Natalia

Mariinsky JEWELS being released on DVD

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Here it is on UK Amazon, which will release it on October 3. Can be pre-ordered. Not yet available on US Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jewels-Balanchine-Mariinsky-Orchestra-Gergiev/dp/B005HK8KZ0

Not only Lopatkina/Zelensky's Diamonds and Golub/Fadeev's Rubies but (gulp) Ayupova's Emeralds! This appears to be the first ballet release on the new Mariinsky label. Hopefully there will be more to come, including items filmed more recently.

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Do you know who the other woman in "Emeralds" is?

This is great news. I, too, hope they start releasing videos on a regular basis.

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Daria Sukhorukova with Dmitri Semionov (2nd pair, Emeralds). Denis Firsov is Ayupova's main partner in the same. Ostreikovskaya, Selina and Korsakov dance the trio. A very young Shklyarov was also filmed in the trio, in alternate cast, but it looks like "he" was left on the cutting room floor. [The DVD promises an "extra" so perhaps bits of Shklyarov will be salvaged?]

Sofia Gumerova is the "tall girl" in Rubies.

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Jewels is now available at US Amazon.com

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Thank you for the heads up, Cliff!

amazon.com is accepting pre-orders for expected release date of 11 October 11. They're offering the guarantee that if they drop the price between time of order and time of release, they'll charge the lower price.

It's available in regular and Blu Ray.

Can't wait.

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A promo for the video has been put out:

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Thanks. How lovely! I got a notice that mine just shipped from amazon.co.uk so they're on the way. :)

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I rummaged around, but couldn't find out who staged this particular production -- does anyone here know?

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Just got the Blu-ray today. Staging is credited to: Karin von Aroldingen, Sarah Leland, Elyse Borne, Sean Lavery.

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Here are my impressions I wrote for an AV forum, hence the relative lack of ballet technicalities and more audio/video technical talk:

I got the new Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet BD of Jewels yesterday from Amazon US. The picture quality is fine for what it is --- mostly a taped live performance, with the usual uneven exposure problems like blown-out highlights in some sections when the lights were too bright. But it's pretty sharp and relatively noise-free, and interestingly, also shot in 24P! So the motion looks like sped-up stop-frame animation (if you've seen the Balanchine Nutcracker in that film with Macaulay Culkin, you'll know what I mean), but there is very little, if any, motion blur.

There is a double-red line glitch around 13:13 right in the middle of Emeralds, and the menu system is kind of dumb (you can't easily return out of submenus without pressing the menu button). All of the technically very sound Opus Arte releases have spoiled me!

Sound is also quite good, and uses the surrounds in a pleasing way. It's 5.1 DTS-HD MA, 48kHz. If you have a sub, you will hear every landing on the stage!

Also unusual is the variety of camera angles beyond the usual live broadcast angles. They have a flying camera on some of the solos, which were probably shot not with a live audience, as well as some neat overhead shots so you can see Balanchine's geometric patterns in the corps work. I really liked it, but a friend who is also a rabid balletomane really hated it. YMMV, but the film direction is done well --- with whole body shots when appropriate and closeups only during the bows.

Now, the artistic quality is another story altogether. Except for the last piece, Diamonds, I think this is one of the most wrongheaded performances of Jewels I've ever seen. I've seen this company live with almost this exact cast many years ago, and liked it, so either my tastes have changed, or something else was going on.

Emeralds had no subtlety or perfume: it was just kind of put out there. Rubies tried to sell itself way, way too hard, and instead of either being innocent (the way the Americans do it) or sophisticated (the Parisians), it was just crass. Diamonds was ultra-Russian, and worked well. It was also the only pas de deux where the girl looked at her partner. Whoa, those two people are supposed to relate to each other? Who would have thunk?

Anyway, it's not worth it unless you are a rabid Mariinsky fan (and I admit to being one), or you want to see what ballet in 1080p/24 looks like (pretty good) and you like the interesting camera angles. If you can stand the motion blur artifacts in the Opus Arte version with the Paris Opera Ballet, you will have a significantly better artistic experience on that one.

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FWIW, the only bonus feature on the disk is Gergiev talking about the ballet. I haven't watched that yet. It would be nice if they made the extras more interesting. Some of the BBC broadcasts of the Royal have really interesting intermission features, which are usually not included when they release the DVD/BD of the same performance.

BTW, you can also spot Kondaurova in the Diamonds corps.

