Giselle - The Ballet

American Ballet Theater 1969

 
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American Ballet Theater
1969

The choreography by David Blair, after Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli

Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin conducted by John Lanchbery

Film director Hugo Nieberling

Fracci and Bruhn

The Dancers

The Ballet

This performance was made as a feature film, marrying aspects of the real world - the Royal Party riding through the forest, for example - with special effects and a studio-based ballet.

Review

The performances are especially polished, because they were done in a studio setting, not during a live performance. The performances are also strong from a theatrical standpoint, and Fracci's acting ability is on par with other great ballerinas, such as Dame Margot Fonteyn and Maya Plisetskaya. This vesrion is clearly filmed, and the dancing is captured from many unique angles. Some of them are highly interesting, but there are others that I could have done without. The director seems to change angles a lot, particularly during the scenes with a lot of tension. A number of special effects are used, some of which are pretty neat. The set is custom, and there's a lot of color used. For some strange reason, they decided that the lighting and costumes should be light green and light yellow. I'm not real crazy about that choice, but at least Fracci wears the usual pure white wedding dress. Overall, I believe that the good Hollywood filmic touches outweigh the bad ones.

There's some really delightful petit allegro dancing recorded here by Fracci, Bruhn and Landers, and the musical tempos are on the quick side to facilitate this. Out of the six different productions of "Giselle" that I've seen to date, act one from this ballet is the best of them. Act two is good, but not quite as good as the 1979 Bolshoi version with Natalia Bessmertnova, Mikhail Lavrovsky and Galina Kozlova (which is also available from Amazon.com), because Bolshoi wilis dance with unbelievable finesse, delicacy and precision. Fracci and Bruhn's partnering is nice, but the husband and wife team of Lavrovsky and Bessmertnova exude more tenderness together. However, fans of Hilarion will be happy to know that they didn't try to make him out to be some kind of dork here, and they even gave him a substantial variation in the second act.

I've watched this ballet a number of times since purchasing it, and I think that it's some of the best money that I've spent on my ballet collection. The petit allegro dancing here is delightful, and the only other ballet that I can think of with such outstanding footwork is "La Sylphide" (1971, Kultur Video) by the Paris Opera Ballet with Ghislaine Thesmar and Michel Denard.

Edited version of a review by rss28

The Production

Utilises techniques more familiar with movies; rapid cuts from angle to angle can be disconcerying, as well as the removal of feet in many shots.

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30 November 2016 | Copyright Andrew Heenan | | Privacy