Well, my copy arrived a few days ago, but I only found time to post about it now, so here goes.
I thought the costumes and lighting were gorgeous, but I have a feeling that this ballet is supposed to be sexy, and I didn't get that from this performance at all, except from the three harem dancers; the rest of the cast looked too proper, restrained, and virginal to be convincing in the choreography, which I could still tell was first-rate. Zakharova looked particularly miscast in this, in my opinion. First of all, it doesn't seem to fit her temperament at all, she's too "cold" for it; secondly, it really doesn't look good for a dancer as painfully thin as she is to be wearing a bare midriff.
Ruzimatov may have been good in this five or ten years ago, but he wasn't at his best when this was filmed. And I would have liked some clarification, perhaps in the liner notes, of what the story was in this ballet, if there was one. However, the score is wonderful.
Le Spectre De La Rose:
This was very well-danced, very pretty. Kolb gives quite a different interpretation of this from Baryshnikov or Legris, but it's equally good. He's more lyrical than pyrotechnical, and has very nice lines. Ayupova is a lovely dancer, very delicate and feminine and innocent, so this is also a good role for her. I'm not sure I like the shiny fabric on her costume; I prefer it to be more matte, more lacy, but that's a nitpick. The orchestra sounded kind of sluggish.
The first way for me to describe this ballet is "over the top." The second is to say that, for some reason, it reminds me of the Mike Myers SNL sketch "Lothar of the Hill People," for some reason. All snarking aside, I really enjoyed the choreography; Rassadina has such beautiful, expressive arms and hands, and Baimuradov is very powerful technically. My main beef with this one is the camera work; the photographers would cut over to the chorus during the most virtuoso, climactic passages. What the bleep were they thinking?
If the cameras had stayed on the dancers, I'd have liked this a lot more.
I'm used to the Gontcharova [spelling?] designs for the Royal Ballet, so the designs for this production took a little bit of getting used to, and I still prefer the Royal's designs, but the Kirov designs are actually still quite nice. Vishneva is a very good Firebird. Yes, there are probably several dancers who would have been even better, but there are also dancers who could have been much worse. Be that as it may, Vishneva is very easy on the eye, and has the warmth in her dancing that Zakharova lacked in Sheherazade. Yakovlev, as Ivan, was perfectly adequate, but the role really isn't much of a showcase for a male dancer. Serebriakova was a very sweet, pretty, innocent princess. Ponomarev as Kotchei [spelling?] gave me the creeps, which, given the nature of the character, must mean he did a pretty good job. Overall, not bad.
So, this isn't the world's best ballet DVD, but it could be worse, and since there really aren't many recordings available of Sheherazade and Polovtsian Dances, it's worth having for that, and the other two, which have been filmed in other productions before, are well worth watching. Plus it's not that expensive; I paid $15 for it on Amazon.