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Mendelssohn - A Midsummer Night's Dream Blu Ray

| Blu Ray

This performance of George Balanchine's ballet A Midsummer Night's Dream was filmed live at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, in February 1999 and won the award for "Best Television Realisation of a Stage Production" at IMZ Dance Screen. The music is from Mendelssohn's youthful overture plus later theatre music, and five other pieces by the composer all selected by the great Russian choreographer Balanchine in 1962. In a fine ensemble cast, Paul Gibson as Oberon and Patricia Barker as Titania are suitably aloof, at least until the latter dances with the ass Bottom (Timothy Lynch) in a highlight of touching comedy. After all the quarrelsome entanglements of the first act, the finale ensures celebration and richly deserved happy endings all round. The simple sets have a picturesque charm, the costumes a fairytale glamour and the large cast, including many children, dance with flair and enthusiasm; this is clearly one production where everyone was having a fine time. In fact it is rather more enjoyable than Hollywood's A Midsummer Night's Dream of the same year. Ballet aficionados may also want to explore the BBC's wonderful Coppélia (2000). On the DVD: There are no special features on the disc, but the 12-page booklet is entirely in English and is well presented, offering track and cast lists, a synopsis and notes on Balanchine, Mendelssohn and the creative talents and directors of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. The sound is atmospheric--Dolby Digital 5.0--and the anamorphically enhanced 16:9 image is good, though slightly soft, and does occasionally reveal some compression artefacting. In defiance of regional encoding regulations, not only is this DVD region free, but includes the normal PAL UK television system programme material on one side and on the reverse includes the same content in NTSC format, suitable for American playback. Anyone curious to see if one format is better will find that the UK PAL transfer contains just a little more picture detail. --Gary S Dalkin

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