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Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet [Blu-ray] [2013] [NTSC]

Federico Bonelli , Lauren Cuthbertson    Exempt   Blu-ray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 24.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet [Blu-ray] [2013] [NTSC] + La Bayadere - Bolshoi Ballet [Blu-ray] [2013] + Prokofiev: Cinderella [Anna Tsygankova, Matthew Golding, Larissa Lezhnina] [Opus Arte: OABD7126D] [Blu-ray] [2013]
Price For All Three: 82.44

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Product details

  • Actors: Federico Bonelli, Lauren Cuthbertson, Alexander Campbell, Bennet Gartside, Davvid Trzensimiech
  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Feb 2013
  • Run Time: 158 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00B8X51UC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,498 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Romeo Federico Bonelli
Juliet Lauren Cuthbertson
Mercutio Alexander Campbell
Tybalt Bennet Gartside
Benvolio Dawid Trzensimiech
Paris Vale Rihristov
Lord Capulet Christopher Saunders
Lady Capulet Christina Arestis
Escalus Prince of Verona Gary Avis

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Conductor Barry Wordsworth
Choreography Kenneth MacMillan

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, March 2012

Given its premiere by The Royal Ballet in 1965 with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing the title roles, Kenneth MacMillans first full-evening ballet has become a signature work for the Company, enjoying great popularity around the world. From the outset, the production teems with life and colour as the townspeople, market traders and servants of the rival Montagues and Capulets go about their daily business in vibrant crowd scenes. But Romeo and Juliet take centre stage for those great pas de deux: the meeting in the ballroom, the balcony scene, the morning after the wedding and the final devastating tomb scene. Although The Royal Ballet has performed Romeo and Juliet over 400 times, each performance and pairing is subtly different, and Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli are utterly captivating in the title roles. This performance was broadcast live from Covent Garden to cinemas worldwide.

Product Description

OA 0BD7116D; OPUS ARTE - BBC - Inghilterra;

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
This new disc, recorded in March 2012, comes into the most direct competition possible with the previous recording. That was made in November 2007 by Decca, also at the Royal Ballet with the same production but with a different cast and a Russian conductor. One might be forgiven for being rather confused at this stage as it seems that they will double up so closely as to be an unnecessary duplication. In reality they are very different performances with a completely different emotional effect almost throughout.

Individual timings of various sections are an indication of the different approaches to the interpretation. In the earlier version starring Acosta and Rojo with Boris Gruzin conducting tempi are noticeably faster with tauter movements in many sections (such as in the crowd scenes or the sword fights) than in the new version with Federico Bonelli and Lauren Cuthbertson starring with Barry Wordsworth conducting. Some of the gentler sections can be startlingly different too such as Juliet's dance in act 1 taking just 2'20'' with Rojo compared to just over 3 minutes with Cuthbertson for instance. The ensemble pieces with their slower speeds in particular have completely different effects. The market scenes in the earlier version have an unmistakable sense of menace, the harlots' dance has an aggressive edge, the dance of the knights (Capulets) is clearly a demonstration of menacing power on the earlier version while the new version is more of a measured demonstration of stateliness.

This difference in interpretation between the two performances is apparent throughout and equally applies to the main characters, Romeo and Juliet. Acosta is all about strength and power and he is matched by Rojo's apparent fragility.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Quality Production in HD. 27 Feb 2013
By Bruce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Verified Purchase
I went to see this production at Covent Garden many years ago and it has been going for over 400 performances, making it undoubtedly one of the most popular. Now we have another version on Blu Ray, only a few years after this one Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet [Blu-ray] [2007] [2009][Region Free]

The reason seems to be that this comes from a performance that was broadcast live to cinemas around the world in March 2012; giving an opportunity to produce this recording. Everything about this exudes quality and from the excellent orchestra conducted by Barry Worsdworth, to the sets and costumes - it's all top notch.

What I remember from the Royal Opera House was that in the audience, the sound of the dancers' feet landing was much louder than expected and at times overpowering Prokofiev's delicate scoring. But in this recording, everything is perfectly balanced - every detail of the orchestra is heard and the physicality of the dancers comes across just as well. DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound helps and the orchestra sound closer than the stage noises.

Picture quality is excellent and every detail comes across, due to the sympathetic lighting and you are left to enjoy the spectacle unhindered by any aspect. Of course, the reason this is popular is that there is plenty of action and the story is very familiar. Along with some truly memorable tunes, the whole thing flies by in a whirl.

