A good performance marred by very flawed technical values
Giselle is a contender for the greatest non-Tchaikovsky ballet, and is one of my favourite ballets in general. Its story is suspenseful, very passionate and moving with such a great atmosphere evoked in Act 2 especially and Adolphe Adam's music sparkles stunningly.
Unfortunately, where this production from Mariinsky falls down is in the technical values, which are very flawed. It is particularly true with the camera work, which is awful. The way it jumps around gives a very odd effect, it's unfocused and there are far too many cut-offs of feet, which hinders Myrta's entrance where the footwork is crucial. It was very interesting to see a ballet production using 3D, wasn't sure about its necessity initially and unfortunately the 3D is not executed very well here, apart from one breath-taking 3D shot of the port De bras. It's not sharp enough and looks blurry, making the sets look more artificial than they actually were, the Act 1 set looked more garish than rustic. Instead of enhancing the drama, it doesn't add very much.
This is a real shame because this is otherwise a good performance. The set for Act 2 is hauntingly dark, which was lovely, and it was appropriately lit, if the camera work and 3D were better though it may have had more depth. The costumes are very beautiful. Dramatically, it is one of Mariinsky's more riveting and emotionally poignant productions in recent years, the suspense also quite powerful, and the choreography is intricate and incredibly elegant with difficult moves and steps made to look easy, though with better technical values it would have been even more enjoyable.
Musically, it is superb, with the orchestral playing having every bit of the sparkle, power and nuance that the music needs, and it's also authoritatively and sympathetically conducted. With the dancing, there's a huge amount to like with the Corps De Ballet being impeccable. There are not enough words to describe the brilliance of Natalia Osipova's performance, she dances with stunning grace and emotion and she doesn't just act the part of Giselle, she lives it and is one of the most vivid in the role in recent years. Leonid Sarafanov is a dashing leading man, with dancing that is both powerful and elegant that is particularly great and fresh in Act 2, close to perfection technically. While he may not be as expressive or as imaginative an actor in the same way Osipova is it is appropriately masculine with a good contrast between the two acts, I for one did not find him too cherubic. Ekaterina Kondaurova is a distinguished and chilling Myrta and dancing a dream, it is unfortunate however that the camera work does detract from Sarafanov and Kondaurova's great work here.
In conclusion, a good performance from Mariinsky but it would have been a much better experience with better executed technical values. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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