Woolf Works

Woolf Works ballet. Directed and choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Original music by Max Richter. Staged 2017 at the Royal Opera House (revival of 2015 production). Main stars are Gary Avis, Matthew Ball, Federico Bonelli, Alessandra Ferri (special appearance), Francesca Hayward, Paul Kay, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Natalia Osipova, Calvin Richardson, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Akane Takada, Eric Underwood, and Edward Watson as well as other members of the Royal Ballet and students of the Royal Ballet School (Christopher Powney Artistic Director). Features soprano Anush Hovhannisyan and speaker Gillian Anderson. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev). There are 3 separate but related works presented, all inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf:

  1. I Now, I Then (based on the 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway, designed by Ciguë

  2. Becomings (inspired by the 1928 novel Orlando), designed by We Not I [not to be confused with the name of Act 1above]

  3. Tuesday (inspired by the 1931 novel The Waves), designed by Wayne McGregor

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Iolanta and The Nutcracker

This title has a double bill of Tchaikovsky works, an opera and a ballet:

  1. Iolanta opera to a libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky. Stars Sonya Yoncheva (Iolanta), Arnold Rutkowski (Vaudémont), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (King René), Andrei Zhilikhovsky (Robert), Vito Priante (Ibn-Hakia), Elena Zaremba (Marta), Roman Shulakov (Alméric), Gennady Bezzubenkov (Bertrand), Anna Patalong (Brigitta), and Paola Gardina (Laura). Sung in Russian.

  2. The Nutcracker ballet to a libretto by Dmitri Tcherniakov. Choreography by Arthur Pita, Édouard Lock, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Stars Marion Barbeau (Marie), Stéphane Bullion (Vaudémont), Nicholas Paul (Drosselmeyer), Aurelien Houette (The Father), Alice Renavand (The Mother), Takeru Coste (Robert), and Caroline Bance (The Sister) supported by the Corps De Ballet de L’Opéra national de Paris.

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Le Corsaire

Le Corsaire ballet. Choreographed by Manuel Legris to a libretto by Manuel Legris and Jean-François Vazelle. Music by Adolphe Adam. Staged 2016 at the Wiener Staatsoper. Stars Robert Gabdullin (Conrad), Maria Yakovleva (Médora), Liudmila Konovalova (Gulnare), Kirill Kourlaev (Lanquedem), Davide Dato (Birbanto), Alice Firenze (Zulméa), Mihail Sosnovschi (Seyd Pasha), Natascha Mair, Nina Tonoli and Prisca Zeisel (Odalisques) as well as dancers from the Wiener Staatsballet and the Balletakademie der Wiener Staatsoper. Valery Ovsianikov conducts the Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper. Set and costume design by Luisa Spinatelli; lighting design by Marion Hewlett; choreographic assistance by Albert Mirzoyan. Directed for TV by François Roussillon. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A

The show opens with our bodacious boatload of buccaneers beating across the boisterous billows boldly breaching beaches boasting beautiful bimbos. Wherever these pirates venture, wild adventures await:

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Swan Lake

Swan Lake ballet. Music by Tchaikovsky. Choreography by Liam Scarlett after Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa with additonal choreography by Frederick Ashton. Directed 2018 by Liam Scarlett at the Royal Opera House. Stars Marianela Nuñez (Odette/Odile), Vadim Muntagirov (Prince Siegfried), Elizabeth McGorian (The Queen), Bennet Gartside (Von Rothbart), Alexander Campbell (Benno), Akane Takade and Francesca Hayward (Prince Siegfried’s Younger Sisters). Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. White Swan solo by Concert Master Ania Safonova; Black Swan solo by Concert Master Peter Swan. Designs by John Macfarlane; lighting by David Finn. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

This will be the 3rd Swan Lake in Blu-ray published by the Royal Opera Ballet and Opus Arte. It appears they have finally discarded the ancient, horribly outdated Yolanda Sonnabend Farbregé-inspired sets and updated the costumes and choreography, etc. And finally, the indefatigable Marianela Nuñez gets the lead role. She may become the first star ballerina whose entire career has been well published in Blu-ray titles. The official clip below looks promising!

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Coppélia classic ballet to music by Léo Delibes. Libretto by Charles Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Léon after E.T.A. Hoffmann. Choreography by Sergey Vikharev after Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti. Performed 2018 at the Bolshoi Theater. Stars Margarita Shrayner (Swanilda), Artem Ovcharenko (Frantz), Alexey Loparevich (Coppélius), Xenia Averina, Daria Bochkova, Bruna Cantanhede Gaglianone, Antonina Chapkina, Anastasia Denisova, Elizaveta Kruteleva, Svetlana Pavlova, and Yulia Skvortsova (Eight friends); Nadezhda Blagova (Coppélia [Automaton]), Alexander Fadeyechev (Lord of Manor), Yuri Ostrovsky (Burgomaster), Nikolay Mayorov (Chronos), Oksana Sharova, Alexander Vodopetov, Ekaterina Besedina, and Dmitry Ekaterinin (Mazurka), Kristina Karasyova and Vitali Biktimirov (Czardasz), Anastasia Denisova (Aurora), Antonina Chapkina (Prayer), Daria Bochkova, Ksenia Averina, Maria Mishina, Stanislava Postnova, and Tatiana Tiliguzova (Work), and Elizaveta Kruteleva (Folly). Pavel Sorokin conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Bolshoi Theater. Scenography by Boris Kaminsky; costumes by Tatiana Noginova; lighting design by Damir Ismagilov; archive research and coordination by Pavel Gershenzon; choreography revivial by Vladimir Grigoriev. Directed for TV by Isabel Julien. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Manon Ballet

