Principals Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae dance Ashton’s Rhapsody, created for The Royal Ballet in 1980 with the star parts taken by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lesley Collier. Ashton provided spectacular choreography to suit the dancers’ virtuoso abilities.
Lauren Cuthbertson and Vadim Muntagirov lead a charismatic cast in Ashton’s poignant and heart-warming reflection on love, The Two Pigeons, based on an old French folktale and first performed on Valentine’s Day 1961.
These two ballets by the Company’s Founder Choreographer capture The Royal Ballet’s famous skill and distinctive style. Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in the rapturous Rachmaninoff and Messager scores.
Composer: Sergey Rachmaninoff
Dancers: Natalia Osipova and Steven McRae
Emma Maguire, Yasmine Naghdi, Beatrix Stix-Brunell, Luca Acri, Tristan Dyer, Nicol Edmonds, Benjamin Ella, Kevin Emerton, Marcelino Sambé
The Two Pigeons
Composer: André Messager
The Young Girl: Lauren Cuthbertson
The Young Man: Vadim Muntagirov
A Neighbour: Elizabeth McGorian
A Gypsy Girl: Fumi Kaneko
Her Lover: Ryoichi Hirano
A Gypsy Boy: Marcelino Sambé
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Conductor: Barry Wordsworth
Choreography: Frederick Ashton
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Once again, congratulations to the Royal Ballet on these impeccable performances! Rhapsody is absolutely exhilarating and exquisite, while the Two Pigeons is charming and romantic. The gypsies in the Two Pigeons are delightfully flamboyant!
Wonderful. Both ballets are stunning and I can't congratulate the dancers enough for their skill and talent. Thank you Royal Ballet for producing this DVD.
This BluRay contains two marvellous and contrasting pieces. Rhapsody, music by Rachmaninoff, choreography by Ashton, is a non-narrative showcase for Steven McRae at his polished and supremely athletic best, dancing opposite Natalia Osipova, whose precision and technical skill dazzle. The central pas de deux is astonishing.
By contrast the second piece, Two Pigeons, is narrative ballet at its heart-warming and unashamedly romantic best. Music by French composer André Messager (who deserves to be better known), choreography again by Ashton. Lauren Cuthbertson (who starred on Alice in Wonderland) doesn't have quite the clinical precision of Osipova, but more than compensates with her empathy and acting skills, bringing the character to life.
But perhaps the real stars of the show are the pigeons themselves. I wouldn't have believed that two live pigeons could be persuaded to take part in a ballet. But it seems to work.
Anyone who sports a collection of ballet DVDs will want this one on the shelf -- and in the DVD player. Excellent value.
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