There are ever so many productions of Giselle that it is difficult to single one out and say that 'This is the best, worst, average etc etc'. Neither can I say with such conviction like one reviewer before me who proclaimed that "This Paris version is perhaps the closiest to 1887 St Petersburg Petipa's revised Giselle". How is he so sure? Just a hunch? No further comments on this.
This production of Giselle is definitely slightly different from most others that I have seen. I have seen more than a dozen of them in the last 2 decades on the Video.
Does it stand out? Actually, NO.
Lets examine it
1. This is one of the worst filmed blu rays that I have ever bought. I have over 60, all classical. The lighting is BAD. In the first act, Most of the scenes are Grainy. I had to recheck if Amazon had sent me a DVD instead of a blu ray. Only when there are close-ups does it resemble a blu ray disc. In the second act, many more scenes are shot as close-ups and therefore much better.
2. The costumes of the dancers in the first act are rather dull.
3. Pujol in the second act is devoid of any emotion on her face. The viewer has to take it for granted that all her feelings are ensconced in her heart rather than on whatever body or spirit that she is. Hey! We are watching a ballet, and a blank Alzheimer's disease expression during most of the act does not bring out the most important thing in a visual... namely, the feelings that ought to be conveyed to the viewing audience through subtle facial expressions and body language. Same goes insofar as Myrtha is concerned. Deadpan to say the least.
If one were to compare the much vaunted Marie-Agnes Gillot (Myrtha) to Marienella Nunez in the ROH production, you would know what I am talking about. In fact, Gillot can find a good friend in Marta Romagna in the La Scala production (Zakharova dancing Giselle), wherein Myrtha is totally expressionless (wooden) and therefore more acceptable as a Zombie, ie, if you would find this more apt for the role of Myrtha. Do we really want a Zombie expression on Myrtha, Giselle and the Willis who are totally passionate about seeking revenge on the disloyal fiancées who let down their women? This production portrays the Willis as ones with a mechanical insect brain rather than those who have emotions of the strongest and most virulent kind that the Willis are supposed to have. Pujol, poor thing, has I am sure, been forced to dance like a Zombie in the second act by the directors. If one were to compare this with her acting and dancing in the first act, which is brilliant, one would never accuse HER of the deadpan expressions in the second.
The ballet is beautifully danced by the Corps de Ballet. The first act is just great if you can overlook the graininess not associated with a blu ray.
The audio recording is one of the best I have heard. So is the conducting. Bravo Connelley.
Fantastic Precision in the ensemble dancing. Not seen since Kirov and Bolshoi production of the 1970s and 80s
The BEST Mad Dance that I have seen.
Laetitia Pujol excels in the first act. One of the greatest Mad Dances that I have seen. So well brought out both expression-wise as well as in the movements of the body.
Excellent in terms of the First Act dances. Ensemble is brilliant and so beautifully danced.
Between blu ray recordings of Giselle, I would rate the ROH with Alina Cojocaru and Nunez far ahead of this in terms of acting and conveying emotions goes. The Video in blu ray in the ROH production is much superior, but the audio is one of the most miserable I have heard...in this one, the audio is superb. In contrast, Pujol here, although so effective in the first act, totally screws it up in the second insofar as acting is concerned (am sure it is imposed on her by the director), although Pujol's dancing is far more mature than that of Cojocaru's. Myrtha - Nunez wins hands down. It is not the same Marie-Agnes Gillot of a decade ago. She is seen panting and seems in some strain throughout her dances in the second act. No emotions other than wooden come out of her all the time, unlike Nunez who has infused a different approach to Myrtha and therefore the Willis. There is not much to choose between the males in either production. Riche after-all, is a celebrity, and does what he can and should, as per the director.
Between two blu rays of Giselle between Paris and London, I can say definitely that London is far ahead in the quality of the picture, but bad on sound, and Paris is far better in terms of the Corps de Ballet and the sound, but lacks visual and emotional finesse.