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on 14 February 2013
This is a live recording made at Paris Garnier in 2003. The original work was created by Joseph Mazilier using music by Deldevez in Paris in 1846 at the height of the Romantic ballet period. Then, Marius Petipa produced a revised version in St. Petersburg in 1881 with the help from his brother, Lucien, who had danced with Carlotta Grisi in the original production in Paris.

In his version Petipa interpolated a Grand pas with music by Ludwig Minkus. However, the original choreography by Mazilier got lost and was forgotten. Also, in Russia, the only part that survived and was performed regularly was Grand pas in the last act. Then, the Paris Opera Ballet asked Pierre Lacotte, a contemporary French ballet master, to re-construct the work. Lacotte researched the original documents to work out the libretto and mime. He also learned Petipa's choreography from a former Russian dancer who had been taught by Petipa himself. So, this production under review is as close to Mazilier's and Petipa's versions as can be.

The story is simple: Paquita, the daughter of a French aristocrat, had been abducted and brought up by gypsies in Spain, but falls in love with Lucien d'Hervilly, a French officer in Napoleon's army. Her noble identity is eventually revealed and they get married. In act 1, there is a lot of miming and acting as well as dancing. In Act 2, the famous Grand pas to celebrate the wedding is in pure Petipa's style.

Agnes Letestu who dances the title role has a gift for miming and her dancing is excellent. Her variations and Pas de Deux in Grand Pas are superbly done. Jose Martinez (d'Hervilly) is also very good in dancing, if slightly less so in acting. The supporting soloists and the corps de ballet are all very good indeed, displaying impeccable schooling and training in Paris.

The costumes and stage sets are lavish and beautiful. The picture and sound quality is first-rate. There is a supplement of interesting intervews with Lacotte and the two principal dancers. Highly recommended.
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The story of Paquita dates from 1846 and the Spanish subject was designed to suit the exotic tastes of that time. The setting is in Spain at the time of the French Napoleonic occupation. Very briefly the plot concerns a young woman, Paquita, who was abducted by gypsies as a child and who, after several adventures, finds out that she is really of noble birth and thus able to marry the son of the occupying French General who has just fallen in love with her.

On the way to this conclusion the ballet is able to introduce a village festival with much village peasant dancing, a visiting band of gypsies with gypsy dancing and the final setting centres on much celebratory aristocratic dancing. The plot includes conflicting love interests, a failed poisoning and murder attempt, sliding doors, a wicked Spanish Governor, a noble French General and an heroic heroine who turns out to be the lost daughter of the above mentioned General's brother.

The choreography is by Petipa and the music mainly by Minkus. Both of these were skilled at their craft and their work will be familiar to lovers of traditional ballet such as this. The settings in this performance are very attractive with every effort being made to present the work with a wide range of appropriate costumes and staging. The orchestra under the reliable direction of David Coleman is faultless.

The lead roles of Paquita and Lucien are taken by Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez. Both of these dance very well indeed, with a well-maintained rapport between them which makes their relationship believable in terms of the story. The gypsy leader, Karl Paquette, and the Governor, Jean-Marie Didiere, manage to deliver the required auras of evil. The corps de ballet fulfil the roles of villagers, gypsies and courtly dancers very well and there is a particularly effective scene where an extended polonaise is danced by the children of the company. This is exquisitely done.

In summary therefore, it would be fair to say that this is a totally enjoyable piece of escapist traditional ballet where the plot is simply an excuse for attractive choreography, costumes and staging. The music is lyrical and amenable without being distinctively authentic in terms of being Spanish or flamenco. For that you would need to go to Gades and a totally different experience not attempted here. The audience at this performance loved it and that is the best guide to its effectiveness.

The camera work delivers a nice balance of close and panoramic views and the sound is presented in DD 5.1, DTS 5.1 and stereo. This 2003 recording is not at the level of modern HD Blu-rays but is still able to give pleasure, particularly as there is currently no alternative. In my opinion a 4 star grading seems a fair assessment therefore.
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on 9 March 2009
Extremely enjoyable,Martinez and Letestu seem to enjoy every step of this beautifully rechoreographed ballet,following the "esprit de l'époque",by Pierre Lacotte who pays a tribute to Petipa whose original choreography had survived only in the "grand pas ". The music score is as light as a bird singing,so being a powerful anti-depressive musical medicine!Thanks to the devotion of this unique choreographer who revives and gives back to the stages forgotten ballets,we have for instance Coppelia,La Fille du pharaon, La Sylphide( music by Schneitzhoeffer and inspired by the one Filippo Taglioni created for his daughter Maria Taglioni,four years before Bournonville would choreograph a second La Sylphide,this time on Lovenskiold's music),Ondine(yet to be released by the Kirov,God knows when)and several others he did for various Opera Houses and are not on DVD.
In order to compare Lacotte's Grand Pas with the original (Petipa) buy the Kirov Classics and watch last item - Paquita's Grand Pas,danced by Igor Zelensky,Yulia Makhalina and Larissa Lezhnina - absolutely outstanding.
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on 12 April 2015
The re-creation of `Paquita' by the wonderful, imaginative and totally admirable Pierre Lacotte is a triumph of loveliness. This little work, so simple, straightforward and charming, captures the very essence of the glorious days of the Romantic Ballet in Paris, and presents to us in beautiful sets and costumes, with exquisite virtuoso dancing by very attractive and accomplished artists, a vision of pure delight, a fairy tale brought to life for our delectation. The historical dimension of this undertaking also realizes the later Russian additions to this work in the two revivals over thirty years by Marius Petipa (the Pas de trois in Act 1 and the Grand Pas in Act 3). The music by Deldevez and Minkus is central to the whole experience, and a feast of melody and elegant rhythm from beginning to end.
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on 16 November 2013
Being a ballet lover the music is beautiful, the stars are wonderful, I think this is the only full version available on dvd.
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on 5 November 2012
beautiful music and quite different from other productions.
Some of the pas de deux were not very coordinated but the prima bailarina was excellent.
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on 13 April 2014
Enjoyable. I bought it to see Jose Martinez dancing. The whole ballet is good and a bit different from the usual stuff.
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on 29 July 2013
I Really enjoyed the DVD visual and music. i Will be looking out for more of his work. Defo recommend it.
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on 6 September 2015
I have enjoyed this DVD
I would recommend it to anybody
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on 25 May 2009
Although labled 2003 it did not seem the most up-to-date of productions. I wasn't exactly board but then not rivited either. The women (still graceful) are more athletic than oft and the men definately so. Minkus does ballet well and I have several of his on dvd. Worth it for the ballet fan but don't hold breath for a stunner, rather anticipate a thouroghly competant performance which you will enjoy.
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