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Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker [The Bolshoi Ballet/Grigorovich] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • 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: Bel Air Classiques
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 24, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005USB1WI[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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]

If Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is not the most beloved ballet of all time, I don’t know what is.  Being of Russian origin, it  originally premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892 and was performed exclusively in its native land for more than 40 years. Subsequently, The Nutcracker has migrated into ballet companies, both major and minor, worldwide. This production’s particular choreography by former dancer Yuri Grigorovich, captured in 2010 performance, has been criticized for its less orthodox style and the alteration of some of the numbers. Those seeking the original Marius Petipa version will need to look elsewhere as most of the dances have been remained.  However, given the fabulous dancing by this company, and particularly by its principals, Nina Kaptsova and Artem Ovcharenko, it would appear that the world is big enough to accommodate more than one version of this classic show.  Aiding the cause of this BD are some truly superb videography and sound recording.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Ballet is a supremely visual art form and getting the stage picture right requires considerable understanding from the videographers and their directors. Here we are treated to a tremendous spectacle with some special effects, courtesy of projections, and a proper balance between the stage panorama and individual highlights of the dancers.  Detail is quite good and the essence of costumes and staging is well revealed.  Talk about a gorgeous color palette as well, befitting this masterpiece.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 recording has tremendous presence and, for once, the surround channels come into play for ambience and the applause that peppered this production. The 2.0 PCM is all right but falls short of the mark.  Because of the close miking, you will hear the sound of feet on the stage (which is what you get in live performance).  You will also get to hear all of the orchestral details that often get buried in lesser recordings.  The Bolshoi Theater Orchestra, under Pavel Klinichev who has been their director for a decade shows a complete grasp of this fabulous score. Their performance holds up quite well against better known competition.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Sorry folks, nothing happening here.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have not seen a Nutcracker performance that did not have some magic moments and this one has its share.  While some viewers might take issue with choreographer Grigorovich’s concepts in this production, there is a lot of excitement on the stage. The dancers look like they are truly enjoying their work and the orchestral support is first rate. Highlights abound here but the pas de deux between Marie and the Prince is something truly special,  just listen to the audience response! There are numerous Nutcrackers on DVD but this is a work that truly benefits from high definition sight and sound thus narrowing the field to Blu-ray from the Royal Ballet (a stunner), the Marinsky and San Francisco ballets. This one falls near the top of the list although I would still yield pride of place to the Royal Ballet for its artistic concept and more traditional choreography. However, those who love this ballet, and who doesn’t, having alternative versions is a must, and this one certainly belongs on that list.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005USB1WI[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B005USB1WI[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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