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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for those who warm to the setting of Imperial Russia
This 2009 recording of Anthony Dowell's production of Swan Lake is set in the time of Imperial Russia and thus differs in period from many other productions.

The costuming and stage settings created in order to achieve this period are suitably lavish and, to my mind, sumptuously convincing. This observation is only relevant to the external and internal palace...
Published on 26 April 2012 by I. Giles

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20 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this, buy the 2006 Kirov version in Blu Ray
In my opinion the dancing was very mediocre compared to the 2006 Kirov ... (I think Roger might have meant this version rather than the Bolshoi but if not my apologies.)

The very elaborate but beautiful sets caused confusion as did the profusion of extras that inhibited concentration on the central figures. I have many different versions of this ballet and...
Published on 14 Nov. 2009 by Michael


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for those who warm to the setting of Imperial Russia, 26 April 2012
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I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This 2009 recording of Anthony Dowell's production of Swan Lake is set in the time of Imperial Russia and thus differs in period from many other productions.

The costuming and stage settings created in order to achieve this period are suitably lavish and, to my mind, sumptuously convincing. This observation is only relevant to the external and internal palace scenes of acts 1 and 3 of course. In these scenes the female corps de ballet costumes are especially pretty and flattering and the autumnal range of colours chosen for the whole corps de ballet I find very pleasing to the eye.

By contrast the lakeside scenes of acts 2 and 4 are cool and dark. The corps de ballet swans, on the other hand, wear `feathery' dress costumes rather than the commonly worn tutus. These, to my mind, enhance the femininity and grace of the dancers and seem to be very suitable as regards creating a swan-like effect. The Swan Queen, by being the only one wearing a tutu is thus emphasised in her role. All of this is, of course, a matter of taste and many would prefer to see the whole corps de ballet swans wearing tutus too.

The palace setting in act 3 returns to the sumptuous setting of the first act which I find to be completely in character within this production's concept of Imperial Russia. The dancing of the characteristic dances is of a consistently high standard and I find the different choreography to be both interesting and appropriate. The role of Odile is beguilingly danced by Nunez and it is easy to see why the prince should be deceived. The deception is spectacularly unmasked at the end of the act complete with lighting and smoke effects.

The last act once more features the corps de ballet in the same costumes as before with the exception of Odette in the traditional tutu. However, in this production, the emphasis is about her mutual love with the prince and love's power of redemption. This, to my mind, is far more satisfying than the angst-ridden Odettes of other productions where the emphasis seems to be on her personal distress rather than any mutual attraction between her and the prince as is clearly portrayed here by Nunez and Soares. I also much prefer the choreography which I believe to be Ashton's throughout the last act. All of this is a personal preference and may not be everyone's favourite approach of course.

The general pacing of the ballet is fairly fluid as conducted by Valeryi Ovsyanikov and is expertly played by the orchestra which is on top form. This is immediately apparent in the overture which has pleasing grip from the start.

There are two bonus films in the form of a 16 minute interview with the producer, Anthony Dowell and a 30 minute documentary conversation concerning the demands of dancing the role of the Swan Queen as described by three previous ballerinas and the current star, Marianela Nunez. Both of these bonuses make rewarding viewing and interesting extras.

The imaging is crisp and clear in the manner of HD definition and the camera work provides a nice balance between detailed and more panoramic views. The sound is excellent and is presented in PCM 5.1 and stereo.

If this particular approach is to your liking you, like me, will feel it to be worth 5 stars. I am aware however, that this is not everyone's favourite and other versions can be preferred. The purpose of this review has been to highlight the essential differences to be found in this production as a guide to personal choice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memento of a beautiful performance, 17 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] [2010] (DVD)
I've seen Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares dance in this Royal Ballet production and this disc is a memento of that unforgettable occasion. Marianela Nunez is a great dancer with wonderfully expressive arms and a dazzling technique always in the service of the role. The famous 32 fouettes are immaculately delivered as is her solo beforehand. She offers much imaginative detail that makes the ballet a moving occasion and more than just a display of technique. Thiago Soares is a dashing Prince Siegfried. The supporting roles and ensembles are v. well danced and the first act Pas de Trois with Steven MacRae, Yuhiu Choe and Laura Morera is exceptional. The dark visual quality of the disc does the production quite a few favours by making it look richer and less stridently vivid than it actually is. Ross MacGibbon does a generally good job of with a judicious mixture of long shots, medium shots and close-ups although the selection of shots at the end of act 2 fails to capture the full drama conveyed by the production. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!!, 14 April 2013
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] [2010] (DVD)
I've seen this production of Swan Lake live and didn't think the DVD would be able to compare. No, there is nothing like being in The Royal Opera House, but this came pretty close!

