La Bayadere (Ballet de L'Opera de Paris) (1994)

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Released 25-Oct-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Ballet Biographies-Cast & Crew
Scene Synopsis
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 133:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alexandre Tarta
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring Isabelle Guerin
Laurent Hilaire
Elisabeth Platel
Case Super Jewel
RPI $39.95 Music Ludwig Minkus


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
German
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Okay, I may as well get this out in the open as it is bound to become apparent in the review - I hate ballet, it is the stage equivalent of synchronized swimming as far as I am concerned, lacking purpose and meaning. Now don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate the work that the dancers put into their work, just like synchronized swimmers, but I just do not see the point to it. So why am I reviewing this disc - because I have a passion about music and this is a wonderful score from Ludwig Minkus. I usually just listen to ballet scores, but in this instance I have to watch as well for the sake of the review. And I suppose I better get something else out of the way too - despite the name proudly shown on the cover, Rudolf Nureyev is not dancing in this. Whilst this is the ballet in which he first came to prominence, by late 1992 he was dying of AIDS and embarked upon the choreography and staging of this last testament as it were. He died before the performance recorded here, but it is his vision that is being realized, hence the name on the cover.

    The broad story here is one that often forms the basis of stories, be they films, plays, ballets or operas. Love, jealously, subterfuge, betrayal, sacrifice. Nikiya (Isabelle Guerin) is a Bayadère, a dancer (really original for a ballet) in love with Solor (Laurent Hilaire), a warrior for the Rajah (Jean-Marie Didière). Unfortunately, the High Brahmin (Francis Malovic) is also in love with Nikiya. Things get a tad complicated when the Rajah offers Solor his daughter Gamzatti's (Elisabeth Platel) hand, whereupon the High Brahmin reports the secret liaison between Solor and Nikiya, and Gamzatti forces the issue between them and plots to eliminate Nikiya.

    Well I may not like ballet, but I can appreciate the enthusiasm of the Parisian audience for the performance and there is no doubting the quality of the score. Fans of ballet will probably rejoice, even if I don't.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    I may not like ballet, but I can sure appreciate the fine transfer this one has been given.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, but it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a wonderfully rich and vibrant transfer, full of detail and definition. Wonderfully sharp throughout apart from one very minor loss of focus early on in the ballet, and of course the deliberately grainy introductory piece. Shadow detail is quite exquisite given that this is a stage performance, not just a recording performance. There was no low level noise apparent in the transfer, and overall this is an amazingly clear transfer.

    The colours come up wonderfully rich in tone, very nicely saturated without any hint of oversaturation, not even with a predominantly blue background during Act III. This is a quite gorgeous looking transfer colour wise.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The only film-to-video artefact noticed was some shimmering in the backdrop during Act III, and this was not really that noticeable. There were no readily apparent film artefacts, suggesting that this may be a video source not a film source.

    This is an RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming at 66:26. The layer change is quite noticeable and mildly disruptive to the flow of the ballet, although better than a flipper obviously. However, barring some technical reason that I am not aware of, I would have thought that the break between Acts I and II would have been a more logical place for the layer change.

    You should note that the subtitles available on the disc are only operative during the introductory piece that precedes the performance itself.

Audio

    And matching the fine video transfer is a equally decent soundtrack.

    There is only the one audio track on the DVD, an English Linear PCM 48/16 soundtrack. One note: the packaging displays a Dolby Digital logo but there is no such track on the disc.

    The music is generally clear and understandable in the soundtrack, and the quality can be further judged by the fact that you can hear the patter of feet on occasions. Nifty!

    The soundtrack is essentially a stereo effort that does not make much use of the surround channels. However, that is not to say that the soundtrack is automatically poor - far from it, this is a very nice orchestral sound and rivals some ballet compact discs I have for enjoyment. If you choose to turn the vision off and just listen to the music, the rewards are great indeed.

Extras

    A little bit better here, although not exactly what I thought it was going to be.

Menu

Cast and Characters

    This does not turn out to be biographical details of the cast but rather just a glorified listing of the roles that the main cast members dance. Not at all informative.

Synopsis

    Again, this does not turn out to be a synopsis per se but rather an extremely brief indication of what the scenes in each Act are and they really act as chapter selections but on a limited basis.

Booklet

    Well at least this does provide a brief synopsis as well as a full chapter listing, plus details of the major cast and the roles they dance. However, it could be so much more than it is with a bit of thought.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    It would appear that this has not yet been released in Region 1.

Summary

    La Bayadère is not my cup of tea for visual entertainment, but turn the vision off and listen to just the music and I am well satisfied. I am not sure that Warner Vision Australia would appreciate that but it does mean that the compact disc becomes superfluous to requirements. However, from my knowledge of ballet, this does appear to be a well staged effort, and well danced too, and there are definitely no complaints about the quality of the transfer on offer. Dance fans should not hesitate at all.

    A fine video transfer.

    A very good audio transfer.

    The extras need some work.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, December 12, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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