The Blu Ray package is generous with over two and half hours of the ballet and several extras about the making and one of the most exciting aspects - the swordfights. The booklet included is excellent, with many photos and detailed indexing, information and synopsis. Highly recommended.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic production wonderfully performed 15 Jun 2013
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I first saw this production at the time of the live broadcast to cinemas around the world. It is a spectacular production and a wonderful performance. This recording is excellent, both visually and sonically.

Perhaps one day the Nureyev & Fonteyn film of this work will be available on Blu-ray, but the music would need to be re-recorded to match this modern recording.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lived up to expectations 29 April 2013
By FOZZY
Verified Purchase
I was very excited to see the new blu-ray edition of one of my favourites released with Lauren Cuthbertson in the lead role. I didn't expect a dvd offering to match the old Wayne Eagling & Alessandra Ferri version (in 4.3 format) for quality of performance and casting, but this comes very close. Only the addition of the master choreographers own hand in the production could have improved matters. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Same production, same venue, different cast, different interpretation 28 Mar 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
This new disc, recorded in March 2012, comes into the most direct competition possible with the previous recording. That was made in November 2007 by Decca, also at the Royal Ballet with the same production but with a different cast and a Russian conductor. One might be forgiven for being rather confused at this stage as it seems that they will double up so closely as to be an unnecessary duplication. In reality they are very different performances with a completely different emotional effect almost throughout.

Individual timings of various sections are an indication of the different approaches to the interpretation. In the earlier version starring Acosta and Rojo with Boris Gruzin conducting tempi are noticeably faster with tauter movements in many sections (such as in the crowd scenes or the sword fights) than in the new version with Federico Bonelli and Lauren Cuthbertson starring with Barry Wordsworth conducting. Some of the gentler sections can be startlingly different too such as Juliet's dance in act 1 taking just 2'20'' with Rojo compared to just over 3 minutes with Cuthbertson for instance. The ensemble pieces with their slower speeds in particular have completely different effects. The market scenes in the earlier version have an unmistakable sense of menace, the harlots' dance has an aggressive edge, the dance of the knights (Capulets) is clearly a demonstration of menacing power on the earlier version while the new version is more of a measured demonstration of stateliness.

This difference in interpretation between the two performances is apparent throughout and equally applies to the main characters, Romeo and Juliet. Acosta is all about strength and power and he is matched by Rojo's apparent fragility. This creates a dramatic tension which matches the palpable menace that permeates the whole of the earlier performance. The harlots are aggressive, the fight scenes are hair-raising in their intense determination to inflict death. Interestingly, Christopher Saunders appearing in both versions, is more aggressive as Lord Capulet towards Juliet in the bedroom scenes in act 3 than he is in the same role in the new version. Thiago Soares as Tybalt is extraordinarily cold-bloodied and vicious in the earlier production and his actual physical appearance and general demeanour is in a completely different league compared to the more socially acceptable and simply unpleasant characterisation of Bennet Gartside in this new version. Everything about the earlier version is on a more epic scale. This also applies to Rojo's apparent fragility as a naive and very young girl and her ultimate final strength as she takes the sleeping draught and then finally stabs herself and dies. She is visibly moved and struggles to hold back the tears at the following curtain calls and Acosta has to comfort her. It takes her a while to compose herself.

In the new production there is a gentler and more lyrical approach to the whole ballet. This is not just a question of generally slower speeds. The emphasis is on smoother phrasing within the orchestra and a greater emphasis on the sweeping string textures rather than edgy brass which are kept more tonally blended. In the earlier version the phrasing is more aggressive with harsher accenting and with the brass far more prominent and biting in their tonal projection. On stage, the ensemble market scenes are more good humoured here with the harlots less aggressively dominant towards Romeo and his friends and the responses from the other girls less angry or defensive of their propriety. Mercutio's taunting, fight and ultimate death at the hands of Tybalt is more about taunting gone wrong rather than built-in hatred. Lady Capulet shows plenty of grief here but the earlier version is more literally hand-wringing because of the greater level of previous violence and its consequence. Both Federico Bonelli and Lauren Cuthbertson give excellent portrayals of their respective roles but this is very much girl meets boy next door. He is clearly a gentle soul with not an ounce of aggression in him. She is a bonny and healthy young English girl/woman with the added experience of being more than a teenager, more socially aware, less of a naive victim figure and not at all fragile. Both he and she are all smiles and immediately happy at the final curtain calls and there is clearly no need for comfort!

