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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 7 January 2011
I am surprised that this performance has only been reviewed by three people! It is such a good performance. Leading artists under the famous Mariinsky Company, absolutely top notch recording - what more could you want!

This is a simply amazing performance. Ulyana Lopatkina is fabulous as Odette/Odile. Yes, I agree with another reviewer that from a visual perspective she would look better after a few good meals but I'm not going to drop a star for that! Andrei Ivanov, who plays the Jester, is magnificent and is worthy of a special accolade.

Technically, this disc is amazing. It is now my number 1 demonstration disc. Pictures are pristine sharp showing wonderful natural colours and with excellent sound. There is a good menu system and the disc comes with a number of interesting extras, most of which are also in high definition. Darcey Bussell introduces several of these extra features, including a brief talk and demonstration of the 'fouettes en tournant' which features towards the end of the 2nd Act.

I heartily recommend this purchase to anyone who is thinking of purchasing this wonderful ballet. Although price should not be the deciding factor, it has to be said that at just under £15 this is an absolute bargain! Ironically, it is a few pennies cheaper than the standard dvd. The disc comes with an informative booklet.
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on 12 March 2008
Having had the privilege of seeing Lopatkina dance this on the stage of the Mariinsky in 2005, I'm at a loss to understand how 1996 can have been considered by another reviewer to have been too late in her career. She moves with grace and a sense of absolute tragedy - exactly what Odette requires from a prima ballerina. Her portrayal of Odile is fiery and, while not outright sexy (in my opinion), is compelling and dangerous. The corps de ballet is superb - a trademark of the Kirov - the orchestra is to-die-for, and I believe any balletomane would be delighted by this production of Swan Lake.
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on 14 May 2014
The glorious Uliana Lopatkina is surely the most memorable Odette/Odile of her generation and you couldn't find a more attentive Siegfried in Danila Korsuntsev. The swans are superlative in this and sharp-eyed fans might spot the young Evgenia Obraztsova, Olesya Novikova, Daria Sukhorukova, Alina Somova and Viktoria Tereshkina - now stars in their own right in various companies- among the cygnets and solo swans. Ilya Kuznetsov makes an authoritative Rothbart (this is the Russian version of the role where Rothbart is danced rather than mimed). As with any Mariinsky performance of Swan Lake, a highlight of this recording is their elegant and commanding rendition of the mazurka and czardas in Act 3 - unmatched elsewhere. If you can only ever buy one recording of Swan Lake (or a first time purchase for a newcomer to ballet), I would pick this one.
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on 20 September 2010
A richly enjoyable rendition of Swan Lake produced by the BBC at the beautiful Mariinsky theatre St. Petersburg.

Gigantic, awe inspiring backdrops and impeccably detailed, opulent costumes contibute to the visual feast. The music is flawless and perfectly timed. The lighting is also extremely well balanced leaving the set visible but not distracting.
Camera work is razor sharp at all times switching between full stage, principal dancers and single dancer close-ups at well rehearsed moments.

But it is the male leads who steal the show, especially the Jester (Andrei Ivanov) who, although a good foot shorter than the prince, leaps about the stage like a gazelle. The acting is also very good. Rothbart's gaze is especially expressive.

The disc is provided with a 30 page programme in English, German and French listing the scenes, acts and players and describing the story of the ballet and the history of the Mariinsky production.

There are seven short documentaries included the disc:
1. What is Swan Lake?
2. The Story
3. The Music
4. The Origins
5. The Dance
6. The Corps de Ballet
7. The Prima Ballerina

Each run at about 10 minutes. Some scenes appear to be high-definition while others are clearly of a lesser quality. All are fairly enjoyable and informative.

My only criticism concerns Odette (Ulyana Lopatkina) who, although clearly an incredible dancer, is completely emaciated. To me there is very little which is beautiful or feminine about her wirey arms, odd bulges, square jaw and sinewy neck. Some of the corps would also be far more attractive but for a hearty meal or two. The uglyness of these dancers can be a distraction, especially in glorious HD, but fortunately, their on-screen moments pass quickly.

