Le Corsaire ballet. Story: Anna-Marie Holmes version of the libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier, based on The Corsair by Lord Byron. Choreography and staging: Anna-Marie Holmes after Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev. Original music composed by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Léo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo, Prince Pyotr van Oldenburg, Ludwig Minkus, Yuly Gerber, Baron Boris Fitinhof-Schnell, and Albert Zabel, all edited by Lars Payne and Gavin Sutherland. Recorded 2014 as performed by the English National Ballet. Stars Alina Cojocaru (Medora), Vadim Muntagirov (Conrad), Erina Takahashi (Gulnare), Dimitri Gruzdyev (Lankendem), Junor Souza (Ali), Yonah Acosta (Birbanto), Michael Coleman (Pasha), Juan Rodriguez (Pasha Assistant), and Nancy Osbaldeston (Lead Villager). Odalisques danced by Shiori Kase, Alison McWhinney, and Laurretta Summerscales. Lead Roses danced by Nancy Osbaldeston, Ksenia Ovsyanick, Adela Ramírez, and Laurretta Summerscales. Lead Flowers danced by Jem Ghoi, Senri Kou, Jenna Lee, and Jia Zhang. Numerous minor roles are danced by artists of the English National Ballet, students of the English National Ballet School, and pupils of the Tring Park School. Gavin Sutherland directs the Orchestra of English National Ballet. Sets and costumes by Bob Ringwood; lighting by Neil Austin; directed for the screen by Chris Blaine with his brother Ben Blain as Producer for Charlie Productions. Stereo recorded with 48kHz/24-bit sound sampling and 5.1 dts recorded with 48kHz/16-bit sound sampling. Released 2014, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: B
Tamara Rojo was one of the leading (and brainiest) ballerinas in the world when she retired early from the Royal Ballet in 2013 to become Artistic Director of the English National Ballet. This Le Corsaire is first HDVD to be released by the ENB under Rojo's leadership.
The ENB worked hard on this title. They were able to cast in-house dancers for all the named characters in the show. To beef up dancing forces, they included ENB School students and pupils from Tring Park, a grade school for children interested in fine-art careers. To insure the highest-quality content, they hired Anna-Marie Holmes, an independent choreographer with vast experience producing Le Corsaire all over the world. They recruited Bob Ringwood, an independent designer, to come up with gorgeous new sets and costumes. Neil Austin, an independent lighting expert, also came on board. Finally, to do the video, they hired the well-known film-makers, Chris and Ben Blaine.
The screenshots below leave no doubt that the show was a fabulous success for the live audience. But the video falls short with (1) serious resolution and PQ issues, especially in the long Act 1, and (2) a harsh sound tract.
Meet Conrad (the Corsaire or pirate chief) performed by Vadim Muntagirov (who was with the ENB at the time and is now a star with the Royal Ballet). Conrad has come to the capital to find his sweetheart Medora, who was taken away by a slave trader:
The Second Officer of the pirates is Birbanto (Yonah Acosta), who has already found a girlfriend among the local ladies:
Lankendem (Dimitri Gruzdyev) is the slave trader. Here he and his men are drumming up interest in an auction of a bunch of beautiful slave girls. Lankendem has Medora, but he intends to keep her in his own harem:
Medora (Alina Cojocaru) peeks out of Lankendem's house:
Below the Pasha (Michael Coleman) arrives at the square to buy 3 more girls. Now there are two things you should note about the image below as well as those above: the picture resolution is soft and there is a distinct yellow cast to everything.
I can't image why there should be a problem with raw resolution in a video made in 2014. The videos we are getting these days generally have wonderful resolution and clarity of detail. But I noticed weak resolution in this title even in the very first images showing the orchestra (in the relatively dark pit) playing overture music. My initial reaction was to check the disc to see if maybe I'd been sent a DVD by mistake.
The yellow cast is earlier to grasp: it appears that Neil Austin saturated the stage in Act 1 with yellow flood lights augmented by white spot lights on the stars. The yellow light would be consistent with the colors in the Ringwood designs. Probably this all looked great live. But the yellow cast looks garish, unnatural, and unpleasant on my calibrated HT display. It also seems to lead to pasty, washed-out skin tones for the dancers. I next played the disc on a new, uncalibrated, inexpensive Visio TV (used successfully for watching commercial TV). On the Visio the yellow cast image was even worse (with gold jewelry worn by the slave girls at the rear of the stage reflecting glare). This would suggest that subject title is not suitable to watch on a typical TV!