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Kenneth MacMillan/John Lanchbery

The Royal Ballet

Crown Prince Rudolf: Irek Mukhamedov
Baroness Mary Vetsera: Viviana Durante
Mitzi Caspar: Darcey Bussell
Countess Marie Larisch: Lesley Collier

The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House/Barry Wordsworth

Royal Opera House Collection; Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London

Opus Arte: OAR3101D : February 1994, 127 Mins 4:3

This is a rip-roaring historical drama told within the conventions of classical ballet; the women's costumes are gorgeous, but those of the Crown Prince and other leading male dancers take a bit of getting used to... Our chief vocal critic says she doesn't like ballet because she always hopes the dancers would start singing...

In this complicated narrative drama there is indeed one singer and song; the pianist is identified but not the singer? We are commended to admire MacMillan's 'penetrating interpretation of the events surrounding the double suicide of the Crown Prince and his mistress' but most of that passed us by.Some of the set pieces are exciting to watch and the athleticism on display is certainly riveting.

There are likely to be more Royal Ballet DVDs, so some general points may be pertinent. Despite a synopsis being provided the story line is hard to follow. Colour photos in the booklet of each of the principals and some of the other numerous characters would have helped to keep track of who is who. The booklet text is really inadequate and poorly proof-read; e.g. what are we to gather from "Colonel 'Bay' Middleton, Elisabeth's mother"?

For Musical Pointers the musical compenent of dance shows is always of particular interest (we have reviewed modern dance on DVD and particularly live at Laban in S E London). I am hoping in due course to be able to add the details of the 'assemblage of Liszt pieces' that John Lanchberry arranged for Kenneth MacMillan's ballet score; it sounds well on this 1994 recording.

Peter Grahame Woolf