The Sleeping Beauty (Ballet de L'Opera de Paris) (2000)
Listing-Cast & Crew
DVD-ROM Extras-Web Links, The Choreography, Rudolph Nureyev's Ver
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (65:52)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Pierre Cavassilas|
|RPI||$39.95||Music||Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, minor during credits|
Continuing on in the current cultural vein, once more this devout ballet non-fan finds himself stuck reviewing another ballet DVD. Funnily enough, all three of the ballets amongst the current review pile are from Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Well not so funnily really, as that is precisely why I stuck my hand up to review them. Tchaikovsky is after all my favourite composer and any music that he wrote is well worthwhile listening to. And since I have already reviewed Swan Lake, and am now reviewing The Sleeping Beauty, you can take a fair old guess that the remaining DVD to be reviewed is The Nutcracker - thus representing the triumvirate of Tchaikovsky's best known and most loved ballets. Mind you, of that triumvirate the least likeable in my view is The Sleeping Beauty, for the simple reason that it seems, at least in this choreographed version by Rudolf Nureyev, to be a ballet that is less about telling a story and more about fancy dancing. So, if you are a true devotee of pointed legs, twirling toes and flapping arms, you are bound to find this a heck of a lot more palatable than I.
As far as the story goes, if you need a brush up on the fairy tale of The Sleeping Beauty then read on. If don't, then just head down to the transfer quality section, which is probably more palatable reading anyway.
Act 1 (oops, the Prologue) begins with the christening of Princess Aurora. Naturally all the nobility are out offering their gifts and best wishes on this joyous occasion. Even the six good fairies, as godmothers, have come out to play. But the evil witch Carabosse gatecrashes the show. She is not too happy about being left off the guest list for this event, and thus bestows her gift upon the Princess - a spell. A spell that says that one day Aurora will prick her finger on a needle and die. Thankfully, the Lilac Fairy has not yet bestowed her gift and so modifies the spell to say Aurora will not die but will sleep for 100 years. The King decides to take no chances anyway and bans needles and pins from the Kingdom. Act 1 proper sees us sixteen years ahead, and the celebrations are now for Aurora's sixteenth birthday. Carabosse is not invited again, but she sends three knitters to defy his ban. Upon discovery, they scarper and three maidservants are arrested in their stead. The Queen intervenes to save their lives. The party goes on and Aurora is presented to four princes from the four corners of the globe as potential suitors, but she is wholly unimpressed. She prefers simple gifts of flowers to the treasures they bestow upon her and this plays right into Carabosse's hands. She appears at the party disguised as a noblewoman and gives the Princess a bouquet of flowers in which she has hidden a needle. Suffice it to say, the Princess pricks her finger and promptly faints into deep sleep. The Lilac Fairy arrives to take charge and places the Princess in a safe place to sleep before putting the entire palace into a deep sleep. She then disguises the palace in a large forest.
Act 2 sees a hunting party in the forest and Prince Désiré is not that thrilled about it. He heads off alone and encounters the Lilac Fairy who shows him a vision of Princess Aurora. Prince Désiré is obviously smitten, or else the whole ballet would be over, and after frolicking with the vision, ends up accompanying the Lilac Fairy in search of the resting place of Aurora. Carabosse is there to stop them but she easily succumbs to the light side and loses the power of the dark side. Prince Désiré finds Aurora, kisses her and everyone awakens. Act 3, which is all a bit pointless really, is the obvious long party to celebrate the nuptials of Princess Aurora and Prince Désiré.
And you thought the Walt Disney Company were solely responsible for the saccharine overdose levels of the world? This is so sweet that it is beyond sickly, and the entire third Act is almost too much to bear. But then again, the story here is irrelevant as this ballet is all about plenty of pretty dancing and no real advancement of the story. Which is a great shame since if this had been Rudolf Nureyev or Mikhail Baryshnikov and Dame Margot Fonteyn, it would have been a heck of a lot more interesting. Unfortunately, none of this cast are anywhere near that league and it isn't half obvious. And, the entire flow of the ballet is interrupted constantly by the bows taken by half the cast after their little moments of fame. Cut that out and they could have saved fifteen minutes off the length of the ballet and maintained a better flow.
You would need to be a real ballet freak to enjoy this one, and thus it is not recommended to non-fans or those with only a passing interest in the genre. The story being told is not too coherent and the constant interruptions to the flow of the ballet do it no good at all. The dancing is not too bad but not in the league of what we can see from true masters of the field. This was recorded live at the Bastille Opera in late 1999 and whilst I have qualms galore about the ballet itself, there are not too many about the recording.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
There are only two things wrong with the whole video transfer, and one of those is a source material issue. That is the fact that longer, wider shots of the stage tend to have a brightness to them that wipes out a fair degree of the colour and detail on offer in the show. No big deal but a minor disappointment in what is otherwise a sumptuous looking transfer. The other issue is some rather mild shimmer throughout the transfer, mainly in the background, that is barely noticeably in general. The only time is does become really noticeable is during the closing bows when there is a shot of the interior of the theatre and it aliases quite badly. Other than that, this is a wonderfully sharp transfer, with loads of detail so you can really see the quite extensive sets. It is wonderfully clear and there little indication of any grain here at all. Shadow detail is terrific, and there is no indication of low level noise in the transfer.
The colours come up superbly well, and this is a lovely vibrant transfer in general. There is nothing approaching oversaturation here at all and colour bleed is not an issue. Colours are solid throughout and the only problems are associated with the lighting of the stage.
There are no indications of MPEG artefacts in the transfer, there are no other film-to-video artefacts other than those mentioned above and there are no film artefacts in the transfer.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming in the break after the end of Act 1, at 65:52.
There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
The music comes up well in the transfer, and apart from the really soft portions of the score is easy to hear. This, however, is not the finest piece of work to ever come from the pen of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, though it is still very good. However, the orchestra does not really do the score its just deserts and the overall performance lacks distinction. Now if you have heard the Mikhail Pletnev interpretation of the piece with the Russian National Orchestra, available on a Deutsche Grammophon CD, you will know how much better this should be.
The soundtrack is decent enough, without being spectacular. Perhaps had it been a bit more spectacular, the ballet would have thrived a bit more. There is nothing wrong with the sound and it is a nice open sounding effort with nothing in the way of blemishes at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
Not a huge amount of stuff here at all, and what is here is curiously underwhelming.
Nothing really special at all.
A reasonable synopsis is included, along with a decent track listing, but curiously does not include a English version of the notes about the ballet, nor does it contain an English version of the instructions for the DVD-ROM content.
As is typical of NVC Arts DVDs, the chapter access system includes a rather brief synopsis of the action. Nothing really special.
A pointless relisting of the information included in the booklet and partially on the back cover of the slick.
Nothing really terrific, but does include a couple of essays about the original choreography and Rudolf Nureyev's revised choreography, which will be of interest to true ballet freaks. It also has the obligatory clickable link to the NVC Arts site.
As far as we have been able to ascertain, this has yet to be released in Region 1.
Pyotr Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty is not his best piece of work, but still a decent enough effort. However, the music is subverted in this choreographed version, where ego-boosting fancy dancing is more important than actually telling a story. If you like fancy dancing, then this is right up your alley. If you want a story to be told, then wait until something a lot better comes along. Still, the ballet has been given a very good transfer to DVD.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|