Peter and the Wolf ballet. Choreography by Matthew Hart. Traditional music and narration by Sergei Prokofiev. Performed 2010 at the Royal Ballet School. Stars Sergei Polunin, Will Kemp, Kilian Smith, Charlotte Edmonds, Laurine Muccioli, and Chisato Katsura. Paul Murphy conducts the Royal Ballet Sinfonia (Leader Robert Gibbs). Designs by Ian Spurling; lighting by John B. Reed; directed for TV by Ross McGibbon. Released in 2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B
I remember when my mom played the Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf for me on 78 rpm records in our poverty-stricken mill town. It was a big deal then. Well, it ain't no big deal now to put a 28 minute show on a disc that can hold 4 hours of programming.
Also be advised that this is not a production of the Royal Ballet. It's a student recital---albeit a very nice one. Sergei Polunin (the wolf) and Will Kemp (the narrator) are the two adults in the show. All the other roles are played by students in the ballet school. The kids are, of course, well on their way to dance careers. Chisato Katsura already shows star quality in her portrayal of the cat. The Royal Opera House was full of relatives and friends.
We are grateful to Opus Arte and the Royal Ballet for all the wonderful HDVDs they have brought us in recent years. And we understand that if the Ballet tells Opus Arte to publish this student work as a regular title, that's what's going to happen because Opus Arte belongs to the Royal Opera House. But I think this P&TW should have been tacked onto the new title Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a bonus (Polunin also stars in the Wonderland).
I originally gave this the grade of "X-D." But then we had a holiday party for Grace, Emma, and Sadie (first cousins, twice removed) ages 8, 6, and 3, two of whom have had ballet lessons. We started the entertainment off with this P&TW, and all three of the girls watched every second intently. I've never seen them so focused on anything else. So I've moved the grade up to "X-B." For young kids, this is an "A" quality piece especially if they might have opportunity to learn ballet. That's because the little ones can easily grasp what could be in reach for them if they keep taking those lessons. But I move the grade down to "B" because of the big expense for such a short piece.
So thanks to Grace, Emma, and Sadie for helping me grade this P&TW. Let's hope that Opus Arte will add this in the future to some other title that might be of longer-lasting interest to children as they grow up.
Even though this is a juvenile production, the show is good and the video is excellent. Don't worry, I'm not going to recite now the whole story of P&TW. But I will give you a few screenshots to give you an idea about this excellent school recital.
Meet our hero Peter (Kilian Smith), who is not afraid of wolves. Peter is portrayed in the orchestra by the strings:
The bird (Laurine Muccioli), portrayed in the orchestration by the flute:
Here the girls in green are the tree; the girls in blue are the pond; the duck (Charlotte Edmunds), portrayed in the orchestra by the oboe, is carelessly splashing around:
The duck and the bird get into a girl fight:
Which gives the opportunistic cat (Chisato Katsura) a shot at an easy meal. The cat is portrayed in the orchestra by the clarinet:
Peter warns the bird, who flies away just in time. The duck thinks she is safe on the water because cats hate to swim. But suddenly a common enemy appears---the wolf (Sergei Polunin), portrayed in the orchestra by the horns:
Even the waters are afraid of the wolf:
The bird and the cat maintain an uneasy co-existence:
Fearless Peter catches the wolf:
Let's take him to the zoo!
It's the same sweet story I knew as a child. But we have come a long way from the days when the best recording of Peter and the Wolf was on a stack of 78 rpm records!