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A big disappointment
on 4 September 2010
I have long been a fan of the 2000 Release on Opus Arte of the Royal Ballet's current production of the Nutcracker, featuring Miyako Yoshida as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Anthony Dowell as Drosselmeyer and Alina Cojocaru as Clara. So I was looking forward to the release this month of a new recording of the same production, under the same director, Ross MacGibbon, but this time in High Definition and on the Blu-ray format.
What a disappointment! Whilst Miyako Yoshida, now ten years older and nearing her sell-by date continues to charm as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Gary Avis fails to convince as the great magician, Drosselmeyer, and although I have long been a fan of Iohna Loots she just does not present the same vulnerability as Clara as did the then very young Alina Cojocaru - not surprising perhaps when Ms Loots, in her mid-thirties is attempting to portray a thirteen year old girl!
From a technical point of view, Ross MacGibbon who also directed the earlier 2000 version, seems to have lost the plot and in scenes as important as the transformation scene when the Christmas Tree just grows and grows accompanied by Tchaikovsky's magnificent score, the spectacle is completely lost through extremely poor editing.
So far as extras are concerned, the earlier version contained a detailed back stage look at the transformation scene and how it was achieved - far more interesting than watching the young pupils at White Lodge rehearsing their roles. Since both releases are by the same company, Opus Arte, it is difficult to understand why the earlier footage of the transformation scene was not included as an extra.
Two other technical issues - the performance came across as a silent movie with an orchestral soundtrack. The images did not seem to be married to the music. There was no sense of presence at the performance. Clearly there were no mikes picking up the dancers' footfall and this is a great shame.
Finally, my copy of the disc appears to be faulty in that quick movements appear jerky and frozen- as if frames are missing. Perhaps the programme needs re-mastering.
What a shame that Opus Arte did not re-release the definitive 2000 version in High Definition - it has so much more going for it.