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Any DVD recommendations for Romeo and Juliet?


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#1 amitava

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:16 AM

The Carolina Ballet, Texas Ballet Theatre, and Ballet Austin are going to present Romeo-Juliet as a part of the 2005-2006 season.

Since I have never seen the Ballet, I would like to experience 1-2 versions on DVD before the live performances. I did a search on Amazon and came up with a huge list of options.

Can folks thrown in their 2cs regarding which DVDs are the "best"? I looks for deals.. and could not resist thisone specifically. Any recommendations?

Thanks in advance.

#2 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:25 AM

I don't know if it is on DVD or not, but I like the Royal Ballet performance with Wayne Eagling and Alessandra Ferri a lot.

#3 Giannina

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:26 AM

Answers here will be subjective, of course. My favorite R&J is MacMiillan's and there are several excellent presentations. Some say none is better than Fonteyn and Nureyev, plus it has historical significance since they were the first to perform the ballet (even that is an historically interesting tidbit, but I digress). Of the MacMillan DVDs my choice is the one with Ferri and Eagling, followed by Makarova and McKenzie. Nureyev staged and choreographed a R&J for Paris Opera Ballet; that DVD stars Loudieres and Legris and, tho very different from MacMillan's, is also enjoyable. It's even more enjoyable if you watch the DVD of "Dancer's Dream, The Great Ballets of Rudolf Nureyev, Romeo & Juliet" first.

Giannina

#4 Hans

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:58 AM

My favorite Romeo & Juliet DVD is the Lavrovsky one with Ulanova.

#5 chrisk217

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 08:53 AM

I would get a McMillan R&J first.
I like the Fonteyn/Nureyev: dramatic but not excessively lyrical. It's ballet history, but they are both in good shape and they are both very good actors. Fonteyn's initial reserve (like when dancing with Paris (which -strangely- is my favorite part)) enhances the drama later on. Nureyev's acting is electrifying.

From the Ferri R&Js I have the Ferri/Corella whole and excerpts of the Ferri/Eagling (I would have bought the Eagling but untill recently it was unavaillable on DVD in Europe).

Ferri is another kind of Juliet, more lyrical. Also, the excerpts I have seen with Eagling were better danced than the Fonteyn/Nureyev.

If I were you I would avoid the Ferri/Corella. There are many drawbacks (the La Scalla dancers, Ferri is older here etc) but the main drawback is Corella. He dances well but his acting is such that one is tempted to watch the tomb scene as comedy. I was very surprised to read on another thread that he is considered to be "the ultimate poetic dancer". Maybe he is, but you wont find the evidence on this DVD. (To be just, perhaps it's not entirely his fault but the director's, who closes-up on expressions intented to be visible from the 40th row of seats, but still I would not recommend this)

The Lavrovsky version with Ulanova is a very good presentation of Ulanova's gift. Feeling and music seem to drive her dancing. I have seen this years ago and still remember it vividly (I can't wait for it to be availlable on DVD in Europe)

I would avoid also the Paris Opera Ballet R&J. Some good people from BalletTalk warned me about it but I wouldn't listen. Nureyev's choreography can be summed up as "All steps, not much poetry". Steps, steps, steps and then more steps. It is, of course, fiendishly difficult and perfectly executed and there are people who will appreciate all the running, turning, lifting going on but it's not very touching.

There is also a more modern take by Prejlocaj. It is set in a vaguely futuristic fascist state (complete with a wall, guards and a patrolling German sheperd) It's interesting, has a few good moments but ultimately it's also not touching. (Plus, it departs considerably from the play) Avoid if you are a ballet purist.

edited to add: About the trilogy you mention: I have come accross the Giselle. It is good (much better than a later recording again with Besmertnova) but the audio is not very good and the video is blurry. Also, if I remember well, there is no peasant pas de deux.

#6 carbro

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 10:34 AM

I should clarify for amitava that the only things shared by the various Prokofiev R&Js are the score and the libretto. The choreography is completely different. This is not like comparing Swan Lakes, with its numerous "set pieces" that remain relatively constant from one (traditional) production to another. So if, as a photographer, you are doing this to locate the photogenic moments, you'll simply have to work with the choreography your company is doing.

#7 Helene

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 11:45 AM

The Ulanova version was done as a film. I'm not sure if this would help to translate the versions you will see into photos.

#8 bart

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 01:29 PM

Lots of great advice here.

I would avoid also the Paris Opera Ballet R&J. Some good people from BalletTalk warned me about it but I wouldn't listen. Nureyev's choreography can be summed up as "All steps, not much poetry". Steps, steps, steps and then more steps. It is, of course, fiendishly difficult and perfectly executed and there are people who will appreciate all the running, turning, lifting going on but it's not very touching.

I agree that it's not the most focused or ravishing love story of the bunch. But the production is magnificent -- truly stunning. The Bastille stage is vast, the sets rich and breathtaking. The camera alternates angles, including some from above during the corps work, which allows you to see patterns you don't usually see. The sheer scale of it -- and thrilling, I think, especially the movement of masses of dancers in the crowd and ball scenes. Plus the most male fighting/dueling scenes. (Except, maybe, the Northern Ballet in England.)

On the negative, the balcony scene and the final tomb scenes are less effective than the above, which I guess tells you something. They are, however, wonderfully danced.

