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Tchaikovsky: The Sleeping Beauty [The Bolshoi Ballet/Sinaivsky] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: BelAir Classiques
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Bolshoi Ballet took little risk in mounting Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty as its 2011 season opener as it is one of the most popular ballets in the standard repertoire. In this case, there was significant buzz created by the Bolshoi debut of dancer David Hallberg (Prince Désiré), the first American to become a permanent member of this legendary company. The excitement was heightened further as this production was shown “Live in HD” at movie theaters around the world. The Sleeping Beauty premiered in St. Petersburg in 1890 with choreography by legendary Marius Petipa. The current performance features the Yuri Grigorovich’ 2011 revision of his 1973 rethinking of the Petipa version. While many of the traditional elements are maintained, Grigorovich frequently goes for more mechanized moves by the dancers that may not please hard-core traditionalists. This BelAir Classique BD is truly a splendid sight for eye and ear. Principal dancer Svetlana Zakharova (Aurora, the title character) is lissome and long-limbed with technique that looks more studied than spontaneous, possibly due to the choreography, but not the best match for her lover, the Prince. Minor roles, Bluebird (Artem Ovcharenko), Princess Florine (Nina Kaptsova), Cinderella (Daria Khokhlova), and the Lilac Fairy (Maria Allash) are handled superbly by some truly great dancers. The Bolshoi corps de ballet is in top form and the orchestra gets dancer-friendly leadership from Vassily Sinaisky, the company’s music director and principal conductor.

The familiar story of a young woman, Princess Aurora is introduced as a newborn in the Prologue at her baptism. However, the evil fairy Carabosse (played in drag by Alexey Loparevich) who was deliberately not invited, crashes the party and places a curse on Aurora-she will die from pricking her finger on a knitting spindle. In Act I, Aurora celebrates her sixteenth birthday and prepares to meet four suitors. Carabosse, in disguise, gets her to prick her finger but rather than dying, Aurora is saved by the Lilac Fairy who causes her and the entire court to enter a deep slumber. In Act II, Prince Désiré is shown a vision of Aurora by the Lilac Fairy, but as he pursues, the vision disappears. The Prince and the Fairy head for the enchanted castle where he succeeds in planting the kiss that awakens Aurora and the rest of the kingdom. An Epilogue concludes with the marriage of Aurora and Désiré, attended by a company of fairy-tale characters, including Princess Florine, Bluebird, Cinderella, Prince Fortune, and Little Red Riding Hood with her Wolf.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Sets designed by Ezio Frigerio are lavish with their only downside being the obvious flatness of the painted backdrop in the Prologue and Act I, mercilessly exposed by the HD cameras. Franca Squarciapino has provided some drop-dead gorgeous costumes, captured to their full advantage here. As far as the videography goes, the cameramen really know this house and provide a spellbinding capture of the dancers and the stage.  Colors are simply beautiful with natural appearing detail. There is occasional motion artifact when the camera pans the stage at high speed.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Viewers will get a really in-the-house sound experience from the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with good rear channel ambience and frequent applause effects. The 2.0 PCM is also quite good if shy on ambience. Stage noise is present, but not intrusive while the orchestra in the pit is full-bodied with good instrumental detail.  There is minimal motion artifact when the cameras pan the stage.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

BelAir Classiques stiffs us on this one.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The reason to go for this disc, only the second BD release (the other is a splendid Royal Ballet production), can be summed up in two words: David Hallberg. The Bolshoi company clearly knew what it was doing when they added this spectacular dancer to their roster.  Although I was not as enthused by the performance of his partner Zahkharova, this may have been due partly to the choreography that misses some of the grace of the Petipa original. Do not let this reservation dissuade potential buyers since this is a real eye- and ear-catching production as only the Bolshoi entourage can put on, after all Bolshoi does means “big” or “great.”

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Sleeping Beauty on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]


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