Siddharta

[Special note: this title is now available in both the original, full-price version and as a bargain in the Arthaus "Elegance" budget-priced series. See the end of this review for information on both versions.]

 

Siddharta ballet. Book and choreography by Angelin Preljocaj. Original music by Bruno Mantovani written especially for this production. Performed (world premiere)  2010 at the Opéra National de Paris. Stars Nicolas Le Riche (Prince Siddharta), Aurélie Dupont (L'Eveil or the Awakener), Stéphane Bullion (Ananda, Siddharta's cousin and companion), Wilfried Romoli (The King and Siddharta's father), Alice Renavand (Yasodhara, Siddharta's wife), Muriel Zusperreguy (Sujata, a village girl), and the Corps de Ballet de Opéra National de Paris. Susanna Mälkki conducts the Orchestra of the Opéra National de Paris; set design by Claude Lévêque; costumes by Olivier Bériot; dramaturgy by Eric Reinhardt; lighting by Domininue Bruguière; TV direction by Denis Caïozzi. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A+

The world premiere of Siddharta took place in 2010 at the Opéra Bastille in Paris. Maybe 30,000 lucky people saw it during a run of 13 performances. It's got everything a fan of modern ballet could dream of, and now you can see it in your home theater! So what's it got? Abstract dancing from the best choreographer in France hung on a story line you can follow (with help from a description in the keep case booklet explaining each scene). 50 of the best, most beautiful, and sexiest dancers in the world led by great stars. A compelling original score written just for this ballet played by a huge orchestra augmented with percussion and a mean electric guitar under direction of a beautiful female conductor. All this is garnished with weird swinging scenery/props, sophisticated moody lighting, beautiful costumes, a bit of Cirque de Soleil, and a victory for the good guy.

All of this ballet is danced against a black background with dramatic lighting; it's hard to get screen-shots that do it justice. First we meet Prince Siddharta (Nicolas Le Riche) and his beautiful wife Yasodhara (Alice Renavand):

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They enjoy the opulence of the King's Court:

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The King (Wilfried Romoli) offers the world to his son:

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But instead of power, Siddharta dreams of enlightenment---he declines succession to the throne. He then sees a vision of L'Eveil, the spirit of enlightenment (Aurélie Dupont):

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L'Eveil is surrounded by her messengers:

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L'Eveil inspires Siddharta to begin his pilgrimage throughout the world in search of enlightenment:

Siddharta is joined on the quest by his cousin Ananda (Stéphane Bullion):

But the men encounter temptations:

Irresistible temptations:

L'Eveil and the messengers help Siddharta and Ananda defeat the dark forces:

Now Siddharta is ready to receive enlightenment:

In a dramatic conclusion, the King acknowledges the wisdom of his son by bowing before Siddharta and L'Eveil:

Have I convinced you that you've got to see this one? I grade it a rare A+ for Arthaus Musik.

And here's the keepcase art for this recording in the Elegance series from Arthaus: