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on 1 September 2010
This DVD preserves a performance by the Dutch National Ballet that took place in February 2009. Their Giselle was then a new production by Rachel Beaujean und Riccardo Bustamante (and considering that such productions usually stay in the repertory for a long time, it is still very new). The beautiful designs by Toer van Schayk look like 19th century paintings with their careful choice of colour and use of light. The painted backdrop for the first act shows the Rhine (in particular, the region between Bonn and Koblenz where there are hills and castles on both sides), a river that was a source of inspiration for romantic poets and travelers.
Although the stage designs are quite detailed (Giselle's hut has a gate), the Amsterdam stage itself is so spacious it never looks cluttered. The two sides of the Romantic era are conveyed exemplarily as the first act looks warm, sunny and folksy whereas the second act is closer to the dark, gothic atmosphere of some of Heinrich Heine's poetry. I especially liked the first entrance of the wilis and the way they form a circle around Myrtha like a sinister sisterhood, supported by very effective positioning of the camera somewhere high up. The wilis here also keep on their veils longer, which adds to the ghostly, spectral atmosphere.
If you have seen other performances of this ballet you will probably notice that in the first act there is a peasant pas de quatre and not a pas de deux like they have in Paris and Milan, or a pas de six (Royal Ballet). It gives more than two dancers the chance to shine and supports the idea of the village being a community, thus plausibly dealing with the problem that I always thought comes up when there is a Peasant Pas de Deux: who are these people and why do they dance this divertissement. (The Peasant Pas de Deux with music by Friedrich Burgmüller was interpolated into the first act before the ballet's original premiere for a ballerina who was the mistress of an influential patron of the Paris Opéra.) I love the "flute" variation danced by the second female dancer in the pas de quatre and would have liked to know if that piece is also by Burgmüller.
Another important piece of additional choreography is the new solo for Albrecht towards the end of the first act, which he dances immediately before Giselle's own variation. The music for Albrecht's solo is taken from another ballet by Adolphe Adam, Le Diable à Quatre.
Hilarion in this production is a young man close in age to Giselle who is passionately in love with her - when Albrecht attacks him after Giselle has died, he doesn't try to defend himself. He reminds me of the protagonist in Schubert's "Die Schöne Müllerin" or the Romantic rural figures in the works of Joseph Eichendorff, whereas Albrecht with his split identity maybe is a more modern character.
The DVD has an Extra consisting of interviews with the lead dancers Anna Tsygankova (Giselle), Jozef Varga (Albrecht), Igone de Jongh (Myrtha) and Jan Zerer (Hilarion) as well as with Rachel Beaujean and Riccardo Bustamante. They tell us their opinions about their respective characters in the ballet. Is Albrecht a cad? Jozef Varga thinks he isn't. He plays him as being genuinely in love with Giselle, but also as someone who as an aristocrat "never had to do anything like work, never had to lift a bench" and therefore is a stranger in the village community who watches people and their customs from a certain distance. I wish ballet conventions would leave more room to develop such things.
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on 29 March 2012
Everything is right about this production:
Picture 5
Sound 4
Sets 5
Dancing 5
Storytelling 4
Music making 4
There are also 45 minutes of interviews with the leading dancers discussing their roles. Overall highly recommended.
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on 24 August 2014
This is a gem of a Giselle. Although I bought this DVD primarily because of the artistry and wonderful virtuosity of the great Fernando Bujones, and I was not disappointed in this, I was very pleasantly surprised by the standard of technical prowess displayed by the Company of The Ballet Teatro Municipal of Rio De Janeiro. All the dancers and particularly the soloists give an excellent account of themselves in this great romantic ballet. The choreography is very authentic and exactly as I remember from being taught as a student in my youth. This is not so surprising as the Ballet Master of the company when this was filmed is Desmond Doyle who was a very eminent dancer with The Royal Ballet in his time. The quality of the film, particularly in the first act is not so good because the colour has faded to a rather attractive sepia tinge, but this does not at all detract from the excellent standard of the dancing. The second act is very atmospheric and eerie, happily here the colour seems to have been restored. I love the way the Wilis rise out of the mist as if they are indeed rising up from their graves, so much more impressive than just having them appear from the wings as in so many more contemporary productions. Ana Botafogo who dances Giselle is a truly lovely dancer, with a strong technique, and she certainly proves an excellent match for Bujones who dances the role of Albrecht with his usual outstanding lyricism and jaw-dropping virtuosity. The Corps de Ballet are also very impressive in the second act in the precise dances of The Wilis. All in all this is a very surprising and pleasing performance.
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on 4 January 2011
This is my second Giselle on Blu-ray. The ballet seems to me less emotional. Otherwise I have no objection to it. I have reservations on the quality of an audio recording, which I think is wrong. A sound engineer is recorded ambient noise from the audience a lot. Someone sneezes still there. It works very distracting, especially in the quieter passages.
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on 29 June 2011
This is probably the Xth Giselle that I have watched on the screen for years....

