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Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake

Opus Arte // Unrated // June 30, 2015
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 10, 2015 | E-mail the Author
Swan Lake Blu-ray Review

Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake is presented as a new ballet interpretation of the 1895 version. The famous ballet is given a modern update while recalling Russian stylistic elements through the design work created by Yolanda Sonnabend. Natalie Osipova and Matthew Golding star in the lead roles. This production is performed at the Royal Opera House.

Swan Lake continues to be heralded as one of the definitive ballet classics. It's not difficult to imagine why it has held up so well since its debut. The classical music created by composer Tchaikovsky is exquisite and is a musical journey to behold. The sweeping beauty of these musical compositions is integral to the continued legacy of Swan Lake.  

Natalie Osipova performs as Swan Queen Odette and the Black Swan Odile. Osipova is considered amongst the best of modern ballerina dancers. She is an amazing dancer and the performance she delivers is impressive in aiding the success of the ballet. Matthew Golding might not be as well known as Osipova but he is a wonderful addition to the production. He brings his own strengths as a dancer and is a good match to Osipova.

In the story of Swan Lake, the Swan Princess and the other maidens are enchanted under a spell which is created by the wicked sorcerer Von Rothbart. He places Odette into a spell that turns her (and the other maidens) into swans. To break the spell Odette must find true love. This is where the storyline involves Prince Siegfried. The prince is to marry but hasn't fallen in love. Prince Siegfried begins to fall in love with the Swan Princess. Can the curse be lifted?

This ballet has a huge ensemble of dancers performing in supporting parts. These extraordinary dancers are remarkably gifted and give the performance their all. The choreography is by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, who create a number of complicated dances for the swan maidens and the others. Staging for the production was done by Christopher Carr.

The production was handled by Anthon Dowell. Dowell helped put together a technically impressive production with elaborate sets. There was clearly tons of effort put into the production. The costumes and production designs are by Yolanda Sonnabend, whose breathtaking sets are large in scale and create a sense of Russia that is exquisite.  

The music for the performance was conducted by Boris Gruzin. In some ways, the best thing about the ballet is getting to hear the music of Tchaikovsky as performed by the Orchestra. Beautiful work was done by the Royal Opera House Orchestra for this performance.

Swan Lake is such a famous and loved work of ballet that it continues to make a big impact to this day. Though the ballet would be best enjoyed in an actual theater, this is a well designed production featuring quality dancers and superb musicianship. Fans of this famous work will certainly want to check it out.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Swan Lake is presented in 1080p high definition with a pleasing MPEG-4 AVC encode. The quality of the release is excellent. Clarity is strong and color reproduction seems quite good. Royal Opera House crafted a strong production and the Blu-ray does an excellent job with representing it.

Audio:

The audio is in uncompressed PCM stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both should be pleasing lossless audio presentations. The surround sound option is reasonably robust and presents the classical music of Tchaikovsky with stunning clarity.

Extras:

Introduction by Natalie Osipova and Matthew Golding (5 min.) is a brief intro by the two lead performers. The extra also includes interviews with producers and others who were involved with the production (as well as some of the dancers who had supporting parts). Some of the rehearsal preparation is also shown.  

Anthony Dowell in conversation with Darcey Bussell (7 min.) is an interview between the head of production for this version of Swan Lake and the retired ballerina who performed numerous times with the Royal Opera House during her career, including in Swan Lake, in the lead role.

Coaching Swan Lake (6 min.) is a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation done for the Swan Lake performance. This extra showcases the many dancers who worked on this production of Swan Lake as they rehearse and prepare for the show. This extra includes interviews with the ballet leaders who helped to guide the dancers in preparation for the performance.

Cast Gallery

Booklet

Final Thoughts:

Fans of ballet and classical music will most likely enjoy seeing this production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. The dancing is excellent and the production aesthetic is impressive. The music by Tchaikovsky shines. The Blu-ray has strong PQ/AQ and some interesting supplements. Ballet enthusiasts will surely want this release but everyone else is encouraged to consider renting it first before making a purchase.

Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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