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4.4 out of 5 stars
31
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Royal Ballet [DVD] [1960]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£7.79+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on 20 October 2017
Bought for daughter, from her birthday wish list. Very good condition.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 1 June 2016
Margot Fonteyn is grace itself in these three ballets, shot with particular sensitivity by Paul Czinner, so that the effect is a bit like something from Powell and Pressburger. The more you see her move, the more you want to see, as if this is the finest plane of existence. The first is an extract from Swan Lake, to which she gives perfect expression, characterised by a slight reserve. Her partner Michael Somes is wonderfully poetic as well, as is a second male figure, and the entire corps the ballet. The sets are also remarkable here, but it is all over too fast ... However what follows is just as magical, if a lot less familiar: The Firebird, set to a score by Stravinsky which is more often heard than the ballet is staged. What a fantastic creation it is, at all levels - Fonteyn embodies the Firebird and her mystery with panache and verve, the whole body language seems so completely different from the purity of the swan, as if the bright colours of the costume have galvanised her into something from a completely different element. The same happens in Ondine; again, the score leaps ahead to something more modern and less appealing to audiences, perhaps. Henze's music does take quite a lot from Stravinsky, you feel, but he makes it into a compelling, pele-mele world with dazzling piano writing as well, the notes as teeming as the water, and Frederick Ashton's choreography transcribes it into movement. The chaos and vibrancy of the combined effect leave the stage looking like Gericault's Raft of the Medusa. A superbly vigorous male sprite called Tirennio also contributes fully to the contours of the drama. The sense of water is brilliantly present throughout, as is Ondine's mystery, the tragedy of her fate, which has something of Euridice, and the ineffable beauty of Fonteyn, now girlish, now determined, but always with supreme grace; water could hardly flow more effortlessly.
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VINE VOICEon 22 September 2011
I first saw this trio of ballets - The Firebird, the White Act from Swan Lake, and Ondine - in the early sixties in a small, local cinema, and I was mesmerised by the magic. Margot Fonteyn is simply beautiful in all three roles: as the passionate, mysterious Firebird; as the lyrical, doomed Swan Princess in Swan Lake; as the innocent, playful, water sprite that is Ondine. Fonteyn's talents as a Prima Ballerina are all to the fore in this delightful selection and it is a pure treat and privilege to relive the experience with the DVD. Any ballet fan will enjoy this - and I especially recommend it to younger viewers who will not remember Margot Fonteyn's special allure and expertise. Her dancing belongs to a wonderful period of British ballet and, although the Royal Ballet dancers have since become more sophisticated and more worldly, Margot Fonteyn possessed a rare, unforgettable quality of careful technique, emotional expression, and delicate line, which once seen, will never fade from memory.
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on 21 March 2009
This is a brilliant display of artistry by Margot Fonteyn at her peak. In particular in Ondine, a new ballet created for her, she shows both an exceptional technique and superb musicality. My only criticism is the title of the disc. It is not really about the Royal Ballet as a whole but a tribute to Fonteyn. I would have expected a disc with the title "Royal Ballet" to feature several more of their top artists even though of course Fonteyn was by far their undisputed Prima Ballerina Assoluta.
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on 23 June 2008
Paul Czinner was a visionary film maker who preserved a number of great historic performances. Among them are Furtwangler's Don Giovanni at Salzburg with Cesare Siepi and Elisabeth Grummer, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, an abridged Bolshoi Giselle with Galina Ulanova, and in this worthy company, Margot Fonteyn in The Royal Ballet.

Czinner invented an effective method for filming stage performances. Here he captures the pre-Rudi Fonteyn, lovely, creamy and with enough moist, bloom of youth for close and intimate shots. While the film is called The Royal Ballet, it's really a Fonteyn extravaganza.

There are three balletic excerpts that all feature Margot Fonteyn. In the Daneman biography "Margot", we learn that Fonteyn was closely identified with Ondine, but The Firebird should have gone to Nerina, whose "spectacular attack and ballon cast her as an obvious Firebird." Beriosova was an acclaimed and legendary Odette, but was overlooked. Sadly, there are almost no commercial films available of Beriosova's dancing.

Fonteyn is stunning, though, in Swan Lake. Her acting abilities and velvety power are mesmerizing in a gorgeous Act II, where she is partnered by the blandly handsome Michael Somes. However, she's not quite Firebird material. A bit too proper and ladylike to be believable as the mythological beast, even her costume seems to overpower her refined daintiness. But I love it anyway, although Nina Ananiashvilli has much more of the wild and sexual animal in her than Fonteyn could ever hope to muster on stage.

Ondine, written for Fonteyn by Sir Frederick Ashton, is a perfect vehicle for her gifts. She's at her best as the vulnerable nymph who emerges from the waterfall. The story is pretty dumb, and the ballet is too long, but it is a masterpiece nonetheless thanks to Fonteyn's silky eroticism and the spectacular dancing of the great Alexander Grant, considered the finest male dancer to emerge from The Royal Ballet. As brilliant a dancer as he was, it's tragic how few documents one can find of his dancing. He is featured, though, in the marvelous Sleeping Beauty telecast for NBC. In that performance he dances one of the Three Ivans. There, his power, grace and charisma are the high point in a ballet filled with high points. Here, in Ondine he dances the Sea King with such drama and intensity that he steals every scene.