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Thanks, Andre. It's interesting to read about this from a more technical perspective. I also appreciate your evaluation of the performance.

Now, the artistic quality is another story altogether. Except for the last piece, Diamonds, I think this is one of the most wrongheaded performances of Jewels I've ever seen. I've seen this company live with almost this exact cast many years ago, and liked it, so either my tastes have changed, or something else was going on.
I think we've all experienced this kind of feeling: "Wow, I don't recall this being that bad." Or ... "that good." :huh:

I have seen Jewels performed over several generations at NYCB, including the premiere season; by Miami (two different seasons); and on dvd, by Paris. I have always been open to alternate performance styles, within reason.. Something may be lost, but so far I've always found something genuine and moving to replace it. (The extraordinary elegance of the POB version, for example, and its sense of luxe and volulpte)

Bad reviews can be as intriguing as good reviews. Your comments makes me even more anxious to have a look at the Mariinsky version, which I've been told is in the mail.

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I received the DVD yesterday and watched it twice. Why twice? Just to make sure how much I dislike this production. I had seen Jewels done by NYCB, SFB, Mariinsky, and PNB, plus I have DVD of the luminous version done by POB. This version by the Mariinsky has lots of irksome camera angles, for example the traveling cameras are annoying because it doesn't add anything to Balanchine's choreography. In fact it gave me motion sickness watching it, though to be fair I watched it on a large screen TV. About the dancing, all I can say is how underwhelmed I was especially with Emeralds and Rubies. I was expecting Zhanna Ayupova to be sublime since I had heard so many great things about her lyrical or soft style. But Ayupova never gave me the feeling of longing or aspiration that is central to Emeralds. Her gentle, noble carriage aside, there wasn't much else she offered, if you turned off the music and disregard her costume you can imagine her dancing Les Sylphides solo.

Rubies was a mess, with Irina Golub wrongly offering an amateurish interpretation. She gave what to me was a gaudy take on Rubies, all thrust yet no humor nor insouciance. Golub mistakenly thought Rubies to be only an exercise in gymnastics and put very little effort in presenting the off-kilter positions and exaggerated extensions in playful fashion.

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FWIW, the only bonus feature on the disk is Gergiev talking about the ballet. I haven't watched that yet. It would be nice if they made the extras more interesting. Some of the BBC broadcasts of the Royal have really interesting intermission features, which are usually not included when they release the DVD/BD of the same performance.

BTW, you can also spot Kondaurova in the Diamonds corps.

Does Gergiev even LIKE ballet? I was thinking of getting this, but may just stick with the POB DVD for now--I love Jewels, but there are other ballet DVDs of works I don't already have that probably should take precedent, after reading these comments.

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Just watching the promo, the camera angle on the Rubies duo during the hyper extended stretch was rather vulgar. I prefer less stretch, and more flirting. :)

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Just watching the promo, the camera angle on the Rubies duo during the hyper extended stretch was rather vulgar. I prefer less stretch, and more flirting. :)

It's not only the extreme stretch which seems merely a demonstration in gymnastics, but the way Golub does it. She dances Rubies with a salacious expression throughout, it was so unnecessarily tacky especially next to an elegant Fadeyev. No flirting just cheap flash and lasciviousness.

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I watched it twice, too, but the second viewing didn't improve my opinion of the principal dancing of all but Sukhorukova in the Mimi Paul role of "Emeralds". I expected the most of Ayupova, but I found her interpretation unrhythmic and disjointed. Lopatkina was so careful -- you could see the set-ups coming for a mile -- when courage and abandon were called for, although I thought that Letestu was the least successful in the POB version, too: "Diamonds" is not "Swan Lake". I also preferred the energy and phrasing of the POB corps in "Diamonds", which was one of the highlights of that DVD.

I had hopes for Gumerova, but I think she was studying the wrong kind of cheerleader for this role. For me Sukhorukova was the one who got not only the phrasing, but also the tone and feel of the ballet she was in. Her feet were so beautiful. My only criticism of her was that she moved her head a lot, which was distracting, when stillness would have been more effective. "Rubies" was vulgar, but worse, it was coy vulgarity.

I loved the trio in "Emeralds". Who of Ostreikovskaya and Selina is the redhead? I also loved the set: it was striking and worked for all three segments.

I definitely will pull out this DVD again (and maybe again), but I'll be selective by chapter.

