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on 13 February 2009
Adolphe Adam wrote the music for this Romantic libretto (Saint-Georges and T.Gautier)and choreographers Perrot and Coralli created this 2 act ballet for Carlotta Grisi,in 1841.She had been his pupil,and having become his mistress, gave him a daughter,in 1837.They were never to marry.Later on,Coralli would say that he alone had choreographed it...!
One of the most celebrated ballets ,perhaps the best known and represented one,suffered various revisions - Marius Petipa,as in the present Giselle, (he was the elder brother to Lucien Petipa who had also been the first Albrecht),Nureyev,Grigorovich,etc., but never lost its luminous aura with the ingredients so dear to Romanticism(Death,the Night ,Fate ,doomed Love and Madness (Walter Scott,Goëthe,etc).
Every ballerina's dream(as in last year poignant documentary on a "corps de ballet" dancer - Véronique Doisneau),has been the glory of several dancers such as Essler, Chauviré, Karsavina, Spessivtseva, Fracci,Ulanova,Markova...
This said,romanian Alina Cojocaru,star of the Royal Ballet,brings it a new life.There are two Giselles in this 2 act ballet:In Act 1,Giselle is an innocent,"naïf" peasant girl ,full of joy ,who tragically finds a treacherous love and dies.In Act 2 she belongs to the world of the dead,integrating the legion of the Wilis( cruel,translucent virgins ),confined to the magic of the night,under Myrtha's command - their queen.
The gracefulness of this portrayed 17 year-old and moving Giselle is completely brought out by this lovely ,highly gifted ballerina.But it is in the complexity of Act 2 choreography that Cojocaru makes all the difference:Slow movements,an extremely beautiful "developpée" (Zakharova's is slightly more impressive ,at la Scala,but totally absorved in her refined technique,expressing in the face either a smile of joy or a rictus of grief throughout the whole performance,thus forgetting to bring out Giselle's inner feelings), her arms being a vehicle of expression as important as the leggs (Russian School).
She becomes aethereal ,the perfect illusion of bearing no weight as a spirit would,on "pointes" or when lifted by Kohborg.Her splendid techique,used with intelligence makes this Giselle deserving to be remembered along with the best ones.Kohborg is a wonderful Albrecht ( his variation beautifully executed) Marianela Nuñez a haughty ,convincing Myrtha and Marin Harvey a very good Hilarion.The "corps" bears the recognised quality of The Royal Ballet,live from Covent Garden,Boris Cruzin conducting with "panache".A most brilliant event.
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on 2 June 2017
Magnificent performance and ambiance; a very moving experience.
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on 4 November 2008
Revised review Dec 02/08. (see P.P.S.)

Let me start off by saying that Giselle is my favorite ballet; I love the story, the music and the dance.

This performance was recorded in 2006 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Gardens, London and stars Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobberg in the principal roles.

This is probably the best danced and finest interpretation of this magnificent ballet I've ever seen. I initially saw this at a movie theater with about 200+ people; you could have heard a pin drop during many of the pas de deux between Cojocaru and Kobberg, they were that stirring to watch.

There was so much to like about this performance...let me elaborate,

the Pros:

1.)The costumes for the peasants, the Royal hunting party and Wilis were sumptuous; the sets for both acts were nicely conceived to display the rustic theme for the village in Act I and then the marsh scene in Act II.

2.)The principal dancers, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg gave the performance of a lifetime. Cojocaru has such skill and grace...an easy effortlessness that holds her audience spellbound. Kobberg attains such height with his leaps and jumps that it appears as if he can defy gravity.

3.) The emotion displayed, through facial expression and body language, by both leads was perfect for the situation; their dancing techniques and skills when together, were simply breath taking. Some of the famous lifts in the Act II were, without a doubt, the best I've ever seen in any performance of Giselle.

4.) The conductor, Boris Gruzin, interpretation of Adophe Adam's music was beautifully rendered, complimenting the tone and mood of this ballet that covered both ends of the emotional spectrum.

The Cons:

About the only concern (albeit minor) for this interpretation of Giselle was with regards to the Corps de ballet. Although the dancing through out the entire ballet was excellent, some of the timing of movement and dance steps was slightly off between some couples, particularly in Act I.

Conclusion:
Simply the loveliest Giselle I've ever seen; a Giselle that literally moved me to tears. The emotions shown and skills displayed by Cojocaru during this performance were as close to perfection as anyone could ask.
5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson

P.S.
Interestingly, the program accompanying the theater performance I saw stated, 'Legend has it that she (Cojocaru) was promoted to principal at the end of the first performance'. You'll understand why when you've seen this DVD.

