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Videos of Giselle


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#1 BalletNut

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 02:46 PM

I thought up this topic after reading and responding to the one on specific productions. I have only seen one live production, but I have seen many more on video. So, what do you think is the best production of Giselle captured on video? The worst? The most unique?

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 04:01 PM

Good question! I hope you'll post your list.

I'm sure I have more than I can remember off the top of my head -- two ABT (Makarova-Baryshnikov and the older Fracci-Bruhn), one of Seymour-Nureyev (forget the production unfortunately), the Kirov with Mezentseva and Zaklinsky, the Bolshoi with Ulanova and N. Fadeyechev (?). I have a fondness for the old Bolshoi production -- and I can't resist adding, if anyone has this one, I found Ulanova's dancing in the second act, the musical phrasing of it, very interesting. It wasn't what I was used to seeing and so, of course, the first time I saw it I thought it "unmusical." Then I started concentrating more on the dancing than the music and found her musicality--and was fascinated by it.

I like parts of the old ABT production, too, but I'm sure that's just because it's the one I "grew up" with.

There's a very interesting video about Giselle -- Anton Dolin coaching Helgi Tomasson and Patricia McBride in the roles. And another one that is, as far as I know, available at the moment only in Europe, the Danish film about the Royal Danish Ballet's production -- more the behind-the-scenes, although there is footage from the stage -- Anne Wivel's "Of Dreams and Discipline."

#3 liebs

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 04:09 PM

Alexandra, does the Fracci/Bruhn production feature Toni Lander as Myrthe? If so, I found that a fascinating video because it is much more cinematic than many of the other which are "flimed" stage performances. And Fracci makes a wonderful Giselle, totally believable in her performance - even in close up.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 04:14 PM

Yes, liebs, Toni Lander is Myrtha on that video (Bruce Marks is Hilarion). I also like this production because it retains the circles in Act II, which, to me, make it more like a ritual. (On most days, Carla Fracci is my favorite Giselle :) and I agree, she films very, very well.)

#5 Terry

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 05:05 PM

I absolutely LOVED Fracci's Giselle (esp Act I) and Makarova's Act II, but I also thought Stuttgart's "Giselle and the Wilis" with Birgit Keil was interesting. Also, Mats Ek's "Giselle" on video is absolutely thrilling as well. I also wonder if there are any remaining videos of Dame Margot Fontyn dancing this. I've only seen an excerpt of her dancing with Nureyev, and it was sublime.

#6 BalletNut

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 07:41 PM

Well, I too have seen the Fracci video, and while the dancing is superb, I actually found the cinematic effects very distracting. I much prefer Makarova and Baryshnikov, however, I have been unable to get a personal copy of it, as it has been out of print and very hard to find. :confused:
Another video worth mentioning is the Bolshoi At the Bolshoi series with Natalia Bessmertnova and Yuri Vasyuchenko in the leads, with Maria Bylova as Myrtha. Bessmertnova gives a serviceable Giselle in this one, but frankly I've seen better interpretations, and it looks as though the video was shot a bit late in her career. Vasyuchenko left me cold both dramatically and technically, and his Billy Ray Cyrus mullet hair doesn't help things any. :eek: To be fair, though, this video has the best peasant pas de deux I've ever seen, overshadowing the leads even. The Bolshoi corps is, as expected, excellent. I know of an earlier video of Bessmertnova's Giselle, with Lavrovsky, I think; has anyone seen it?
As for the Nureyev video, the only redeeming quality it has is Monica Mason's Myrtha. I've seen Nureyev in better films than this. There is no peasant pas de deux in this production, and Lynn Seymour as Giselle, for all her dramatic flair, has the same problem as Bessmertnova: she was filmed past her prime.

I have also seen Dance Theater of Harlem's Creole Giselle, which is quite interesting in that it has been relocated to Louisiana, with sets and costumes reflecting the change. The choreography is pretty much the same, and it is pretty well danced as well.

[ 04-24-2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 07:47 PM

Ballet Nut, a high percentage of the films and videos made in the 1950s, '60s and '70s are of dancers past their prime, I think. I suppose this was because people were anxious to capture great performances in a new medium, and went for the senior artists first. Also, there are some people who simply do not film well -- and Seymour and Nureyev are two of them.

