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 Post subject: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 9:46 am 
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Your opinions please: Of the easily available Swan Lake videos, which do you like best (or least) and why? I'm seeking to add to my collection. I'm sure there are some obscure or bootleg videos that are fantastic but unavailable, so please stick to the ones that can be found on Kultur Video, Amazon or other easily available sources, or else list a source. <BR>Right now I have 3, all taped from TV: The Matthew Bourne male swan version, which is interesting in its way but hardly a classic Swan Lake. The NYC that was shown in, I think 1998, with Miranda Weese and Damien Wetzel. I liked the new ending and the combining of Acts 3 & 4, but some of the dancing was not the best I've seen. And a French company that I saw by chance on International Channel in 1999 and taped but frankly don't like. A really odd stage and they changed which music goes with which dancing.<BR>Thanks for your input.


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:22 am 
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Location: San Francisco
For the overall production, I like the Kirov 1990 version, with Yulia Makhalina and Igor Zelinski in the leads. The costumes are beautiful, I like the choreography of waltzes and the first act pas de trois (the prince dances with 2 women, both of whom are excellent dancers), and the Kirov corps lives up to its reputation. I'm not wild about the leads, however, even though they're technically excellent. I think they're both quite inexpressive, especially Makhalina. However, if I just want to see all of the non-pas de deux sections of the ballet, this is the one I watch. Judging from the reviews other than mine on amazon.com, other people like the leads. But I've read Russian reviews of Makhalina that also lament her lack of expression.<P>The old (1958) Bolshoi version with Plisetskaya and Fadeyechev, despite its drastic editing and occasional poor picture quality, is probably the version I've watched the most, because Plisetskaya is justifiably famous for both her Odette and her Odile. Fadeyechev is undoubtedly of the old school of male ballet dancers, but he has such great ballon and ease in his jumps and such a nice style that it's always a pleasure to see him. The costumes and set are gorgeous, and the film is part documentary.<P>I'd recommend the Royal Ballet version with Makarova and Dowell just to see Dowell's dancing. He was one of my favorite dancers. Makarova looks beautiful as Odette, but (by whose direction I don't know) takes the adagio at a painfully slow tempo -- painful to listen to, that is. Also, I don't like the choreography for the group sections, or the costumes.<P>All of my favorite performances of this ballet have been live performances by performers of whom there are no recordings, at least, not in NTSC format. I'm tempted to buy a video available in the UK of ABT in San Francisco. Cynthia Gregory is in it, and she might be in <I>Swan Lake</I> on that video. She was my favorite Odette/Odile.<p>[This message has been edited by djb (edited July 29, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:26 am 
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I would also recommend the Royal Ballet "Swan Lake" from 1980 or thereabouts with Anthony Dowell and Natalia Makarova (although I agree with many of djb's criticisms). A very good all around performance, with no major eccentricities such as a dancing von Rothbart or obstreperous Jesters. I think it's still available, and probably appears on eBay from time to time as well. As a nice bonus, Robert Greskovic uses this video for his analysis of "Swan Lake" in his book Ballet 101, so an excellent guideline to the performance is readily available, which is not true of most videos, alas.<p>[This message has been edited by dirac (edited July 29, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 10:48 am 
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Location: San Francisco
And speaking of guidelines to performances, the Kirov video is unusual for a video of a Russian company -- it has an informational booklet included, as well as cast lists before and after the performance. It's frustrating that so many Russian videos have virtually no casting information. This video is a Danish production, which explains the difference, I guess.


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 11:11 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I have about 20 tapes of Swan Lake, but the ones that I have of the complete ballet are as follows:<P>Plisetskya/Fadeyechev<BR>Makhelina/Zelensky<BR>Hart/Schaufuss<BR>Makarova/Dowell<BR>Bermertnova/Bogatriev<BR>Tchenshikova/Zaklinsky<BR>Nureyev/Fonteyn<P>In answer to DJB's question above, Makarova is responsible for the tempo - the all tooooooooooo slow tempo - in which she takes the adagio of the pas de deux. I once saw a documentary on it, and she explained she liked to extend the 'plastique' of the adagio. No matter how beautifully she dances, it distorts the music dreadfully.<P>I did get to see Cynthia Gregory dance Swan Lake with Patrick Bissell - and as DJB says, she is absolutely sublime.<P>However, my favorite is Fonteyn and Nureyev. It is with the Vienna State Opera Ballet (1965) with choreography by Nureyev after Petipa. I have to say, whilst I am an avid admirer of Nureyev, I do not care for his choreography - especially for the corps de ballet.<P>But - BUT - both Fonteyn and Nureyev are transcendent in this performance. She is exquisite. Swan Lake was her favorite and she also felt her best role. And, she was right. She is a jewel. I have watched that last act more times than I can count, and to this day, when Von Rotbart snatches Odette away from Siegfried's arms, the tears start.<P>DJB - let me know if you get a hold of Gregory doing Swan Lake.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 1:09 pm 
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Well, I agree about Makarova, although I do like the version of her with Ivan Nagy, because he was such an exquisite partner. The ballet as a whole comes off as rather boring on that tape I'm afraid.<P>I have to say for overall production, I could really go with Evelyn Hart and Peter Schaufuss with the London Festival Ballet. It's available <A HREF="http://www.digitallyobsessed.com/showreview.php3?ID=828" TARGET=_blank><B>on DVD</B></A>. The whole ballet was staged and coached beautifully by Makarova. It gives you all the good stuff (traditional choreography, drama) but with a cogent story and some beautiful effects. Hart's Odette is a little better, in my opinion, than her Odile, but she's lovely to watch in both roles.<P>I think the video of ABT in San Francisco (if it's the one I'm thinking of) has only the Black Swan PDD on it, danced in a concert form with Cynthia Gregory and Fernando Bujones. There are no commercially available full Swans with Gregory as far as I know, although there exists a tape made by a local TV station in Cleveland, I think it was, of her performing the full ballet with ABT. It has lots of backstage footage since it looked to me like they were just walking around following her for about six hours. It was a real kick to watch video of her practicing her first entrance as Odette over and over, trying to figure out how far she was going to have to come out on stage and with what sized jump. She looked like a dancer standing in the wings and then suddenly she'd be a swan, then suddenly just a dancer again....<BR><p>[This message has been edited by mehunt (edited July 29, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Mon Jul 29, 2002 1:49 pm 
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I just checked my data base and I do have that tape of Gregory and Bujones dancing the Black Swan Pas de Deux. <P> The two of them are just amazing. Neither one of them got the acclaim that they so well deserved.