P.P.S.
I must admit to a grievous error on my part with my initial review, in which I criticized some of the camera shots and angles. This initial review was based on my viewing of this performance in a movie theater. The home DVD video was much better visually than the performance seen in the movie theater; better because of a much sharper picture as well as less 'close-up' camera shots. I suspect the enlargement that took place to fill an entire movie screen caused some distortion in perception of size and movement, giving the movie house performance a less than perfect visual presentation.
My apologies go out to the producers and editors of this fine DVD for my initial review based on my movie theater experience.
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on 5 September 2008
This is a wonderful performance of "Giselle." Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg dance and act wonderfully and help make the ballet's fundamental dramatic point of love and forgiveness very well.

Alina Cojocaru is a perfect Giselle. Her acting is subtle and real, and her Giselle is so vulnerable, trusting and gentle. She is not wild in her "mad scene" but simply broken-hearted, and later, as a ghost, her Giselle loses her girlishness and becomes a tender woman, still in love with Albrecht, still willing to save and forgive him in spite of all. But it is her dancing that makes this version so beautiful. During the first act, she seems to just float around on the air, and as a ghost she seems weightless.

Johan Kobborg also made a wonderful Albrecht, and his dancing is clean and precise. He continually lifts Alina as if she is made of nothing during the second act, helping us believe she really was nothing more than a ghost. He portrays Albrecht as someone genuinely smitten with Giselle, but pursuing her without thinking ahead or remembering his responsibilities. By the second act, though, he seems to be genuinely lost, repenting, and mournfully dancing with her until dawn. And as the curtain fell, I felt that Giselle's forgiveness has brought about a kind of healing for him as well as redemption. I felt he had truly repented, Johan's Albrecht, at the ballet's close.

Marianela Nuñez was cold and cruel as Myrtha, and her dancing was beautiful, graceful and measured. Martin Harvey was also great as Hilarion. Myrtha's two main attendants, danced by Deidre Chapman and Isabel McMeekan, were great and Sandra Conley and Genesia Rosato were also good as Berthe (Giselle's mother), and Bathilde.

Finally, the corps de ballet were wonderful. The peasants' dances, in the first act, and the dances of the wilis, in the second act, were wonderful to behold and shows how strong the Royal Ballet's corps de ballet is. The wilis' dancing was especially haunting, dramatic and beautiful.
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on 14 March 2011
I have absolutely no differences of opinion with the reviews of 5 people about the dancing, ballet, photography and the brilliance of Cojocaru et al.
BUT
I am rather surprised that no one really commented on the sound recording.
Giselle is a great ballet not just because of the theme and choreography, but even more so because the music is lovely. There have been a great number of ballets with fantastic dancing and choreography from 19th and 20th centuries that have not reached an iconic status just because the music is ordinary or just plain lousy. For this reason alone, it is really necessary to be careful about the sound recording and editing, especially as the music is one of the most recognizable in all ballet and most lovers of ballet would definitely expect a good sound. Here, It is BAD.

I played it on different sound systems. Mine is a Yamaha Bose combination. I tried it on three others which I consider are comparable or even better.
In all of them, the sound was totally out of balance, screeching at certain times and booming throughout. It became acceptable to us only after switching off the sub-woofer. Even then, it was totally out of balance.

I loved the dancing. I love the music... two stars deducted for bad sound editing.
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on 11 April 2013
I completely agree with another review that the audio on this DVD is simply terrible. I have a high end Etalon high fi system from Hungary that allows no editing of the sound - how it has been recorded is how you hear it. This DVD has been recorded so badly that I could only suffer around 30 minutes. To have listened to the whole DVD and this gross distortion of beautiful music would have been torture. It is such a shame as the dancing that I did see looked superb.

I am just surprised that the BBC allowed such an amateur sound recording to come onto the market. I am hoping that Amazon will take it back
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on 2 February 2011
It didn't take me too long to decide to purchase this version of Giselle amongst the number of excellent versions available. The combination of Cojocaru and Nunez was a seductive influence and The Royal Ballet productions on Opus Arte invariably provide reassurance of the overall quality of the performance. I was not disappointed. Yet another fabulous production!

