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Sleeping Beauty DVD

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When Rudolf Nureyev created a new version of The Sleeping Beauty for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1989, Tchaikovsky's richest, most gem-studded score was about to celebrate its 100th birthday. He made some modifications to the original score and stagings, but basically took Marius Petipa's choreography and polished it with the greatest of respect for what he dubbed "the ballet of ballets". Ten years later, the Opera Bastille adopted his version in a sumptuous new production, and what a sensory experience it turns out to be. For one thing, the brilliance of the classical sets and costumes fills the huge stage of the Opera Bastille with extravagant glamour. For another, the quality of the dancing is superb at every level. Aurélie Dupont as Princess Aurore and Manuel Legris as her Prince Désiré trigger sublime romance in their ultimate pas de deux. Other highlights include Nathalie Aubin's sinuously evil Carabosse, finally managing to deliver the fateful needle in a bunch of flowers before meeting her match in the Lilac Fairy, and the parade of fairy-tale characters in Act III. This is a connoisseur's production, true. It celebrates one of the greatest classical ballets and the genius of one of the greatest dancers. But it is also a superb entertainment, certain to generate a festive thrill in the chilliest of hearts. On the DVD: Excellent sound quality (Dolby Digital 2.0) and the 16:9 picture format do proper justice to the sweeping, theatrical scale of the production. The disc also includes printable articles on Petipa's and Nureyev's choreography and a link to NVC Arts' Web site. The comprehensive booklet includes explanations of Nureyev's alterations, a brief history of the ballet and a plot synopsis. --Piers Ford

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