The music is just gorgeous, and the dancing and emotion is breathtaking! Two of my favourite dancers, and my favourite ballet: of course I loved it! The sets are amazing, and really add another dimension to the performance, as does the costuming. I truly, truly love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very nice version of Swan Lake with original costumes, 4 Nov. 2013
A very nice version of Swan Lake with some original costume designs and nice extras.

Performance. I liked a lot Marianela Nuñez, but not that much Corps de ballet. Nevertheless I am just an amateur so my opinion is not "professional".
Costumes. I found them very original and lavish. Though I was a little puzzled by the Russian themes in the 1st act (the original Swan Lake is set somewhere in Germany), Anthony Dowell explains the decision to set it in Russian in the time when Tchaikovsky wrote the score in the interview which you can find among extras of this disk.
Lightning. The lightning seems to be designed for the live audience. Unfortunately as the video has a very limited exposure latitude (capability to record differently lit areas), much worse than the human eye, in the first and in the third act the dancers on the background are virtually not seen. This is not a big deal, but looks grainy like a badly made video.
Video. Apart of the lightning glitch, which I think is impossible to overcome unless you record on film or change the lightning, the quality is truly Blu-ray.
Sound is great.

Conclusion: great disk that could be a nice addition to anyone's collection, though myself I prefer the Kirov Ballet version with Uliana Lopatkina as more rounded and classic.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swan Lake, Royal Ballet, 2009, 5 April 2011
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This performance is without doubt one of the finest I personally have ever witnessed, albeit only on DVD.
I wish I had been there on the night to see it in the flesh - so to speak.
It has stunning musical performances from the orchestra, fantastic choreography and acting from the dancers, glorious set designs and costumes and of course the thing which holds it all together - Tchaikovsky's music.
I've watched the DVD many times already and each time I usually notice something going on, perhaps in the background, which I hadn't noticed before.
To say I am impressed with this DVD is an understatement!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday present for grand daughter, 3 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] [2010] (DVD)
Very easy to order and arrived really quickly. Granddaughter loves it and dances around the kitchen and
Has asked me to take her to see it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swan Like, 21 Aug. 2013
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At present, the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake is the closest version to the original 1895 Petipa/Ivanov ballet, done for the Imperial Ballet of St Petersburg - now the stuff of legends. This Royal Ballet production inherited that merit as follows: In the 1930's, Royal Ballet founder Ninette de Valois invited ex-Imperial Balletmaster Nicolai Sergeyev to stage the 'Imperial Lake' for the Vic Wells Ballet. Its successor, the Royal Ballet, returned to this treasure with Anthony Dowell's 1987 production. And voila. Until someone dares to use the materials from the Sergeyev Collection (at present in Boston's Harvard University) to stage a one hundred percent reconstructed Swan Lake, we are lucky to have this version. However, even where there are no intentional departures from the Imperial text I suspect differences crept in; e.g. in the Bridal Dance and in Marianela Nunez's substituting the hard-to-sell changements de pied in Odile's coda (although I have seen her do this step in an earlier performance). Short history of Swan Lake: Tchaikovsky's first ballet premiered with Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet in 1877 with choreography by Julius Reisinger. Moscow produced a subsequent version by Hansen, but somewhere in the late 1880's the ballet disappeared into the wings. Tchaikovsky triumphantly returned to ballet only in 1890, persuaded by theatre director Ivan Vsevolozhsky. Together with the unsurpassed Marius Petipa they created the pinnacle of classical ballet: The Sleeping Beauty. The Nutcracker followed in 1892. So when Tchaikovsky suddenly died in 1893, the world had lost an important ballet composer with relatively little output. To capitalize on the success, Swan Lake was taken from the shelf. After some necessary brushing up by conductor Riccardo Drigo (held in high esteem by Tchaikovsky himself), the 1st full-length production of the `Peterburgian Lake' took place in the early days of 1895. As was