This review is for the Blu-ray version. Both video and audio are excellent. Another reviewer commented that he was less impressed when he saw this production at a local theatre than when he viewed it on his home video. I guess that this anomaly could have been due to the equipment and its set-up or possibly the dvd used was not in Blu-ray? For those people who intend to project the image onto a screen, I can confirm that you will be blown away by the quality. The picture is very clear and the detail is amazing. The orchestra is on top form under the masterful direction of Boris Gruzin. This is one of my favourite ballet scores and the music matches perfectly the breathtakingly beautiful ballet movements, especially in the second act.

If I could only take one ballet to my desert island it would have to be Giselle and of all the available versions it would have to be this one. Absolutely sublime!

Edit 22/2/11
Someone has just pointed out Amazon's error in cataloguing these reviews. My review of this ROH performance is wrongly duplicated for the Paris Opera performance and vice versa for Jose Brito's excellent review! I have e-mailed Amazon but in the meanwhile Caveat Emptor for potential purchaser's thinking of buying on the basis of customer's reviews.

Corrected 27/2/11
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on 8 October 2014
I saw this production twice at the Opera house , Covent Garden (London) earlier this year and couldn't wait to buy this Blu-Ray. The performance by Osipova is fantastic, showing off her phenominal and polished technical and acting skills. Her interpretation of Giselle made me cry when i saw the live performance and later when watching this Blu-Ray. She portrays Giselle in the first act as very vunerable and later crushed when she learns the truth about the man she loves. her second act role is that of a ghost and one that still feels enourmous love for Albrecht. The intensity of this devotion is tangiable.
The filming is first rate and the orchestral pace is perfect. There is also a very useful bonus film giving comments and insights by the dancers on this interpretation. I have no hesitation about recommending this Blu-ray to any ballet lover since this is one that you would want to watch time and time again without ever being bored, since on repeated viewings I always see something new in the production.
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on 16 February 2010
This superbly produced high definition recording of Peter Wright's acclaimed production is a fitting recognition of the dance performance of the decade: Alina Cojocaru's first performance of Giselle with the Royal Ballet in 2001 at the age of 19. She was immediately promoted to Principal.

Johan Kobborg is one of the finest actor-dancers of our day and his dancing is understatedly elegant in his role as the duplicitous Count Albrecht. Martin Harvey's sensitive portrayal of the devoted Hilarion tugs at the heart strings.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 July 2012
This is a very fine performance of Giselle. I prefer it marginally to the more recent Bolshoi version and for me this remains my favourite performance.

Cojocaru's dancing in a role that seems to have been conceived for her, portrays the heroine as the lovable but fatally naïve country girl that she is and as her mother (excellent portrayal by Sandra Conley) so clearly understands. This fragility carries over convincingly to the second act where Nunez, as leader of the Willis in this act is not as cold-bloodied as some. As a result the element of redemption through love is relatively unimpeded here.

The two competing men here are well up to the task required of them although I always personally feel that the morally justified Hilarion is appallingly sacrificed so that the real villain, Albrecht, can escape proper justice. Nevertheless Hilarion as portrayed by Martin Harvey and Albrecht as portrayed by Johan Kobborg do everything that can be done to bring their roles to life on the stage.

The corps de ballet are on fine form with involving portrayals of the various crowd scenes in the first act and as the Willis in the second act. The Willis are as ethereally effective in this performance as usual although it must be admitted that those in an earlier Kirov performance were able to move as if on wheels. Astonishing!

The imaging is crisp and without movement blur. The colour range is well balanced. The sound is presented in stereo and surround 5.0 and this leads me to the reservations in the following paragraph. These may simply be the result of the recording not having a designated 5.1 sub-woofer channel to specifically take care of the bass frequencies.

The problem for me concerns the sound quality heard in surround mode on particularly wide-ranging equipment. This shows the orchestra to be working in the dry acoustic that you would expect in a packed theatre which can be adjusted to in all respects except one. That is the booming and undefined sound of the bass drum. This becomes oppressive and totally out of balance with the rest of the soundstage and is at odds with the delicate nature of the ballet. This is not a problem of the musical scoring but rather that of poor recording. This may not be an issue with less wide ranging reproduction where the bass frequencies are carried only by the main left and right speakers which often have less extended bass. Maybe a case of less giving more in terms of satisfaction!

In summary therefore I feel that five stars is richly deserved for the ballet but only three for the sound quality as revealed on my admittedly somewhat extreme equipment. However I am also aware that this may not be audibly significant with most replay equipment so perhaps only a minor adjustment of rating probably needs to be made. An overall adjustment to 4 stars would therefore seem to be fair to accommodate ballet enthusiasts who are also keen on h-fi.
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