This is a museum-quality document of an historic period of dance that will never be duplicated. Margot Fonteyn was the jewel around which de Valois built the Royal Ballet. Here in her prime, before Nureyev, we can see why she was worshipped as an immortal icon of dance. Later on, Czinner would make another film with her, a Romeo and Juliet with Nureyev. By this time the bloom is off the rose and in spite of critical praise for what was seen as her instant transformation into a teenager, I find her Juliet just too painful to watch. In this film, we have to thank Czinner in whatever world he's in now, for preserving a youthful, sensuous and unforgettable Margot. I hope this film will one day get transferred to an NTSC format and released in North America. It's a masterpiece.
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on 2 October 2009
As others have said this is worth having as a record of the RB at one of its best periods. For that alone it is a good buy and to see Fonteyn in her prime makes it exceptional.What a pleasure to see her elegant skill again and to be reminded of the added charisma seen when she was performing live.Regretably no dvd can communicate that but this one comes close for those of us fortunate to have seen her on stage.She is the star of this dvd and rightfully so, with the bonus of a New Zealand connection through Bryan Ashbridge and Alexander Grant. Ashbridge was married to Rowena Jackson who was renowned at the time for her technique in completing the 32 fouettes in Act 3 of Swan Lake (and how times have changed with that) while Grant (like Jackson) was another New Zealander who went to England and a wonderful career with the RB. To see him in his prime is a rare opportunity to also be reminded of just how good he was so for anyone from the New Zealand ballet community this is a must have recording.Highly recommended both as a dance documentary and for the quality of the performances thanks to Czinner's production.Now if only someone could find a vault with films of the other stars of the RB of the time as mentioned by others, what a trip down memory lane that would be!
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on 9 April 2013
I purchased this item because of Act II Swan Lake. Unfortunately, when viewed, there were only selected highlights from Act II Swan Lake: waltz of the swans, pas de deux, cygnets (Dame Antoinette Sibley was the third cygnet from the left) and final scene. In this respect I was quite disappointed because I particularly wanted to see Margot Fonteyn in Odette's solo and the classic mime scene which was deleted in later RB productions. I did enjoy 'Firebird', but thought 'Ondine' looked dated and dull. I still love watching films of Margot Fonteyn, even though her technique was limited in comparison to today's athletic ballerinas. She had such charm, grace and charisma. Anyone who had the good fortune to see Fonteyn dance live will never forget those beautiful dark eyes reflecting every nuance of the drama, captured surprisingly well in these 3 films.
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on 24 June 2008
Paul Czinner was a visionary film maker who courageously preserved a number of outstanding historic performances. Among them are Furtwangler's Don Giovanni at Salzburg with Cesare Siepi and Elisabeth Grummer, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, a Bolshoi Giselle with Galina Ulanova, and in this worthy company, Margot Fonteyn in The Royal Ballet.

Czinner invented an effective method for filming stage performances. Here he captures the pre-Rudi Fonteyn, lovely, creamy and with enough moist, bloom of youth for close and intimate shots. While the film is called The Royal Ballet, it's really a Fonteyn extravaganza.

There are three balletic excerpts that all feature Margot Fonteyn. In the Daneman biography "Margot", we learn that Fonteyn was closely identified with Ondine, but The Firebird should have gone to Nerina, whose "spectacular attack and ballon cast her as an obvious Firebird." Beriosova was an acclaimed and legendary Odette, but was overlooked in favor of Fonteyn. Sadly, there are almost no commercial films available of Beriosova's dancing.

Fonteyn is stunning, though, in Swan Lake. Her acting abilities and velvety puissance are mesmerizing in a gorgeous Act II, where she is partnered by the blandly handsome Michael Somes. Her occasional ornaments, subtle but sexy, reveal the power, control and art that drove her audiences mad with appreciation.

However, she's not quite Firebird material. A bit too proper and ladylike to be believable as the mythological beast, even her costume seems to overpower her refined daintiness. But I love it anyway, although Nina Ananiashvilli has much more of the wild and sexual animal in her than Fonteyn could ever hope to muster on stage.

Ondine, written for Fonteyn by Sir Frederick Ashton, is a perfect vehicle for her gifts. She's at her best as the vulnerable nymph who emerges from the waterfall. The story is pretty dumb, and the ballet is too long, but it is a masterpiece nonetheless thanks to Fonteyn's silky eroticism and the spectacular dancing of the great Alexander Grant, considered the finest male dancer to emerge from The Royal Ballet. As brilliant a dancer as he was, it's tragic how few documents one can find of his dancing. He is featured, though, in the marvelous Sleeping Beauty telecast for NBC. In that performance he dances one of the Three Ivans. There, his power, grace and charisma are the high point in a ballet filled with high points. Here, in Ondine he dances the Sea King with such drama and intensity that he steals every scene.

This is a museum-quality document of an historic period of dance that will never be duplicated. Margot Fonteyn was the jewel around which de Valois built the Royal Ballet. Here in her prime, before Nureyev, we can see why she was worshipped as an immortal icon of dance. Later on, Czinner would make another film with her, a Romeo and Juliet with Nureyev. By this time the bloom is off the rose and in spite of critical praise for what was seen as her instant transformation into a teenager, I find her Juliet just too painful to watch. In this film, we have to thank Czinner in whatever world he's in now, for preserving a youthful, sensuous and unforgettable Margot. I hope this film will one day get transferred to an NTSC format and released in North America. It's a masterpiece.
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on 31 March 2013
To my recollection this copy is as faithfull to the original as I remember
It seems to have been remastered and made a good job of it too
Margot Fonteyn was one of my favorite dancers and her looks was also something to enjoy
Never thought that I could own the original film and watch it whenever i feel like it
In all I most happily recomend it to anyone that enjoys good film and dancing at the same time
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on 15 May 2009
Quite good quality as this must have been copied from a filmed version due to its age. Photography OK using various points of view well edited. It seemed as though the performances were not as fluid and smooth as present day ballet. This may be the style of the time or maybe influenced by being shown at 25 frames per second when shot at 24 fps (DVD and Video are 25fps due to the 50 cycles mains being the time base).
The disc has extracts from several ballets, some not well known. The storyline is explained before each act.
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