The new booklet has a telling comment from a member of the Technical Department which sums it all up and I quote: 'The Russian conductors go at it like mad things. It does sound better, but you feel "Slow down a bit"-because there's a hell of a lot to do.'

In the Acosta and Rojo earlier version, everything is on an epic scale both emotionally and physically. This applies to absolutely everything from the two stars, the supporting characters, the ensembles and corps de ballet and, possibly most importantly, from the driven and very Russian view of the conductor, Boris Gruzin. This is a drama of inevitable high tragedy which could never have gone right given the total lack of understanding at every level.

In this newer version with Bonelli and Cuthbertson everything is on a more normal girl meets boy next door scale both emotionally and physically. This equally applies to the supporting characters, the ensembles and corps de ballet and, probably crucially, from the more lyrical and less dramatic view of the conductor, Barry Wordsworth. This is a potentially happy story of the love between two young people which goes tragically wrong but could perhaps have been avoided given more understanding and social counselling, and I don't mean to be trite. This is very much a tale related to our own times where hope for a happy ending is never quite banished until the final act. One is left with the feeling of 'If only but ....'

Both discs are well recorded with sharp HD definition in both imaging and DTS-Master Audio sound. The camera work in both cases is excellent and fully supports the action on stage. The new disc supplies two short documentaries about the fight scenes (4 minutes) and about Kenneth MacMillan (8 minutes). There is also the usual Opus Arte cast gallery. The Decca disc does not have any extras.

This then is a choice between two quite different versions which are not as similar as one might expect. Both are equally well danced, recorded and played. The dramatic intent is the difference and this pervades both performances completely.

Supporters of the main stars will surely choose the version that they relate to on that basis. So will those who attended the performances either on stage or on screen. The audiences at the conclusion of both discs were equally ecstatic.

I would suggest that potential purchasers who do not relate directly to either cast would be best advised to consider which type of story they favour - a drama of hatred and aggression overcoming all or girl meets boy with a not quite inevitable tragic ending. Both of these options are equally well done on these two discs but they are not the same by any means.

In conclusion. these are two equally good discs but a reviewer can only give clues as to the differences between them. I would not presume to go further with advice as this will so obviously be a matter of personal responses to the individual dancers and to the type of story preferred. Everything else is equally matched.

..................................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Thank you for your wonderfully in-depth review! You've convinced me to buy the blu-ray. (U.S. review)

A most wonderful review. Many thanks.
Wish you had also commented on the two different Paris. Vale Rihristov's portray made Paris matter far more and the story much sadder.
I'm forwarding your review to a young ballet student. (U.S.review)

An absolutely superb review that is a model for how to address an opera or ballet. Thank you for the insights and also for the example of how to write a comprehensive comparative review. By the way, this is also one of the most beautiful ballets ever written. (Many years ago I was in London and saw Romeo and Juliet; the Juliet -- I sadly forget her name -- was ill and a young substitute was introduced. She was Natalia Makarova. What an experience!) Based on your review I will now buy both versions. (U.S. review)

Very interesting - I do think that Barry Wordsworth is a very good conductor and I have admired his work in purely orchestral repertoire. Given that my own primary interest is the music, I am glad that I got this version; as I have the feeling that his is the approach I prefer (U.K. review)

Yes your review is very comprehensive - it made me want to have a look at some of your other reviews, which I did and found them to be very helpful! (U.K. review)

An EXCELLENT Review, Ian!
We are lucky to have two such brilliant but different versions available, and I'm not sure I will ever be able to pick a favourite!
The 2012 Barry Wordsworth version has one BIG advantage, which is much more pleasant and natural sounding Brass and Strings, but I do miss Boris Grusin's "Full Speed Ahead!" approach to the Swordfight Scenes!! (U.K. review)

Bravo, I. Giles,
I had a feeling of watching a completely different Romeo & Juliet when I got the arte opus disc. You nailed it perfectly! Why chose between the two if you can have both? (U.K. review)

I find that a lot of people who disagree with a review mark it as "unhelpful," which is, I think, a misnomer and unfair. Amazon should have two separate buttons: "agree/disagree" for those who have seen/read/used the item and agree or disagree with a reviewer's opinion and "helpful/unhelpful" for those who are potential buyers. For the latter, your review could not be anything but helpful. (U.S. review)

...........................................

A note to the anonymous negative voters:

The voting system is specifically only about reviews being 'helpful' or 'unhelpful'
Goodness only knows what you find to be `unhelpful' about this review.