But, another plus: you can SEE everything -- not to be sneezed at in ballet videos, often the kingdom of muddy lighting, over-filtering, misplaced camera angles, look-at-me-the-videographer cutting, cut-off extremities,etc.

About the "steps, steps, and then more steps." criticism. I understand where this is coming from, but I recall that similar things were said about Balanchine early on. And, if you replace "steps" with "notes", don't you have what some contemporaries found unappealing in Mozart? Truly wonderful dancers (esp. the corps and secondary roles) moving beautifully to great dance music -- what could be wrong with that?

#9 Brioche

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 02:00 PM

Hmmmm....because of her age and experience AND talent I would highly recommend the Ferri/Corella La Scala Romeo..... DVD. As we know many female dancers of an "advanced" age have had great success in this role.

And I too will hightly recommend the POB "making of" Nureyev's Romeo.........all the DVD's in that series are interesting and fun.

Best,
B

#10 chrisk217

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:19 PM

About the "steps, steps, and then more steps." criticism.  I understand where this is coming from, but I recall that similar things were said about Balanchine early on.  And, if you replace "steps" with "notes", don't you have what some contemporaries found unappealing in Mozart?  Truly wonderful dancers (esp. the corps and secondary roles) moving beautifully to great dance music -- what could be wrong with that?

I just want to clarify that it's not just the amount of steps that bothers me. It's the "more is better" kind of logic I sense behind them; most of the time they are not integrally connected to either the music or the drama (to me at least; maybe I'm missing something) There is a frantic quality to the choreography even in scenes that should not be frantic.

But as bart and brioche say the DVD and the production are magnificent (as is every POB production; even Coppelia which is a POB school DVD has the most beautiful sets and costumes and beautiful crisp image)

#11 Giselle05

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 03:26 PM

McKenzie, if you are listening....when oh when will we be seeing an entire Romeo and Juliet with Ferri and Bocca? (If of course it has been TAPED!!! How often do companies tape performances for themselves, anyway? I've always been curious.) I know of too many people to count who would pay any money for it! :)

The Ferri/Corella DVD, IMO, just makes one appreciate the Ferri/Bocca partnership even more. Ferri and Corella are both just..okay in it.

#12 amitava

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:15 PM

I should clarify for amitava that the only things shared by the various Prokofiev R&Js  are the score and the libretto.  The choreography is completely different.  This is not like comparing Swan Lakes, with its numerous "set pieces" that remain relatively constant from one (traditional) production to another.  So if, as a photographer, you are doing this to locate the photogenic moments, you'll simply have to work with the choreography your company is doing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Thank you so much for the detailed advice, especially chrisk217 and carbro. Carbro, I was not looking for photogenic moments so much so as to get a general feel for the ballet, in terms of the movement mood transitions, number of people on stage at a time, whether there is more drama or dance, etc. I never base my shots on tapes. The moment in the theatre determines the quality of the photos.

But the point that there is no one archetypal Romeo Juliet helps. That should make this project an interesting one, to see the three choreographer's different takes. Dominic Walsh (ex Houston Ballet dancer) is also working with Mercury Baroque to present a RJ. I am not sure what the performance will be like. The music of course will not be what people expect, and DW's style is contemporary.

I did go googling for the libretto and discovered the following notes at http://www.balletmet...es/ROMEOAND.HTM. http://www.national....meoSynopsis.php also provides a scene by scene description. Do they generally match the flow of most choreographers seem to follow?

I am still trying to decide which two DVDs to get. I am leaning towards

http://www.amazon.co...?v=glance&s=dvd (Galina Ulanova, Yuri Zhandov, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Bolshoi Ballet (1956)) and

http://www.amazon.co...?v=glance&s=dvd (Ferri, Eagling, Jefferies, Drew, Hosking, Macmillan, Lawrence, Royal Ballet).

I hope these are the right versions that Chrisk217 mentioned. I am tempted to go with the POB version also, just to see the filming/angles. Also is seems to be a different type of choreography.

Sincerely

#13 ignacio_20

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 04:49 PM

My favorite is the Ferri/Eagling version of McMillan's, although the POB "making of" Nureyev's R&J is a quite interesting one.

Giselle05, I totally agree with you: a Ferri/Bocca would be wonderful! I have that Weisman's documentary "Ballet", which has the balcony and bedroom scenes with those two and everytime I watch it I wish I had the whole thing on tape!

#14 Giselle05

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 05:54 PM

Giselle05, I totally agree with you: a Ferri/Bocca would be wonderful!  I have that Weisman's documentary "Ballet", which has the balcony and bedroom scenes with those two and everytime I watch it I wish I had the whole thing on tape!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually, as soon as I posted, I went and put it into my VCR. :dunno: I think it is the most incredible piece of dancing I've ever seen- you really believe they are the real thing, they seem so committed to eachother. I've always wanted to see a tape of Bocca's last Romeo with Ferri- it was the most special- a farewell to a great chunk of their dancing history together. I think it'd be the most terrible loss if it wasn't recorded. Is there anyway we could, like, write to McKenzie? :) seriously. Ferri/Eagling, Ferri/Corella, but no Ferri/Bocca...ARRGH. :o

#15 BalletNut

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Posted 20 July 2005 - 10:56 PM

On the ABT Now tape/DVD, Ferri dances the balcony scene with Bocca. Not the full length, and with minimal scenery, but it's better than nothing.


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