite as bad as the 1957 Bolshoi film of Swan Lake that cut away from Maya Plisetskaya's ENTRANCE as Odette, but still it's annoying. One last thing: this Bourmeister production (unlike the recent American Ballet Theatre slash-job) is not cut. Act 4 (which was butchered in the ABT video) remains intact, which is important to me, because otherwise, where is the emotional impact of Odette's forgiveness?"
Bolle, the prince
Ramses Gomez | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 02/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a must to have Swan Lake version. I bought the CD thinking about Zakharova because I never had the opportunity to see her and I was curious about her. I have to agree with the review below that Russian trained ballerinas are suitable for ballets like Sawn Lake, specially for their arms that they know how use like no other school. Zakharova is no exception. It is a shame film editors don't realized those little details are very important fro ballet fans. I need to see the whole body face, legs (points included), arms, hands, neck, everything Unfortunately those DVDs are made for everybody and not just a selected public.
This edition has a lot of moments where I was really mad because there were so many things happening and the cam was elsewhere, specially at the end of the ballet when Sigfried is struggling to overcome the flooding and Odette is agonizing as she watches her lover from the distant. It's amazing how she can keep her arms, legs the whole body moving all the time, I think it's a very difficult moment for any ballerina.
Zakharova's Odette is full of passion and love, almost too beautiful, esthetically perfect. She has the perfect ballerina body, with long legs, amazing feet and beautiful arms. She also has a powerful technical, I didn't find her cold (although I can imagine she could be) and she was able to sort all difficulties in the ballet. But for me the big revelation was Bolle, I didn't remember he dances in Alessandre Ferri's Giselle (in la Scalla as well) one of the two peasants, a friend of mine remind me about it suddenly strike me, when I saw that Giselle, I always thought he was a better option for Albretch than the principal Dancer, now I'm certain about it. He is the perfect noble dancer he is the right combination between technic, style, beauty and body. He has everything turns, jumps, body control, elasticity. I particularly think he is the big star on this production, he was a real prince all the time and constantly assisting Zakharova when they danced together. I did some research afterwards and he has danced with Alessandra Romeo and Juliet, I really regret now the version on DVD is with Angel Corella (a good dancer) , I would love to see those two together (Ferri and Bolle)
About her fouttes I think she did a remarkable job considering her feet, it's really hard to turn when you have feet like hers and like Alessandra Ferri, the ballerina tends to loose the center and that's the end. I have to say I've never seen Black Swan fouttes finishes like, but I've seen it in other pas the deux, I have to say it's very difficult to finish fouettes like that, it's harder than the traditional way. In my opinion she was perfect a the end, everything went smooth and they both managed to keep the rhythm which is very important and really hard to achieve
I honestly don't care much about the ornaments and productions, I need good dancers and logic choreographies to enjoy a ballet."
A very good (and slighly different) Swan Lake
Ballet Fan | 10/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this because of Svetlana Zakharova and the rarely seen Bourmeister choreography. Zakharova dances beautifully. To the reviewer who commended on the fouettes, I have never seen the Bourmeister version performed with 32 fouettes, just 24 or 28 (not sure). But in any case the fouettes are only a trick and not what makes a good Odette/Odile. Zakharova is a great Odette and a very good Odile.
The La Scalla ballet are average as usual. The sets and costumes are good. The editing of the video is very annoying with frequent cuts and changes of camera angle that ruin the choreography. After watching this and various other dance DVDs almost ruined by bad editing, I propose to leave the editing to the choreographers or the ballet masters. At least they know what the important parts are!!! "
Frank Cannonito | Irvine, CA USA | 06/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the most phenominal performance of Swan Lake I have ever seen. Svetlana Zakharova has everything required of a great prima ballarina. Her fluid arm movment, incredible extension, limber form are all wedded to the most expressive performance of Odille I know. The pas de deux in act 2 is langorously performed. Miss Zakharova tantilizes the audience with exquisitely lyrical movement all in the service of the character. She is ably partnered by Roberto Bolle who is himself extraordinary. What is especially appealing about this performance is its staging conceived with TV and DVD in mind. The costumes, the court coreography are wonderful. Antonino Sutara as the Jester is worthy of praise as are the quartet and trio of swans. If you have only one performance of Swan Lake let this be it."
vagador | uk | 11/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i watch this twice a week, i have six versions but cannot get past this one. a previous reviewer used the description (touch me if you dare)which i thought described miss zakharova perfectly. the principal dancers and corps also costumes and sets are exellent this is absolutely the best dvd i have ever bought and is value for money, plus the extras . the two principals could walk or dance on swan lake, i love it, can you tell."