This is also one of the most satisfying Giselles that I have ever watched, and not for the reasons that are usually attributed to a 5 star performance....

Tsygankova? No.. not anywhere as convincing as Cojocaru, not because of her dancing, but her attitude towards Giselle. She has to take a leaf out of Cojocaru insofar as acting is concerned, although her technique and dancing seem absolutely flawless... Tsygankova seems to be more in the Zakharova mold, which requires shedding of a few pounds of ego.
The Mad scene is nowhere as good as Cojocaru's in the ROH production.

But Myrta? Jongh can give the best of the best a run for the money. She is one of the best ever Myrthas that I have seen, Marianella Nunez notwithstanding.
Yes, as some critics have pointed out that the second act seems devoid of overt emotions as Nunez is so successful in bringing out, but Jongh comes through without having to exert herself in observable expressions to bring out the cold blooded intents.

The conductor has done a great job with the music, and the recording, unlike in the ROH version, is far far better. The choreographers have worked overtime to present some dances different from the other productions, without losing any artistic stuff. Thank them for it. The corps de ballet seems to be extremely well utilized, and dance beautifully, without being mechanical in the first act dances. They seem to be having fun as peasants, without inhibitions and dance thus.....

NOTE:- If one has a complete version of the Giselle on a CD audio, one will immediately notice that this version has many more beautiful numbers committed to dance, that almost ALL other productions of it neglect, especially in the Act 1 in the pas de quatre and towards the end. The treatment of music is very beautiful, elaborate bordering on the ornate..... rare, I would say....

All in all, a perfect companion to the ROH production, which ironically, I have given one star less than this, for very different reasons. But this is far better than the Paris Opera production, according to me....

BUY IT...
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on 4 November 2013
the simple stage set allowed us to focus totally on the dancers, who were all wonderful , and the music was flawless . We will now be looking to visit the ROH early next year , to see a live production .
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There are several very fine productions of Giselle now available in blu-ray. Anna Tsygankova as Giselle and Jozef Varga as Albrecht may not have the same star power as Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta in the new release from Covent Garden, but both are absolutely flawless. It is Act 2 which sets the Dutch National Ballet's Giselle ahead of its rivals (including both blu-ray releases from Covent Garden) with an ethereal staging of incomparable beauty. On the large Amsterdam stage that makes other seem cluttered in comparison, and with magical lighting which other companies including Covent Garden would do well to emulate, the corps de ballet ultimately lift this Giselle to a level of perfection that has no equal. Bravo!
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VINE VOICEon 10 November 2010
I was very disappointed by this version of Giselle. The dancing is technically perfect but none of the principle dancers seems able to convey a sense of tragedy which is what Giselle essentially is. The production is not helped by the design; the costumes of the peasants are uniform and dull and the harvesting of the grapes takes place under a louring sky, apparently somewhere in the Black Forest. Either of the La Scala versions with Roberto Bolle at different stages of his career is preferable.
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on 21 April 2010
There are now 3 Giselles On Blu-ray, and we are yet to get the ideal performance of one of my favourite ballets.

This one is very pretty to look at (as all of them are)but the 2 protagonists to me look as if they have not much interest in what they are doing. And the dancing is nothing special. Maybe they were over-awed by the filming, who knows? The audio is disappointing, it's not HD.

The best for me is the Paris Opera Ballet version, a most moving performance. The main problem is that I feel the Albrecht is too mature. But on balance it is the one to have.

The ROH version is also good, but the problem I can't get over is that the dancer playing Albrecht reminds me of Shrek.
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on 17 February 2016
Beautiful beautiful beautiful Superb cast and my favourite version of this ballet
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