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on 1 January 2002
In many ways ballet works better than live opera on DVD because you don't have to put up with the vagaries of stage micing. The sound here is stunning to match the wonderful Paris Opera Orchestra who sound utterly inside the love music, although the tempo for the music portraying Juliet as a young girl is rather slow. The production is truly epic in scale with wonderful dancing and real depth of emotion. When Juliet hears of Tybalts death, Nureyev's choreography has Monique Loudieres performing strange contortions that are absolutely heart rending. The final scene leaves me absolutely drained every time I see it. Unfogettable.
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Nureyev created the role of Romeo with Fonteyn as Juliet in 1965, and subsequently created his own choreography culminating in this superbly mounted and danced 1995 production by the Paris Opera Ballet.

I am not familiar with the original version but this Nureyev creation is remarkable incorporating acting and characterisation within the ballet, all the main characters seem real believable people.

There is a fascinating contrast between the stark white geometric lines of the Opera Bastille auditorium and the sumptuous stage set of towering buildings surrounding the square, buildings resplendent with intricate baroque? ornamentation. The costumes are equally gorgeous.

The acoustics are excellent and every detail of Prokofiev's wonderful score is transparently projected, and well played by Orchestre de L'opera Paris under Vello Pahn.

Although recorded at a live performance in 1995 (presented in 16:9 widescreen format) the video quality is extremely good, obviously not true HD but it does not disappoint.