acknowledged by the likes of Balanchine, the significance of Drigo is something history tends to pass by or underestimate, especially where it concerns Swan Lake. Ironic, for there is no ballet score of the period that wasn't touched by Drigo. His is the ending of the White Swan Pas de Deux, originally ending in allegro, but also the blissful rearranging of the act I music we have come to call the Black Swan pas de deux. By the 1890's, it had become a custom to have a waltz in every ballet act, and since Swan Lake's last act didn't have one, Drigo arranged Tchaikovsky's Valse Bluette (op 72 no 11). Together with a new pas de deux for Odette and Siegfried to A Poco di Chopin (op 72 no 15), the last act was the most heavily revised one. Today, only the Mariinsky Ballet and the Royal Ballet retain these changes. But where the Mariinsky nowadays brings a lyrical syrup and high legs to these dances (which the reformer of the Russian school herself, Vaganova, probably would have hated), the Royal Ballet remains truer to the Imperial style. Of other major value are the child swans. When the hunters come to the stage Odette protects her flock, but succeeds only after the child swans place themselves in front, for no one would shoot at children. Theatrical logic, lost everywhere except in this production. In the big Swan Waltz of act II, these children form the middle row.
On the other hand, the designs radically depart from the medieval story. Yolanda Sonnabend has been inspired by late 19th century Russia, and especially by the easter eggs of court jeweller Kar Fabergé. It works eccentricly well. On the dancing: the Argentinian Marianela Nunez combines technical brilliance with vulnerability and beauty of line. Odette's explanation of how the lake is filled with her mother's tears is hard to convey (and therefore often replaced by Vaganova's double work with attitudes and lifts), but Nunez's is top-notch. As Odile she is razorsharp and secure. She cleverly doesn't go for the now common harlot-interpretation. Her partner, Thiago Soarez's technique flows from his innate `dansante' qualities. You care for this Siegfried. The corps de ballet, never as homogeneous as the Mariinsky's, is also devoid of the boring overstylisation there. This Swan Lake has the feel of a production everbody enjoys dancing in. Clumsy choices in direction and camerawork are virtually avoided here. Extras include an interview with Anthony Dowell, and a very pleasant conversation with Four Swan Queens of different generations. They discuss the niceties and difficulties of the dual role. All that remains for me to say is: As of 2012, the Royal Ballet has a new director and that might sooner or later mean a change of production - making this disc not only a joy to watch, but a valuable document to boot.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would Rather it were in PAL and not NTSC., 13 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] [2010] (DVD)
This is one of the best "Swan Lake" Ballets on disc, with this particular version, only marred by the fact that it uses the American NTSC system, instead of the British
PAL system, with consequential loss of quality.
We all know that the American NTSC colour is inferior to the British PAL colour.
Amazon sell the Blu-Ray version of this in PAL, why not the DVD version.
Presto Classics sell the PAL DVD version, if you want the best PAL DVD.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful production, 22 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] [2010] (DVD)
I saw this recording when it was released at the cinema during the summer and I thought it was a beautiful version of this great ballet. I have seen this production live many times and I don't think the designs have ever been bettered, creating a stunning Faberge inspired backdrop to the exquisite choreography. Thiago Soares and Marianela Nunez dance perfectly in this ballet and bring real emotion to their roles and they are supported by a fantastic Royal Ballet at its best. Especial mention should be made of the Pas de Trois in act 1 which is danced by three of the Royal's most talented dancers- Steven McRae, Yuhui Choe and Laura Morera.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly convincing production., 27 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake [DVD] [2009] [NTSC] [2010] (DVD)
I've just seen this DVD on tv. One of the best aspects of it is the playing of the orchestra of the Royal Ballet under Valery Ovsyanikov. Ballet orchestras play these works very well but this is better even than usual. I found the production as a whole most convincing and enjoyable. I don't have the ballet knowledge to comment on it much more, I'm afraid. It comes over as an amazing involving experience.
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