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Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, December 2012

A lavish production; a feast for the eye; with marvellous dancing from the principals especially Olesia Novikova as Raymonda—her dancing always poised and assured, expressive, elegant and graceful—her point work is awesome. © 2012 MusicWeb International

Joel Kasow
Fanfare, November 2012

While Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker has been performed in recent years in many versions…this performance by the Dutch National Ballet tries to impose a clear narrative on what is often treated as a series of episodes. During the overture we see the preparations as the children get ready; in fact, no expense has been spared on sets and costumes…to delight audiences. It is definitely a treat to see Anna Tsygankova and Matthew Golding once again after their Don Quixote. She sparkles but has the finesse for her solo (Sugar Plum Fairy), while the ease with which Golding displays his virtuosity almost makes it seem too easy. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Joel Kasow
Fanfare, September 2012

Raymonda is the last Petipa full-length ballet, and despite the choreographer’s difficulties with Alexander Glazunov…a masterpiece was created. Petipa was nonetheless inspired and created a challenge for future generations of dancers. Vikharev has already demonstrated his capacities in his stagings of other 19th-century classics for both the Mariinsky and Bolshoi ballets. The sets are sumptuous, the costumes make judicious use of colors…

Novikova’s allure and assurance stand her in good stead, but she is nonetheless capable of technical feats that elicit applause…The solos by second-line dancers are never less than capable even in choreography of legendary difficulty. The ballerina’s solo with (handclaps) is a classic, and Novikova provides one of the quietest and most withdrawn renditions, though at the same time brilliant on its own terms. Raymonda may not be the equal of such masterpieces as Swan Lake or Sleeping Beauty or even Giselle, but it is not far off in terms of musical quality and choreographic exigencies, and when given with the respect manifested by Vikharev it is clearly more than just an effective showcase for a dancer’s talents. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

James Reel
Fanfare, September 2012

This sumptuous-looking and -sounding new production of Raymonda is an antique in many respects…It’s…antique in its determination to cram every inch of the stage with dancers, including students; with onlookers lining the background while two dozen or more dancers cavort in the foreground, it can be a visual jumble when viewed head-on. Fortunately, in this release, video director Lorena Sardi frequently cuts to balcony-level perspectives to sort out the patterns of the corps.

And it’s an antique in its revival of the large, romantic-realist painted backdrops and luscious costumes based on designs and photos from the ballet’s premiere a bit more than a century ago…seeing this production style revived with such care and panache really does thrust us back into the ballet world from which Diaghilev and early Stravinsky emerged.

What does it tell us about the state of La Scala’s dancers and orchestra in 2011, when this production was taped? Well, obviously there’s splendid work coming out of the costume and scene shops. The orchestra—here conducted by Michail Jurowski with a fine sense of lyric line…is fully up to international standards…The two leads are imports; the superb Raymonda, Olesia Novikova…and the fine…Jean, Friedemann Vogel…

…there’s something irresistible about this production, and the care with which this historically alert revival has been prepared is evident even from the opening title sequence…And Blu-ray is definitely the way to go here; the costumes absolutely glow in the high-resolution format, and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio is very flattering to the orchestra. Just keep in mind that late 19th-century ballet was almost as much about pageantry as it was about superb soloists, and you shouldn’t be disappointed. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Ian and Grace Lace
MusicWeb International, July 2012

This very recent recording is a tribute to the skill of the RAI technicians…the colours are wonderfully vibrant and the images very crisp and clear. It is delightful, tuneful and romantic; and, in many scenes in Acts II and III, tinged with ethnic colour—by turns Spanish, Hungarian, Arabic and Oriental.

To the dancers: Olesia Novikova is a very impressive Raymonda—her dancing always poised and assured, expressive, elegant and graceful. Also impressive is the support of Mariafrancesca Garritano as Henriette and Francesca Podini as Clémence. Friedemann Vogel as Jean de Brienne displays some impressive high leaps and pirouettes and Mick Zeni makes a sinister but virile Abderahman. Special praise for the ensemble dancing of the corps de ballet which is quite magical throughout with so many demanding dances in so many different styles. There are also interesting numbers for the junior ballet school dancers. Mention must also be made of the sparkling contribution of the speciality dance soloists, especially Antonella Albano’s classique hongrois solo.

A lavish production; a feast for the eye; with awesome dancing from the principals. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Christie Grimstad, May 2012

This decoding of Raymonda, two years in the making, has resulted in one of the most enthralling and historical production.

Raymonda…serves great purpose to showcase Petipa’s artistic movements while supported by the opulent score of Alexandr Glazunov. Glazunov’s music can be seen as a bridge between Eastern and Western EuropeRaymonda, a veritable sketchbook of colorful dance numbers requiring a huge corps de ballet, allows dancers on all levels to bask in the glory of spotlights…

A ballet in three acts, the curtain rises on Kinkulskava’s and Kaminsky’s rich backdrop that is enhanced by the wonderful medieval costuming by Irene Monti. The setting is so beautifully constructed that it could be mistaken for a Vermeer painting.

Olesia Novikova is a perfect and confident Raymonda, exhibiting well expressed nuances and soufflé lightness. Whether it be a solo or the Pas classique hongrois, she possesses remarkable fluidity and clean lines. Most of Friedemann Vogel’s dancing comes to life in Act III where he executes beautifully precise grands jetés in his “Variation de Jean de Brienne.” Raymonda’s friends Henriette and Clémence, performed by Mariafrancesca Garritano and Francesca Podini, respectively, add charm and graceful support to Novikova in many of the ballet’s passages. Mick Zeni’s penetrating eyes woo Raymonda in Act II with great intensity while the gesticulations of Galasso’s Sybille and Aifieri’s The White Lady add pleasing continuity.

Olivieri’s youthful troupe is well focused, sharp and filled with smiling faces during the “Rapsodie—Danse des enfants” which is soon followed by the zesty “Palotás”, a traditional Hungarian dance. The Grand divertissement is an anthropological pastiche of catchy steps from all corners of the world, and in the middle we find the “Panadéros” featuring the punctuated pairing of Beatrice Carbone and Eris Nezha set to the sounds of snappy castanets…the “Panadéros” is still an inevitable crowd pleaser.

Raymonda is well recorded utilizing many different camera angles, and the sound quality is impeccable. Michail Jurowski’s Orchestra is absolutely splendid…this reconstruct that pays homage to Petipa and Glazunov is a remarkable achievement, and it is highly recommended. Raymonda is a ravishing delight from beginning to end. © 2012 Read complete review

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