Most helpful positive review
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2013
I'll start off by saying how happy I am that they finally released this version on DVD. Now all there is for them to is to release the Limpid Stream (also streamed at cinemas like this one), with Alexandrova and Skvortsov, amongst others.
I'll start off with basics: the music & quality of the picture are both amazing, as is the costuming and sets. No issues there.
There are several different versions of La Bayadere available on DVD now. This one, to me, is the most superior. The final temple scene (re-added by Makarova and seen in the Royal Ballet's version), has been removed here. I actually prefer this ending; I like the ambiguity of it. It brings forwards a lot of questions that don't necessarily get answered, like what happens to Solor? Is he insane? What happens to Gamzatti and those in the real world? I personally like these questions that arise as a result, but I'm sure other people would prefer a definitive ending.
Other changes include a longer second and third act, with the addition of several solos.
Another difference is that Gamzatti isn't the one who orders the poisonous snake in Nikiya's flowers, in the second act. I think this is usually done, but I do know in the POB version it is Gamzatti who orders it, and not her father as it is here. It helps sum up Gamzatti's character more. She's not completely evil, just adamant on having Solor.
In regards to the dancing, the Bolshoi delivers in typical perfect fashion. The corps, the soloists, and of course the principals are technically brilliant. In this version, there is the added bonus of the drum dance, which is very exciting. And a rather sweet solo danced by Anna Rebetskaya, with two young girls en pointe. Rather impressive the way she balances that jug to be perfectly honest! Denis Medvedev as the Bronze Idol is very good, but I cannot help but compare him to Ivan Vasiliev's Idol, which was very explosive.
Other dancers worth mentioning are the three shade solists: Anastasia Stashkevich, Anna Tikhomirova & Chinare Alizade. All are brilliant in the third act.
Finally: Alexey Loparevich as the Rajah, and Andrey Sitnikov as the High Brahmin, are very good in their character roles.
Now on to the main dancers.
Svetlana Zakharova appears here as Nikiya, and in usual fashion is perfect. Her technical abilities really come into play in the final act, and you can't help but admire her impressive foot work. Her second act Snake solo is mesmerising. Very beautiful. Her withering glances in this solo are very good; she really does dance her heart out.
I think she embodies Nikiya well. Nikiya isn't a strong character, and I doubt would be prone to overreacting. In the confrontation pas de deux with Gamzatti, this is seen. She's shocked to see Solor's portrait on the wall, but not completely hysteric about it. She knows Solor has sworn his commitment to her and relies on that, staying quite regal in manner.
Next on to Maria Alexandrova, who plays Gamzatti. People always have their favourites, yet here Maria Alexandrova burns all other Gamzatti's to the ground with the ferocity of her glare. She annihilates Nikiya in the first act confrontation scene. Everything about her is strong: her technique, her actions, her expressions. She is truly amazing, and it's a shame she is absent for the final act. Her facial expressions are very, very good, showing her emotions clearly. But even her body language shows how she is feeling. I truly see her as the definitive Gamzatti, and I truly cannot rave enough.
For once there is another dancer who overshadows Svetlana Zakharova; not an easy feat. Of course, this could be down to the characters (Nikiya is weak), but in my opinion Maria Alexandrova is underrated, and perfect in this role.
Finally: Vladislav Lantratov. Not yet a principal in this recording, but he was very recently made one. The reasons for this are clear in this DVD. He has those big jumps synonymous with Bolshoi dancers, yet remains very graceful. He is a convincing Warrior, and a good actor in his limited role. When he first meets Gamzatti, after his oath to Nikiya, his emotions are very clear. At first he is adamant he belongs to another, yet when Gamzatti appears, he is struck by her beauty. And wanders off with her in a slight daze.
In this version the third act is slightly longer, so we see more of Lantratov. He floats down from his jumps. He holds his own against Zakharova, which is impressive. I find Lantratov's Solor to be the best available on DVD. It's nice to have a younger Solor, who can easily show the Warriors strength and passion.
On a side note, all dancers are absolutely beautiful here. You can easily understand how Solor gets torn between two beautiful women.
My one gripe about this DVD is the absence of any bonus features. Of course this doesn't affect the performance, but it's always nice to see behind the scenes/rehearsal footage.
In conclusion: buy this for the amazing acting and dancing. Svetlana Zakharova usually entices buyers, but here she is outshone by Maria Alexandrova, who to me is THE Gamzatti. Of course, don't misunderstand me: all dancers here are impressive in their own right! This version is very high quality, in all aspects.