DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

ADAM: Giselle (complete ballet), Blu-ray (2012)

A first class Giselle video in every way.

Published on October 8, 2012

ADAM: Giselle (complete ballet), Blu-ray (2012)

Conductor: Pavel Klinichev/ Bolshoi Ballet Theater Orchestra
Dancers: Svetlana Lunkina (Giselle)/ Dmitri Gudanov (Albrecht)/ Vitaly Biktimirov (Hans)/ Maria Allash (Myrtha)/ Bolshoi Ballet
Choreography: Yuri Grigorovich
Producer: Francois Duplay
Director: Vincent Battaillon
Studio: Belair Classiques BAC474 [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 1080i Full HD, 16:9, color
Audio: PCM Stereo, 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German
Length: 109 minutes
Rating: *****

The plot of Giselle’s libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier is taken from a poem by Heinrich Heine. Giselle’s lover Albrecht has hidden his real identity from her in order to sow a few wild oats before his marriage to Bathilde, the daughter of the prince. When Giselle comes to this realization the strain proves too much for her and she dies prematurely. The second act takes place in a graveyard, where the Wilis, female spirits who, jilted before their wedding day, rise from their graves at night and seek revenge upon men by dancing them to death. This happens to one man, Hans, who in the first act sought to dissuade Giselle from loving Albrecht because he was in love with her himself. No poetic justice here as Albrecht finds himself protected by the ghost of Giselle who appears and saves him from the evil machinations of the Wilis. Poor Hans gets the short end of the stick.

As you might imagine, such a supremely weak plot works in the ballet quite well, providing lots of atmosphere and many opportunities for dance. Today these kinds of classic romantic ballets don’t always sit well with people; our times, so replete with generational cultural bombardment in the form of movies, music videos, and all-pervasive and involving game activity, are not very amenable to the type of subtle and delicate beauties to be found in the smooth and gliding motions of a great ballet. Back in the day, when all of our current distractions were not available to the general public, opportunities for the appreciation of art and inherent emotional activities associated with the provocative abilities of opera, music, and ballet were greatly valued, and offered opportunities for the deepening of the emotional spectrum of human existence by participation in these elevating activities. But instead the idea of such a supercilious and vacuous storyline—which Giselle undoubtedly is—fails to connect with those more interested in instant gratification.

And that’s a shame, for the great ones still have the power to persuade and enlighten for those willing to take the time to learn and appreciate them. In the case of Giselle one would be hard pressed to find a more accommodating performance than this one from the legendary Bolshoi Ballet. The orchestra plays wonderfully, and the sets, though a little like a Thomas Kincaid painting in the first act, are nonetheless pastel soft and quite evocative. The prima ballerina, Svetlana Lunkina, lead soloist of the ballet, was born in 1979 and made her first appearance at the ballet as Giselle in 1997 during her first season with the company. Hers is a very seasoned performance, and she glides across the stage with great assurance and confidence, easily the star of the show even though her costars perform with equal alacrity and style. The sound and visuals are both excellent, and anyone wanting a traditional version of this classic need look no further.

Steven Ritter




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