A negative vote without reason is not helpful to anyone. It does not contribute in any useful way to discussion so no-one can learn from you.
If you have a different view or find the review 'unhelpful' then explain, giving your reasons, and share your views in the comment option as intended.

Your opinion might then add to the total useful advice.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remake but the differences are mostly a matter of taste 17 May 2013
By John Chandler - Published on Amazon.com
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This is a remake of the earlier Carlos Acosta Blu-ray with the same sets, costumes and even some of the same performers. How does it differ? Not a lot. The main changes are of course in the cast and this release has some interesting extras that unfortunately do not maintain the same picture quality of the ballet. Carlos Acosta is obviously stronger and more athletic than Bonelli but that is not necessarily an advantage in a ballet where Romeo is an Italian teenager and despite not matching Acosta in panache Bonelli looks more the part. Both Juliets are excellent with Paris looking better on the older set but the Priest a big improvement on this new one. The camera work is similar but the colour balance seems slightly better on this new release, particularly in the darker scenes. Tybalt is marginally more evil here but both are very good. By a whisker I prefer this release but have both and would be happy with either. The key will be Acosta versus Bonelli and here it is really a matter of personal choice. I did not see the emotional differences as strongly as another reviewer and the overall timings are only slightly different. Either way you get a great performance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A plethera of riches! 19 April 2014
By Dr. John W. Rippon - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
A plethora of riches! How else can we cope with two great and dramatically different interpretations of the same production of the great 20th Century ballet, Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" done by the same company just a few years apart. It is symptomatic of the continued and increasing eminence of the Royal Ballet that such can comfortably be fit into their house as they are so large in the cultural world picture. The first of these is from 2007 with Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta and conducted by Boris Gruzin. As noted by reviewers and I concur, this is a highly dramatic, energetic, athletic reading of the score by the Russian conductor. And the two stars give whirlwind performances of deeply felt emotions. The sensitive, beautiful Tamara is a joy to behold and Mr. Acosta is also beautiful in his sweeping command of stage and space conveying dynamic determination of purpose. A splendidly satisfying production; breathtaking!
Now some five years later (2012) we have a quite different approach to the score by conductor Barry Wordsworth and with Lauren Cuthbertson as Juliet and the Romeo of Frederico Bonelli.
I have seen dozens of Juliets in my day but I have never been so taken, so moved as with the ultra sensitive portrayal given by Ms Cuthbertson. She really looked like and moved like an early teen adolescent. Such grace, such elegant fresh beauty as she conveyed is so rare as to be a phenomenon. And M. Bonelli was perfect as the boy-next-door, initially awkward in his stirring emotions and then majestic in subtle, skillful, jumps-for-joy. Glorious! The two of them were a magical combination and I think conveyed a more innocent, youthful, "sad" story more in keeping with the tenor of the Shakespear play. I have experienced something of this difference before. In the presentations of this ballet at the Marinski (St Petersburg) the whole story is done with subtle grace and ethereal beauty whereas at the Bolshoi (Moscow) it is bold, athletic and deeply tragic. Both are moving and both are great art. But they are two different productions. In the case of the two Royal Ballet versions, the sets, costumes and actions are the same, the great skill displayed in the fencing of the Capulets and Montagues is delightfully the same and most of the actors/dancers are pretty much the same in feeling and expression. The Tybalt of the Wordsworth presentation was more sinister and the Paris a bit more of a bargain. But it did illustrate what a difference the conductor and the featured cast can make in the effect of the same choreography and the same music.
Speaking of music, a reminder that it is the music that is the prime mover in opera and ballet and to a large extent determines it's longevity. As great a writer and librettist as L. da Pont was, there would be no Don Giovanni without Mozart and as accomplished a novelist and librettist Hugo von Hoffmannsthal was there would be no Der Rosenkavalier without composer Richard Strauss. Yes these productions with the choreography of Kenneth Mac Millan are the best of the many I've seen but this ballet is among the best ever composed. Prokoviev is up there with Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Delibes as creators of ballet music. As the impresario Boris Lermontov said to the nervous ballerina Victoria Page in the "Red Shoes", "nothing matters but the music".
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Ballet performance since Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fontaine 8 May 2014
By Radha Raman Das - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is an incredible ensemble of ballet casting, stage choreography, and dance! The costumes are lush and the stage scenes are fantastic! The performances on stage are very marvelous and wonderfully synchronized to the music. In short: you must own this version.
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