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Adolphe ADAM (1803-1856)
Giselle - ballet (1841)
Laëtitia Pujol - Giselle; Nicolas Le Riche - Albrecht; Marie-Agnès Gillot - Myrtha; Wilfried Romoli – Hilarion
Premiers Danseurs; Corps de Ballet de L'Opéra National de Paris
Orchestre de L'Opéra National de Paris/Paul Connelly
rec. Opéra National de Paris, December 2006
Sound Format: LPCM, Stereo, Dolby, Digital 5.1
Picture Format: NTSC 16:9
Region Code: 0
TDK DVWW-BLGISP [111:00]
Experience Classicsonline

Adam’s Giselle is one of the composer’s most sumptuous scores, full of rich harmony and colour, and packed with tender melody.
 
There are some ten DVD recordings available, recorded between 1968 and 2008.  Many have excellent dancers and orchestra yet this particular wide-screen production can boast that it respects all the codes of traditional ballet, treating everything with traditional elegance. It also has the bonus of being imaginatively recorded with good framing of shots. All this warms me to consider that this Paris Opera production is one of the finest of productions, from every point of view. So often we come across traditional romantic scores aurally presented as they should be, yet with visuals that jar when a production is presented within a framework of crude simplistic settings.
 
The wide-screen format lends itself well to adequately frame dancers in mid-shot when dancing apart. At times an elevated view clearly picks out the choreographical patterns of routines and good close-ups provide the eye with variety and interest. All the dancing is first class: the principals perform magnificently and communicate with elegant miming gestures. Of them, perhaps the dance routines for Albrecht are the most demanding yet his energy and strength is spectacular. Laëtitia Pujol gives a poignant portrayal of Giselle, particularly in the first act.
 
One notices the care taken in planning of the total concept and use of the original 1841 Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot choreography with little adjustment by Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov in 1991. The costumes and settings, as used by Alexandre Benois in his 1924 design,  complement each other ideally to provide a meaningful picture. Thus the pastel shades of dresses and tunics in rustic colours for the villagers tone well with the vibrant colours of the Prince, Princess and courtiers. The principal dancers, Giselle, Forester, Albrecht and Myrtha are given similar pastel attire, yet with their colours contrasting so that they always stand out from the corps de ballet. Many ballets are performed with an open stage in front of a backdrop. Here, with Benois’s design, the stage is attractively broken up to provide an interesting first act scene of downstage cottages. The effect is heightened by practical doors, rocky slopes that can be climbed and an attractive backdrop of trees, hills and sky all putting the action in an idyllically romantic context. The opening to Act 2’s ruined chapel by moonlight is atmospheric with diagonal beams of moonlight streaming through tree foliage in a mist. Myrtha’s apparition is very effective and the classical white balletic dresses ideally show off the corps’ dance formations.
 
The DVD is carefully chaptered for rapid access to each dance and its notes - by Horst Koegler in German (with English and French translations) - give good background to the Benois realisation. It is a pity that the booklet photographs were taken without the scenery present because it does not allow the prospective purchaser to glean the character of the presentation.
 
Raymond J Walker
 

 


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