The Bolshoi Ballet troupe in Yuri Grigorovich’s version of the romantic masterpiece 'Giselle', at last available in HD. First performed in 1841, 'Giselle' was an immediate hit. With music by Adolphe Adam and a libretto by Théophile Gautier and Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, the ballet touches on the great romantic themes: local colour, a pastoral love affair doomed to end in tragedy, a plunge into fantasy and redemption through the power of love. Learning that Albrecht, her beloved, is in fact a nobleman engaged to be married to a princess, the naive peasant girl Giselle dies. The Queen of the Wilis – the spirits of deceased young virgins– decides that Albrecht should follow Giselle to the grave, and condemns him to dance until he dies of exhaustion. But Giselle’s spirit dances with him and saves him.
Perhaps the most celebrated ballet of the Romantic era, Adolphe Adam’s intoxicating ballet Giselle is the dramatic story of a peasant girl whose betrayal by her aristocratic lover causes her to go mad before dying and returning as a ghost. Featuring the fabulous Alina Cojocaru in the title role and Johan Kobborg as a torn Count Albrecht, Peter Wright’s sparkling production and John Macfarlane’s pastoral designs create an opulent feast for the eyes, here captured in High Definition video and true surround sound.
Giselle remains one of the most popular Romantic ballets of all time. The story brings together an engaging mix of human passions, supernatural forces, and the transcendent power of self-sacrificing love. The production by Sir Peter Wright catches the atmosphere of this great Romantic ballet, especially in the perfection of its White Act, with ghostly maidens drifting through the forest in spectacular patterns – one of the most famous of any scenes for the corps de ballet…
Arthaus presents “Giselle”, a classical ballet, which, with all its splendour and grace, is generally regarded as the apotheosis of the Romantic ballet. The work premiered in the Salle de la rue Le Peletier at the Paris Opéra in 1841 and is considered the first major plot-based ballet to have survived to the modern day with its original choreography almost intact. In the course of the past century and a half “Giselle” has undergone only a few changes, e.g. by Marius Petipa, who revised the work for his 1887 production at the Maryinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The performance recorded on this DVD is based on the St Petersburg version and was choreographed by Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov, two out-and-out Petipa specialists. The scenery is the work of Alexandre Benois from 1924; originally designed for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, it heralded the re-emergence on Western programmes of the long absent “Giselle” and to this day it remains the benchmark for traditionalist stagings of this ballet. The production was marked by an all-stars cast: Laëtitia Pujol dances the title role, combining her flawless technical skill with a fully developed sense of grace. Nicolas Le Riche, one of international ballet’s most respected stars, created her male counterpart, Albrecht, whose faithlessness drives her insane. Le Riche is famous all over the world for his elegant strength, the beauty of his expression and the musicality of his movements.
This 53-CD set is more than the sum of its parts. While not all the performances and recordings are top-notch, the overall quality is very high and as a historical overview of a label known for its sonic as well as musical merits, it's full of treasures. The Mercury sound at its best is vivid and still sounds remarkable and many of these recordings - such as the marches, show tunes and orchestral showpieces conducted by Frederic Fennell - demonstrate this amply. But it's not all lollipops by any means.
Amilcare Ponchielli's sole operatic work La Gioconda made him a major figure in Italy. It was not just the title that made it such a success - 'La Gioconda' is the Italian term for the famous Leonardo da Vinci painting that is better known to the English-speaking world as 'Mona Lisa' - but rather its music and the poetic quality of Arrigo Boito's score. The production featured here was taken from a 1986 performance of the Vienna State Opera. Filippo Sanjust was responsible for production and set, Gerlinde Dill was in charge of choeography, whilst Adam Fischer conducted both choir and orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Internationally renowned stars Eva Marton and Placido Domingo, who play the leading roles in the performance, ensure an unforgettable operatic experience.