Tchaikovsky Gala


Tchaikovsky Gala. On December 31, 2007 the ballet troupe of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan threw its New Year's Eve Gala. The program consisted of excepts from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and the Nutcracker ‎ ballets under direction of  Elisabetta Terabust. The Swan Lake stars are Polina Semionova (Odette/Odile), Roberto Bolle (Prince Siegfried), Maurizio Licitra (Jester), Gianni Ghisleni (Rothbart), and Flavia Vallone ( Queen). The Sleeping Beauty stars are Marta Romagna (Princess Aurora), Alessandro Grillo, Mick Zeni, Matteo Buongiorno, Bryan Hewison (Four Princes), Antonio Sutera (Blubird), and Daniela Cavalleri (Princess Florin). The Nutcracker stars are Nadja Saidakova (Marie) and Ronald Savkovic (Nutcracker). David Coleman conducts the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala. Directed for TV by Denis Caïozzi. Released 2008, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: D+

In a typical gala show, you get the tried-and-true mix of 10 to 20 completely different selections, some of which are self-contained and others that are scenes taken from famous works. But this gala is quiet different--- it's an attempt to tell a new story of sorts with a remix in which everything comes from Tchaikovsky's 3 most famous ballets.

So Prince Siegfried and the Queen are intrigued when Baron Rothbart arrives to be Master of Ceremonies at Siegfried's coming-of-age party. The festivities continue with about 75 minutes of highlights from Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and the Nutcracker mashed together.  Alas, the party ends badly, and Siegfried blows a fuse. All this might be pleasant for ballet fanatics who have thorough knowledge of all the music and scenes from the Tchaikovsky works and who find the new combinations interesting. Less knowledgeable folk might try to make sense of this---but just try imagining Swan Lake without any of the white scenes!

We agree there's plenty of refined dancing here, especially by local deity Roberto Bolle and Polina Semionava, an import from Berlin. But the main thing this disc does for us is to show just how hard it is to have a ballet without a libretto. Despite the nice dancing, we found this program emotionally unsatisfying.

Because a gala is a convention of insiders celebrating each other, anything can happen and outsiders have no gripe. But even by this low standard, this disc disappoints. The camera work is poor with soft images throughout. The orchestra seems to be struggling with sheetmusic before them that is radically different from works they have played in their dreams and nightmares for decades. The SQ also is weak. Finally, there is a bonus with rehearsal shots, etc. that could have been OK, but it's in SD and looks like student work. We don't recommend this disc unless you have a special reason to want to own it, i.e. we give it a D. But we boost that to D+ on account of the good dancing.

Instead of subject title, spend your ballet booty on the Gala des Étoiles put together by Teatro alla Scala in 2015. It has 13 beautiful, discrete gala numbers (including fine dancing by Bolle) and will be hugely entertaining to anyone.

Sorry, we don't know of any decent YouTube clip for this title.

This story originated in 2011 and was updated in May 2018.