The choreography for this ballet, originally produced by Petipa in St. Petersburg in 1862, had been lost. Then, the Bolshoi Theatre commissioned re-construction of the work with Pierre Lacotte, a well-known French ballet master, in recent years. Lacotte not only revised the libretto and made cuts to the music by Pugni, but also designed the sets and costumes himself. He re-created all the dances.
Being a ballet of Orientalism which was popular in Russia in mid- to late 19th century, it is full of spectacle. Let's not be bothered about the unlikely plot!
Svetlana Zakharova is wonderful in the title role, and her dancing is immaculate. Her high gymnastic extension at 12 o'clock may not be to everyone's taste, but we have to admit that she dances wonderfully and looks so enchanting with her smiles.
The role of her servant, Ramze, is danced by Maria Alexandrova with impeccable technique. Sergei Filin (Lord Wilson) is very good both in dancing and miming. Fortunately, there are some variations (solo dances) for him to display his excellent technique.
In Act III which takes place at the bottom of the River Nile, three soloists - named after three rivers - are all excellent. Anastasia Yatsenko (Guadalquivir), Ekaterina Shipulina (Congo) and Elena Endrienko (Neva) display classical - pure Petipa - dancing. Other supporting soloists and the corps de ballet also show their wonderful dancing and miming skills.
The live recording made in 2003 is very good indeed. All in all, this ballet is a great fun to watch.