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Mazilier's and Petipa's work re-constructed
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.