I'm very pleased with this product and my disappointment with Odette is outweighed by so much beauty in this impressive and lovingly produced disc.
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on 4 December 2015
For lovers of this ballet, this production should be a 'must have' purchase. The magnificent Mariinski Theatre with it's huge stage is the spiritual home of this Tchaikovsky ballet & this spectacular version does it more than justice.
Not since Natalia Makarova has Russia produced an 'Odette/Odile' as heart-rending & captivating as Ulyana Lopstkina who's performance brings a unique combination of emotion, flawless technique & that exciting almost heart-stopping flourish of fouettés - every other a double - in the celebrated 'Black Swan' solo of act III. She is ably partnered by the 'Siegfried' of Danila Korsuntsev who gives a an assured performance with flashes of virtuosity in his solos & is entirely believeable as a Prince who is drawn into this drama, which of course being a Russian production has a happy ending rather than European versions which has Odette & Siegfried drowning in the lake, to be re-united in a redemptive eternal life.
However, the rôle of the'Jester', no matter how brilliantly danced, (here by Andrei Ivanov), tends to upstage & distract from the action & ultimately becomes tiresome!
The evil 'Rothbart' is in the capable hands of Ilya Kuznestsov, a character artist/dancer with years of experience in this rôle. Mention must also be made of the non-dancing rôle of the Queen, here given the finest interpretation by Alexandra Gronskaya. Tall, regal, with acutely delivered mime perfectly conveying all facets of feeling, expectations, & ultimately shock & heartbrake at the end of the ballroom act.
All the music is included here, some of which is always cut in European productions & will be unknown to many.
The designs have been realised into stunning scenery & sumptuous costumes. Thankfully, the usually over-done hand gestures from corps de ballet members & courtiers, as soloists dance by, have been eliminated! All Russian ballet suffers from this distracting practice!
The huge orchestra gives a thrilling account of Tchaikovsky's famous score & this DVD has the added bonus of Valery Gergiev as conductor.
It will be a long time before Swan Lake will be given a production to top this! Excellent booklet included.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on 18 November 2007
The last Swan Lake on video to come from the Kirov Ballet dated from 1990 (Now available on DVD as well.) Among its assets were the intriguing, beautifully talented Yulia Makhalina, the young and brilliant Igor Zelensky, then still on his way to become one of the great Russian dancers of his generation; it had magnificently pure and authoritative soloists like Larissa Lezhnina and Veronika Ivanova in the supporting cast; it also had the incomparable Viktor Fedotov conducting the score with authority and understanding like only he could; and overall the production was packaged with a genuine sense of artistic direction.

Now, the Kirov is long since called the Mariinsky again, and the new Swan Lake released by Decca and filmed by the BBC in St Petersburg in 2006 is altogether a different affair. The production (now with different sets) is still the same old one by Konstantin Sergeyev from 1950 - based on the definitive 1895 Petipa/Ivanov version - which remains one of the most exemplary, straightforward readings of the ballet around. But this is about where the similarities end.

The current leads are danced by Uliana Lopatkina and Danila Korsuntsev. Lopatkina is adulated in Russia and abroad, and her many fans will undoubtedly welcome this release featuring the ballerina in one of her few signature roles. For my money, the filming came too late in her career and might have been a treasurable addition to any ballet collection some five or six years earlier, when Lopatkina's performances still had freshness and spontaneity. In this recording she takes the role of Odette-Odile in her now characteristic uncompromising, towering manner, with every inch and feather calculated and controlled. Her plastique is gorgeous but no less studied in the extreme. Her plight is long-winded and frozen, hard and eventually unmoving by its insistence on a certain spiritual quality which unfortunately doesn't stick to film. This is an Odette locked in her own world, relating to nobody else on stage, least of all the cardboard prince of Danila Korsuntsev. Her Odile is more attractive but again rather measured and lacking in excitement as well as in seductive power.

In such presence Danila Korsuntsev doesn't stand a chance. He may be an adequate porteur with great physical qualities but his prince is a cipher who dances his few bits in the Black Swan pas de deux without any distinction or interest. That the Mariinsky considers a weak performance like this sufficient to be preserved for posterity, is a sad reminder of the current lack of artistic direction.

The pas de trois as danced by Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina and Anton Korsakov is clean and very lightweight. Here too, there isn't a personality in sight, and everything is delivered without much purpose or concern. Andrei Ivanov's jester is an obnoxious character and anything but virtuosic. The only soloist who stands out is Ilya Kuznetsov portraying the evil Rothbart with panache and a genuine sense of drama.

The true star of this DVD remains the Mariinsky corps de ballet, immaculate in its lines and turning the lakeside scenes, beautifully rendered in this film, into a miracle of plastical beauty, stylistic coherence and spatial grandeur. Likewise, the national dances in the ballroom Act still look totally right.