Kenneth MacMillan's Manon ballet performed 2015 at the Royal Opera House. Music consists of excerpts from the works Jules Massenet arranged and orchestrated by Martin Yates, as originally compiled by Leighton Lucas with the collaboration of Hilda Gaunt. Choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan; staged by Julie LIncoln and Christopher Saunders. Stars Sarah Lamb (Manon), Vadim Muntagirov (Des Grieux), Ryoichi Hirano (Lescaut), Gary Avis (Monsieur G.M.), Itziar Mendizabal (Lescaut’s Mistress), Kristen McNally (Madame), Thomas Whitehead (The Gaoler), James Hay (Beggar Chief), and Artists of The Royal Ballet. Martin Yates conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev). Designs by Nicholas Georgiadis; lighting design by John B. Read; directed for the screen by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Giselle ballet. Choreographed and directed by Akram Khan. Modern musical composition and sound design by Vincenzo Lamagna after themes from Adolphe Adam. Staged 2018 at the English National Ballet. Stars Tamara Rojo (Giselle), James Streeter (Albrecht), Jeffrey Cirio (Hilarion), Stina Quagebeur (Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis), Begoña Cao (Bathilde), and Fabian Reimair (Landlord). Gavin Sutherland directs the English National Ballet Philharmonic. Visual and costume design by Tim Yip; orchestration by Gavin Sutherland; lighting design by Mark Henderson; dramaturgy by Ruth Little; assistant choreography by Andrej Petrović; rehearsal direction by Mavin Khoo; sound design by Yvonne Gilbert. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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John Neumeier Collection

This John Neumeier Collection box set has four Neumeier ballets previously published by C Major. Each disc has already been reported on this website, and you can get more details by using the links provided:

  1. Nijinsky. 2018. (Grade B)

  2. Bach Christmas Oratorio. 2015. (Grade A+)

  3. Tatiana. 2016. (Grade: A-)

  4. The Little Mermaid. 2011. (Grade A+)

All the titles in this box are magnificent dance productions from the finest story-telling choreographer working today. We graded two of these down some for what we consider to be excessive video pace (two many clips too fast). But don’t let this slow you down. With an appropriate price, this would be one of the very best Blu-ray ballet boxes on the market and a must buy for every ballet fan. We are so fortunate to have material of this quality coming out in a money-saving package.

Released 2019. Box Set Grade: A

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Onegin ballet. Music by Tchaikovsky arranged and orchestrated by Kurt-Heinz Stolze (various selections and not the music to Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin). Choreography by John Cranko. Filmed November 2017. Stars Friedemann Vogel (Onegin), Alicia Amatriain (Tatiana), David Moore (Lensky), Elisa Badenes (Olga), Jason Reilly (Prince Gremin), Melinda Witham (Madame Larina), and Marcia Haydée (Tatiana’s and Olga’s Nurse). James Tuggle conducts the State Orchestra Stuttgart. Set and costume design by Jürgen Rose; artistic supervision by Reid Anderson. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer. (It appears this was shot in 4K but published in 2K.) Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

Cranko introduced today’s Onegin in Stuttgart in 1967 (after revising slightly the original 1965 version). It’s an extremely simplified, straight-forward telling of the lost-love story from Puskin’s poem with elaborate but easy-to-understand dancing and acting in a naturalistic style (no pantomime). It was an immediate hit and has been in the Stuttgart repertory ever since. It was quickly taken up by many dance companies around the world. With the exception of the great Tchaikovsky/Petipa works from the 19th century (Sleeping Beauty, etc.), Cranko’s Onegin may well have been seen by more people than any other ballet.

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The Frederick Ashton Collection: Volume One

The Frederick Ashton Collection: Volume One Box Set released 2018. Below are the discs. Each of them has already been reported on this website, and you can get more details by using the links provided:

  1. Ashton Celebration (with ballets La Valse, Meditation from Thaïs, Voices of Spring, Monotones I and II, and Marguerite and Armand). Grade: A.

  2. Ashton Rhapsody and The Two Pigeons. Grade: B for Rhapsody, C+ for The Two Pigeons)

  3. Ashton Triple Bill (with ballets Symphonic Variations, Marguerite and Armand, and The Dream). Grade: A for Symphonic Variations; A- for Marguerite and Armand; C+ for Dream.