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I've finally watched my copy, too.

Now we know why the producers kept this 'in the vault' for so long before releasing it. Mamma mia...

Quite disappointing, particularly the ever-moving 'skycam' rolling around the stage. It's always a joy to see Lopatkina and I was not so-so disappointed with precious Ayupova. Golub was totally wrong; if I recall, this used to be Vishneva's role at the time but Vishneva had an overseas engagement and couldn't do the film. I felt sorry for Fadeev. And don't even get me started on Korsakov in Emeralds...or Gumerova as Tall Girl in Rubies?! (To think that the alternate to Gumerova, in another cast, was Kondaurova...but perhaps the director of this loopy film would have made even Big Red look bad, who knows?)

The 'extra' (Maestro interview) is pathetic. Why bother?

Bottom line: Still worth buying for Diamonds in general and Lopatkina, in particular...but only if you can put-up with the roving camera and weird angles at times.

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Thanks everyone for your reviews. I was considering buying this dvd; and still may - mainly because of the Kondaurova corps sighting, and Uliana's Diamond. But the roving camera, which was also employed in their most recent dvd of "Swan Lake," just doesn't cut it for me. It sounds like the POB dvd (which I have), is superior. It's ironic that the Mariinsky totally embraces Balanchine, but can't quite get it together in a consistent manner when it comes to casting his ballets. Those who "hit" are rarely cast; those who "miss" are frequently cast.

Natalia wrote:

The 'extra' (Maestro interview) is pathetic. Why bother?

I can imagine. Maestro Gergiev, bless him, appears because this is the first ballet that has been released through the "Mariinsky" label on the Theatre's site - along with the Orchestra's and Opera's recordings:

--> http://www.mariinskylabel.com/page/2/Catalogue

EricHG31 asked:

Does Gergiev even LIKE ballet?

He's never claimed to be an expert, and he's stated in interviews over the years that he knows about as much as the average Russian layperson and respects the artform. Does he "like" ballet as in "is he a balletomane," as much as he "likes" (or "loves") music and the opera? Based on what I've observed over the years, no he isn't. He pays more attention to the Mariinsky Orchestra and the Opera than the Ballet of the Theatre. In a perfect world, attention (should) be 100% for both enterprises. Even so, this is unrealistic for one person. IMO it's been 80% Opera/Orchestra 20% Ballet, and I'm being conservative. To be fair, the man also leads many other institutions: Music Director and Chief Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic (favorite guest conductor) - I can't list them all here. Naturally, these responsibilities, in addition to the General Directorship of the Mariinsky Theatre would command the majority of his attention; and it leans heavily in the other direction. The world's major orchestras have all taken a number to be lead by him - even as guest conductor for one night. He also conducts many performances at the Met.

I will say that the artistic direction of the ballet company has been on auto-pilot for quite a while now. The Mariinsky Ballet should try to get more cameras into the Theatre. POB, the Bolshoi, La Scala and the Royal (for example, last June's O2 Arena "Romeo & Juliet" run), have gotten proactive - reaching out to a global audience, collaborating with Ballet in Cinema, and airing live simulcasts. They've all outdistanced the Mariinsky here. I don't even want to get into the Bolshoi, La Scala, and even Tokyo's embracing of the Petipa reconstructions. Vikharev's Harvard notes have been welcomed everywhere except the Theatre where Petipa's ballets premiered. The Mariinsky Ballet is being left behind in this regard. It would be better for them to consider taking advantage of projects like this, rather than releasing dvds of mediocre performances from past seasons, or touring +90 days of two night - one week stands worldwide.

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The Mariinsky Ballet should try to get more cameras into the Theatre. POB, the Bolshoi, La Scala and the Royal (for example, last June's O2 Arena "Romeo & Juliet" run), have gotten proactive - reaching out to a global audience, collaborating with Ballet in Cinema, and airing live simulcasts. They've all outdistanced the Mariinsky here. I don't even want to get into the Bolshoi, La Scala, and even Tokyo's embracing of the Petipa reconstructions. Vikharev's Harvard notes have been welcomed everywhere except the Theatre where Petipa's ballets premiered. The Mariinsky Ballet is being left behind in this regard. It would be better for them to consider taking advantage of projects like this, rather than releasing dvds of mediocre performances from past seasons, or touring +90 days of two night - one week stands worldwide.

Cygnet's last paragraph comment was great.

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