Curiously, this might be the first ballet DVD release which bills the conductor higher than any of the dancers. Decca doesn't leave any opportunity unused to remind us that this performance of Swan Lake is conducted by "the great Russian maestro Valery Gergiev" (it's always wonderful that the labels emphasize how brilliant their artists are). A great conductor he may be, but it's still a fact that accompanying a ballet performance is far from his defining moment. The typical Gergiev mannerisms can be found here aplenty (the attention to orchestral detail, if sometimes at the expense of the overall line, the unnecessary long final chords etc), yet, worse, his reading lacks all sense of theatricality and spirit, which is with Gergiev's opera background rather surprising. Even Tchaikovsky's big finale sounds understated. As could be expected, the booklet features a full-page portrait photo of Gergiev (except for the cover shot of the DVD-case and some thumbnail pics in the booklet there is nothing comparable for Lopatkina or Korsuntsev) and again in the otherwise learned liner notes by Giannandrea Poesio about the genesis of the ballet we are reminded of how well Gergiev is supposed to understand Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Some words about the dancers might have been appropriate, although Decca clearly doesn't consider them important enough. Be that is it may, Gergiev might have been better served with a studio recording of the full-length Tchaikovsky score, without the constrictions of accompanying a live performance. (And let the Decca marketing not fool you, the double-CD release of Gergiev's Swan Lake is exactly the same live recording as on the DVD).

The image quality (16:9 anamorphic widescreen) is excellent, although as a film of a ballet performance this will never go down as a model. There are too many camera angles slicing up movements and bodies, too many close-ups and frames from the waist up, the central camera providing the overall stage view cuts off the feet, while the crane shots sweeping during the lakeside scenes among the swans are more annoying than revealing. The sound quality (PCM Stereo or DTS 5.1 surround) is first-rate although balance-wise the timpani and percussion should ideally have been more forward. Unfortunately, the editing has been too hasty (Irina Golub tripping in the Dance of the Little Swans, some wobbly endings of solos, Lopatkina floating in all directions during the fouettés, the model swans appearing a second time while in fact only the swan queen is appearing etc. could easily have been edited.)

Admirers of Lopatkina needn't hesitate, but to see a better focused Mariinsky Ballet and Swan Lake the older performance with Makhalina and Zelensky remains a clear first choice.
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on 7 August 2011
This has become my favourite Swan Lake in the blu ray format.

In this production, they have managed to create absolute opulence with minimum fuss about the sets. The dances, dancers, costumes, videograpy and the whole approach to the work is just about near perfect.

Yes, Lopatkina does look anorexic, but her technique and elegance is magnificent.

I prefer this production to the much vaunted and overpriced (comparatively) Paris Ballet with Letestu. They too have done with minimal sets, but these look drab and dull and recognizable as unchanged in every act with different backdrops. I wonder what makes that one doubly expensive as this to buy (I have both). The corps de ballet is just as good in both, and Letestu is just as impressive to watch (in fact visually, she makes better viewing than Lopatkina), but Danila Korsuntsev makes a far better prince than Martinez in the Paris production.

The first act in this production makes a world of difference between this and the Paris version, which is dull by comparison, in fact the whole of the Paris production has a depressive aura about it throughout which makes it a bit of a drag.
Gergiev in this production, does a better job with the orchestra too, which is recorded beautifully.

Lesser said about the 'glittering' Royal Ballet the better, in comparison to both these...

This is an absolute bargain at the price at which it is being sold today (lesser than 12 bucks). I would choose this over all the others as of date.
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on 23 February 2014
Many years ago I saw the Bolsoi ballet perform Swan Lake at Covent Garden but I don't remember seeing anything like this. It was marvelous to watch, and with Gergiev conducting the music was as faultless as I could tell. I rate this performance extremely high.
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on 25 September 2011
I agree with most what was said about this performance and I won't repeat that. My addition to that is the following:
1- This is the only performance I know of, where the tutor and the magician are not the same person. In fact, the tutor appears here as an old and weak guy that everybody like to make fun of
2- Regarding the figures of Odette and other dancers, I think there figures are better than in other performances except in close-ups where there necks and upper chest reveals the missing "meals".
3- The bonus material is very nice. This is the first bonus where I found some attention to explain the meaning of some dance movements.
4- Beware not to view the bonus material before viewing the performance (like me) because it has some demonstrations from old and newer performances and none of them have blu ray quality and I worried about the picture quality of the performance.
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on 3 December 2010
With superb camera work and excellent production only the Bolshoi stand any chance of beating this! Has the edge on the London and Paris bluray versions which are very good
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