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 1:01 am 
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Location: London UK
Basheva, you are SO organized. One of my "things to do" is to get my videos on a database but I never seem to find the time. I notice you have the Plisetskaya/Fadeyechev Swan Lake. My Plisetskaya Swan Lake is with Alexander Bogatyrov and the other full length Bolshoi Swan Lake is with Mikhailchenko and Vasuchenko. My two Kirov full lengths are Mezentsova/Zaklinsky and the Sergeyev film version with Yevteyeva and Johnny Markovsky (Panov as the jester).<P>I have to agree with the other comments that have been made. I also think that it’s a shame that Fonteyn's Odette/Odile is showcased in Nureyev's very quirky production and I deplore Makarova's distortion of the music in the otherwise wonderful Royal Ballet version. By the way I remember when that recording was being made I was told by one of the principal male dancers at the RB that the company was outraged that a record of the production was to go on sale with a guest artist rather than a company principal as Odette/Odile.<P>The other Fonteyn gem is the 1950’s recording of Act II with Michael Soames where the sharp-eyed will spot Antoinette Sibley in the corps.<P>In the UK there is a POB version with (I think, but need to check) Guerin and Dupont. This version is seriously let down by the hideous costumes, a lapse of taste that is unusual for the French, but is beautifully danced.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 4:10 am 
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I have that gem of Fonteyn and Somes in the Second Act of Swan Lake - I have the date as 1959. I just checked the box and it says 1959.<P>Other ballets on the tape with Fonteyn are: Firebird and Ondine. All gems.<P>Cassandra...it is not I who am organized. Actually we have two systems for our tapes. I have a very complete and cross referenced card catalogue system, but it is my husband who catalogued it on the computer. He updates and cross checks it constantly.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited July 30, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 4:23 am 
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Location: Chicago, IL
Gosh, I've always thought the Markarova/Dowell version was the best. <P>I've watched the 2nd act pas so many times, the video is practically worn out.<P>In my opinion no artist has come anywhere near to Makarova's interpretation of Odette/Odile.<P>But then again I am under her spell. I feel the same way about her 'Giselle'.


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 5:08 pm 
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Glebb, I know what you mean about that Royal version. I don't have too many "Swans" but I really love that version. <P>Only Makarova could get away with tempo alterations of that magnitude. Very often she conducted the orchestra, or conducted the conductor conducting the orchestra. It was almost a joke when she was dancing with ABT. You just expected that to happen when she danced. But she was magnificent.<P>Speaking of slow with reference to "Swan Lake," the Kirov's recent production in NY had the slowest beginning to the overture that I have ever heard. Since I had just seen their "Bayadère" the previous day, I was really concerned that this was setting the stage for another four hour display. Luckily things picked up somewhat, although their Swan came in at about 3 hours, 20 minutes...


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 5:48 pm 
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I certainly agree that Makarova's dancing is superb - really superb, in every role I have ever seen her in. However, putting that to the side for a moment....<P>Is it not the responsibility of the artist/dancer to have some respect for the intent of the composer? Of course, to some degree the tempo can be modified, I would add, with the consent of the conductor. But, only to a certain extent. The artistry of the composer must be respected too.<P>What would we think of a conductor who so drastically modified the tempo of the music? Would that conductor be honored for that change? <P>As marvelous as Makarova is (and I say that in all honesty and respect) as an artist herself, it is incombent upon the dancer to honor the music. Just as the dancer serves the choreographer, she also serves the music. In my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 5:56 pm 
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I'm a bad one for this discussion because I have always worshipped Natalia Makarova. She was and is my biggest inspiration.<P>But, what do you think of all the changes that choreographers have made to the scores of Tchaikovsky? Is that okay?


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Tue Jul 30, 2002 9:54 pm 
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I doubt that Makarova's decision to slow down the music had much to do with thinking the music would be better served that way; I'd be willing to bet it was done simply to show how she could draw out her movement. In that case, it would be self-serving, and would show a lack of respect for the music.


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 Post subject: Re: Swan Lake on video
PostPosted: Wed Jul 31, 2002 12:00 am 
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I like the Makarova/Dowell video, but I confess I find Makarova's arms and hands rather fussy and florid. I find Fonteyn's apparent simplicity much more moving - I say "apparent" simplicity, because it is, of course, art concealing art.


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