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The Judas Tree - The Royal Ballet

Music by Brian Elias

Opus Arte DVD OA 1038 D

Gang rape, murder, suicide...is The Judas Tree the most barbarous ballet of modern times? (The Independent)











We have two videos of The Royal Ballet in Macmillan's deep, dark and enigmatic last ballet The Judas Tree (1992); NVC on VHS (1999) and Opus Arte on DVD (2010), both with Leanne Benjamin as the much put-upon heroine...

Brian Elias' music was composed free of direction or choreographic constraints (Susan Bradshaw) and is part-responsible for the work's endurance. The score is a fine creation, in five sections and entirely viable as a concert work. It is gripping if nauseating to watch, with gang rape and murder with a dubious Christian overtone...

The DVD is greatly impressive, riveting to watch (unless you turn it off...) and has today's ballet idol Acosta as the foreman who never gets the girl and kills himself - a Judas Escariot reference.

Fortunately, as this is sold for home entertainment, it is flanked by two lighter delights, from Kenneth Macmillan's earlier oeuvre, 1966 & 1974.

The filming is state-of-the-art high definition and the close-ups complement the view in the theatre. The music, Scott Joplin (with band on stage) and Shostakovich's piano concerto No 2 help to add up to what is a great evening's home viewing, but you may need a strong coffee after The Judas Tree ! The Opus Arte booklet is informative and lavishly illustrated with 10 full page photos.

Peter Grahame Woolf