This is one of those occasions when everything succeeds creating a marvellous whole, destined to become one of my all time favourite ballet performances.
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on 30 April 2007
To set the record straight, one of the previous reviewers claims that this is a documentary and warns potential buyers against purchasing it. He is obviously confused. There is indeed a documentary about this production, but not on this disc. This contains a performance of the ballet, as staged by Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris Opera.
Nureyev who, if I recall correctly, was the first to dance Macmillan's Romeo in the 1960s, offers us here his own concept of the work (NOTE: his participation here is only as a choreographer and producer. He did not dance this version and by the time this particular performance was filmed, he had passed on.)
Comparisons with the Macmillan version are inevitable. On the plus side for Nureyev, there is an attempt to follow more closely Shakespeare's plot, which explains both how Romeo hears of Juliet's death and why he is not warned of what has actually taken place. (In Macmillan, the exiled Romeo appears suddenly and unexpectedly in the tomb.) The scene with the Friar's murder was hurried and seemed tacked-on, whereas the scene in which Benvolio informs Romeo of Juliet's death was beautifully conceived and executed (Romeo dreams of Juliet embracing him and wakes up in his friend's arms instead.) All in all, though, -despite the excellent dancing opportunities afforded,- I found the choreography not as emotionally charged as Macmillan's.
Another minus for me were Nureyev's attempts at symbolic gestures. The Priest that marries the couple, for example, holds a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a human skull in the other! (How subtle is this?) In another scene, Romeo offers money to a young beggar, who (inexplicably) drops dead almost as soon as he touches his fingers.
There are also some "realistic" touches, which do not blend very well with the atmosphere of the ballet. Tybald kisses Romeo on the lips, to show that he considers him a sissy for not fighting with him. In another scene, the young men try to provoke their enemies by performing obscene gestures. This seemed to me like a very easy way to express hostility.
Sets are impressive and costumes are quite elegant, but I think that Georgiades's sets for the Macmillan production had more character.
The dancers are exceptional. Manuel Legris, in particular, is one of the best Romeos I have ever seen.
The cinematography is quite good, with the exception of two short close-ups of the "dead" Juliet in the last scene, where we can see she's obviously breathing. It's not a big thing, but it does momentarily spoil the illusion.
In short, if you only want one version of this ballet for you collection, go for the Macmillan (either the wonderful '60s film with Nureyev and Fonteyn, or one of the performances with Ferri from the '80s and '90s.) But if you want to own an alternative version of the work, as well, this will not disappoint you. Even if you have reservations about Nureyev's concept, the quality of the dancing is such that it fully justifies the purchase.
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on 10 January 2006
Of course there is the full-length ballet on this DVD, together with a stunning orchestral score which would stand alone (although I agree that some of the passages seemed rather funereal in tempo - and I don't mean the actual funeral scenes!)
The choreography and dancing are superb, and I found myself longing to be in the theatre experiencing this for myself. I suppose this feeling is inevitable when watching one of the 'live arts' in recorded format. But my frustration was increased by some incredibly insensitive editing.
Worst of all were the totally unnecessary cuts to close-ups of scenery, presumably to cover awkwardly long scene changes. Personally I would rather look at the curtain, or an empty stage, with possibly a glance at the orchestra; this, after all, is what you would do if you were in the theatre. But to have one's vision restricted to a dark doorway or gargoyle, while the music (and the ballet) are clearly continuing is deeply frustrating and terribly clumsy. The producers should have decided instead to make it as close to the live experience as possible, including pauses and scene changes if necessary.
And having spent the whole production sensibly avoiding close-ups, why send the camera zooming in 'dead' bodies throughout the final scenes? We all know they are actually rather exhausted dancers and therefore will be breathing! It seems utterly pointless to shatter the suspension of disbelief in this way. After all, what is there to move you in 'Romeo & Juliet' if you don't believe in a part of your emotional being that they are dead at the end?
I'm afraid these clanking faults ruined the experience for me. Although I am glad to have seen this marvellous production (including several astonishing lead performances and some sublime choreography), I would not choose to watch it again in this format.
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on 24 April 2015
Now regarded as Rudolf Nureyev'sfinest achievement, this production of Shakespeare's tragic love story is played out on the vast stage of the Paris Bastille Opera with remarkable effect. Nureyev's trademark attention to detailed storytelling is evident from the start. Sinister dice-players predict the future of the warring Montague & Capulet families as the two houses are pushed apart & a death-shroud descends followed by a cart laden with corpses from the on-going conflict.
The architectural monumentalism of Ezio Frigerio's Veronese setting is a joy to behold given the proportions of this stage.
Against the oppulence of life in Rennaisance Italy, shown in the sumptuous costumes of the guests arriving for the Capulet ball, it is also the time of the plague & here Nureyev depicts this in a scene where Romeo gives money to a beggar, who, nevertheless dies at his feet.
The performances are outstanding: Monique Loudières is entirely captivating as Juliet & her dramatic acting ability is heart-rending . As Romeo, Manuel Legris is perfectly cast & carries off his tricky solos with aplomb. But this is about the the magic between them, the passion, & nowhere is this more evident than in the pas de deux in Juliet's bedroom.
Charles Jude is a menacing Tybalt, while Lionel Delanoë gives a virtuoso performance as Mercutio. This is a wonderful cast in a superb production.
Camera work on the whole is good, sound quality is excellent & a final note, the Ballet Master for Ballet De Opéra De Paris is Patricia Ruanne who created the rôle of Juliet with Nureyev as Romeo, when he first mounted this ballet for London Festival Ballet in 1977, it she who reproduces the choreography & staging here. A direct link of incalcuable importance that cannot be underestimated.
A very informative booklet is included: English, Français & Deutsch.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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on 19 June 2013
Always like Paris Opera Ballet performances.. Lots of sex appeal. Nureyev was such a star that unfortunately he overdid the male role when doing choreography. The superfluous nature of it began to annoy, an d he cannot choreograph for women. However, the bedroom scene was full of passion.
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on 7 September 2010
Hi, Everyone...Just A QUICK ONE HERE....The best Romeo & Juliet on d.v.d 5 stars....Amazing dancers.....
Paris Opera Ballet at its Best.....
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on 9 July 2012
I am quite new to ballet world and just started taking classes as an adult. Also I recently got interested in ballet performances and my husband baught it for me as a gift. My first ballet view was Swan Lake, and my second is this Romeo and Juliette. I found it so amazing! All principal characters are dancing perfect and make the story so vivid and the emotions goes straight to the hart. Beautiful! The quality sound and image are both perfect for me. A must have! I will watch it again and again.
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on 22 August 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this 1.50 min of marvellous ballet with great costumes, and of course the wonderful music The enclosed booklet is very informative, helping to keep abreast of who is who and exactly what is going on. Altogether excellent.
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on 4 April 2015
The ballet and dancing is wonderful but the sound reproduction at the start of the DVD is poor and , possibly, suffering from age.
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