Total Grade: B+.

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Bernstein Celebration

Bernstein Celebration ballet collection. The Royal Ballet, for the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, performed a triple bill of ballets set to different pieces by Bernstein. Directed 2018 by Kevin O’Hare. The performances are as follows:

  1. Yugen. Set to Chichester Psalms. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Stars Federico Bonelli, William Bracewell, Harry Churches, Melissa Hamilton, Francesca Hayward, Chisato Katsura, Paul Kay, Sarah Lamb, Calvin Richardson, Joseph Sissens, and Akane Takada. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin; Assistant Concert Master Melissa Carstairs) and Members of the Royal Opera Chorus and Extra Chorus (Chorus Director William Spaulding).

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The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker ballet. Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to a libretto by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and Marius Petipa. Choreographed by Valery Kovtun and filmed at the National Opera of Ukraine in 2018. Stars Oleksiy Kovalenko (Stahlbaum); Liudmyla Melnyk (His Wife); Iuliia Moskalenko (Clara, their Daughter); Ielizaveta Gogidze (Fritz, Clara’s Brother/Chinese Doll); Iaroslav Tkachuk (Drosselmeyer/Russian Doll); Ielizaveta Cherniak (The Nutcracker Doll); Mykyta Sukhorukov (The Nutcracker/The Prince); Ruslan Avramenko (Mouse King); Sergii Kliachin (Harlequin/Indian Doll); Ganna Muromtseva (Columbine); Marjia Nelen (She-Devil/Russian Doll); Volodymyr Kutuzov (He-Devil); Raisa Betancourt and Oleksandr Shapoval (Spanish Dolls); Anastasiia Shevchenko(Indian Doll); Mykyta Hodyna (Chinese Doll); and Lina Volodina, Oksana Sira, Vladyslav Romashchenko, and Maksym Bilorkynytskyi (French Dolls), and dancers from the Ballet Company of the National Opera of Ukraine. Oleksiy Baklan conducts the Orchestra the National Opera of Ukraine. Directed for TV by Bertrand Normand; produced by François Duplat. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. [Preliminary information needs confirmation.] Grade: NA

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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet ballet. Music by Sergei Prokofiev. Choreography by John Cranko. Filmed 2017. Stars Elisa Badenes (Juliet), David Moore (Romeo), Reid Anderson (Lord Capulet), Melinda Witham (Lady Capulet), Robert Robinson (Tybalt), Roman Novitzky (Count Pairs), Marcia Haydée (Juliet’s Nurse), Matteo Crockard-Villa (Lord Montague), Julia Bergua Orero (Lady Montague), Martí Fernández Paixà (Mercutio), Adhonay Soares da Silva (Benvolio), Rolando D’Alesio (Duke of Verona), Egon Madsen (Friar Laurence), and Rocio Aleman (Rosaline). James Tuggle conducts the State Orchestra Stuttgart. Set and costume design by Jürgen Rose. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer. (It appears this was shot in 4K but published in 2K.) Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Ashton Triple Bill

Triple bill of shorter ballets choreographed by Frederick Ashton---each work is quite different and unrelated to the others. All were recorded on the same day in June 2017 at a revival in honor of Ashton. Because the works are so different, we grade each separately:

  • Symphonic Variations. Music by César Franck. Features Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov, Yasmine Haghdi, James Hay, Yuhui Choe, and Tristan Dyer. Solo piano by Paul Stobart. Designs by Sophie Fedorovitch; lighting by John B. Read, staging by Wendy Ellis Somes and Malin Thoors.

  • Marguerite and Armand. Music by Franz Liszt. Stars Zenaida Yanowsky (Marguerite), guest Roberto Bolle (Armand), Christopher Saunders (Armand’s father), Gary Avis (Duke), Mica Bradbury (Maid) and the following as admirers of Margarite:

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Nijinsky ballet. Choreographed by John Neumeier. Music by Frédéric Chopin, Robert Schumann, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Dmitri Shostakovich. Staged 2017 at the Hamburg State Opera. Stars Alexandre Riabko (Vaslav Nijinsky), Carolina Agüero (Romola Nijinsky/The Woman), Patricia Friza (Bronislava Nijinska/The Sister), Aleix Martínez (Stanislav Nijinsky/The Brother), Ivan Urban (Serge Diaghilev/The Impresario & Mentor), Anna Laudere (Eleonora Bereda/The Mother), Carsten Jung (Thomas Nijinsky/The Father), Silvia Azzoni (Tamara Karsavina/The Ballerina), Alexandr Trusch (Nijinsky as "Harlequin" and "Le Spectre de la Rose"), Marc Jubete (Nijinsky as "The Golden Slave" and "The Faun"), Lloyd Riggins (Nijinsky as "Petrushka"), and Jacopo Bellussi (Leonid Massine/The New Dancer).

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