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amitava

Any DVD recommendations for Romeo and Juliet?

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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.org/Notes/ROMEOAND.HTM. http://www.national.ballet.ca/Performances...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.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...?v=glance&s=dvd (Galina Ulanova, Yuri Zhandov, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Bolshoi Ballet (1956)) and

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...?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

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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!

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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!

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

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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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Ferri/Eagling are included in the Kultur "Great Pas de Deux" DVD -- the balcony scene. I really liked it. Not having seen Wayne Eagling before, I was very impressed -- and touched.

I rembember the Fonteyn/Nureyev/McMillan very fondly. The videography (B and W) does strange things with the faces at times. But Fonteyn's Juliet, which I also so on stage from fairlyl close, was the most deeply "felt" portrayal I can imagine.

I really liked the adolescent passion in the Christopher Gable/Massimo Moricone version for Northern Ballet Theater. This was filmed by BBC in 1992, and I know it was shown on A&E network about a decade ago, when "A" actually stood for "Arts". This was young, hormonally passionate, and very touching -- the only version ever to have brought real tears to my eyes (they are so young!). One influence was clearly the Zeffirelli film. I don't know if this is currently sold in the US.

Thanks, BalletNut, for the Ferri/Bocca/ABTNOW reference. This DVD had somehow made it to the bottom of the pile, unwatched. Can't wait for this evening.

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I hope somebody can answer my question. I am a great fan of the Lavrosky, original prodcution of Romeo and Juliet. I own the 1974, 152 minute Bolshoi recording with a stunning Vasiliev and Maximova. However, the lighting is absolutely dismal for some of the scenes (a problem I have with many Russian telecasts of the era).

There's another Bolshoi recording from, I believe, around the same era, with Bessmertnova and (Mikhail) Lavrosky, that's been released from Kultur. The Balcony scene can be seen on youtube if you look up Lavrosky and Romeo and Juliet, and the amazon link is http://www.amazon.com/Bolshoi-Ballet-Company-Sergei-Prokofievs/dp/6301005546 From the clip, the lighting seems to be much brighter. However, I can't find out (even from Kultur's own official website) what year it was recorded in, and I was also wondering if it was edited. The Vasiliev one is, as I said, 152 minutes, but Amazon says this version is a much shorter 108 minutes, and the Kultur website doesn't give a time length at all. Amazon has been known to give the wrong time listings--and I was curious if anyone who owned this DVD could confim the length for me. Thanks!

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I own it, and I can check how long it is on Sunday. I believe it was filmed in 1976.

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Thank you! I'd really appreciate it. I know it's an unpopular choice, but to me, that production *is* Romeo and Juliet (I wish the Mariinsky would spruce up their version, since they are currently the only ones who perform it), I think I'm just wavering on spending the cash if it's so strongly edited (I already own the Ulanova film which has amazing dancing but is a chore to watch with all the sudden cuts, and Soviet film "effects").

On youtube both video companies have clips of the DVDs from their promo sites and you can see the difference in lighting (and dancing--the first clip is one of my favorite moments in filmed dance, ever)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw2KdkEKNDk

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Macmillan:

I have DVDs of Fonteyn/Nureyev, Ferri/Eagling, and Ferri/Corella. I also have the DVDs mentioned above of Wiseman's "Ballet" doc--with the Ferri/Bocca balcony, bedroom, and tomb scenes, and the "ABT...Now" PBS b'cast, which as mentioned above, also has a Ferri/Bocca balcony pdd (which I don't think is danced as well as other times they have performed it--very rushed, misplaced/sloppy partnering missteps, but of course dramatically not a problem.) And finally I have a video of McKenzie/Makarova, and maybe a very old SFB (Smuin?) pdd.

I agree with most comments... Fonteyn/Nureyev for historic and dramatic intensity. And Ferri in BOTH of the DVDs available--her younger/eager/fearless self with Eagling, and the more experienced dramatic actress of the later version with Corella. The RB dancers (not just the two stars) are beyond compare in their ability to enhance a scene by their portrayals and dancing, (whereas the La Scala dancers are awful) but I do prefer the filming of the Ferri/Corella version--it's better lit, better sets, better costumes, I thought the choice of angles and editing worked very well, and in Corella, Romeo has superlative technique. (If there is a quibble about his dramatic technique, one must remember Corella was only 23 when this was filmed, whereas Eagling was about 10 years older when the earlier version was filmed, with many more years of living and dancing experience behind him.)

Lavrovsky:

I have the Bessmertnova version because it was shown on U.S. television (I originally thought PBS, but from an old clipping I have, I think it was actually--please resuscitate me as I keel over--shown on network television!) I think the year 1976 is right--I recorded it on our Betamax at the time--which is why I'd be glad if a DVD was available instead. I've seen the Ulanova version, but only from libraries. But definately both films/dvds would be good choices to watch.

Cranko?:

I've seen Joffrey and BB perform this in full, and watched clips of Haydee/Cragun on YT, but don't know if a DVD is available yet. I hope so, because this is a version to watch--and definately compare to the Macmillan versions which followed it.

I would also agree with POB, but not having seen it in many many years, would defer all comments to those persons more familiar with it.

Is the NYCB version on DVD yet, just to mix things up a bit?

To conclude: I don't believe this ballet would be hard to photograph because no matter the choreography: the plot is known, the action can be anticpated, and there are bound to be many dramatic as well as visually interesting blocking/placements of dancers in every scene. Enjoy and good luck with any inadvertant lighting difficulties.

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Lavrovsky:

I have the Bessmertnova version because it was shown on U.S. television (I originally thought PBS, but from an old clipping I have, I think it was actually--please resuscitate me as I keel over--shown on network television!) I think the year 1976 is right--I recorded it on our Betamax at the time--which is why I'd be glad if a DVD was available instead. I've seen the Ulanova version, but only from libraries. But definately both films/dvds would be good choices to watch.

I liked to the DVD at Amazon above. I admit, the Lavrosky is my favorite production of the ballet, although I know mot Western audiences seem to prefer the MacMillan. It's too bad that the Bolshoi retired it for the Grigorovich (which I am not too fond of--I like a lot of Grigorovich's work, but not this particularly), and that I've heard the Mariinsky;'s production fo the Lavrosky is badly in need of refurbishment, as I hope it's not lost from their repertoire the way the two original Soviet productions of Prokofiev's Cinderella have long been retired (and are preserved only in so/so movie and filmed for TV edits).

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I'm sorry this took me so long. The 1976 Romeo & Juliet film with Bessmertnova and Lavrovsky is indeed 108 minutes long.

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Thanks for your trouble! That's interesting, so a lot must have been cut compared to the 152 minute 1974 Vasiliev/Maximova production. I wonder if it was cut for the broadcast, or in performance (I believe the Lavrosky one you mention was filmed during a tour).

Anyway, thanks for remembering to look it up!

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I just watched the Ferri/Eagling version. I was really pleased with both of their performances, as well as those of Romeo's friends. I was surprised at the ease of the lifts, particularly considering how slight Eagling appears. Ferri dances with such ease, strength, and grace, and she is so effective dramatically. I expected more interesting choreography, and was shocked to find so much time spent without any movement, and/or without dance movements.

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