Jewels


Jewels ballet. Choreography by George Balanchine. Music by Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Performed 2005 by Paris Opera Ballet. Stars solo dancers Aurélie Dupont, Marie-Angès Gillot, Angès Lestestu, Clairemarie Osta, Laëtitia Pujol, Eleonora Abbagnato, Isabelle Ciaravola, Emilie Cozette, Jean-Guillaume Bart, Kader Belarbi, Mathieu Ganio, Alessio Carbone, Nolwenn Daniel, and Emmanuel Thibault. Corps de ballet: Nathalie Aubin, Bertrand Belem, Aurelia Bellet, Sébastien Bertraud, Audric Bezard, Bruno Bouché, Marie-Solène Boulet, Alexandra Cardinale, Cyril Chokroun, Lucie Clément, Aurore Cordellier, Julien Cozette, Leïla Dilhac, Noëmie Djiniadhis, Grégory Dominiak, Christophe Duquenne, Fanny Fiat, Mathilde Froustey, Grégory Gaillard, Mallory Gaudion, Muriel Hallé, Laura Hecquet, Mathias Heymann, Josua Hoffalt, Axel Ibot, Laurence Laffon, Vanessa Legassy, Laurène Lévy, Florian Magnenet, Sabrina Mallem, Sandrine Marache, Julie Martel, Juliane Mathis, Julien Meyzindi, Cyril Mitilian, Myriam Ould-Braham, Ludmilla Pagliero, Céline Palacio, Sofia Parcen, Nathalie Quernet, Fabien Révillion, Alexis Saramite, Cécile Sciaux, Simon Valastro, and Karine Villagrassa. Paul Connelly directs the Orchestra of the Opéra national de Paris. Set and costume design by Christian Lacroix; lighting by Jennifer Tipton; directed for TV by Pierre Cavassilas. Released 2008, has 5.0 PCM sound. Grade: B

Jewels, probably the most important ballet to premiere in the US, is an abstract ballet in which the performers are dressed first in green for the "Emeralds" number, then in red for "Rubies," and last in white for "Diamonds." Per Balanchine himself, the dances have "no literary content at all." When Opus Arte published this in 2008, early in the HDVD era, the video suffered greatly from motion errors on my HT display and others reported the same problem. So it got a bad grade. Later, after several upgrades of HT gear, I discovered that the video plays much better, but still not as smoothly as dance titles that came out after, say,  2012.

Let's start with 4 images from "Emeralds" showing fine resolution and color balance. The opening two views feature Laëtitia Pujol and Mathieu Ganio. The beautiful costumes from Christian Lacroix look brand new:

The Fauré music and dancing in "Emeralds" is elegant and serene. There are not many close-ups in this show, but here's a great one of Clairemarie Osta and Kader Belarbi:

In the middle of this last segment I recognize a young Emmanuel Thibault:

Christian Lacroix also designed the sets, which seem too Spartan to me. In this first shot from "Rubies," you see a part of a ruby at the back of an bare, black stage. The tall Marie-Angès Gillot is the solo star in the next two views:

The Stravinsky music is full of jazz elements which are, of course, reflected in the choreography. Management at the Paris Opera Ballet kept the lid on this, and everything is rendered in an extremely formal and restrained manner. In the next two views we see pas de deux work by Aurélie Dupont and Alessio Carbone:

The set for "Diamonds" is a bit more decorative than for the earlier segments. Here we will also see a corps of 32 and 2 soloists for a total of 34 dancers:

More ravishingly beautiful costumes and dance combinations:

The "Diamonds" pas de deux scenes are performed by Angès Lestestu and Jean-Guillaume Bart. Lestestu benefited from the early days of HDVD more than any other dancer. See also her magnificent performances in Swan Lake and La Dame aux camélias:

The corps of 32 is featured, of course, in the second half of "Diamonds." My general impression is that the Paris corps, together with the Bolshoi group, are in a superclass by themselves. But in this show, I think there would be some room for improvement in the corps performance:

Now to a grade. This is a decent video of a nice performances of Jewels. The performance is formal and cool, which is perhaps exactly how the Balanchine Trust officials wanted it. Picture content is restrained and formal also. PQ and costumes are outstanding. The sets are a bit boring. The music is serviceable, but not particularly vivid or "close." The corps dancing is not quite at the level I expect from the the Paris Opera Ballet. Subject title came out in 2008. In 2011, we got another Jewels, this time from the Mariinsky Ballet which I like somewhat better. So for this updating of my review, I'll give this title a "B."