DVD's featuring the Royal Danish Ballet don't come by the dozen and this re-release of August Bournonville's "La Sylphide", the quintessential Romantic ballet, is particularly welcome. Bournonville created his version of the ballet in Copenhagen in 1836, four years after the premiere of the original "Sylphide" from Filippo Taglioni at the Paris Opera. While the Paris "Sylphide" disappeared from the repertory the Danish version was miraculously kept in performance until the present day.
Recorded at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen in 1988, this famous film has been available on laserdisc some ten years ago and its release in the DVD-format was long overdue. The staging by Henning Kronstam and Arlette Weinreich, based on the authoritative production of Hans Brenaa is nothing short of ideal, while the cast led by Lis Jeppesen (the Sylph of her generation), a youngish Nikolaj Hübbe (in his debut as James) and Sorella Englund as Madge, is simply outstanding. Supporting roles include Morten Munksdorf as Gurn, Ann-Kristin Hauge as Effy and Silja Schandorff as the leading sylph in Act 2.
The video-transfer is excellent, the sound is simple stereo. "La Sylphide" is a short ballet (just over an hour) and some bonus features should have been included, such as a documentary on August Bournonville, the Royal Danish Ballet or its School.
But for the performance itself, nothing but the strongest recommendation.