Aleksandr GLAZUNOV (1865-1936)
Raymonda - ballet in three acts (1896-7)
Original choreography by Marius Petipa (1898)
Raymonda, Countess of Doris - Olesia Novikova
Knight Jean de Brienne, Raymonda’s fiancé - Friedemann Vogel
Abderahman, Saracen Knight - Mick Zeni
Henriette, Raymonda’s girlfriend - Mariafrancesca Garritano
Clémence, Raymonda’s girlfriend - Francesca Podini
Orchestra and corps de ballet of Teatro alla Scala/Michail Jurowski
RAI TV broadcast from Teatro alla Scala, Milan, March 2011
Directed for TV and video by Lorena Sardi
Original choreography by Marius Petipa
Choreographic revival and staging by Sergej Vikharev
Sound: PCM stereo, DD 5.1; Picture Format 16.9; Region Code 0
ARTHAUS DVD 101 630 [154:00]
First produced in 1898, during the period of La Belle Époque, this new Teatro alla Scala production is a revival of that original production with all its splendour and sumptuous staging - rarely encountered today. The many, many costumes in such diverse styles and colours, are a feast for the eye. The sets are equally grand. This very recent recording is a tribute to the skill of the RAI technicians; although there is no indication that it was filmed in HD, the colours are wonderfully vibrant and the images very crisp and clear. This new production is vastly superior to the previous Arthaus 100719 1989 Bolshoi Ballet production.
The original 1898 production of Raymonda, at St Petersburg’s Imperial Mariinsky Theatre marked the last important masterpiece of choreographer Marius Petipa (1818-1910), then eighty years old. It also marked the ballet debut of composer Aleksandr Glazunov. Petipa, one of the most important choreographers of the 19th century, born in Marseilles, had created Swan Lake, Nutcracker,Sleeping Beauty (all to music by Tchaikovsky) plus La Bayadère, and Don Quixote.
Although the production is spread over three acts, with a running time of 2½ hours, the story of Raymonda, based on a medieval legend, is slight enough. Raymonda, the young Countess of Doris, is betrothed to the noble Crusader knight, Jean de Brienne. While he is away at the wars, she is accosted by the dangerous Arab sheikh, Abderahman who attempts to seduce her from her hero knight with blandishments and all manner of temptations. De Brienne returns and conquers the sheikh. Now nothing can prevent the marriage and the ballet concludes with a festival of dance before King Andrew II of Hungary. This incorporates elements of Hungarian folklore in the King’s honour. Accordingly, Glazunov’s musicnicely mixes classical ballet and folkdance. It is delightful, tuneful and romantic; and, in many scenes in Acts II and III, tinged with ethnic colour - by turns Spanish, Hungarian, Arabic and Oriental.
Before proceeding further I thoroughly recommend Alexander Anissimov’s 2CD Naxos (8.553503-04) recording of the complete Raymonda ballet music with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. 
To the dancers: Olesia Novikova is a very impressive Raymonda - her dancing always poised and assured, expressive, elegant and graceful. Her awesome point work is especially outstanding in her Act III dance, for example, in which there is much backwards-movement point-runs and complicated slow-point figures. Also impressive is the support of Mariafrancesca Garritano as Henriette and Francesca Podini as Clémence. Friedemann Vogel as Jean de Brienne displays some impressive high leaps and pirouettes and Mick Zeni makes a sinister but virile Abderahman. Special praise for the ensemble dancing of the corps de ballet which is quite magical throughout with so many demanding dances in so many different styles. There are also interesting numbers for the junior ballet school dancers. Mention must also be made of the sparkling contribution of the speciality dance soloists, especially Antonella Albano’s classique hongrois solo.
A lavish production; a feast for the eye; with awesome dancing from the principals.  

Ian and Grace Lace 

A lavish production; a feast for the eye; with awesome dancing from the principals.