I actually like productions that cut the peasant pas de deux. It does totally break the drama -- where is Albrecht? lurking in the woods until it's safe to come back? -- and it's often so badly undercast, I can live without it :)

#8 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 25 April 2001 - 05:16 PM

The earlier Bolshoi video with Natalia Bessmertnova and Mikhail Lavrovsky is an interesting document. It dates from the early seventies and is much preferable to the later “Bolshoi at the Bolshoi” film, as it gives a better idea why Bessmertnova was one of the greatest Russian Giselles of the last decades. The old-fashioned filming style and the sets give it somewhat of a postcard-image at times, while the very short skirts of the girls in the 1st look rather funny, but the dancing leaves little or nothing to be desired. Especially the 2nd act is breathtaking. Also some great dancing by Lavrovsky (There is no peasant pas de deux).

#9 Nora

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Posted 25 April 2001 - 07:22 PM

Has anyone seen the Malakhov video of Giselle? The video itself is of a rather poor quality; rather like something your favorite uncle taped for you on the night of your big recital. The dancing, however, is very fine. The ballerina is Ludmilla Vasileva, and the production, if my memory serves me correctly, came from Perm. None of the other dancers are credited. I thought Vasileva did a beautiful job, especially in the mad scene. Has anyone else seen it? If you have, I would love to hear the opinion of a better educated viewer.

#10 Juliet

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Posted 26 April 2001 - 09:14 PM

Yes, I have this early Malakhov video, and while he is very young, he is ardent and so expressive......
I think his is one of the best thought-out and realized Albrechts....the later (1996) biographical video, "True Prince" has him working on Giselle with Yseult Lendval, and is really, really interesting to see....it's spooky and eerie and she is so insubstantial....he is just beautiful in this (which is, of course, the point.) I was very sorry to have missed him at Kennedy Center earlier this month.

I have many favourite Giselle moments, but one I must echo from an earlier mention on this thread is the exquisite pdd with Fonteyn and Nureyev. I *think* it was shot at the first performance of theirs together and it showed me so much that I hadn't seen before, mostly about Fonteyn. Exquisite.

Why has no one mentioned the Alicia Alonzo Giselle? It is very distinctive, and although one marvels at her age when it was filmed, I think it is lovely.......

#11 Françoise

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 12:20 PM

You have also the "black" Giselle by Dance Theater of Harlem. I don't remember the cast.
It exist the Kirov version with Mesentzeva and Zaglinski. It's the lonely version where I saw Giselle dancing the mad scene without touch her hair. I don't find the word in english. She has her hair attached and doesn't change.
We have also one recent production of la Scala with Ferri, Murru and Seabra as Myrtha. I think peasant pdd is with Roberto Bolle and it's the same production in Paris even the sets are different.
They pass years and years ago a Giselle with Pontois and Baryshnikov at POB. It seems it exist also the version extracted of Terence young' Mayerling with Liane Daydé, I don't remember Albrecht, the version is during 1 hour and you don't have peasants pdd.

#12 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 06:01 PM

I possess an old video (much treasured) of Yekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev in Giselle. Wonderful stuff indeed - to my mind the best I have ever seen.

#13 Yvonne

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 06:08 PM

Balletnut, I hope you see this reply. The Baryshinkov/Makarova Giselle video IS still in print and available for purchase! :)

1. Go to dealtime.com

2. Click on "Movies" catagory

3. Under "title", type Live From Licoln Center - Giselle

They also have all the other versions mentioned in this thread.

Hope this helps! :) :) :) :) :)

#14 BalletNut

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Posted 28 April 2001 - 03:33 AM

I appreciate the suggestion, Yvonne, but when I tried it, the site only referred me to Tower Records' homepage, and they don't have it. But thank you anyway.

#15 ralphsf

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Posted 28 April 2001 - 05:51 PM

I am also a big fan of the Bessmertnova/Lavrovsky Giselle from the 70's. Lavrovsky is the best Albrecht, period. While I don't think Bessmertnova is quite up to the level of Fracci, she's still very good. And the Myrtha, production, filming and mood of video are the best of all the one's I've seen. The Bruhn-Fracci Giselle has wonderful dancing (Toni Lander) but terrible camera work. Ted Kivitt's performance in the peasant dance is all but ruined by moronic cutaways and shot selection. Bruhn is wonderful, but I still find him to be somewhat of a cold fish (have you ever seen him in a performance where you really thought he loved the ballerina?)
The Nureyev/Seymour Giselle is good, but I think Seymour is just too contemporary a dancer to be a good Giselle. She's a wonderful dancing actress, but lacks the romantic magic. And let's face it, the ballet is not called "Albrecht".
The Misha/Makarova Giselle has wonderful performances (though I don't think Albrecht is an especially good role for Misha), but I don't like the production values, and it doesn't have nearly the mood of the romantic era that 1970's Bolshoi video has. I know there are many Grigorovich detractors out there, but I think this production (even with its cuts) is a jewel.


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