Giselle - The Ballet

Bolshoi Ballet


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Bolshoi Ballet
Moscow 1975

Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Conductor A Zhuraitis

Yuri Grigorovich

Natalia Igorevna Bessmertnova

The Dancers

The Ballet

Artistic Director Yuri Grigorovich has added a few of his own touches to the original choreography. This is a studio production, not a live performance. Consequently, there was opportunity for multiple outtakes to get everything polished up just right.


"Natalia Makarova of ABT has earned a stellar reputation for her portrayal of Giselle. But whatever slight edge in adage work that Makarova may have, Bessmertnova makes up for as a better leaper and with more convincing theatrics in the mad scene. Nobody becomes a lead in the Bolshoi unless they have quite a lot going for them, and Bessmertnova's dancing is exquisite. The strength of Lavrovsky's performance as Albrecht lies in his ability to portray his emotions so effectively. In this production, the partners are well matched.

The real genius of the Bolshoi production is Grigorovich's special, protective handling of the mood in the second act. The Bolshoi's second act begins with a three minute cut to the musical score and the libretto. Nothing of consequence has been omitted. Grigorovich opens with Myrtha softly and slowly bourreeing across the gigantic Bolshoi stage in her white wedding dress, with moonlight streaming through the huge willow-like trees, accompanied by a sweet melody of string instruments and harp arpeggios. The first fourteen minutes are pure mood music, including variations by Myrtha, her two assistants, and some oustanding corps work. Grigorovich's change is a brilliant way to set the mood for the second act!

Furthermore, Grigorovich doesn't let the mood get lost along the way. In one especially wild scene, Bessmertnova's dancing is fast, but controlled.

The Bolshoi production has effective scenery and lighting for enhancing the mood. This is particularly true of the ending. In this version, I feel a gentle hush as the words "The End" appear on the screen at the end. To me, that's the desired effect. You stay in the moment right up until you push stop on your VCR remote. Live is great for a ballet like "Don Quixote," but I don't find it desirable for a ballet of this character. Consequently, I prefer a studio version of "Giselle" to a live performance.

Grigorovich's triumph is that he has produced an improved second act by the way that he has cared for and protected the mood of the ballet. I highly recommend it. Why not buy a copy and enjoy it for yourself? It will give you the Wilis!"

Edited version of a review by rss28

The Production

Conversion to DVD has meant a washed-out colour, to some extent, and poor sound in places.


About ...

06 Royal
06 Paris
05 La Scala
96 La Scala
94 Moscow
90 Australia
90 Bolshoi
88 Harlem
87 Cullberg
84 Rio
80 Rome
79 Bavarian
76 Canada
75 Bolshoi
69 ABT

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30 November 2016 | Copyright Andrew Heenan | | Privacy